Deputy Secretary-General Urges Second Committee to Use Quadrennial Policy Review to Help Reaffirm, Re-energize United Nations Development System

15 October 2012

Deputy Secretary-General Urges Second Committee to Use Quadrennial Policy Review to Help Reaffirm, Re-energize United Nations Development System

15 October 2012
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Urges Second Committee to Use Quadrennial Policy


Review to Help Reaffirm, Re-energize United Nations Development System


Following are the remarks of UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson to the General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of United Nations system operational activities for development, in New York, today, 15 October:

As a former President of the General Assembly, I am glad to be in the Second Committee.  I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Chairperson, on your election, as well as the Bureau members.

Today, I have the honour to introduce to the Committee the Report of the Secretary-General on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).  This quadrennial comprehensive policy review is extremely important.  It is a chance for us to make a difference in peoples’ lives by adapting to new conditions and rising to new challenges.

The deadline for reaching the Millennium Development Goals is getting close.  We must spare no efforts to ensure that in the three years and two and a half months before the end of 2015 we do everything we can to reach these life-saving Goals.

Poverty eradication continues to be at the centre of development all efforts.  The Rio+20 Conference [United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development] sent a strong message on sustainable development, which now demands substantial follow-up.  As you know, we have begun deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda with the establishment of the High-level Panel. 

This agenda is not to be seen in isolation from our work for peace and security, human rights and the rule of law.  All of these pursuits are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.  Development strengthens peace, and peace strengthens development.  And both are strengthened by the rule of law and respect for human rights.

The United Nations development system strives to respond to the needs and priorities of developing countries as owners and drivers of their own future.  The support and guidance of Member States are essential to success.  The Secretary-General and I are counting on you to unite around a strong resolution which will help re-energize the United Nations development system and reaffirm its essential role.

The global development map has evolved significantly in recent years.  Nearly half of the countries which we now categorize as middle-income countries were part of the low-income category as recently as 1995.

The nature of development challenges is also changing. More and more countries recognize that the world needs to do a better job in addressing interrelated social, economic and environmental problems.  Since Rio, especially, sustainable development is front and centre.  We have to bring our operational activities in line with this new focus.

At the same time, the number of new actors in development cooperation is expanding.  Development cooperation is no longer the exclusive domain of States or international organizations.  We now rely on the contributions of the private sector, foundations, academia and civil society.  The United Nations system has to find ever better ways of joining forces with these new partners.

Our development system has to be strong and well-funded.  We need to better integrate the normative and operational arms of the United Nations so that we can make the most of our expertise and our services.  And we need to strengthen collaboration both within the United Nations development system and with the growing number of partners who share our goals for development.

We should place the problems — the fate of human beings and our planet — in the centre and then mobilize our common resources and energy to effectively deal with these problems.  We have a shared responsibility.

This quadrennial comprehensive policy review has the potential to significantly improve the way the United Nations system delivers.  In the report before you today, the Secretary-General has identified six main areas for strengthening our work during this cycle.

First:  adapting to change.  The Secretary-General will actively engage with the United Nations Development Group agencies, funds and programmes, and with Member States, on an inclusive process to reposition the United Nations development system for the longer-term.

Second:  revitalizing the capacity-building roles of United Nations entities.  The United Nations development system needs to redouble its efforts to build national capacities.  Even in the most difficult of circumstances, there is more the United Nations and the wider international community can and should do.

Third:  reinvigorating the normative role of United Nations entities.  The United Nations system has to better integrate its work to set norms and standards, and provide policy.

Fourth:  reforming the funding system.  Long-term funding trends for the United Nations development system have been positive — but since 2008 contributions have stagnated.  Many challenges remain.  Going back to 1995, almost all of the growth has been in highly fragmented non-core contributions.  The burden is not shared evenly among donors.  And resource flows remain unpredictable.

The Secretary-General’s report has a number of recommendations to address these problems.  These include:  requesting that the funds and programmes define a “critical mass” of core resources; exploring the feasibility of an alternative funding model, such as a voluntary indicative scale of contributions; and proposing a high-level policy dialogue in 2014 on funding for the United Nations development system.

The fifth area the Secretary-General points to is enhancing system-wide coherence.  The United Nations development system has to improve its capacity to work as one.  We have learned valuable lessons from “Delivering as One” and from intergovernmental conferences held in the pilot countries.  But we are still far from our final destination, and need to do more to build on what we have learned.

The Secretary-General has also recommended that we generate a “one results report” at the country level and establish a system-wide evaluation mechanism to better measure the impact of our work.

The sixth main area is increasing efficiency and lowering transaction costs.  This is a goal that programme countries share.  We can realize significant savings by delivering common services and harmonizing business practices and operations across the system.  We should accelerate these efforts so that the agencies, funds and programmes adopt unified rules, policies and procedures for common support services.

You have an important and challenging task at hand.  QCPR is a critical process for achieving results.  I could even suggest that QCPR stands for “quite critical process for results”!

United Nations operational activities for development help millions of poor people around the world.  We owe them our best and most serious efforts.  We must place the human beings at the centre.

The Secretary-General and I, and our colleagues, stand ready to support you in every possible way.  We look to the General Assembly and this Committee to present us with a resolution that truly reflects the development problems, opportunities and potential solutions of our times.

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