|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
10th Meeting (AM)
Fearing Decline or Reversal in Development Financing, Second Committee Delegates
Call for Steady, More Balanced Cash Flows to Fund UN Operational Activities
Concerned that the recent increase in funding for United Nations development activities could taper off or even reverse course this year because of the global economic crisis, several delegates in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) called today for a steady incoming flow of cash, as well as greater balance between the funding of core and non-core activities.
As the Committee took up its agenda item on operational activities for development, speakers described development assistance as a lifeline that helped many developing countries meet national objectives in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. They were encouraged that the funding of United Nations operational activities for development had reached an all-time high of $22.2 billion in 2008 — up 10 per cent from 2007 — and had outpaced the growth in overall official development assistance (ODA) from the member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
The fact that the funding base for operational activities was expanding to include non-traditional donors and the private sector was also good news, delegates said, noting, however, that only 29 per cent of that money was for core activities. That imbalance was particularly worrisome because core resources covered the lion’s share of the United Nations system’s institutional costs and programme activities, according to Malawi’s representative, who spoke on behalf of the African Group.
Yemen’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, reinforced that concern by pointing out that the imbalance had caused incoherence in the United Nations development system, leading the Organization to adopt distorted, uneven approaches to development programmes on the ground. United Nations efforts really should be carried out in line with the specific development needs and goals of recipient countries, he added, adding that there should be no restrictions on the ability of national Governments to determine their own development priorities or to select development partners. The United Nations, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions and bilateral donors, should recognize that right and align their cooperation programmes with national development strategies, he emphasized.
Nepal’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that despite the development gains those countries had made in recent years, the external support they had received was not enough to overcome their vast development challenges and structural handicaps. What was really needed was predictable, reliable and sustainable funding, he stressed. Additionally, new funding mechanisms, such as multi-donor trust funds, including “One UN” and thematic funds, could go a long way towards enhancing the coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of operational activities for development, he said, calling on the donor community to use them.
Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), called for multi-year planning and financing frameworks, and for donor countries to implement programmes funded by ODA, in line with national priorities. Like other speakers, he underscored the importance of strengthening South-South and triangular cooperation for development purposes.
Belgium’s representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, underlined the merits of the “Delivering as One” approach, saying it provided the most promising vehicle for improving the country-level operational delivery of the United Nations. However, several key issues would need to be resolved, including at United Nations Headquarters, he said, adding that feedback from pilot countries and evidence on the ground would be important in that regard.
Similarly, the representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the Group of 7, said more and better funding was only part of the solution. Evidence from pilot-country evaluations showed that there had been improvements in the way in which the Organization worked on the ground. Speaking with one voice had enhanced the visibility and impact of the United Nations at the country level. Despite that, more work was needed at Headquarters to support coherent in-country reforms, he said. Moreover, resolving frustrating issues that inhibited the Organization from working closer in-country should be a priority.
Many speakers hailed the recent creation of UN Women as an important step for gender equality and women’s empowerment, expressing hope that the new gender entity would conduct operational activities in an effective, coherent manner.
Also speaking today were representatives of China, Brazil, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Cuba, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Belarus, Bangladesh, Russian Federation, Japan, Canada and Colombia.
Presenting the relevant reports for the Committee’s consideration were Nikhil Seth, Director of the Office of EOCSOC Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and Inés Alberdi, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
The Second Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 14 October, to take up financing for development.
Meeting to take up its agenda item on operational activities for development, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) had before it the report of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation (document A/65/39 Supp) on its sixteenth session, held on 4 February 2010, which includes a summary of the plenary meeting and a list of draft decisions.
Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on analysis of the funding of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for 2008 (document A/65/79-E/2010/76), which notes that contributions in that year amounted to some $22.2 billion, the highest level ever, and 10 per cent more in real terms than the total for 2007. Non-core contributions comprised about 71 per cent of the funding and unrestricted core resources made up the rest. About 61 per cent of funding went into longer-term development-related activities, and the rest to humanitarian aid.
According to the report, total contributions from 1993 to 2008, excluding debt relief, grew at a faster pace than overall official development assistance (ODA) from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)/Development Assistance Committee (DAC) member countries. Some 36 per cent of all direct contributions by OECD/DAC countries to the multilateral system were channelled through the United Nations development system. The Organization was the largest multilateral partner of DAC countries and seems to have gained in importance.
The report notes concerns that the growth seen in contributions to the United Nations over the past five years could stagnate, or possibly reverse, in 2010 due to the global economic crisis. Total expenditures in 2008 were $18.6 billion, 63 per cent of which went into development-related activities, with about one third of them in Africa, and 37 per cent into humanitarian aid, with half of that spent in that region. Also in 2008, more than half of country-level expenditures were spent in least developed countries compared with 39 per cent in 2003.
In the same year, some 82 per cent of core resources and 73 per cent of non-core resources were spent in low-income countries, with five United Nations entities accounting for 75 per cent of expenditures, the report says. It also discusses the General Assembly’s various proposals for governing bodies, donor countries, programme countries and United Nations entities to strengthen the funding architecture of operational activities for development.
The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on the activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) to the Assembly (document A/65/218). It tracks the overall progress of UNIFEM’s programmes and activities, as framed in its 2008-2013 strategic plan; highlights concrete results of the Fund’s support to countries in 2009; and recommends ways to strengthen its development and organizational effectiveness.
Within the development framework, the report charts progress in enhancing women’s economic security and rights, ending violence against women, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls, advancing gender justice in democratic governance, and related gaps and challenges. Within the management framework, it discusses progress in policy advice and catalytic programming, United Nations coordination and reform, accountability, risk and oversight, administrative, human and financial capacities, and related gaps and challenges.
In the last report of its kind, given that UNIFEM has been replaced by UN Women — the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women — established by Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010), the UNIFEM Consultative Committee recommends that the Fund continue to be actively involved in the processes of creating the new Gender Entity; report annually to the Consultative Committee on the strategic plan; respond to requests for support, in line with the plan’s four thematic areas; and report on progress according to key results and indicators.
The Consultative Committee also encourages UNIFEM to participate actively in the follow-up to the outcomes of the Commission on the Status of Women; to continue supporting implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security; to strengthen its work in support of gender-responsive budgeting; and to focus more on engaging men and boys in its operations to strengthen gender equality.
Moreover, the report stresses the importance of reaching the $100 million annual-disbursement target for the United Nations Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women by 2015, as set out in the Framework for Action of the Secretary-General’s multi-year “UNiTE to End Violence against Women” campaign, and encourages UNIFEM and partner organizations to bolster resource-mobilization efforts.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on the role of the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and Resident Coordinators (document A/65/394), which transmits to the General Assembly the report of the Joint Inspection Unit entitled “The role of the special representatives of the Secretary-General and resident coordinators” (document JIU/REP/2009/9).
The Committee also had before it a note by the Secretariat on the Renaming of the title of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Population Fund to include the United Nations Office for Project Services (document A/C.2/65/L.2), in which the Economic and Social Council recommends that the Assembly adopt a draft resolution on the issue.
Introduction of Reports
NIKHIL SETH, Director, Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report (document A/65/79-E/2010/76), which states that from 1993 to 2008, total contributions to the United Nations development system nearly doubled in real terms, with non-core funding almost tripling but only a 5 per cent increase in core resources. For the first time, the report distinguished between funding for development-related activities and humanitarian aid, and noted a major broadening of the funding base in the past 15 years, he said.
He said that according to preliminary figures from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, as well as from United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies, total contributions for operational activities for development fell slightly in 2009, compared to 2008, mainly due to lower funding for humanitarian aid, while development-related resources increased by some 7 per cent in real terms. There was widespread concern that contributions would fall in 2009.
While the share of direct contributions by OECD/DAC Governments had dropped from 80 per cent to 62 per cent over the past 15 years, he said, the decline had been offset by increases in the share of non-OECD/DAC Governments, as well as intergovernmental, non-governmental and private sources of funding. However, the reliance on a small number of donor countries for core resources was worrisome. In 2008, five countries accounted for about half of all core funding, making the development system vulnerable to sustaining a “critical mass” of core resources required for its effective operation and for its entities to deliver the results defined in their respective strategic plans.
The core ratio of development-related contributions by OECD/DAC Governments had declined significantly from 70 per cent in 1993 to 47 per cent in 2008, he said. New pooled funding methods such as multi-donor trust funds and thematic funds had only recently begun to play a role in the funding architecture. In response to the dramatic increase in development-related non-core contributions, he said, General Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010) on system-wide coherence urged the Executive Boards of funds and programmes, as well as the governing bodies of specialized agencies to improve the oversight of programme- and project-specific non-core funding. The Assembly also asked governing bodies to include in their annual reports assessments of how such funding was aligned with their strategic plans. It was expected that reporting by the governing bodies would start next year.
He said the development of the central repository of information on financing of the United Nations system, as mandated by Assembly resolution 63/311 (2009) on system-wide coherence, had begun under the auspices of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) Action Plan on Harmonization of Business Practices. A system-wide financial statistics database and reporting system was expected to be completed by the end of 2011, allowing for a detailed break-down of contributions and expenditures.
INÉS ALBERDI, Executive Director of UNIFEM, introduced the note transmitting the report on that entity’s activities, and said that the establishment of UN Women united the Fund with the Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, the Division for the Advancement of Women and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW). The appointment of Michelle Bachelet as the new entity’s first Executive Director demonstrated the importance that the Organization gave to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Guided by its strategic plan, UNIFEM worked with partners to strengthen women’s economic security and rights, end violence against women, reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among women and girls, and advance gender justice, she said, adding that the report reviewed results in those areas for 2009. It was important to recognize that the strong support of Member States was critical in enabling UN Women to meet the rapidly increasing demand for technical and policy support on gender equality.
She said UN Women could build upon UNIFEM’s experiences and lessons through policy and programming, coordination and reform of the United Nations, and strategic partnerships and resources. With regard to policy and programming, UNIFEM had developed guidance notes for mediators in five key areas of peace negotiations that contributed to discussions relevant to Security Council resolutions 1888 (2009) and 1889 (2009). Moreover, it had launched a virtual knowledge centre on ending violence against women, among other projects. In order to identify key elements needed for the successful replication of UNIFEM-supported initiatives, the Fund’s evaluation practice aligned with the standards of the United Nations Evaluation Group, she said, adding that lessons learned from evaluation fed into strengthened policy and normative frameworks.
Turning to coordination and reform, she noted UNIFEM had supported efforts by the United Nations Development Group and Regional Directors Teams to build greater system-wide coherence on gender equality. It had also strengthened the gender-equality perspective, as well as learning opportunities in the “Delivering as One” pilots and self-starters. Highlighting the achievements of the United Nations Development Group Task Team on Gender Equality over the past four years, she stressed that UN Women could build upon existing coordination mechanisms that UNIFEM already led at the global and regional levels. Being present in eight “Delivering as One” pilot countries, the Fund had learned a great deal, she said.
In that regard, she pointed out that actions and budgets in the pilots for gender equality were often not specified, adding that capacity to respond to country demands was “regrettably weak”. As for strategic partnerships, she said that in 2009, UNIFEM had increased its participation in joint programmes at all levels, engaging in 95, as compared to 72 in 2008. The Fund’s participation in and leadership of a growing number of global-, regional- and national-level partnerships had contributed to lower transaction costs for countries and better use of the unique capacities of the United Nations. UNIFEM had partnerships with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as well as multilateral development banks such as the World Bank, she said.
MOHAMMED ABDULLAH AL HADHRAMI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the capacity of the United Nations development system to help countries realize their development goals called for continuing improvement in its efficiency, coherence and impact, as well as a significant increase in resources. The imbalance between core and non-core funding must be addressed more clearly as it was a major cause of the system’s incoherence, including at the country level. It had led to distorted and uneven approaches to the implementation of national development programmes, he said.
Reaffirming the importance of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities, he said the guidance provided by Assembly resolution 62/208 (2008) established key system-wide policy orientation for United Nations development cooperation and country-level methods. For example, operational activities for development should be carried out for the benefit of recipient countries, and at their request, in line with their own development policies and priorities. Moreover, there should be no restrictions on the ability and sovereignty of national Governments to determine their own development priorities or select their development partners.
He stressed the need to strengthen the global partnership for development, on the basis of recognition that national leadership and ownership of development strategies should be a guiding principle of United Nations operational activities at the country level. Partnerships should support the realization of national development objectives, he said, adding that the United Nations system, the Bretton Woods institutions and bilateral donors should align their cooperation programmes with national development strategies and harmonize their individual cooperation programmes with them. He hailed the landmark Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010), saying it created a solid basis for deliberations on the next resolution on the comprehensive policy review of United Nations operational activities for development.
PIERRE CHARLIER (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said operational activities constituted a key element of collective efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and important flow of resources to developing countries — about $22 billion in 2008, or the equivalent of 18 per cent of the total ODA resources provided by DAC countries. Overall, the European Union funded about half of all contributions to United Nations funds and programmes, which flowed through a “complex and fragmented United Nations system”, a complexity that contributed to high transaction costs and heavy administrative burdens on all sides.
Calling for more to be done in ensuring that funding was delivered in such a way as to which promote system-wide coherence, he said the European Union fully supported efforts to achieve a stable, predictable and adequate funding base. It recognized that core resources were the bedrock of the United Nations development system, while non-core resources could complement them, when aligned with national priorities and the strategic plans of United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies. However, there was concern that non-core contributions would increase transaction costs for all parties and erode set priorities. More than 98 per cent of core funding for the three major New York-based funds and programmes was provided by DAC countries alone, he said, questioning whether that funding base was still appropriate in today’s world.
He said the European Union remained convinced that the “Delivering as One” approach provided “the most promising vehicle for improving the Organization’s operational delivery at the country level”. Several key issues needed to be solved, including at the United Nations Headquarters level, he said, adding that evidence emerging from national evaluations by pilot countries would be important in that regard. Heralding the creation of UN Women as a milestone, he underscored the importance of aid effectiveness for improving the development impact of country-level assistance. Reporting burdens must be reduced, in line with aid-effectiveness principles so that staff time and resources could be used in an optimal manner, he stressed.
ADE PETRANTO (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed that the strength of the United Nations lay in its legitimacy at the country level as a neutral, objective and trusted partner. ASEAN supported ongoing efforts by the United Nations system to improve coherence, coordination and effectiveness of its operational activities, as well as voluntary efforts undertaken by the eight “Delivering as One” pilot countries, particularly Viet Nam.
He said funding was a vital component, yet expressed concern about the existing imbalance between core and non-core funding. Only 29 per cent went to core resources, he said, noting the crucial importance of adequate, consistent and predictable financial resources at the national and international levels in achieving the Millennium Goals. Multi-year planning and financing frameworks were needed in that regard. Calling for the fulfilment and implementation of ODA commitments, in line with national priorities, he also welcomed recent efforts and initiatives by all development actors to enhance aid quality.
ASEAN was committed to strengthening South-South and triangular cooperation within the region and beyond, he said. International cooperation — whether traditional North-South, South-South, triangular or multilateral — must be driven by demand to ensure that assistance fully met development needs, he stressed, calling for the strengthening of the United Nations development system’s role in facilitating access for developing countries to new and emerging technologies. ASEAN also urged the international community and all development partners to meet the needs of countries in special situations, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing States. The Association looked forward to a positive outcome of the Fourth United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries in Istanbul next year, he added.
GYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said that while they had made some development gains over the years through national efforts supported by the international community, that external support had proven inadequate, given the enormity of their development challenges and structural handicaps. Strengthening the development pillar of the United Nations was a priority, he said, calling for the enhancement of operational activities for development, which represented 64 per cent of the Organization’s work. However, a one-size-fits-all formula must be avoided since development needs and priorities varied among countries. The Group of Least Developed Countries underscored the universal, voluntary, neutral and multilateral character of operational activities for development, he added.
He welcomed the fact that total 2008 contributions to operational activities stood at $22.2 billion, the highest ever and 10 per cent more in real terms over the previous year. It was encouraging that the funding base was expanding to include non-traditional donors and the private sector, but there was concern over the imbalance between core and non-core funding since the former comprised just 29 per cent of total contributions and the latter 71 per cent. That imbalance must be addressed, with a view to ensuring a framework for coherent, consistent and consolidated operational activities. The predictability, reliability and sustainability of funding should underpin funding arrangements, he said.
Underscoring the need to bolster financial contributions to the United Nations in order to enable least developed countries to realize the Millennium Goals, he said newly developed funding mechanisms, such as multi-donor trust funds, including “One UN” funds at the country level and thematic funds, could go a long way towards enhancing the coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of operational activities for development. Such mechanisms, combined with multi-year planning and financing frameworks, would greatly promote predictability, stability and coherence of operational. That would require strengthening existing results-based planning systems on the part of relevant United Nations entities, he said. Strict adherence to the system-wide policy orientation for development cooperation and broad guidelines, as defined in Assembly resolution 62/208 (2008), were critically important to the realization of development goals.
PETER VAN DER VLIET ( Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the Group of 7, said United Nations operational activities played a critical role in responses to ongoing global crises. While donors were encouraged to meet their aid commitments, more and better funding was only part of the solution. Evidence from pilot-country evaluations presented in Hanoi had shown improvements in the way in which the United Nations worked on the ground. “Speaking with one voice has enhanced the visibility and impact of the United Nations at the country level.”
Despite that, however, more work must be done at Headquarters to support the reforms, he said, emphasizing the need to ensure that the Organization’s funding system was responsive to national needs and was delivered in ways that would promote coherence. Moreover, resolving frustrating issues that inhibited the United Nations from working closer in-country should be a priority, he said. It was important that those efforts were truly system-wide, and were followed through by funds, programmes, the Secretariat and specialized agencies.
He went on to say that the United Nations must ensure that the firewall agreement became fully operative and that resident coordinators were empowered to lead their respective country teams. Furthermore, the Organization’s agencies must work to ensure that resident coordinators were empowered with “the level of authority matching the responsibilities and accountabilities placed on them”. He described the establishment of UN Women as an “important step forward”, noting that it was an important change in the way the Organization worked on gender.
BRIAN BOWLER (Malawi), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said United Nations operational activities for development were crucial for Africa’s development, to which there was no one-size-fits-all approach. The Organization’s development aid should be able to respond to the varying demands of programme countries, and be aligned with their national development plans and strategies. It was encouraging that from 1993 to 2008, total contributions for operational activities for development had grown at a faster pace than overall ODA from OECD/DAC countries, but there was concern that the growth in contributions over the past five years could stagnate or reverse in 2010 due to the negative impact of the global economic crisis. He said he was particularly concerned about the impact of multiple crises on African countries, which endangered the realization of their national development objectives and the Millennium Development Goals.
Core resources continued to cover a higher share of the Organization’s institutional costs and programme activities, with a more global and interregional character, and therefore, must be increased, he said. National ownership and leadership should be the guiding principle for improving the quality of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and its regular monitoring, he said. It would serve as a support mechanism and help programme countries enhance the capacity of United Nations country teams. He called on the United Nations development system to vigorously pursue enhanced coherence, effectiveness and efficiency of operational activities for development at the country level in order to attract increased core and non-earmarked resources. Contributions from non-traditional donors had become increasingly important, especially with the growing importance of South-South cooperation, he said, adding that more efforts were needed to strengthen the impact of country-level programmes and ensure they were based on national priorities.
WANG MIN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, recalled that the Assembly had adopted resolution 62/208 in 2007 on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review in light of increasingly severe challenges to global development. The resolution indicated the way forward for the United Nations development system, and various difficulties had been overcome in the past three years. Little could be done in developing countries to promote development without financial support, he said, calling for adequate, stable and predictable core resources.
Expanding on that point, he called on all parties in development assistance to follow Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010) on system-wide coherence and take practical action to improve the development funding system. On South-South cooperation, he said it was an important way for developing countries to use their comparative advantages. South-South cooperation was not a replacement for North-South cooperation, but rather an important supplement. China attached great importance to economic and technological cooperation with other developing countries, he said, highlighting his country’s initiatives in that regard.
FÁBIO MOREIRA CARBONELL FARIAS ( Brazil) said Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010) on system-wide coherence introduced several actions that the Assembly must take on governance and the financing of operational activities for development. He requested the Secretary-General to make available the compilation of all relevant legislation on United Nations funds and programmes as soon as possible during the current session, saying that information should be useful during negotiations to adopt a new comprehensive policy review.
He said his country looked forward to receiving information on the comprehensive review of the existing institutional framework for system-wide evaluation of operational activities for development, and to the Assembly’s final decision at its next session. Brazil was eager to work towards the further development of the concept of “critical mass”, and to explore ways of applying it to all funds and programmes, with a view to increasing the quantity, quality, sustainability and predictability of resources.
Asking to receive the report requested in paragraph 37 of resolution 64/289 (2010) on all existing multi-lateral donor trust funds and thematic trust funds, he said such information was crucial to improving participation by Member States in governance and thus enhancing legitimacy and efficiency. Much was expected from the United Nations development system in helping Member States keep their promises to achieve the Millennium Goals targets by 2015. It was now time to focus energies on implementing decisions made at the highest level, and to reinforce, expand and enhance operational activities for development.
MARCO ROSSI ( Switzerland) said the world had witnessed a “real breakthrough” with the establishment of UN Women, and there had been progress in the dialogue on funding for operational activities, made possible by the high-quality information provided by the Secretariat. Country-led evaluations of the “One UN” programme had confirmed that the “Delivering as One” approach was contributing to renewed governmental leadership of United Nations programmes and better alignment with national priorities.
“We need to keep the momentum and further focus on evidence in terms of efficiency gains and development results,” he said, calling for strengthened monitoring and evaluation of United Nations programmes. The Economic and Social Council’s added value in providing operational guidance on the implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review had also been seen. Lastly, Switzerland was convinced that the commitment of resident coordinators was instrumental in bringing the United Nations system together to better support nationally-led processes. In that regard, he stressed the need to find better ways to support and empower them, including through viable career paths, relevant performance appraisals and improved staff mobility.
YOSEPH KASSAYE ( Ethiopia), describing his country as one of the largest beneficiaries of the United Nations development system, stressed the importance of the Organization’s development agencies in addressing its development challenges. Swift action was needed to address resource deficiencies in addressing the pressing needs of developing countries. He welcomed the change in the concentration of United Nations operational activities for development over the past few years, with more than half of country-level expenditures in 2008 going to least developed countries, as compared to just 39 per cent in 2003.
But while the Secretary-General’s report noted a 10 per cent increase in 2008 contributions, the imbalance between core and non-core funding continued to be of serious concern, he said, noting that core resources represented only 29 per cent of total contributions. That kind of imbalance caused incoherence in the development system and led to distorted and uneven approaches by the United Nations to implement development programmes. Without urgent steps to address that mismatch, efforts by the Organization’s agencies and programme countries to tackle various socio-economic development challenges would not produce tangible results and hard-won development gains would be seriously compromised, he said.
Expressing support for the Secretary-General’s proposals to strengthen the funding architecture of operational activities for development, he said the “Delivering as One” programme helped the United Nations improve service delivery and positioned it strategically to support development endeavours. He called on the Committee to support his country’s declaration as a self-starter of the programme, and on development partners, pilot countries and United Nations agencies to support Ethiopia in implementing it. He also called for the strengthening of newly developed pooled funding mechanisms such as the multi-donor trust funds, which was particularly important for pilot and self-starter countries in terms of programme non-core funding.
NADIESKA NAVARRO BARRO (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said various global crises remained a challenge to the work of United Nations agencies, programmes and funds, but they should not provide a pretext for developed countries not to fulfil their commitments on financing for development, particularly the delivery of basic resources. Those resources were the only guarantee of meeting the needs and priorities of recipient countries, she said.
There was, therefore, an urgent need to correct the growing imbalance between core and non-core resources, she said, pointing out that it was a main cause of the incoherence of operational activities, the current financing logic of which was aimed at meeting donors’ interests rather than those of recipients. The adoption of Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010) was a positive step, but it was regrettable that the text did not reflect a clear commitment by donors to provide core resources. The United Nations system and its specialized bodies must be more accountable and transparent to Member States, she stressed in closing.
BOVONETHAT DOUANGCHAK (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) expressed concern that, due to the negative impact of the global economic crisis, growth in contributions to the United Nations over the past five years could stagnate and possibly reverse in 2010. The persistent imbalance between core and non-core resources was of concern to developing countries since it affected the predictability of financial resources and undermined the supervisory ability of the governing bodies of United Nations funds and programmes.
Emphasizing the need to strengthen collaboration and cooperation within the United Nations system, as well as with donors, the private sector and civil society, he also called on donors to honour their commitment to increase funding for operational activities for development and development finance aid to developing countries, with a particular focus on helping least developed countries realize the Millennium Development Goals.
He said the adoption of Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010) on system-wide coherence would pave the way to further strengthening the governance of operational activities for development by improving funding mechanisms for operational programmes, and the institutional arrangements for supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment. South-South cooperation was vital and indispensable for development, and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation should be reinforced with the necessary UNDP support so it could more robustly implement its mandate. He said that in his country, the 2007-2011 United Nations Development Assistance Framework had been developed in an inclusive, participatory manner, with a view to enhancing its significance and effectiveness.
SERGEI SERGEEV ( Belarus) said there was need to promote cooperation and reform operational activities in the context of achieving the Millennium Goals. Decisions should be taken exclusively on the intergovernmental level and full account must be taken of the various paths to development. Welcoming the adoption of resolution 64/289 (2010), he noted its balanced wording on management, funding and evaluation of operational activities. He also underscored the importance of procedures for improving country programmes, saying that voluntary Government decisions in determining their appropriateness incorporated fully the concept of national responsibility.
On the “Delivering as One” programme, he welcomed the Economic and Social Council’s periodic reviews, but suggested that periodic questionnaires should be sent to Member States to determine the sufficiency of support provided by the United Nations system. It was also important to make additional efforts to increase financing for development by broadening the donor base, he said, echoing concerns raised today about the inadequate share of supplementary financing for operational activities. The time had come for non-core resources to be more transparent and clearer to recipient countries, he said, adding that there was also a critical need for greater trust on the part of donors.
ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh) said operational activities for development should remain voluntary, grant-based and universal, and they should serve the needs of Member States on the basis of national ownership and strategy. Bangladesh would uphold the agreements in the Accra Agenda for Action, which called for the disbursement of development assistance by international institutions on the basis of national ownership and country-level priorities.
Urging further resource mobilization for United Nations development activities, and the strengthening of core resources, he expressed dismay that, although core resources had increased 10 per cent last year, they still did not account for even one third of total contributions to operational activities for development. That was a clear indication of imposed conditionality, he said. Until the United Nations had more core than non-core resources, it would never be able to operate independently in meeting the needs of Member States, in line with their own plans and programmes.
Concerning the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, he said that in serving Member States’ needs, operational activities should uphold the neutrality, multilateralism, altruism and voluntarism of the United Nations. The Organization, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions and bilateral donors, should create and implement development activities in strict compliance with the Accra Agenda for Action, which should not be conditioned on the basis of “old jargon”, such as “aid effectiveness”. New, innovative programmes proposed by least developed countries to address climate change, the food and energy crises and other pressing problems should be encouraged and supported. Bangladesh was using public-private partnerships to implement development priorities, he said, pointing out, however, that they often stalled due to partners’ failure to bolster national ownership and leadership. He urged the United Nations to bridge that gap in trust and confidence.
TATIANA ZVEREVA ( Russian Federation) underlined the key importance of Assembly resolution 64/289 (2010) on system-wide coherence, and its measures for reforming how the United Nations worked on gender issues. In that regard, the Russian Federation welcomed the creation of UN Women and expected that it would be fully universal in its scope, as well as accountable to Member States. She also highlighted the importance of UNIFEM’s development activities and expressed hope that the new entity would continue and expand that approach.
Underscoring the importance of joint meetings of the Executive Board as a platform for discussing issues common to all agencies at the country level, she said that approach must remain informal. There was also a need for independent evaluation of pilot programmes under “One UN”, though it was premature to consider that model universal until reviews were completed and discussed. With regard to funding, she said that a balance between core and non-core resources was not an end in itself and was “hardly achievable today”. A practical approach was therefore needed. Finally, she stressed the importance of South-South cooperation, describing it as an inalienable part of global efforts to achieve the Millennium Goals.
NOZOMU YAMASHITA ( Japan) said country ownership was a key for the sustainability and effectiveness of operational activities for development. Governments should bear in mind that the ultimate objective of those activities was to help those in need, particularly the most vulnerable. He underscored the relevance of a human security approach, saying United Nations development assistance should focus on caring for people on the ground, with full respect for programme ownership by sovereign States. Calling for the tightening of the link between normative and policy-making functions, he also emphasized the need for mutual reinforcement to improve coherence and effectiveness, including in gender equality, women’s empowerment, and peace and security. Japan looked forward to seeing UN Women conduct operational activities in a most effective way, he added.
He recalled that during the recent Millennium Development Goals summit, the Prime Minister of Japan had announced $5 billion for health-related Millennium Goals, as well as $3.5 billion for education Goals. He also stressed the importance of helping the most vulnerable through a bottom-up, people-centred approach. Recognizing the value of South-South cooperation, and underlining his country’s commitment to it, he said Japan would co-organize, with UNDP and the International Labour Organization (ILO), a high-level meting on South-South and triangular cooperation as part of next month’s global expo on the subject, to be held in Geneva. Japan was committed to South-South and triangular cooperation while respecting host-country ownership.
CLAUDE LEMIEUX ( Canada) called for a collective international focus on implementing key decisions taken through the system-wide coherence process, saying there was a need to improve the way in which the United Nations worked at country-level. While country-led evaluations of “Delivering as One” had confirmed the strengthening of national ownership and greater responsiveness by United Nations country teams to priorities on the ground, remaining challenges must be addressed, she said. Canada remained committed to increasing country-level coordination, a goal that required more attention to common programmes, joint delivery and real coordination in order to achieve effective results with great efficiency.
She pointed out that much progress had been made towards supporting greater coordination in recent years. However, the international community must recognize and encourage agency and staff efforts in working more collaboratively. Staff should be recognized for their contributions, including through appraisal systems and career development prospectives. Moreover, resident coordinators must be provided with levels of authority to match their responsibilities. To that end, agencies, programme countries and intergovernmental bodies must strongly support the resident coordinator system, she said, stressing the need to better analyse and act on lessons learned from “Delivering as One”. To that end, broad collective support and commitment was required, including from programme countries, more developed countries and United Nations Headquarters.
JUAN FELIPE RENGIFO ( Colombia) said that giving high priority to discussions on operational activities could help the Committee achieve more tangible results, which could be translated to the field. In the coming years, the Assembly should focus on promoting measures to enhance the effectiveness of cooperation, with a view to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. It was particularly important to support implementation of the acceleration frameworks adopted by some developing countries in collaboration with UNDP, he said. The success of such strategies would depend on how consistent they were with each country’s development policies, plans and priorities, as well as on strengthening the system’s capacity to coordinate cooperation with national authorities. He emphasized the need for future reports of the Joint Inspection Unit to include more detailed information on coordination functions.
Emphasizing the need to continue exploring alternative ways to enhance cooperation between the United Nations and middle-income countries, he said their particular challenges and potential as multipliers of development should be taken into account. The Secretary-General’s report on analysis of the funding of operational activities for development listed Colombia and four other Latin American middle-income countries, as the main contributors of local resources to the system, he noted. It was important that Assembly decision foster South-South and triangular cooperation that encouraged best practices, capacity-building and the exchange of experiences among developing countries. Colombia welcomed the creation of UN Women, and expected it to help mainstream a gender perspective throughout the United Nations, in addition to promoting action to achieve gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide.
Ms. ALBERDI, Executive Director of UNIFEM, thanked Committee members in her closing remarks for having expressed their support for UN Women, saying the new entity would work effectively in pursuit of operational activities for development.
* *** *For information media • not an official record