Conference Abstracts & Papers

Program Matrix | Keynote Speakers| Senior UN Officials
United Nations Workshops | Conference Context and Focus Areas

Program Matrix (click here)

The program was designed to provide maximum learning opportunities, whilst incorporating many opportunities for delegates to meet and network with other participants.

Please click here to view the program matrix.


Keynote Speakers

A number of high profile international and Australian speakers presented at the Conference.

Please click on the keynote speaker’s name to view their biographical summary and photo.

Mrs Mary Robinson
Former President of Ireland & Former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Currently the Executive Director of Realizing Rights - The Ethical Global Initiative

Dr Jose Ramos-Horta
Foreign Minister
Timor Leste

Professor Stephen Coleman
Cisco Visiting Professor in E-Democracy
University Of Oxford

Ms Erna Witoelar
Special Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals for Asia and Pacific
United Nations

Reverend Tim Costello
Chief Executive Officer
World Vision

Mr Olivio Dutra
Minister of Cities
Government of Brazil

Ms Mavis McDonald
Permanent Secretary
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Ms Georgina Beyer
Member for Wairarapa
New Zealand

Professor Robert Putnam
Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy
Harvard University


Senior UN Officials

The following representatives of the United Nations participated in the program:

Mr Kim Hak-Su
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

Mr Jomo Kwame Sundaram
Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

Mr Guido Bertucci
Director, Division for Public Administration and Development Management
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations


United Nations Workshops

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organised capacity building workshops in partnerships with UNCRD, ESCAP, UNEP, UN Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA), the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission of Australia, Central Queensland University (CQU), the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

These workshops discussed and presented experiences of community engagement and participative practices in the areas of public fiscal processes, sustainable development, new technologies of engagement, local government and indigenous issues. The workshops provided participants with the necessary training, tools and methodologies in these areas, primarily for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through participatory governance.

The UN workshops included:

  1. Decentralization: Poverty Reduction, Empowerment and Participation by DESA & UNCRD
  2. Community Engagement in Public Finance at the Subnational Governments by DESA & Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA)
  3. Platform for E-Participation by DESA
  4. International Information Exchange on Poverty-Environment Nexus Initiative in Central Asian & Southeast Asian Regions by DESA, UNEP, ESCAP & Central Queensland University
  5. Engaging the Marginalized - Partnership between Indigenous People, Governments & Civil Society by the UN Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues & the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission of Australia
  6. Partnerships and Civil Society Organization (CSO) Capacity Building for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by DESA, Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the University of Technology Sydney.
  7. Engaging Communities: IFAD's Experience, Lessons Learned & Policy Implications by IFAD

Further details regarding timings of the sessions of these workshops can be found in the main Conference program matrix.


Conference Context and Focus Areas

People are looking to government and its agencies for opportunities to shape the decisions that affect their futures. Both globally and locally a range of trends and drivers are moving governments to increase their focus on more effective citizen involvement in public policy development and in the planning, decision making and monitoring of service delivery. Similarly, the private sector, tertiary institutions, political parties and community organisations are also under pressure to be responsive to greater stakeholder engagement.

While change brings opportunities to many, there is also mounting evidence worldwide of the impact of rapid social, economic and environmental change which in some cases is leading to both increased levels of citizen alienation from government and higher expectations on governments and others to work collaboratively to solve problems. In many countries the challenges of poverty reduction and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) equally requires governance tools that are inclusive and based on enhanced citizen-government/institutional dialogue and partnership. These challenges call for innovative solutions to complex problems which can no longer use traditional command and control techniques. The real challenge is to imagine and create systems of governance and practical changes to the way government and other institutions do business, which will enable citizens to engage more readily and to participate in the development of policy, programs and services.

Key focus areas for the Conference were:

  • Community engagement and participative practices (both generally and in particular sectors e.g. natural resource management)
  • Public participation in public policy processes
  • People’s budgeting and public participation in fiscal policy
  • Social accounting
  • New technologies and engagement
  • Multi-stakeholder partnerships – the role of the market and private sector
  • Good corporate citizenship and engagement
  • Community building, active citizenship and social capital (including measurement and assessment issues)
  • Post-conflict governance
  • Inclusive development – working with the marginalised and disadvantaged
  • Sustainable development and participation.

Exploratory points which cut across the focus areas are:

  • What is it and why is it important (definitions, values, globalisation impacts)?
  • What is being done where, where is the leadership coming from (case studies, shared learnings)?
  • What “works” – how, when and why does engagement add value?
  • What are the theoretical frameworks underpinning this work?
  • Who is doing this work and what are the capacity building needs?
  • How can we do better? What is the evidence base/evaluation activity which will help us to learn and improve?