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Eyes on the Budget Project: Bringing the Public Back into Public Finance

UNICEF and Fordham University, with the support of the European Commission, hosted a policy forum on 18-19 February 2010 in New York City. The February 18th session was at Fordham Lincoln Center followed by a policy workshop at UNICEF the next day.

After the Global Financial Crisis governments face the challenge of protecting social spending with limited fiscal resources. This is especially true in developing countries who must also cope with volatile food prices. To protect children, women and poor families, governments must take decisive steps to both support economic recovery while protecting vital health and education programs.

Recovery with a human face requires adequate resources be channeled to effective programs targeting children, women and poor families. This conference will focus on three main policy areas:

  • Ensuring budget transparency and citizen participation and engagement in order to ensure that enough resources are allocated and these are effectively channeled;
  • Implementing robust counter cyclical social spending programs in response to crises and to support social services and minimize harm to children;
  • Building and financing child-sensitive social protection systems that address both longer term structural poverty as well as crisis-response.

This meeting brought together development practitioners, researchers and other experts to discuss emerging empirical evidence and deliberate on key policy responses, notably those related to social budgets and public finance policy.

Conference Agenda

Day 1: Children in Crisis: Impact, Challenges and the Role of Social Budgets

  • Welcome: Nancy Busch (Fordham University)
  • UNICEF’s Social and Economic Policy Work on Recovery with a Human Face: Isabel Ortiz (UNICEF) [Presentation]

Budget Situation and Policy Responses
Chair: Sophie Mitra (Fordham)

Social Spending and Social Protection in Times of Crisis: The Philippine Experience: Cielito Habito
(Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development) [Paper] [Presentation]
Budgets for Children in India: Policy Responses to Disasters and Crises: Enakshi Ganguly Thukral
(HAQ Centre for Child Rights)

Reaching the Marginalized in the Aftermath of the Global Economic Crisis: Education Challenges in Low Income Countries:
Samer Al-Samarrai (UNESCO)
[Presentation] [Paper]

Discussants: Shantanu Mukherjee (UNDP):
Ali Zafar (World Bank); Yongzheng Yang (IMF)

Evidence on Crisis Impact
Chair: Luis Felipe Lopez Calva (UNDP)

The Effect of Aggregate Economic Shocks and Household Health Seeking Behavior:
Karen Grepin (New York University)
The Impact of the Increase in Food Prices on Children Poverty and the Policy Response in Mali:
Gustave Nebie (UNICEF Mali)
[Presentation] [Paper]

Macro-Micro Modelling of the Economic Crisis Impact: Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Ghana:
Leonardo Menchini and Luca Tiberti (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre)

Real-time Monitoring Systems and Emerging Evidence from East Asia and the Pacific Islands:
Samman Thapa and Mahesh Patel (UNICEF EAPRO)

Subha Mani (Fordham); Jingqing Chai (UNICEF)

Policy Options to Help Ensure Recovery with a Human Face
Chair: Gáspár Fajth (UNICEF)

Financing Social Protection: Addressing Shocks and Structural Poverty:
Nora Lustig (Tulane University)

Social Protection in Fiscal Stimulus Packages:
Yanchun Zhang and Nina Thelen (UNDP)
[Presentation] [Paper]

School Fee Abolition: Preserving Investments in Education:
H. Dean Nielsen (Formerly World Bank, IEG)

Marginal Budgeting for Bottlenecks: Tool for Increasing Cost Effectiveness:
Carlos Carrera and Rudolf Knippenberg (UNICEF)

A Proposal for a Budget Transparency Norm:
Warren Krafchik, Shaamela Cassiem and Vivek Ramkumar (International Budget Project)

Innovations in Social Budget Work: Bringing the Public Back into Public Finance:
Darryl Mcleod (Fordham), Ronald Mendoza and Gabriel Vergara (UNICEF)

Enakshi Ganguly Thukral (HAQ Centre for Child Rights); Cielito Habito (Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development); Abdelmajid Tibouti (UNICEF)

Day 2: A Development Practitioner’s Toolkit on Advancing Child Rights
Background on the UNICEF-EC Toolkit for Child Rights Initiative:
Rada Noeva (UNICEF)

Video Presentation on Child Rights Participation in Brazil:
Ravi Karkara (UNICEF)

Social Budgeting for Children, Women and the Poor
Chair: David Stewart (UNICEF)
Presenter: Radhika Gore (Columbia University)
Jingqing Chai (UNICEF) [Presentation of ODI Input]
Vivek Ramkumar (IBP)
Enakshi Ganguly Thukral (HAQ)
Cielito Habito (Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development)
Samman Thapa (UNICEF)

Integrating a Child Rights Perspective in Poverty and Social Impact Analysis
Chair: Jingqing Chai (UNICEF)
Presenter: Margaret Wachenfeld (UNICEF) [Presentation]
Alberto Minujin (New School)
Leonardo Menchini (UNICEF)
Namsuk Kim (UNDP) [Presentation]
Jennifer Yablonski (UNICEF)
Open Discussion on the EC Toolkit and Synthesis
Moderator: Daniel Seymour (UNICEF)
Learn more about: the conference participants and the conference synthesis report.