By Nahla Zeitou, UNDP Egypt NHDR Focal Point
The 2005 Egypt Human Development Report (EHDR) argues that inequalities in assets, opportunities and voice are all barriers to national prosperity. The energy and talents of a significant number of Egypt's citizens can contribute to development if only equity considerations are brought to the forefront of policy-making. Accordingly, the Report chose “a vision for Egypt in 2015” to be its theme, inspired by Egyptians’ growing aspirations and expectations for accelerated reform. The Report adopts a new paradigm whereby the disadvantaged are not seen only as recipients of international commitments and aid, but as major participants in and beneficiaries of a new social contract between the Egyptian State and its citizens. This new ‘arrangement’ would build momentum for change from the grassroots level upwards, and energize development across society.
Following the launch of the 2005 EHDR, the UNDP Egypt Country office developed a comprehensive outreach and distribution strategy to ensure the widest dissemination of the Report’s messages and recommendations at both the national and local levels. The main purpose was to raise awareness on the 2005 EHDR by initiating a national dialogue on Egypt's reform agenda deliberating the meanings and implications of a new social contract, in various forums and with different partners. During the course of 2006, UNDP Egypt, in cooperation with the EHDR team of authors, successfully conducted numerous policy dialogues with different stakeholders including representatives from Government, business associations, the Donor Community, CSO’s, political parties, think tanks and academia.
UNDP Egypt also published eight MDG-based Policy Briefs based on the 2005 EHDR. The briefs highlight the main areas that demand Government intervention with the support of development partners. Upon their release, the Minister of Economic Development encouraged several more thematic discussions to be held to discuss each of these Policy Briefs with selected partners. The discussions were conducted in the presence of members of the Egyptian Parliament, representatives from relevant ministries, NGOs, University professors, and the team of authors.
To sustain the growing momentum and demand created for the 2005 EHDR, UNDP in collaboration with the Government of Egypt formulated a full-scale project document to establish a "Social Contract Monitoring and Coordination Center," at the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, to follow-up on the Report’s recommendations and coordinate the integration of the MDG-based vision into Government plans and programmes. It became quite evident from the various policy dialogues held on the 2005 EHDR that the notion of a “new social contract” needed further elaboration within the Egyptian context. The re-definition of the nature of the relationship between the State and citizen demanded that the different roles of the different stakeholders be further analyzed and spelled out. This is why UNDP Egypt decided to build on the 2005 EHDR by devoting the 2008 EHDR to discuss the role of civil society within Egypt’s new social contract.
In its production, the 2008 EHDR attempts to utilize UNDP’s internal capacities and resources to the maximum. For example, queries are posted on various networks to gather information for the report. Furthermore, guidance and support are solicited from several divisions within UNDP such as: a) the UNDP Oslo Governance Center which provides comments on the EHDR background papers and brings in experts opinion - to ensure the report has a global orientation to complement the national context; b) the CSO Division, in BRSP that refers the EHDR team of authors to global material on the subject matter and avails copies of UNDP’s CSO toolkit, which includes corporate policies of UNDP’s engagement with CSOs; and last, but not least c) the NHDR office which lends its support by developing the necessary toolkits and resources to guide the overall National Human Development Report production process. The 2008 EHDR is expected to be launched in March 2008.
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