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>Date: Mon, 02 Aug 1999 14:42:59 -0400
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>From: "P. Gordon" <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject: FYI: Statement concerning Y2K made by Herbert M'cleod of the
> UN Development Program, July 29, 1999 at GW University Y2K Conference
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>Forwarded copy of a statement made at the George Washington University Y2K
>Conference on July 29, 1999
> BY MR. HERBERT M'CLEOD
> AT THE PLENARY PANEL ON Y2K,
> THE GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY,
> WASHINGTON D.C.
> 29 JULY 1999
>Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen,
>I am very pleased to represent the United Nations Development Programme
>at this gathering and to join such a distinguished panel. Let me first
>thank the George Washington University for organizing this conference
>and Professor Paula Gordon for inviting me to this panel discussion on a
>topic, which is as vital for those living in advanced and
>technologically sophisticated countries, as for the rest of the world in
>less priviledged circumstances.
>I will confine my presentation to a description of UNDP's mission and
>the modest role we are playing in addressing Y2K issues in partner
>programme countries. In addition, I will share with you our perception
>of what further steps are needed to prevent and/or mitigate any crisis
>situation in those countries and offer some suggestions on what we could
>do together to avert global and national crises.
>Context/Definition of Y2K:
>After 3 days of discussion, I am sure that there is now a common
>understanding of the problem and need not spend time redefining it.
>In any case the three circle illustration, so eloquently articulated by
>Professor Gordon in her working white paper, sums up the problem pretty
>well for us to continue our discourse.
>Indeed the Y2K is a complex, inter-related problem. While IT/CT is at
>the core of the problem, understanding the magnitude of the implications
>of date-sensitive computer-chip embedded systems provides us with some
>kind of a picture of what we face. The fact is that modern life as we
>know it in the developed and developing world is almost totally
>dependent on these embedded systems. At the same time, the
>ever-increasing inter-linkages if not interdependence among all
>countries, borne out of globalization make all countries vulnerable in
>varying degrees to the otherwise simple technology problem of Y2K.
>Put differently, globalization of the world economies have progressed so
>rapidly that disruptions in one region create repercussions upon others
>and isolation is now virtually impossible, and undesirable.
>Hence, the Y2K problem will have global, national, as well as local
>impacts on economic stability, social order, political systems, and even
>the physical environment. In other words it will touch every aspect of
>The nature of the problem is also not time bound as it is likely to
>roll-over and linger well beyond year 2000, if measures are not taken
>sufficiently ahead of the actual occurrence of the event.
>Today, as we continue to discuss the issue, we are but only 155 days
>away from ushering the "new-millenium" and experiencing, in real life,
>the "millenium-bug" - the other name for Y2K. However, we will begin
>to experience it even before 31 December as some people will start the
>mass panic to take preventive but narrowly focused measures. Time
>therefore, is very short and the task ahead is gigantic.
>What is UNDP doing?
>UNDP's mission is to provide technical grant assistance to developing
>countries around the world (The current number of countries, which
>receive UNDP assistance is 134). The goal is to help build their
>national capacities in governance for:
>· Promoting human development
>· Reducing poverty
>· Maintaining sustainable environment
>· Ensuring gender, social and economic equality
>· Promoting human rights
>· Interventions in crises countries and promoting post-conflict
>We do all these in partnership with recipient and donor countries as
>well as other donor organizations, like the World Bank, Regional
>Development Banks and other UN Agencies.
>In the five regions in which we operate we have taken the following
>action programmes as a contribution to address the Y2K problem.
>In Africa, we are assisting a regional programme called National
>Planning for Africa for the Year 2000. The aim of the project is to
>have majority of African countries prepare their respective national
>plans to ensure the provision of basic services, in case of Y2K related
>disruptions and failures. More specifically, this project is helping
>· Raise awareness of the key decision-makers to the potential
>consequences of Y2K and the need for Y2K national plans.
>· Build capacity of Y2K national coordinators to design and implement
>national plans of action to mitigate the effects of Y2K.
>· Prioritize national sectors, such as energy, and communications, to
>help countries focus on specific remedial measures that must be applied
>quickly and in a strategic manner to have the most effective and
>beneficial impact in the shortest possible time; and
>· Increase cooperation among UNDP, World Bank, and ITU, in coordinating
>and supporting Africa's Y2K national planning and implementation
>In Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP has helped set up a
>a.) Foro Y2K America del Sur: comprising 10 countries: Argentina,
>Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador,
>Chile) to help:
>1. Develop a Web site for the Foro
>2. Organize the first meeting of experts in Energy in Buenos Aires.
>3. Organize the first conference of the Foro in Lima, Peru
>4. Develop the second meeting of the "Group de Energía" in Washington
>5. Develop the second Conferencia del Foro 2000 for South America.
>6. Develop an Auditing Y2K Workshop in Santiago, Chile (26-27 May)
>7. Support National Coordinators in reference to technical and
>8. Hold weekly telephone conferences with all countries in South America
>9. Coordinate with the sectoral global organizations such as IATA,
>Global 2000, International Telecommunications Union.
>10. Support the coordination of the International Y2K Cooperation
>Center with South America
>11. Manage and implement the Y2K related development agendas.
>12. Present the work done by Group of Energy of the Foro at the United
>UNDP has also set up another forum called:
>b.) Foro Y2K Mexico & America Central:
>The type of support that UNDP provides to Central America and Mexico
>consists in the funding of key regional meetings. Some Caribbean
>countries also participate in these regional meetings.
>In Asia and the Pacific region, UNDP is assisting requesting
>governments with advisory services for risk assessment and contingency
>In the Arab States region, UNDP is committed to provide advisory
>services relating to Y2K matters to requesting governments in the
>In Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, UNDP has helped
>to set up a Y2K cooperation center in Sofia, Bulgaria to address Y2K
>related issues for the region.
>In close collaboration with the United Nations Secretariat, we have just
>completed a survey of the Y2K related risk situation in our programme
>countries. Although this exercise was primarily meant for United
>Nations internal office planning purposes, its results would be useful
>by mapping the degree of risk for each critical sector in each of the
>134 countries. This will add to the information available and upon
>which further work and actions can be envisaged. A simple example is
>that such an exercise would help in focusing donor support to high risk
>Ladies and Gentlemen, we recognize that this is not enough.
>Unfortunately our meager resources do not allow us to go much farther.
>What We Must Do Together?
>What therefore must we all do together?
>As we all know, time is limited; knowledge on the issue is confined
>largely to the developed countries, with the United States leading the
>rest; and resources are insufficient. It is therefore, imperative
>that, national and local governments, business and private sectors,
>civil societies, international organizations and NGOs must join together
>and make a combined and determined effort towards addressing the issue.
> From all the discussions here, it is evident that only a combined and
>coordinated effort at the global, national and local level will minimize
>the negative consequences of Y2K. The recommendations should therefore,
>be seen, in this context.
>First, urge all national governments, to reinforce appropriate Y2K
>national Task Forces, through resources, authority and knowledge.
>Where none exists, to create such groups as a matter of urgency.
>Second, a rigorous Awareness Creation Campaign must be launched at
>national and local levels. The thrust of such campaigns ought to be to
>educate responsible authorities and the major stakeholders on the
>inter-connectivity of the Y2K problem, its likely impacts, and measures
>that must be taken to address the problem.
>Third, a serious effort must be made by all national governments to
>prepare national contingency plans and inventories of all priority areas
>of concern for preventing and minimizing Y2K related events that would
>pose the greatest of risks to humankind. A long list is given in the
>white paper and includes nuclear weapons systems, biological and
>chemical laboratories, nuclear power plants, electric power grid among
>Fourth, every national government must lead the initiative to test those
>high priority and high risk areas and prepare appropriate action plans
>for Y2K eventualities in those areas.
>Fifth, mobilize all government resources, civil society, action groups
>to launch vigorous drives to address the issue.
>Sixth, to encourage governments to allocate appropriate financial
>resources, national contributions could be matched by donor funds to
>address Y2K related issues such as those mentioned in the white paper.
>Seventh, use the internet facilities to launch a global
>awareness-creation, and preparedness campaign.
>Eighth, emerge from this conference with a comprehensive proposal,
>which should be shared across the globe with national governments,
>private sector, civil societies and international organizations for
>taking appropriate measures.
>Ninth, explore with the World Bank and other major donors, the
>possibility of preparing a practical hand book, which could be used by
>national governments and others concerned as practical guidelines to
>respond to possible Y2K related eventualities.
>Ladies and Gentlemen, the UNDP with its network of offices in almost
>all of the developing world, and its experience in dealing with
>countries in crises is prepared to make available this network for any
>coherent and coordinated action this meeting will recommend. One
>possibility that comes to mind is the identification of a minimum list
>of critical functions per country and an assessment of the cost of
>maintaining these. With goodwill to mobilize resources we should be
>able to quickly provide the support necessary.
>Post Event Recovery:
>Some experts are of the opinion that the Y2K is a rolling problem and
>that system malfunctions caused by it will have to be dealt with well
>beyond year 2000. Depending on the magnitude of disruptions and
>malfunctions, serious effort would need to be taken to restore/replace
>the affected computer based systems to bring back normalcy to the
>society-based services. For this, governments/private businesses and
>other affected parties will require access to expert groups, consulting
>firms and computer industry to help them rectify the problems. They may
>also need substantial funding from donors to implement practical
>remedial measures and solutions. UNDP, World Bank, United Nations,
>United Nations Agencies and other major donors have significant roles to
>play in this and should prepare for such post event activities.
>In closing, I would like to say that as we look to the future in the new
>"millenium," we must take lessons from the past. History tells us of
>innumerable sufferings and miseries of humankind from natural
>catastrophes and man -made conflicts. But human genius, patience and
>endurance have always withstood challenges and turned them into
>opportunities. After every challenge humankind emerged more resilient
>and advanced to even higher standards of living. Once again, as we are
>at the threshold of the new millenium, we are faced with a new
>challenge, the likes of which we have not experienced before. Let us
>pick up the gauntlet. I am confident that our combined and determined
>effort to address this challenge, and the opportunities offered through
>global cooperation will move us to even greater heights.
Patrick O'Beirne B.Sc. M.A. FICS. Software Quality Consultant
PSP, TickIT, Y2K PC software assessment, euro(EMU) conversion
http://www.sysmod.com Tel: +353 (0)55 22294 Fax: 055 22297
Systems Modelling Ltd, Tara Hill, Gorey, Co. Wexford, IRELAND