[AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY]
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to welcome you to this sixty-fourth session of the Working Party on the Strategic Framework and the Programme Budget.
The main item on the agenda today is the review of the Secretariat's annual report on the implementation of the communications strategy and publications policy, which was approved by the Trade and Development Board in 2009. The Secretariat would like to present to the Working Party its fourth implementation report, contained in document TD/B/WP/249. It provides an overview of activities undertaken from May to December 2012. Due to the late scheduling of last year's Working Party (22-23 July 2012), the Secretariat already covered activities undertaken from January to June 2012 in the previous Report (TD/B/WP/240).
This Session of the Working Party will also consider the Report on the readership survey of main UNCTAD publications in 2012 (TD/B/WP(64)/CRP.1), and the list of publications for 2012 and 2013 (also made available in the room).
Allow me therefore to briefly outline the key findings of the reports, beginning with the implementation of our communications strategy. The report shows the progress made since the adoption of the strategy in 2009. We have received some encouraging feedback regarding improvements in our communication with member States, in the media response to major events and press campaigns, and in enhanced civil society engagement in the work of UNCTAD. Nevertheless, we remain committed to further improving and streamlining UNCTAD's communications and outreach. In this regard, UNCTAD is working with communications offices of other UN agencies to learn from best practices, more specifically the enhanced application of social media tools.
A key development in the implementation of our strategy is the launch on December 21st of the dedicated Delegates' Portal, in response to our member States' request. I can report that since the launch, 103 delegates and representatives of permanent missions have requested and been granted access to the portal. We now plan to develop the portal further to serve as an interactive and key communication tool for member States. This includes, in particular, the enhancement of the existing search facility, which will be available at the end of March. We also plan to hold a dedicated lunchtime briefing for interested member States on their suggestions to make this tool even more relevant to their collective needs.
You may also have noticed from our publications and information materials that our new graphic identity has been rolled out further to provide a more uniform visual image of the organization. On the screen are a few illustrative examples.
Our report also describes how UNCTAD continues to respond to the outreach and communication needs of specific audiences, as requested by you in the communications strategy. Allow me to give you a few examples.
Policymakers: We have found that the two most efficient ways to communicate with policymakers, our principal target group, is through publications and high-level meetings. That is why we continue to place emphasis on these two means of communication. In the area of publications, we have focused on targeted presentations of our flagship reports, which contain the key policy messages of UNCTAD's research and analysis. UNCTAD has also participated in several high-level meetings, including the Group of Twenty, to communicate its findings. In addition, UNCTAD has organized a series of meetings, including an executive session of the Trade and Development Board, a 2.5 day meeting on South-South cooperation in Beijing, and a workshop on the trade and development strategy for the Comoros, to name but a few. Training courses and seminars continue to be an important vehicle for UNCTAD to disseminate its research and policy recommendations. For example, in 2012, three regional training courses, with a total of 60 participants, were organized in Belgrade (Serbia) for countries with economies in transition, in Rabat (Morocco) for the African region, and in Muscat (Oman) for Western Asia. Additionally, five short courses on topical international economic issues were organized between June and December 2012.
Communication with member States: Judging from feedback, progress has also been made in communicating with member States. As per your request, UNCTAD has been providing updates on recruitment and vacancies. Furthermore, we are in the process of reworking the employment web page to make it more functional and user-friendly. It will be linked to both the delegates' portal and the home page. We will inform you of the release date hopefully by the end of April.
Media: With regard to the media, as in previous years, our Communication, Information and Outreach unit has carried out far-reaching press campaigns for the organization's flagship reports. During the reporting period, an effort was made to boost publicity for the Least Developed Countries Report within LDCs themselves. Press conferences were held in 15 LDCs in 2012, as compared to five in 2011. In numerous cases, the presentations included prominent government officials.
Civil Society: The communication strategy also emphasizes the need to better involve civil society, particularly from the South, in UNCTAD activities. In 2012, this has been done using CSO e-alerts, the civil society portal, ad-hoc electronic e-mailings and exchanges and consultations. While CSOs appreciate the excellent information flow on UNCTAD's work through electronic means and briefings to Geneva-based civil society organizations, field-based CSOs continue to emphasize the need for direct exchanges with the UNCTAD secretariat and other CSOs. Facilitating this, however, is subject to the availability of XB resources.
Private Sector: During the reporting period, UNCTAD also strengthened its engagement with the private sector in events such as the Global entrepreneurship Week and the third Conference on Sustainable Stock Exchanges during the Rio+20 Conference. Moreover, the UNCTAD Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards for Accounting and Reporting, brought together over 270 participants from some 80 member States, many from private sector associations.
Academia and Research Institutions: UNCTAD's links with academia remain close, with some 30 lectures and presentations by UNCTAD staff during the reporting period. Furthermore, a joint virtual research center was created with the University of Geneva. UNCTAD studies are strategically dispatched to selected academics through electronic channels, and our Virtual Institute supports teaching and research on trade and development issues at universities and research institutes in developing and transition countries. The rapid growth of this network illustrates its relevance; between July and November 2012, 500 individual users were added.
The Wider Public: Beyond its engagement with specific groups, UNCTAD also reaches out to the wider public. Over the period concerned, 966 visitors and participants from all over the world were hosted. UNCTAD participated in the yearly Graduate Study Programme, in some thematic seminars and in the UNOG Open Day 2012, during which our stand attracted many visitors and queries from the general public.
As we implement the communications strategy, we will continue providing our audiences with targeted information products and services, and we welcome the ongoing dialogue and feedback, both positive and critical, on our work.
Allow me to now turn briefly to the implementation of our publications policy. As requested by member States, we have continued to streamline our publications programme. To date, we have achieved an almost 20% reduction in the number of programmed publications since the adoption of the policy. To compare, while the programme for the 2008-2009 biennium foresaw 225 publications, the plan for the current biennium lists some 184 publications.
In this context, the Secretariat has circulated a report on the current status of the implementation of the agreed publications programme for your review. While we have delivered the majority of the publications scheduled for 2012, you may see that a number of publications have had to be carried over to the second year of the biennium. This delay is explained by various factors, including the need to obtain necessary statistical data, more powerful computational capacity, stakeholder agreement for publication, or additional peer reviews. However, most of the remaining publications from the 2012 list are in an advanced stage of preparation and will be submitted for translation and printing in the near future. We are therefore confident that all planned publications will be delivered before the end of the biennium. Of course, the secretariat stands ready to provide more details on the status of the preparation of individual publications.
The secretariat continues its efforts to maintain a good level of quality control. Every publication and document produced undergoes policy clearance to ensure policy consistency and to monitor quality. Peer reviews continue to be routinely used as another quality control tool.
With regard to the substance of the publications, we have continued our efforts to provide our member States and our stakeholders with innovative, useful and practical policy recommendations - based on sound research - to address current development issues. Judging by the feedback received in the most recent survey, readers feel that our publications are well presented, relevant and useful.
UNCTAD's fifth readership survey covered 17 of our publications from the year 2012 and was carried out between January and February 2013. The relevant notifications were sent to member States and accredited non-governmental and international organizations. The link was also sent through the Virtual Institute to its partners and a highlight box was posted on the UNCTAD home page. We received 184 responses (68 to the general survey and 116 to the in-depth survey). While the total level of respondents remains about the same as that of the previous survey (183), there was a significant increase in responses to the in-depth survey.
Responses were received from various groups of readers - international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and private and public enterprises, and the majority of respondents (25 per cent) were from academic and research institutions. Approximately 21 per cent of responses came from respondents affiliated with governments. This indicates that there is a need to consider ways of improving the response rate from governments, which are the primary target group for UNCTAD publications, and I take this opportunity to encourage member States to participate more actively in future surveys.
Regarding the assessment of UNCTAD's 2012 publications, I believe the results are encouraging. The average overall assessment for the publications included in the general survey was 4 out of 5 and for those included in the in-depth survey, 4.4 out of 5. The most frequent rating given per attribute and per publication for the general survey was 4, and for the in-depth survey, 5.
Details of the surveys will be carefully examined and taken into account in the preparation of future publications. The secretariat will also continue to examine ways of achieving a broader range of responses to obtain a more representative assessment of its work.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the sixty-first session of the Working Party in July 2012 and on other occasions, member States expressed their concern about the translation of UNCTAD publications. The UNCTAD secretariat continues to work with UNOG to ensure that, in spite of resources constraints, the translation of publications, especially flagship reports, is carried out in reasonable delays. The secretariat has established regular meetings with UNOG Conference Services at the senior management level, as well as monthly meetings at the working level to better coordinate the processing and translation of UNCTAD publications.
I take this opportunity to inform delegations that the secretariat's effort to improve the timely preparation of meetings documents is bringing results: for the fourth year running more than 90 per cent of sessional documents were submitted for translation on time. Unfortunately, not all of these reached member States in all languages on time. This matter remains on the agenda of our consultations with UNOG Conference Services.
In parallel, the secretariat is taking steps to widen the range of materials being translated. One such measure is the preparation of overviews of the main UNCTAD reports and their submission for translation in the United Nations official languages.
The secretariat also continues to implement the management decision to reduce the length of all publications, except for a small number of specific cases, to a maximum of 100 pages. The shorter length of publications makes translation more manageable, while also rendering them more attractive to a wider range of readers.
Indeed, we have continued our efforts to broaden the reach and readership of UNCTAD publications. During the period covered by this report, UNCTAD organized 124 press conferences worldwide to launch 21 reports and publications. Paper copies and CD-ROM versions of UNCTAD publications are regularly handed out at conferences, seminars, meetings and exhibitions. We are also making greater use of our Virtual Institute's potential in boosting online dissemination through the full text-searchable online library. Publications on trade-related issues are regularly disseminated electronically through networks such as the Social Science Research Network. UNCTAD has also developed the online and interactive World Investment Network, which now includes more than 9,000 individual contacts.
More generally, we are working to achieve a better balance between traditional and electronic modes of dissemination, depending on the specific needs of each type of audience and region. All publications can be accessed and downloaded free of charge from the UNCTAD website.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We fully recognize that effective communication and outreach plays a crucial role in the delivery of UNCTAD's mandate. In this context, the UNCTAD secretariat remains committed to the implementation of our communications and publications strategy and will continue to strive for further improvements. I would like to thank you for your support and feedback, and look forward to your deliberations.
Thank you very much.