Operational Activities Segment of the Economic and Social Council Dialogue with the Executive Heads of United Nations Funds and Programmes

Thank you Mr. Vice-President.

Today we come together to discuss the challenges that UN Funds and Programmes face as they work toward the Millennium Development Goals.

We know that building a more cohesive and harmonized UN system is necessary for achieving the Goals. The General Assembly has repeatedly stipulated this in recent years. Indeed, last week the Assembly issued a resolution on system-wide coherence. It makes specific recommendations on how the governing bodies of United Nations organizations can work more closely with the General Assembly and ECOSOC.

Of course, our efforts to create a more effective United Nations need support from national governments. We need national leaders and governments that will work closely with the UN as we strive to streamline our business practices. We also need national development priorities to mesh well with UN agendas. With improved internal coordination and better external cooperation we can achieve the Goals.

As you know, the September Summit on the Millennium Development Goals is drawing near. In preparation for it, the UN system has reflected on its approaches toward accomplishing the Goals. It has identified successful practices to replicate and approaches that have not worked as well. You will learn about some of these today from our speakers and then in much greater detail at the Summit.

Allow me to briefly review the topics that our distinguished guests will speak to us about today:

Ms. Helen Clark, Chair of the United Nations Development Group and Administrator of UNDP, will speak about the “Delivering as One” initiative that began in 2007 and which is accelerating progress toward the MDGs. I look forward to hearing results from this innovative programme and its eight pilot countries.

Ms. Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of UNFPA, will speak about the importance of strong partnerships between UN entities and other development actors. We are reliant on governments and civil society organizations to maximize the positive effects we can have on people in need. It is so important to understand the underpinnings of good partnerships and relationships. Ms. Obaid will shed some light on this area.

Mr. Anthony Lake, the newly appointed Executive Director of UNICEF, is also with us today. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Lake on his appointment and welcome him. He will speak to us about who is receiving help through MDG efforts. We can reach some people easily and improve their quality of life. But what about the people who, for geographic or socio-economic reasons, are not easy to reach? How do we identify them and help them?

Finally, Mr. Ramiro Lopes da Silva, Deputy Executive Director of External Relations for the World Food Programme, will speak as a first-time panelist here. He will focus on the importance of integrating sound business and management practices into MDG efforts. As Mr. Lopes da Silva is a veteran of WFP emergency operations around the world, we look forward to hearing his views on best practices.