IMPACT OF RECENT ECONOMIC SHOCKS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS FOCUS, AS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL CONTINUES OPERATIONAL SEGMENT

11 July 2008
ECOSOC/6361

IMPACT OF RECENT ECONOMIC SHOCKS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS FOCUS, AS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL CONTINUES OPERATIONAL SEGMENT

11 July 2008
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6361
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council

2008 Substantive Session

28th & 29th Meetings (AM & PM)

IMPACT OF RECENT ECONOMIC SHOCKS ON IMPLEMENTATION OF GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS

FOCUS, AS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL CONTINUES OPERATIONAL SEGMENT

Panel:  Dialogue with Heads of Four Funds and Programmes;

In Debate, 22 Speakers Address Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review

Amid calls to avert “serious policy blind spots” that had contributed to the current food crisis, and adopt more dynamic strategies to encourage a shift in global economic patterns, the United Nations Economic and Social Council today continued its operational segment with a dialogue involving the heads of four major United Nations funds and programmes responsible for international development cooperation.

The morning panel discussion on “Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in the context of current challenges” featured presentations by Kemal Dervis, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and John Powell, Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

In the afternoon, Council members debated implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of development operations, outlined in General Assembly resolution 62/208.

Opening the morning panel, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zhukang said the New Year had barely passed when the world was hit by a number of economic shocks.  Unstable markets and volatile capital flows were threatening livelihoods around the world, while a growing mismatch between the supply and demand of agricultural products had brought the issue of food security to the fore of international concern.  The developments currently unfolding and the quality of the response to them would surely have a significant impact on the global community’s ability to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Picking up that thread, Mr. Dervis said that, while the world economy was indeed witnessing a “structural transformation” in the nature of the challenges faced, positive economic growth trends were also taking place, due, in part, to strong performance in Asia, and impressive technical progress, which had brought about rapid productivity increases.  The potential for continued growth, however, was under threat by a serious shortage of natural resources -- energy, water and atmosphere -– which perhaps constituted the most serious constraint on human progress.  Therefore, a focus on Millennium Development Goal 7 –- to ensure environmental sustainability -- was an “absolute key priority”, and the United Nations was boosting its collective ability to address it.

At the same time, Ms. Veneman stressed that all the Goals were linked, with gains in one area contributing to gains in others.  For example, a child with access to clean water, proper sanitation, good nutrition and health care was more likely to survive and do better in school, which would help break the vicious cycle of poverty.  To that end, UNICEF had collaborated with United Nations agencies and other partners to provide more harmonized and effective responses to global health issues.  Collaboration was also important in addressing new challenges, and UNICEF was a member of the Secretary-General’s Task Force to cope with rising food prices and promote an effective response.  Calling for more action to reach the Goals, she said “Success will be measured in lives saved, and lives improved.”

Echoing those thoughts, Ms. Obaid took up the issue of maternal health as a component of reproductive health, saying that reproductive health problems remained the leading cause of ill health and death for women of childbearing age worldwide.  Maternal health was not only a public health issue, but a complex situation impacted by social, economic and cultural factors.  It was about the basic rights of women and their right to development.  While there had been an increase in domestic and international health spending, including on reproductive health, it was not enough.  Much of the increasing amount went to specific diseases and domestic financing of health had stagnated, or fallen in some countries.  To make motherhood safe, all women needed skilled attendance at birth, emergency obstetric care and family planning to space pregnancies.

Turning to the issue of hunger, Mr. Powell said the world faced a global malnutrition crisis, where the growth of one in every three children in the developing world was stunted, and the effects of the food crisis were being felt by swelling numbers.  Millions were on the brink of poverty and reaching for smaller, fewer and less nutritious meals.  The key to implementing the Comprehensive Framework of Action developed by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force would be close partnerships at the country level among national Governments, the United Nations system, civil society, the private sector and other actors, with the United Nations country team playing a significant supporting role.  To ensure results, he stressed that the benchmark should always be whether collaboration had contributed to making poor peoples’ lives better.

Afterward, delegates noted, among other things, that the poor who represented the “bottom billion” must be helped to escape the poverty cycle.  Success should be measured in terms of peoples’ ability to realize their full potential and, in pursuit of the Goals, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP should harmonize their strengths as the “four musketeers” to achieve the most powerful impact on the ground.

During the afternoon’s general debate, some 22 speakers put their views forward on issues ranging from resource allocation for core and non-core operational activities, to implementation of the “Delivering as One” initiative. 

The representative of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China said his delegation would be remiss if it did not emphatically underscore the need to both enhance the United Nations operational effectiveness and bolster national ownership of development programmes.  It was crucial to set in motion actions for increasing coordination with national Governments.

Dovetailing with that, the United Kingdom, delivering a statement also on behalf of Malawi, Mozambique, Netherlands, Norway and the United Republic of Tanzania, said the “Delivering as One” initiative was the most promising effort to ensure that the United Nations became more than the sum of its parts, and met the expectations of developing countries that had placed their trust in the world body as a development partner.  A more coherent and effective United Nations, responsive to priorities set out by programme countries, would be essential in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

In other matters, the Council, as an interim measure, agreed to defer until 31 December, the election of seven new States to serve on the two-year-old Peacebuilding Commission, extending until that time, the terms of office of the seats currently held by Angola, Brazil, Czech Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Luxembourg and Sri Lanka.

Taking that decision, the Council also decided to postpone consideration of a draft resolution, introduced 20 June, which would have had it recognize the Commission’s important role towards recovery, reintegration and reconstruction in countries emerging from conflict.

Also speaking in general debate were the representatives of Haiti, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Russian Federation, China, Switzerland, Cuba, Australia (speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Belarus, Japan, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Congo, Moldova, Kazakhstan, United States, Colombia and Algeria.

The European Union Presidency Coordinator in New York, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, also addressed the Council.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene to adopt its operational activities outcome at a date to be announced.  The humanitarian affairs segment of the current session will run from 15 to 17 July.

Background

The Economic and Social Council met today to continue its segment devoted to operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation.  It had before it the reports of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Food Programme (E/2007/35, E/2008/5, E/2008/6-E/ICEF/2008/3, E/2008/6-E/ICEF/2008/3/Corr.1, E/2008/14, E/2008/34(Part I)-E/ICEF/2008/7(Part I), E/2008/34(Part I)/Add.1-E/ICEF/2008/7(Part I)/Add.1, E/2008/36 (Supp. No. 16) and E/2008/L.8).

Opening Statement

Opening the meeting, Economic and Social Council Vice-President ANDREI DAPKIUNAS said the four United Nations funds and programmes represented today accounted for more than 60 per cent of expenditures in operational activities for development, and their achievements had greatly impacted the Organization’s contribution to meeting internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.  Challenges, such as meeting targets for increased official development assistance, improving the quality and allocation of aid, and building coherence in economic and development cooperation, underscored the urgency of moving into action more decisively.  Today’s dialogue with the Executive Heads of those funds and programmes would help bring attention back to implementing the Goals.

Panel Discussion on Implementing Millennium Development Goals

The morning panel on “Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals in the context of current challenges” was chaired by Mr. Dapkiunas and moderated by Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General, Economic and Social Affairs.  It featured the participation of Kemal Dervis, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and John Powell, Deputy Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP).

Opening the panel, Mr. ZUKANG said that today’s session brought together delegates with representatives of the four major funds and programmes of the Organization’s development system.  They were the “front-liners” of the United Nations development agenda.  Today’s topic was at the core of the Council’s agenda.

Last year, the Secretariat had reported to the General Assembly on the progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and had stressed a mixed record of success, he said.  It had been clear how much work lay ahead, but there was optimism.  The international community had been inspired by countries that had made significant gains, even where the challenges were greatest.  A combination of factors had made such achievements possible, including strong Government leadership and commitment, sound policies and practical strategies, and a significant increase towards adequate, predictable and sustained financial and technical support from the international community.

But, the New Year had barely passed when the world was hit by a number of economic shocks.  Unstable markets and volatile capital flows were threatening economic livelihoods around the world.  A growing mismatch between the supply and demand of agricultural products had brought the issue of food security to the fore of international concerns.  Food insecurity had triggered unrest in a number of countries.

Meanwhile, he said, several destructive natural disasters had made manifest the threat such disasters posed for economic livelihoods in both rich and poor countries.  Other calamites, such as drought and deforestation, were striking silently, yet also threatening the future of food supplies.

“The outlook for the next two years is not encouraging,” he added.  “Major changes in global policy will be required, especially in the developed countries, to reduce global imbalance and address key issues.”  The developments currently unfolding and the quality of the response to them would surely have a significant impact on the ability of the international community to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The challenge to the Council was to decide how, in such a context, to advance the dialogue on policies aimed at eradicating poverty, ensuring sustainable growth and achieving sustainable development, he said.  That meant dealing with very practical questions from the perspective of operational activities at the country level.  Among them:  How can the United Nations system support programme countries in their efforts to manage the multiple stresses in the short- and medium-term?  What implications does that have for United Nations support to national capacity-building teams?  How can the United Nations funds and programmes and United Nations country teams respond to the multiple challenges?  How can they support a coherent response?

In answering those questions, the Council could build on the guidelines provided in the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development, he said.

Mr. DERVIS said the world economy was witnessing a “structural transformation”, notably in the nature of the challenges faced.  Nonetheless, the economic growth trend was present, due, in part, to strong performance in Asia.  Today, close to 3 billion people, mostly in emerging Asia, were participating in global growth, investing more than 40 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP), which was historically unprecedented.  There was also impressive technical progress, which had brought about rapid productivity increases, especially in the United States.  Such know-how had spread much faster than in the past, thanks to trade, financial globalization and high investment rates in many emerging economies.  The global investment rate had jumped from 20.5 to 23 per cent of global GDP, due largely to emerging Asia.  Those were positive trends.

At the same time, he said the potential for continued growth -– and the spread of it -– was under threat for the first time in decades by a serious shortage of natural resources -- energy, water and atmosphere.  In that sense, the environmental challenge facing the global economy was much more serious than decades ago.  “It is the other side of the coin of globalization and rapid growth,” he said, and perhaps the most serious constraint on human progress.  Indeed, capital was plentiful, particularly if one looked at foreign direct investment, which in 2007 had reached half a trillion dollars in developing countries.  The unprecedented challenge today was reflected in misguided energy policies and very high energy prices, which had driven the food crisis.

A focus on Millennium Development Goal 7 –- ensure environmental sustainability -- was an “absolute key priority”, he said, and the United Nations was boosting its collective ability to address it, notably through cooperation between its environment and development programmes “as never before”.  UNDP’s Achievement Fund was funding climate change adaptation efforts, and the Chief Executives Board had adopted a comprehensive climate change process.  Also, key agencies were cooperating to address deforestation issues.  In closing, he said it was worrisome to see that, after having made strong progress in various parts of the world, the global energy and food situation threatened to set back poverty eradication.  Food price increase alone had meant that 100 million more people would be facing extreme poverty in the next two years.  “This is a very, very serious setback,” he stressed.

Ms. VENEMAN said the Goals were linked, with gains in one area contributing to gains in others.  A child with access to clean water, proper sanitation, good nutrition and health care was more likely to survive and do better in school, which would help break the vicious cycle of poverty.  In 2006, for the first time since world data had been collected, the total estimated number of annual deaths among children under age five had fallen to below the 10 million mark, a 60 per cent drop in the child mortality rate since 1960.

In 2005, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and UNICEF worked with the African Union to develop a strategic framework for reaching Goal 1 on child survival in Africa, where half of all under-five deaths occurred.  The thrust of that framework was to scale up a limited number of high-impact, low-cost interventions to reduce those deaths.  It was centred around integrated, community based health packages which included immunizations; antibiotics to combat pneumonia; and antimalarial combination medicines, among other things.

Other collaborative efforts with United Nations agencies and other partners had helped to provide more harmonized and effective responses to global health, she said.  Citing various examples, she said that, from 1988 to 2007, the number of polio cases had dropped by 99 per cent to an estimated 1,300 cases.  Results of the Measles Initiative showed a 68 per cent drop in measles deaths globally between 2000 and 2006, while under the Roll Back Malaria initiative membership continued to expand to include more private sector and civil society partners, which had led a three-fold increase in the production of treated mosquito nets.  The world had also seen encouraging progress in addressing HIV/AIDS, due in large part to collaborative efforts among important initiatives, including the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNAIDS.  Collaboration was also important in addressing new challenges, and UNICEF was a member of the Secretary-General’s Task Force to address the impacts of rising food prices and promote an effective response, she said.  Children were among the most vulnerable to such challenges, and she called for more action to reach the Goals.  “Success will be measured in lives saved, and lives improved,” she said.

Stressing that each Millennium Development Goal impacted the others, Ms. OBAID took up the issue of maternal health as a component of reproductive health, saying that reproductive health problems remained the leading cause of ill health and death for women of childbearing age worldwide.  Impoverished women suffered disproportionately from unintended pregnancies, maternal death and disability, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, gender-based violence and other problems related to reproductive health.

Reproductive health was the basis for maternal heath and was a lifetime concern for women, she said.  In many communities, discrimination against girls and women that began in infancy could determine the trajectory of their lives.  Unfortunately, the international community was currently not on track to achieve Millennium Development Goal 5 and accelerated action was needed to meet its two targets of reducing maternal mortality by three fourths and achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015.

Of the half million women who died in 2005, 99 per cent of them died in developing countries, she continued.  Slightly more than half of the maternal deaths (270,000) occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, followed by South Asia (188,000).  Together those regions accounted for 86 per cent of the world’s maternal deaths in 2005.  Overall, maternal mortality indicators represented the greatest gap among health measures between rich and poor in the same country.  New estimates showed that, while gains were being made in middle-income countries, the annual decline between 1990 and 2005 in sub-Saharan Africa was only 0.1 per cent.  No region achieved the necessary 5.5 per cent annual decline during the same period.

Maternal health was not only a public health issue, but a complex situation impacted by social, economic and cultural factors, she continued, stressing that it was about the basic rights of women, including their right to development.  While there had been an increase in domestic and international health spending, including on reproductive health, it was not enough.  Much of the increasing amount went to specific diseases and domestic financing of health had stagnated, or fallen in some countries.

Still, there was some light at the end of the tunnel, she said.  The African Ministers of Health had adopted the Maputo Plan of Action of the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010.  That Plan included a commitment to increase resource allocations to health sectors to at least 15 per cent of the national budget.

But, while funding was important, the focus on national health systems was also critical, she said.  To make motherhood safe, all women needed at least three interventions:  skilled attendance at birth, emergency obstetric care and family planning to space pregnancies.  Only a well-functioning health system could provide those.  If the system could respond to the medical requirements for safe deliveries and emergency obstetric care, it could respond to all other emergencies.

Strong supply chains for reproductive health commodities, as well as relevant essential drugs and well-equipped facilities staffed with skilled health workers, were also needed, she continued.  Indeed, maternal death and disability could not be reduced without adequate numbers of midwives.  Alarmingly, the number of those workers was decreasing in some countries, due to migration, deaths from AIDS-related illnesses and dissatisfaction with pay and working conditions.  When properly trained, empowered and supported, midwives offered the most cost-effective, low-technology, high-quality path to universal access to maternal health care.  Yet, some 700,000 midwives were estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be urgently needed and countries with the highest need should be given assistance in recruiting, training and supporting professional midwives.

In closing, she emphasized that the United Nations system was well-positioned to support national partners in strengthening health systems through a multisectoral response.  In many countries, the United Nations system supported health sector reform, but community involvement was critical to bringing about change.  Enhancing community understanding and empowering them to demand good services was an important component to improving primary health care.  She stressed that all development agencies and partners must collaborate according to national plans that were country-led and country-owned and that aligned with national needs and priorities.

Taking up the goal of halving the number of the world’s hungry, Mr. POWELL said that, while some countries had made progress, the number of hungry people in the world was rising again.  The world faced a global malnutrition crisis, where the growth of one in every three children in the developing world was stunted and the effects of the global food crisis were being felt by swelling numbers.  More than 850 million people already spent more than half of their income on food.  Now, they might not have enough to eat in order to lead productive lives.

New events had changed the landscape, as food prices had reached unprecedented heights, he continued.  Millions were on the brink of poverty and were reaching for smaller, fewer and less nutritious meals.  Those living on $2 a day were foregoing education and health care to eat, while those subsisting on $1 a day had been giving up proteins and dietary supplements, such as vegetables.  Those living on less than that were suddenly eating even less.  That situation threatened not only the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 1, but all of the Millennium Development Goals.

Given sufficient resources, WFP was able to scale up work with Governments and partners, such as civil society, numerous international and local non-governmental organizations and others.  Safety net operations like school feeding, general food distribution and therapeutic feeding were providing lifelines to people.  WFP had developed the tools to reach children under two years of age, to alleviate acute malnutrition crises over a short period of time, and to use cash and voucher interventions.

While regional organizations, regional economic commissions and others were working to increase financing for agricultural development, the three crises of food insecurity, climate change and development gaps were further threatening progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, he said.  That was particularly true in Africa, where the Secretary-General had created a Steering Group to accelerate progress there.  Immediate food needs had to be met, but a second step should give small farmers access to seeds, fertilizer and other basic inputs to boost agricultural yields.  A third needed step was easing export bans and restrictions.

Overall, the key to implementing the Comprehensive Framework of Action developed by the Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force would be close partnerships at the country level among national Governments, the United Nations system, civil society, the private sector and other actors, with the United Nations country team playing a significant supporting role.  The United Nations Development Group structure and partnerships were of particular value for collaboration at the country level, he said, noting that the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development also provided policy direction and tools. 

WFP continued to use the United Nations Development Assistance Framework as its development programming framework and had increased its participation in joint programmes from 46 in 2006 to 84 in 2007, he said.  Highlighting WFP’s work in Mozambique, he underlined how the organization led the United Nations Food Security Working Group, which worked with relevant Government ministries, as well as bilateral donor groups on agriculture.  Elsewhere –- such as in Rwanda, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Guatemala and Colombia –- joint programmes focused on sustainable agricultural growth and breaking chronic malnutrition, alleviating poverty, building livelihoods and mechanisms to cope with disaster, and supporting national education systems.

To ensure results, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, he stressed that the benchmark should always be whether or not collaboration contributed to making poor peoples’ lives better.  A strengthened response to the global food crisis must address not only Millennium Development Goal 1 and the global hunger emergency, but address the inter-linkages that imperilled all other Goals.  He urged support for the Secretary-General’s call to maintain a sense of urgency on the food crisis, and likewise sought the support of the Council’s members in ensuring increases in official development assistance (ODA) to address hunger. 

In the following interactive discussion, one delegate pointed out that a “serious policy blind spot” existed, as experts had missed the conditions that had led to the current food crisis.  He wondered whether there was an understanding of why it had occurred, and what could be done to avert such situations in the future.  Indeed, many countries were subject to the advice of the institutions present today, and would not wish for a “blind leading the blind” scenario.  Also, some countries faced a real challenge, in that most of their medical personnel were trained in-country, but then left to pursue opportunities in other destinations.  Was there a solution to such migration-induced problems?

Other speakers noted that those representing the “bottom billion” were still surviving on less than $1 a day, and must be helped, through individual empowerment and consolidation of peace, to escape the poverty cycle.  Success should be measured in terms of peoples’ ability to realize their full potential; and in the pursuit of the Goals, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP should harmonize their strengths as the “four musketeers” to achieve the most powerful impact on the ground.

Among other comments was an assertion that no “direct relationship” existed between energy prices and food product prices, and the food crisis could not be reduced to a question of energy.  There were a number of factors involved, notably, the architecture of the international financial system, speculation in food and energy markets and a lack of investment in agriculture.

Speakers also called for the creation of a database of development programmes to help countries take advantage of best practices, and for equal attention to be given to mechanized farms as had been given to small-scale farms, as that would enhance prospects for achieving the Goals, especially Goal 1.

In response, Mr. POWELL said the question on the allocation of core resources was an interesting one for WFP because it, in fact, had no core resources.  That situation would be part of an upcoming two-year conversation with its partners.  The three factors bearing on WFP’s capacity to meet its goals were food prices, energy prices and exchange rate fluctuations.  As a voluntary organization, it controlled none of these, yet was facing challenges from all of them.

In addition, over 90 per cent of the resources WFP received was directed or restricted in one way or another, he said.  That meant that less than 10 per cent of its allocations were multilateral.  While donors were extremely generous, what they gave was quite restricted.  In that context, and in light of the changes it was undertaking to meet current demands, WFP had to enhance an array of its financial instruments.  That included figuring out how to connect small farmers to markets, particularly because the organization now received more cash than food -– meaning it was now buying more food in local markets than ever before.  Determining how to do that would be a major focus for the organization in the next few years. 

Turning to the question on mechanized farming, he emphasized that there were over 400 million small farmers and, together with their families, they accounted for 2 billion people -– a third of humanity.  Without huge commodity supports, they were at serious risk of missing the next planting.  Thus, they urgently needed the support of the type that the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) had been advocating for years.  They must be equipped to be part of the solution to the hunger crisis, rather than its victims.

Ms. OBAID, responding to the question on holistic approaches, said that linking maternal and infant health issues indeed provided a holistic vision of what should be done.  Thus, Goals 4 and 5 could, and should, be linked.  But the challenge was to do it in all places.

Taking up the problem of retaining health personnel, she said there were two sides to the issue.  On the country side, the conditions of workers –- including their compensation –- was a “push” factor.  On the other side, the donor community affected health personnel and played a part in attracting them and keeping them in-country.  She suggested that a code of conduct among donors might be appropriate.  Of course, it was important to realize that moving and looking for better income was a right for all people and simply couldn’t be restricted.

Responding to the questions on child trafficking, Ms. VENEMAN said the issue continued to be a serious problem and UNICEF was addressing it not just country by country, but as a system, by tracking the flow of people.  It would continue to be a high priority.

She agreed with the observation that databases to monitor different problems were needed.  The development world did not manage knowledge well, and what worked and what did not had not been well documented.  UNICEF was currently focusing on that problem to help identify and analyze different experiences in programme countries, and she suggested that similar efforts should be made within the United Nations system. 

On the food crisis, she underscored UNICEF’s focus not just on hunger, but on nutrition insecurity.  A child’s future development was greatly affected by his or her ability to get the necessary nutrients and UNICEF had sharply raised its purchases of ready to use therapeutic foods.  Beyond those short-term efforts, she said there was a need for improved seeds and fertilizer to raise agricultural output.  The effect of successes, as had been seen in Malawi, was dramatic.  In closing, she noted that investment in the food production system was too often hampered by broken land ownership problems, especially in Africa.  In addition, the problems of infrastructure, including roads and appropriate storage systems, needed to be addressed.

Mr. DERVIS said that, while each of the issues –- such as food, water, nutrition and health, energy issues -- had a separate identity, they were undeniably linked.  There was a misconception that India and China were growing rapidly and inflicting food problems on the world, but that notion was completely wrong.  Demand in those countries had gone up, but so had supply and production.  In fact, net food volumes had changed very little.

In Africa, however, there had been very little investment and agricultural development, he said.  A major push was required there and it should be a major part of the development agenda.  The example of Malawi, where the Government resisted international advice and subsidized seeds and fertilizer was an important one.  He noted that high prices in fertilizer were directly linked to energy costs and transportation costs also affected food prices.  Still, the World Bank’s recent study linking high food costs to biofuel production should be factored in, especially in light of the fact that well-intentioned policies sometimes had very poor unintentional consequences.

In terms of the overall agricultural strategy, he stressed that the development agenda was lead by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.  UNDP did not have an agricultural arm, so as to not duplicate the efforts.  But, it would play a role in analyzing agricultural development to provide a policy framework for those organizations.

Stressing that the dearth of health personnel in developing countries was very serious, he said he had visited countries where hospitals had been built, but stood empty.  In fact, in some African countries up to 70 per cent of the doctors migrated to the developed world.  That problem should be considered as a global issue.  He suggested that incentives could be created in which medical workers could get training in developed countries and then go back to their country for 5 or 10 years, with the promise they could get their work permit in the developed country once that period of service ended.  Whatever was done, however, the issue of “brain circulation” and human skill had to be tackled in an internationally cooperative way, rather than country by country, he said.

In closing, Mr. ZUKANG pointed to Guyana’s question on how serious, recurring policy blindspots could be avoided, and noted that, on top of all the commitments, action programme and strategies, review conferences and talk, the most important thing was implementation.  To that end, the development Programmes were doing important work.

Nevertheless, at the midpoint of the Millennium Development Goals, it might be diplomatic to say that “we are hopeful”.  But, in so doing, he said, the world community was deceiving itself.  What should be said instead was what efforts still needed to be made, particularly in light of the fact that half the time allotted to achieving those Goals had already been lost.  It was, he said, important to be practical and to redouble those efforts.

Statements

BYRON BLAKE (Antigua and Barbuda), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that his delegation believed that enhancing the Organization’s capacity to improve its response to the development needs of countries was vital, and spoke to the world body’s overall relevance, especially in light of the many pressing development challenges facing the world today.  The outcome of the operational activities segment should, therefore, serve to improve the United Nations development response to the development priorities of developing countries, and the Council, for its part, should provide clear guidance to the Organization to that end.

He went on to stress the importance of General Assembly resolution 62/208 on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy review, and its full and comprehensive implementation.  That resolution was a manifestation of “the vision of a stronger role for the United Nations” in advancing the development agenda and fully realizing all the internationally agreed development gaols, including the Millennium Development Goals.  It was also essential that implementation of the resolution was based on a broader and more expeditious realization of the “global partnership for development”, as set out in the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits of the past decade, including the Millennium Summit.

He said that the Group of 77 and China would be remiss if it did not emphatically underscore that the United Nations must enhance is operational effectiveness, while also bolstering national ownership of development programmes.  It was crucial to set in motion actions for enhancing coordination with national Governments, as well as for favouring greater participation of national authorities in the preparation and development of all planning and programming documents of the United Nations system, including the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).  He added that another crucial element of the full implementation of resolution 62/208 was ensuring the quantity, quality and predictability of development assistance from the United Nations, based on the needs and priorities of programme countries.

PHILIPPE DELACROIX, European Union Presidency Coordinator in New York, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, said considerable progress had been made in improving the coordination of the United Nations development system via the creation of the resident coordinator system, since the General Assembly adopted resolution 62/208.  As a result, the system would be better suited to respond to country needs and priorities, while aiding them in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  It would also be able to mobilize the stable and predictable resources for the system to play its full role.

Turning to the reports, he said the document on implementing the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development (E/2008/49) had attempted to set timetables in consultation with the development agencies of the United Nations and, while that effort should be recognized, it was still insufficient.  The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development was a unique tool for piloting the Organization’s development agenda, and tools facilitating its implementation had to be designed in the most operational way possible.  The European Union hoped that this kind of representation would be made next year.

Turning to the report on the resident coordinator system, he said that notable improvements had been made to the Coordinator’s authority, ensuring that the work of the United Nations was carried out at the programme country’s request and the Coordinator’s role was a part of the United Nations system, as a whole.  He welcomed the efforts undertaken by the Chief Executives Board to improve the selection and training of resident coordinators, as well as the significant progress made, especially by UNDP, in recruiting country directors, thus reinforcing the firewall between the activities carried out by the Resident Coordinator, on behalf of the system as a whole, and the operational activities of UNDP.  The strengthening of the coordination system, including with the Bretton Woods institutions, and the improvement in dialogue between the specialized funds, programmes and institutions were also a good step forward and should be strengthened to make the Resident Coordinator position more open and transparent.

He expressed appreciation for improvements in the compilation of the statistical analysis report and reliability of financial data, as well as the standardization of data systems increased system-wide coherence.  For the first time, detailed figures on contributions from specialized agencies were included and were a first step towards the harmonization of data systems between the United Nations and the Development Assistance Committee-Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.  He noted the measures taken and considered to create a global data publication system.

GAIL MARZETTI (United Kingdom), delivering a statement also on behalf of Malawi, Mozambique, Netherlands, Norway and the United Republic of Tanzania, on the “Delivering as One” initiative, said that the United Nations was a valuable partner in development for both developing and developed countries.  Because the six countries valued the United Nations, they wanted the Organization to maximize its contribution to the development process by working as effectively as possible.  The “Delivering as One” initiative was the most promising effort to ensure that the United Nations became more than the sum of its parts and met the expectations of developing countries, who put their trust in the world body as a development partner, as well as of donors, who channelled billions of dollars through it annually.

She said the United Kingdom, and the five other countries for which she was speaking, were convinced that a more coherent and effective United Nations, responsive to the priorities set out by programme countries, would be key in meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  That was why these countries were working together to make “Delivering as One” a success.  While progress had been made, much more was needed, she added, stressing, among other things, that the initiative was not a budget cutting exercise.

Savings on administrative costs were already being seen in the pilot countries, she said.  In order to make those savings work for the “Delivering as One” initiative, they should be transferred to relevant country programmes.  However, current Secretariat rules made that difficult.  So, the delegations requested that Headquarters show how those savings led to increased funding for the development purposes in the country where they had been realized.  A harmonized United Nations delivering as one clearly required a strengthened and empowered Resident Coordinator and, to that end, she requested UNDP and other specialized agencies, as well as the Secretariat, to rapidly resolve the so-called “firewall” issues, and empower those Coordinators, so that they could more effectively carry out their duties.

LEO MÉRORÈS (Haiti), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said it was the beginning of a new era for development cooperation between countries and the United Nations.  With the adoption of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, 2007 had brought a new vision for the Organization’s development agenda.  Monitoring, management and control by Governments of development activities, particularly the less developed ones, were at the heart of operational activities of the United Nations.  Thus, there was an urgent need for wider cooperation between all development players.  The ownership by Governments required, at the same time, strong and viable national institutions.  While the United Nations could not immediately fill the gaps in those countries that lacked such capacities, capacity-building and training were necessary to improve such institutional capabilities.

The Government of Haiti had just finalized its national strategy for reducing poverty, he said.  That effort would be a decisive step towards a new partnership with its development partners and with the United Nations development system.  The development work undertaken by the United Nations in Haiti, however, had not been sufficiently coordinated on the ground and building national capacities had not been effectively encouraged.  One reason why was that the majority of ODA went through international non-governmental organizations, rather than through any Government structures.  Moving forward, efforts should be made in support of the national strategy, he stressed.

HAMIDON ALI (Malaysia), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said it was more important than ever before to implement the internationally agreed development goals and strengthen the linkages between the normative and operational aspects of the United Nations work.  Vigilant oversight by Governments on the implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review was critical if that is to be achieved.

Turning to the reports before the Council, he said the report on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (document E/2008/49) did not adequately reflect the overall tone of section II of that Review.  The Triennial Review expressed strong concern for the ill effects of the imbalance between core and non-core resources.  Further, paragraph 28(c) requested a concise assessment on the implementation of the funding section of that substantive segment.  This, however, was not given.  In terms of paragraph 23, Malaysia agreed that “key actions for ensuring a growing trend in funding … rests principally with Member States that contributed to the United Nations system”, but it did not believe the Organization’s role was limited to advocacy and dialogue with donors.  The experience in the Development Cooperation Forum had confirmed that.  At any rate, the United Nations was a more legitimate forum for discussion among Member States, compared to fora related to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, for example.

Further, the report on comprehensive statistical analysis (A/63/71-E/2008/46) indicated that contributions to the United Nations system had declined, while contributions to non-United Nations multilateral bodies had increased.  The Council needed to find out why that had happened, he said, expressing hope that it was not because donor countries held greater sway in those bodies.  To improve the functioning of the United Nations development system, more thought needed to be given to the role of the programme countries in evaluating the Resident Coordinator role.  Subsequent reports should also outline some of the obstacles to redistributing savings from efficiencies directly into country programmes.  The function of the resident coordinator system should have better reflected some of the issues raised during the discussions on system-wide coherence, including establishing a firewall between the Resident Coordinator and the UNDP resident representative.  Some assessment of the implementation of paragraph 139 of the Triennial Review on developing the evaluation capacities of programme countries should also be made.

EDUARDO R. MEÑEZ (Philippines), associating himself with Antigua and Barbuda’s statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noted that the recent panel discussions had provided valuable information upon which to consider the implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review.  Such discussions were relevant for his country, which, despite its classification as a middle-income developing country, had 26.9 per cent of its 80 million population living below the poverty line.  He urged Member States to remember that behind each Millennium Development Goal lurked the stark reality of hunger, inadequate health facilities and a lack of education.

Against that national backdrop, the United Nations, from a policy perspective, could have done much more to provide advice to his Government, he said.  Operationally, UNDP’s 2007 programme expenditure seemed to show that field implementation had not lived up to “noble intentions”.  Out of a total programme resource delivery target of $19 million for the Philippines, only $14.672 million had been spent.  Also, there had been a precipitous drop in non-core resource mobilization.  Such a performance drop was of serious concern, and his people awaited an explanation.

Lost amid discussions on the inter-relationship of economic, social and environmental concerns might be the larger question of why there was still such a great need for development assistance, he said.  Indeed, the Council was trying to find better ways to deliver development assistance, because there was “imbalance and dysfunction” between policy and reality, at national and international levels.  A prime example was the fact that the fair application of free trade had been stymied by a lack of progress on the Doha development round.  As long as distortions -- including bilateral, multilateral or regional free trade agreements –- persisted, there would be effects on Council concerns.  Delivery of a sustainable development agenda must be matched by agreement in other arenas, whether trade, security or the environment.

ADE PETRANTO (Indonesia), aligning himself with Antigua and Barbuda’s statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stressed that the value of the United Nations operational activities must be assessed by their impact on programme countries, and contributions to enhancing developing country capacity to pursue poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Efforts should be aimed at ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of aid delivery, in line with efforts to achieve system-wide coherence.  The cornerstone of successful operational activities was the predictable flow of financial resources, a situation that called for enhanced funding, including through the fulfilment of ODA targets.  In addition, the continuing imbalance between core and non-core funding should be addressed urgently.

Continuing, he said rising oil and food prices had made food security a global crisis, which, coupled with climate change threats, had created hurdles for developing countries in their pursuit to achieve internationally agreed development targets, including the Millennium Development Goals.  It was, therefore, important that operational activities met time-bound results.  Touching on the costs and benefits associated with the resident coordinator system, he said it was important that efforts be in line with the Triennial Review.  As for the United Nations contribution to national capacity development, he had noted forward steps in the areas of south-south cooperation and gender empowerment.  In closing, he said Indonesia was committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including through ensuring the effective and timely implementation of operational activities.

Mr. SAVOSTYNOV ( Russian Federation) said that effectiveness and efficiency of United Nations operational activities depended directly on actions taken and priorities set by Member States.  It also depended on enhanced coordination of actions by all agencies and funds of the development system.  To that end, the Council had a key role to play as the body charged with overall coordination of such activities.  The Russian Federation believed, at the same time, that those activities should be based on multilateralism, sovereignty and impartiality.  National Governments should be allowed to identify the types of programmes undertaken.

He said that the Russian Federation believed that success of operational activities could only be achieved if continuity of implementation and evolution of such activities was maintained.  He welcomed the annual submission of the report on the resident coordinator system, while at the same time advocating that the documents be more thorough.  If they were improved, those reports could be an important tool for Member States, as they followed up on the operational activities of the Organization.  The Russian Federation would continue to work with the relevant steering groups and coordinating bodies to ensure broader coherence among United Nations bodies.

LIU ZHENMIN (China) said that, to ensure the full and effective implementation of Assembly resolution 62/208 over the next three years, the entire United Nations development system should have a clear division of labour, outline specific work programmes and further refine their respective responsibilities, so that Member States could both follow progress in implementing the resolution and be made aware of gaps and obstacles.  He also said that predictable and adequate resources were critical for development operations and implementation at the country level.

But, in recent years, as resources diminished, the Organization’s agencies and funds had been forced to compete for non-core resource contributions by satisfying the requirements of donors.  That trend had had a negative impact and had undercut the monitoring and managerial functions of the agencies’ governing bodies.  With that in mind, China expected all agencies and funds to expeditiously implement the mandate handed down by the Assembly in resolution 62/208 by, among others, reversing the excessively low ratio of core resources, beefing up management and reducing the negative impact of non-core resources.  Meanwhile, China called on all donors to honour “in real terms” the Monterrey Consensus, and increase their contribution to the core resources of the United Nations development system. 

OLIVIER CHAVE, Head of Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Agency for Development and Cooperation of Switzerland, said the Triennial Review broke new ground by marking a shift of paradigms, whereby the United Nations operational system was expected to support partner Governments and their institutions in pursuit of their own development agenda.  It also redefined the United Nations system’s accountability and stressed, more than ever, the fundamental importance of core resources, while also recognizing the central importance of achieving programmatic coherence at the country level.  Against that backdrop, the Chief Executives Board had notably demonstrated its respect for the guidance provided by the Triennial Review by focusing part of its last meeting on actions and measures called for in the General Assembly resolution establishing that Review.

Switzerland was somewhat disappointed, however, that the Secretary-General seemed to interpret his own role and action in response to the Review as mere “advocacy and dialogue with donors”, he said.  It was common knowledge that the core funding of the funds and programmes was of a “residual” nature, coming after donor countries had honoured their commitments to development banks and other vertical funding mechanisms.  He, thus, encouraged the Secretary-General to launch an initiative in support of the core funding of the funds and programmes on the occasion of the Doha conference.  The functioning of that initiative should be voluntary and be based on peer pressure and public scrutiny.  In addition, a firm commitment by the funds and programmes to demonstrate ever more convincingly the impact of their development work would help.

In the current juncture, the strengthening of the statistical capacity of the Council’s Office of Support and Coordination could play a critical role, he said.  It would provide the essential basis for meaningful intergovernmental deliberation on funding.  Also, Switzerland insisted on the absolute importance of the steadfast advancement of the harmonization of business practices as the most practical way to reduce transaction costs associated with United Nations development assistance.

YURI GALA LOPEZ ( Cuba) said that United Nations operational activities for development must remain universal, impartial and voluntary in nature.  They must be guided by the spirit of multilateralism and impartiality and ensure the ability of relevant agencies to respond flexibly to the needs of developing countries.  Overall, Member States must recognize that implementing the United Nations development agenda was the central goal, not promoting national interests on the ground.  Further, there was a need to develop broader cooperation for development and such cooperation must be based on the achievement of sustainable development for all.

Such operational activities for development must be implemented without conditions and must seriously take into consideration their impact on programme countries.  He said that United Nations funds and programmes must operate without conditions and the international community must guard against doors using their activities to serve political aims.  There was no “one size fits all” when it came to development, and programme countries must be allowed to chose their own development paths, as well as the types of relationships they wished to have with the United Nations development system.

He went on to say that it was also necessary to avoid overlap and duplication of work among United Nations bodies.  At the same time, however, broader cooperation and coordination did not mean that agencies lost their individuality; it only meant improving working methods for smoother implementation of the development agenda at the country level.  He said that the situation today, which had led to the weakening of the overall United Nations development agenda, was a reflection of an unjust political order, as a result of decades of neo-liberalism.  Countries must remove their conditions and objections, so that United Nations funds and programmes could fulfil their mandates more effectively for the benefit of developing countries.

FRANCES LISSON (Australia), speaking on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), said the Triennial Review was a critical process in supporting a system that delivered real, measurable and measured results for the achievement of country-owned and led development objectives in the most efficient and effective way possible.  The implementation of the Review was crucial in ensuring effective coordination of United Nations development efforts and to most efficiently support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  The Secretary-General’s report on the Review’s implementation was a solid basis from which to start.

The goal should be to optimize how effective the Council’s monitoring of the Review implementation was, as well as to enhance the Council’s provision of useful and concrete guidance to the development system through its substantive sessions, she said.  Further efforts were needed in the management plan to identify expected results and to fine-tune targets, benchmarks and time frames, since “what gets measured, gets done”.

Both developing and contributing countries needed to see concrete and relevant results from the Organization’s operations on the ground, she said, suggesting that, in the implementation update for the Council’s 2009 session, a more quantitative analysis could be provided.  The common elements between the Triennial Review and the Paris Declaration were important in making development cooperation more sustainable and effective, as well.  The momentum towards better system-wide coherence should be built on, for full implementation of the Review.

TAMARAKHARASHUN ( Belarus) noted the thoroughness of the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the Triennial Review and on the statistical analysis of financing for operational activities, which laid out the core principle of the United Nations development system:  the principle of national ownership and national leadership in the development agenda.  The challenges of the current session were to determine the optimum path for implementing the General Assembly’s resolution on the Triennial Review.

To that end, she said the Resident Coordinator should not play a political role, but should focus on advancing the development programmes of the United Nations and on attracting sufficient resources for those activities.  As such, the Resident Coordinator should not be afforded any additional functions, among them human rights evaluations.  Extra activities would not only dilute the development work of the country programmes, but potentially paralyze them.  Because the Resident Coordinator represented the entire United Nations system, their activities should be collegial and accountable.  It was not possible to ensure the effective work of the Resident Coordinator at the country level, without establishing monitoring mechanisms at the higher levels.  In closing, she welcomed improvements in the statistical reports, especially the in-depth financial analysis of specialized agencies.

MIKIO MORI (Japan) said that his delegation hoped that the United Nations system would be flexible to the fullest extent possible -– at Headquarters and in the field -– in order to meet the demands of people in need, while keeping in mind current development procedures.  To that end, Japan hoped that the Council would further encourage the wider Organization to take “practicable and sound steps” to accomplish its important duties, with clear benchmarks and targets, in line with Assembly resolution 62/208.  “Since we are all acutely aware of the emerging food and energy crises, we have no time to lose,” he added.

As for improving the functioning of the United Nations development system, he said that the resident coordinator system had a key role to play in ensuring the effectiveness and smooth operation of activities system-wide.  He said that the discussions under way in various forums had revealed disagreements over, among others, the evaluation process for the resident coordinator system, as well as the overall capacities of those officials.  To that end, Japan would like relevant bodies, including the Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Chief Executive Boards and the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) to take immediate and concrete actions, with clear timelines, so that the wider Organization could improve its efforts to deliver assistance more efficiently on the ground.

The representative of Brazil said that, since the Assembly had adopted resolution 62/208 just a little more than six months ago, not enough time had passed to assess the status of its implementation.  At the same time, Brazil believed that the implementation and follow-up matrix set out in the relevant report would be helpful going forward, and should become the main reference for subsequent reports of the Secretary-General, to be released in 2009 and 2010.   Brazil stressed that developing countries would play an important role in assessing the implementation of the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review. 

He went on to say that future reports of the Secretary-General on the resident coordinator system should identify ways to enhance dialogue between those officials, in-country agencies, and national authorities, to enhance country-level coordination.  At the same time, Brazil believed that coordination was not a one-sided initiative, but an exercise in which programme countries could voice their own opinions about operations being carried out by the United Nations.

SUL KYUNG-HOON (Republic of Korea) said the urgent action called for during the substantive session to meet the challenges of soaring food prices, escalating energy costs and the encroaching impact of climate change should be coherent and coordinated so that these complex and interlinked issues could be effectively tackled.  In this, the contributions of the funds, programmes and agencies were more important than ever and the operational segment provided a valuable opportunity to follow up on the implementation of the policy recommendations of the General Assembly, particularly its resolution on the Triennial Review.

The principle of national ownership and leadership should remain an overarching principle of United Nations operational activities, he said.  The United Nations development system should further ensure continued efforts to improve it machinery, so as to respond better to the various developing needs of programme countries.  Interim assessments on the pilot programmes of the “delivering as one” initiative had been encouraging.  Business practices at Headquarters level also had to be simplified and harmonized.

A well-functioning resident coordinator system would be one of the key elements in the “delivering as one” initiative, he continued.  He emphasized the need to improve the selection and training process of those coordinators and to maintain a certain proportion of coordinators with non-UNDP backgrounds.  Also, the current imbalance between core and non-core resources needed to be improved.  Noting that contributions from non-Development Assistance Committee member States were increasing, he expressed hope that overall development financial resources to the United Nations would continue to expand.

BONIFACE LEZONA ( Congo) said the programmes carried out by UNDP to eliminate poverty, ensure economic growth and encourage sustainable development were particularly welcome.  The Secretary-General’s report on implementing the Triennial Review indicated that strict implementation of that development framework was needed, particularly to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  That situation was particularly threatened by overall declines in ODA, as the report pointed out.  In light of that, he called for respect of commitments made by the developing countries to support the development agenda.

He highlighted the new cooperation programme between UNICEF and the Congo, financed by some $30 million, saying implementation of the programme would assist the Government in reducing poverty.  The Government had also adopted a plan of action for “a world fit for children” that aimed to implement a number of programmes ensuring the future of its youngest members by, among other things, eliminating all costs for schooling.  Activities between UNDP and his country also aimed at strengthening national capacities.  Programme analysis had allowed for the improvements to be made both upstream and downstream, and to provide material and financial aid to a variety of different institutions.

He said south-south cooperation was also crucial in advancing development in the country.  For those countries moving from the assistance to the development phase, his country supported the principle, held by the United Nations, that national agendas should be respected above all else.

GHEORGHE LEUCA ( Moldova) said that economic, social and sustainable development remained a priority for transition economies, and the United Nations played a crucial role in helping those countries meet their development goals.  While each agency or fund had its own unique mandate, the entire United Nations system could provide comprehensive support to Member States in all areas of development.  To that end, Moldova supported efforts and initiatives to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations development system and believed that strengthening the Organization’s capacity to help developing countries achieve their development goals required bolstering the efficiency, coherence and impact of its activities. 

He said that the Council’s review of the implementation of Assembly resolution 62/208 provided an opportunity to examine ways to strengthen the links between the United Nations system’s normative work and its operational activities, overcoming systematic fragmentation and building on continued reform-focused performance, as well as accountability and results.   Moldova believed that the Organization’s operational activities should be based on national priorities, needs and requirements set out in national strategies.  On the resident coordinator system, which Moldova believed was a fundamental tool for ensuring country-level coherence, he said that mechanism should be based on participation, collegiality, transparency and accountability.  The resident coordinator system should be provided with the power to set strategic priorities and ensure accountability of all participating agencies.  At the same time, the duties of the Resident Coordinator and other UNDP representatives should be clearly delineated, to avoid conflict of interest.

AIDA ALZHANOVA (Kazakhstan), noting that the Executive Boards of the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Development Programme had recently made a field visit to her country, said that, while there were still problems in Kazakhstan, including uneven development, much progress had been made.  Looking at the discussions held throughout the operational segment, she said the dialogue had been fruitful.  While much had been said about Africa, the analysis of that continent’s development challenges was relevant to other areas.

The United Nations needed to seek new ways and approaches to extend innovations in the development arena, she said, citing the resident coordinator system as one new tool.  As new instruments, those tools held certain costs that sometimes fostered misgivings about their use and about assessments of their implementation.  That had to be factored in during the discussion of operational activities.  In addition, because many United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks looked like a matrix of varying fragments, an analysis of the different risks of implementing them should be made.  That analysis should provide possible alternatives to them.  Further, indicators should be developed that would take into account the varying vulnerabilities of different countries through, for example, a coefficient of vulnerability.  That would allow for comparisons between different countries on such things as vulnerability to natural disasters or to certain kinds of financial turmoil.

Moving forward, an ad hoc fund should be created for the resident coordinator system and all Member States could apply their assessments to that fund, she said.  More decentralization was needed, because the hierarchical system of the United Nations too often prevented decisions from being made in a timely fashion.

WILLIAM HEIDT ( United States) said that Assembly resolution 62/208 had been adopted by consensus in the hopes of improving the coordination and effectiveness of the United Nations development operations.  It was, therefore, Member States’ collective task to work with the development system and improve effectiveness, coherence and accountability of all its mechanisms and agencies.  To that end, the United States believed that the resident coordinator system was critical to the effective performance of that system and that it was key that those officials followed agreed accountability mechanisms.  Moreover, those guidelines themselves must be followed up and improved upon on a regular basis.  Resident Coordinators should report on their work to United Nations bodies on a regular basis.

Another important objective of the resident coordinator system was cost savings, and the United States would urge systematic adoption and analysis of such savings towards enhancing savings on the ground.  Such information on savings should be included in future reports to the Council.  On funding of the resident coordinator system, he said that it appeared that UNDP was sole funder of the system and the United States would ask the Secretary-General to prepare a report on cost savings and the possibility of sharing that burden with other agencies.  The United States was pleased that WFP was participating in the resident coordinator system and that the three WFP staff had recently been named Resident Coordinators.

JUAN FELIPE RENGIFO ( Colombia) said that the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit had recognized that the United Nations development operations must work towards achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.  To that end, the Triennial Policy Review would be essential in monitoring the effectiveness of the United Nations development operations and ensuring that they were coherent and coordinated.  The relevant report before the Council was welcome, but Colombia believed that it should place more emphasis on national ownership in United Nations activities on the ground, especially development transition initiatives.

Colombia also advocated the inclusion of specific measures to support middle-income countries, he said.  Giving support to those countries had been highlighted in the Triennial Review, so Colombia hoped that, as the implementation and review process of 62/208 went forward, special attention would be given to enhancing system-wide support for those countries.

NOR-EDDINE BENFREHA ( Algeria), endorsing the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said the comparative advantages of the United Nations system allowed it to contribute to the development priorities of individual countries by strengthening national institutions that focused on development.  The United Nations remained an essential vector in the development world and should work more effectively to meet the development needs of developing countries.  Those countries should be given the best access to the United Nations system’s capacities and experts.  Further effort to bring about implementation of the Triennial Review should be made and national plans and strategies should be advanced through inclusiveness.

The issue of financing operational activities was increasingly important, particularly given the decline in core and non-core resources, he said.  Financing should be undertaken to ensure the primary mandates of the United Nations agencies were implemented.   Algeria was satisfied with the improvements made in the resident coordinator system, but more work should, nevertheless, be done by the United Nations bodies to make further improvements in the system.  South-south cooperation offered many benefits for the development agenda and should be incorporated into the entire United Nations system.  He reiterated his country’s support for the universality, impartiality and neutrality of the United Nations development system.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.