The second Steering Group meeting at ministerial level was held in Sharm El Sheikh on 19 and 20 May 2006, back-to-back with the World Economic Forum on the Middle East. Participants from nine Arab and fourteen OECD countries reconfirmed their commitment to the GfD Initiative and defined the directions for future implementation.
The meeting brought together high-level representatives from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, from OECD countries and from multilateral organisations to assess achievements and identify future steps of the GfD Initiative. It was chaired and hosted by H.E. Dr. Ahmed Darwish, Minister of State for Administrative Development of Egypt, and co-chaired by H.E. Seiichi Noboru, Ambassador in charge of the OECD, Japan. At the end of the meeting, Ambassador Noboru transferred the OECD co-chairmanship of the GfD Steering Group, which he held since the first Steering Group meeting held in Madrid on 27-28 April, to his successor H.E. Gun-Britt Andersson, Ambassador of Sweden to the OECD.
Confirmation of the approach and structure of the GfD Initiative
The meeting was a strong confirmation on the course the GfD Initiative has taken so far. The Arab working group chairs presented the progress and experiences made in the 6 thematically focused Working Groups and emphasised that the regional policy dialogue provides a unique value-added to Arab countries. The OECD working group co-chairs acknowledged the progress made and stressed their own commitment to continuing their support to the regional networks.
Outcomes and future directions for GfD implementation
Based on the outcomes of the Steering Group meeting (see chair’s conclusions), the GfD Initiative will be implemented along 3 key elements until December 2007:
I Regional policy support that responds to common challenges faced by Arab countries.
Arab countries have identified a number of common key policy challenges in public sector modernization, despite the differences in their administrative systems. Accordingly, they have formulated propositions for future regional activities which address these common challenges. Regional activities have a key function in supporting the implementation of country reform plans and in deepening the regional partnerships and networks among policy practitioners from Arab and OECD countries. A compelling case for such a regional level activity, for example, was made by the Egyptian Minister of Finance who presented the proposal for the establishment of a Regional Centre for Public Finance in Egypt which would provide capacity building seminars for officials from different Arab countries.
II Supporting the implementation of the Country Action Plans.
As a result of the first phase of the GfD Initiative, seven Arab countries have formulated and endorsed Country Action Plans, which were submitted to the Steering Group. These Country Action Plans provide the groundwork for reform action in the coming implementation phase. They serve as a basis for monitoring progress and as a reference point for facilitating co-operation and partnerships with OECD member countries and international organizations during the implementation phase.
Bilateral or multilateral donors (from Arab and OECD countries) will support the implementation of the Country Action Plans through technical assistance and co-operation. The OECD and UNDP Secretariat will concentrate on the implementation of selected targets from the Country Action Plans to which it can provide distinct value-added. In particular, it will focus on organizing country-specific capacity-building workshops, assisting in developing national reform progress indicators and monitoring mechanisms for Country Action Plans as well as providing a framework for national policy reviews, potentially in the form of peer reviews.
III Facilitating Partnerships
Arab countries requested the creation of a mechanism to facilitate the submission of funding proposals for national and regional projects developed in the framework of the six thematic Working Groups to donor countries and institutions. This mechanism will be based on close co-operation with existing national donor assistance groups and would strongly build on the chairs and co-chairs of the working groups as well as the OECD/UNDP Secretariat.
Enlarging the number of countries participating actively in the Initiative
The participants particularly welcomed the engagement of Kuwait to join the Initiative, which was represented by H.E. Massouma Al Mubarak, Minister of Planning and Minister of State for Development Affairs. There was an agreement that the GfD Initiative should enlarge the number of countries participating actively in the Initiative by encouraging them to fully commit to the Initiative, to participate in the regional policy dialogue, and to formulate country action plans for modernising governance.