The 2nd ECO High Level Experts Group (HLEG)
Meeting on HRD and MDGs
(Islamabad, 11-12 February 2008)
The 2nd Meeting of the ECO High Level Experts Group (HLEG) on Human Resource Development (HRD) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was held in Islamabad, on 11-12 February, 2008. It was attended by representatives of ECO member states as also of the relevant UN agencies. These included WHO, UNFPA, the World Bank, SAARC Human Resource Development Centre (SHRDC), UNESCO and ADB.
The meeting was inaugurated by H.E. Mr. Ejaz Raheem, Federal Minister for Health of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In his inaugural address, the Minister welcomed the participants and enlightened them on the measures taken by the Government of Pakistan to strengthen HRD activities and to achieve the MDGs. He noted that only with sustained collective efforts could regional cooperation become more meaningful and contribute more significantly to progress on HRD and MDGs. That was also the way, the Minister said, for effective integration into global economy.
Other speakers at the inauguration included Mr. Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Mr. Hassan Taherian, Deputy Secretary General of ECO and Dr. France Donnay, UNFPA Country Representative.
Delegates from ECO member states delivered Country Reports giving details of their national activities relating to Human Development and implementation of MDGs. They dialed on such issues as poverty, unemployment, labour market issues, education, health and nutrition and social protection program providing social safety nets to the vulnerable.
The representative of ECO Secretariat made a presentation on the status of implementation and prospect of achieving MDGs in the ECO region. He explained the activities of relevant regional and international organizations and proposed the priority areas of poverty alleviation and health related MDGs for special consideration by the member states. Five useful presentations were made by Pakistani professionals on the best practices relating to HRD and MDGs.
The meeting took note of the new additions to the targets of MDGs adopted at the 62nd UN General Assembly in 2007 called on member states to take them on for early implementation. The participants discussed the progress made on HRD and recommended that MDG goals 4 (Reduce Child Mortality), 5 (Improve Maternal Mortality), and 6 (Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases) be made the main priority areas and focus of ECO activities.
In addition, the meeting recommended that cooperation among ECO countries be intensified on HRD related issues, policies and strategies, a directory of the ECO HRD institutes be developed and a public-private partnership evolved among all the stake-holders to facilitate timely implementation of HRD policies and programmes. The meeting laid stress on sharing best practices on employment policies, exchanging experiences about women empowerment and gender equality. It was agreed that a mechanism be developed for mutual recognition of educational and technical qualifications in the ECO countries.