Department of Economic and Social Affairs Public Institutions
Committee of Experts on Public Administration

CEPA 22nd session - Report and summary

The Committee of Experts on Public Administration held its twenty-second session at the Headquarters of the United Nations in New York from 27 to 31 March 2023. The overall theme of the session was “Urgently transforming institutions for a greener, more inclusive and more resilient world at a time of multiple crises”.


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A key message of the Committee was that a cascade of simultaneous crises was undermining the resilience of governments at all levels as well as their capacity to address the root causes of complex challenges in a holistic and context-sensitive manner. While the ability to respond quickly and effectively to crises was essential, an excessive focus on crisis management might result in relative neglect of six approaches to policymaking that were central to delivery of sustainable development: long-term thinking, risk management, use of best available knowledge, stakeholder participation, promotion of collaborative mindsets among public sector workers and leveraging of public financial management mechanisms to bridge financing gaps.


Recalling the urgent need to strengthen the global response to climate change, the Committee underscored the need for expanded capacity to access climate finance. Training and assistance to improve the skills of developing country governments, and subnational

authorities in particular, in analyzing data and designing climate projects that could attract investments should be expanded as a matter of priority. The Committee also highlighted the value of linking institution-building and environmental management in peacebuilding in conflict-affected countries.


Continuing its work on the application of the principles of effective governance and emphasizing that inclusiveness was a cornerstone of sustainable development, the Committee stressed that countries should build on efforts to implement their own models of participation

that left no one behind. while strengthening the enabling environment for civic engagement. Turning to governance indicators, the Committee agreed that multidimensional coverage of each of the 11 principles could provide a useful way to enhance policy analysis related to SDG 16 and that indicators should be detailed enough to capture the quality of a government’s response to the SDGs while addressing important analytical gaps in review processes. 


The Committee observed that agile, data- and insight-driven institutions were necessary to be better prepared and more resilient in managing crises. Building such institutions would depend on access to new skill sets and fostering of more citizen-centred and collaborative mindsets among public servants. A review of public sector workforce capabilities to achieve the SDGs and of related training efforts was seen as part of the solution. 


To better face multiple crises, revenue forecasting and planning, and public financial management should be strengthened, while ensuring accountability, transparency and participation in budget processes. Importantly, efforts were needed to improve budget credibility and reduce excessive budget deviations to prevent a negative impact on SDG achievement and ensure that no one was left behind.


Stimulating public sector innovation through digital technology remained a critical and complex issue with implications for all parts of government, including operational agencies, regulatory authorities and oversight bodies. The Committee reiterated the need for hybrid approaches to public service delivery that reflected people’s needs and aspirations while addressing digital capacity deficits. National digital strategies could be useful to ensure they were building digital trust, bridging divides and respecting human rights online, alongside continuous efforts to anticipate and respond to the impact of technological advances on government and society.


Lastly, the Committee facilitated a peer exchange among voluntary national review countries (Guyana, Malaysia, Rwanda and Saudi Arabia) and voluntary local review cities (Barcelona and Buenos Aires) on institutional aspects of SDGs 16 and 17. It also held a dedicated consultation with observers.


The Committee concluded its session by adopting a draft resolution and a draft decision for the consideration of the Economic and Social Council. The Committee also revisited and reaffirmed its contribution to the 2023 high-level political forum on sustainable development