United Nations Must Adapt to Dynamic Development Landscape, Economic And Social Council Hears as It Opens Three-Day Segment

24 February 2014
ECOSOC/6599

United Nations Must Adapt to Dynamic Development Landscape, Economic And Social Council Hears as It Opens Three-Day Segment

24 February 2014
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6599
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council

2014 Substantive Session

3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)

United Nations Must Adapt to Dynamic Development Landscape, Economic

And Social Council Hears as It Opens Three-Day Segment

 

High-Level Dialogue Considers Organization’s Response to Dramatic Changes

A vastly altered development landscape had evolved since adoption of the Millennium Development Goals nearly 15 years ago, mandating the United Nations to adapt by building on its core strengths: its universal presence, legitimacy and quality of expertise, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the Economic and Social Council today.

Opening day of the Council’s Operational Activities for Development segment, due to conclude on 26 February, featured a high-level dialogue, entitled “The changing development landscape: What does it mean for the United Nations system?”, and an afternoon panel with the Heads of United Nations Funds and Programmes, entitled “Looking to the future: current and emerging strategic priorities”.  Poverty eradication and sustainable development were central to the segment’s agenda. 

“We simply have to become ‘fit for purpose’ in the post-2015 era,” Mr. Eliasson said, urging the Council to review the United Nations potential to serve countries more effectively.  The emergence of new global challenges had led to growing demands for a collective response and new development cooperation mechanisms.

Questions hinged on how the Organization could enhance its catalytic role, especially in an evolving funding environment, he said.  New business models, less fragmentation, renewed partnerships and new accountability frameworks with healthy monitoring mechanisms would be needed.  “It is time to ask tough questions and provide the answers that will enable us to meet the aspirations of people everywhere for a life of dignity,” he stressed.

With that in mind, Carlos Enrique García González, the Council’s Vice-President, said the United Nations must rediscover the “spirit of adapting to change” by revitalizing its capacity-building role, increasing efficiency, lowering transaction costs and reforming its operational activities funding system.  That, in turn, placed the focus on policy integration, programme coherence, partnership creation and accountability. 

Further, implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 — the quadrennial comprehensive policy review — was essential for positioning the development system to tackle the next leg of the journey.  He pressed States to take strong ownership of that text, which covered the “what and how” of mandates that sought to bolster the Organization’s development work.

Along similar lines, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of resolution 67/226 outlined results achieved by the end of 2013.  Citing highlights, he said a new monitoring and reporting framework had been developed, while 14 of 22 United Nations entities had aligned their 2014‑2017 strategic plans to the policy review, which was a significant step towards more coherence.  Further, several funds and programmes had embraced sustainable development as a key area of work.

At the same time, funding for operational activities, he said, was declining as well as diversifying, which underscored the need for United Nations entities to achieve full cost recovery — a “work in progress”.  To speed action, the resolution had requested the Executive Boards to organize a dialogue on how to finance development results.  With that, he said strategic, institutional and operational transformations should “stay ahead of the curve” and be driven by the need to better serve Member States. 

In the afternoon, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said it was a contradiction that the United Nations was struggling to justify its funding, given the enormity of its development objectives and peacekeeping goals.  The ability of public finance alone to underwrite the investments needed challenged the traditional mode of development financing. 

The question centred on how the United Nations would face that challenge.  “We’re talking about the most far-reaching economic and societal transformations we have had to face for decades,” he said.  The development agenda must be rethought against the backdrop of very diverse realities.  Such decisions would not be determined by groups of nations alone; the Council must find equitable solutions that accepted that the development agenda could only progress if it embraced a universal dimension.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene on 25 February at 10 a.m. to continue its 2014 operational activities segment.

Background

The Economic and Social Council met this morning to open a three-day Operational Activities for Development segment of its 2014 substantive session. 

Opening Remarks

Carlos Enrique García González, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said that General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of the United Nations Operational Activities for Development was a landmark text covering both “what and “how” system-wide mandates that could contribute to strengthening the Organization’s development system.  It was essential, therefore, that Member States take strong ownership of implementing the resolution, particularly at the level of the executive boards of the funds and programmes and the governing bodies of the specialized agencies, as well as during deliberations in the Council.  Relevant decision-making should be coordinated effectively.  The change in the cycle’s timing would enable the Council to provide leadership early in the year to facilitate a coordinated and coherent approach. 

He said that the segment’s agenda would be a single framework centred around poverty eradication and sustainable development.  That should require the United Nations development system to be geared towards policy integration, programme coherence, developing different types of joint efforts, including the “Delivering as One” model, alignment and harmonization of business practices, new and renewed partnerships, and results and accountability.  The United Nations system should rediscover the spirit of adapting to change, revitalize its capacity-building role, increase its efficiency, lower transaction costs and reform its operational activities’ funding system. 

JAN ELIASSON, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, said these were turbulent and exciting times.  The challenges were great, but so were the opportunities.  The world had changed dramatically since 2000, and all were just beginning to grasp the implications of the new development cooperation landscape.  The United Nations development system would need to respond coherently by linking the normative, standard-setting and operational dimensions of its work.  “This will require new thinking and new approaches,” he said, including financing, in order to guarantee operational effectiveness.  The quadrennial comprehensive policy review was the mechanism by which guidance was provided on the changes needed to best meet the demands ahead.

With that in mind, he saw a number of focus areas.  An estimated 75 per cent of the world’s poor now lived in middle-income countries, the impacts of which must be considered by the Council in formulating development policies.  Programme countries expected support from the United Nations across different sectors, requiring a high level of expertise.  The emergence of new global challenges had led to growing demands for a collective response and new mechanisms for development cooperation.  Questions hinged on how the United Nations could strengthen its catalytic role and how States’ respective strengths could be used collectively.  The Organization’s response must include more emphasis on strengthening the link between its normative and operational roles.  New business models, less fragmentation, renewed partnerships and new accountability frameworks and monitoring mechanisms would be needed.

The funding environment for development operations was also evolving, he said, noting that the United Nations represented $23.9 billion — or 17 per cent — of the total official development assistance (ODA).  The funding base had diversified, with earmarked donations now the dominant feature.  While he viewed that as “a vote of confidence”, he urged redoubled efforts to avoid fragmentation and high transaction costs via a holistic approach.  The United Nations development system must build on its core strengths: its universal presence, legitimacy, convening power and depth and breadth of expertise.  “This is essential if we are to be a strong partner to countries in achieving their development needs.”

The system must also explore opportunities for promoting collective support, he said, noting that the policy review, for the first time, had recognized the “Delivering as One” as a well-tested working model increasingly adapted on a domestic level.  The United Nations should be fully equipped to draw on the strengths of individual entities to support countries in devising an integrated approach to poverty eradication.  “We simply have to become fit for purpose in the post-2015 era,” he said, urging participants to review the United Nations potential to serve countries more effectively.  “It is time to ask tough questions and provide the answers that will enable us to meet the aspirations of people everywhere for a life of dignity,” he concluded.

Panel I

A panel discussion on “The changing development landscape: What does it mean for the United Nations system?” featured: Jaime Alfredo Miranda Flamenco, Minister of Foreign Affairs, El Salvador; Emilia Pires, Minister of Finance, Timor‑Leste; and Erik Solheim, Chair, Development Assistance Committee, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; and Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Chair, United Nations Development Group.

Moderator LE HOAI TRUNG ( Viet Nam) said that in a new global context, the United Nations was being looked to as the most important organization for development cooperation.  Viet Nam attached great importance to the United Nations, which had helped his country through the post-conflict situation, the reform period and the current era of regional integration.

Mr. FLAMENCO said that the Millennium Development Goals had mobilized the entire international community and played a crucial role in development cooperation.  But poverty and other issues remained challenges for all development players.  Going forward, those stakeholders must use lessons learned to advance the agenda.  Each region had its unique challenges and those specificities must be taken into account.  Latin America, for instance, had been largely affected by climate change, which had become a huge obstacle to development.  Inequality was another.  The gap between the rich and poor was most stark in Latin America, and there was a clear need to address structural causes for social inequality. 

It had been 68 years since the United Nations had been established and two decades since its reform process had begun, he noted, stressing the importance of revitalizing the General Assembly.  Promoting system-wide coherence was another area of reform, and the “Delivering as One” tool was useful for middle-income countries.  El Salvador had been the first Latin American nation to have adopted the initiative, which benefitted his country in many ways.  At the same time, he was concerned about declining ODA.  Latin America received only 9 per cent of global ODA, despite the fact that 66 million people lived in extreme poverty.  The region should not be marginalized in that regard.  Stepping up South-South and triangular cooperation also was important. 

Ms. Pires said the biggest challenge in meeting the Millennium Development Goals was States’ capacity to provide services, including to eradicate poverty, improve health care and reduce infant mortality.  Underlining the role of peace in development, she said accelerating the latter required peacebuilding and State-building, while ensuring that viable solutions did not encroach on sovereignty.  Timor-Leste had approached development with accelerated social, economic and fiscal policies, which had enhanced its “political currency”.  However, the single most important road to peace was the economy.  “Money must move,” she said, urging United Nations support for peacebuilding.

She said the Organization was only as relevant as it was applicable, stressing that it must focus on supporting, not implementing, the role of the State.  It must be a conduit for State-to-State initiatives and global participation in every sector.  If its agenda was relevant, it would be paramount in assisting national planning.  To do that, it needed architectures that were centralized, country owned and globally endorsed.  The United Nations should stop attempting to do everything and focus on its strengths: allow States to lead and support their development trajectory.  “State rating” — or ‘siloing’ States into formal blocs — was a major challenge, as problems were global and must be addressed laterally.  The “data drought” was also a problem.  The United Nations operated on assumptions and “measured the unmeasurable”, which must stop. 

Mr. SOLHEIM stressed the importance of development.  Noting that the main source of deaths for young people aged between 15 and 30 was road accidents.  Success stories abounded, not only in European Union countries, Japan and the United States, but also in Viet Nam, China, Indonesia, Rwanda, Turkey and Brazil, to name a few.  Lessons learned from those successes included that policy mattered.  Leadership must get political decisions right.  For instance, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea shared the same ethnicity and culture.  But the former country’s gross domestic product (GDP) was 100 times greater than that of the North.  Samsung was grabbing the large market shares for electronics and the famous Gangnam-style pop song was ‘going viral’ around the world.  One country got political decisions right and the other, wrong. 

He said that peacebuilding also was crucial because development required peace.  According to the African Development Bank, the cost of a civil war was equivalent to 20 to 30 years that of development.  Liberia’s GDP had been $1,100 per capita before the civil war, but that had dropped to $160.  It would take many years to return to the previous level.  The private sector also was important.  The United Nations must bring investors, bankers, energy sector companies and other private-sector players into the conversation.  Domestic resource mobilization was another key area, for which the Government was in the driver’s seat.  The issue of tax for development should be discussed further, he added. 

Interactive Discussion

Opening the dialogue, Ms. CLARK said the conflict in Syria had seen that country lose 35 years of progress on the human development index.  Indeed, global volatility was the “new normal”, with waves of crises affecting rich and poor alike.  The focus must be on building resilience, which was why the sustainable development agenda must be a universal one.  The post-2015 framework must be about inclusive development, which locked in country gains, she said, underlining the importance of building systems.  To be sure, the last decade had seen progress on the Millennium Development Goals, but poverty and inequality did not disappear with middle-income status.  The challenge was to move to middle-income status, while at the same time lifting the poor through inclusive growth policies.

She said the United Nations was committed to working with middle-income countries, but much of its funding was directed to the least developed countries.  The development system had continually reinvented itself and must do so again.  States must enhance their ability for joint decision-making across silos and sectors, while the Organization must support them with integrated sustainable development approaches.  For its part, the United Nations Development Group was working on a “fit for purpose” approach, accelerating implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review and responding to national priorities.  There were many actors in the new development context.  Critical among them was South-South partnerships and United Nations interaction with them, as well as with the private sector, foundations and mega non-governmental organizations. 

When the floor was opened for questions and comments, delegates underlined the importance of United Nations reform, which must lead, they said, to a more relevant development system that placed sustainability at the core of its services.  To do that, the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development could better link the sustainable development agenda to the work of United Nations funds and programmes.  Transitions from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and development could also be better managed, as could resource mobilization for building resilience.  Some speakers agreed that the United Nations role was that of a “partnership broker” that facilitated the right mix of expertise.

The representative of Benin asked panellists how to address the decline in development assistance to least developed countries, especially given that half of them were seeking to graduate from that status under the Istanbul Programme of Action, for which they required support.

The representative of Ethiopia said reforms often focused on the short term, citing the example of quarterly reporting.  Such efforts were too “process oriented”.  At the country level, the United Nations was considered expensive in terms of delivering results, and so countries often preferred to use bilateral channels.  He urged improving the quality of resources and allowing agencies and partner countries to plan their programmes.  Those remarks were echoed by the representative of Bangladesh.

In response to questions and comments, Mr. SOLHEIM said that every development player should set a target of devoting 50 per cent of its development aid to least developed countries.  As for ways to deal with development for fragile States, he said implementation was far from ideal; there should be overriding focus in the short term on the political situation in those countries.  Supporting existing country systems also was crucial.

Mr. FLAMENCO said it was now a good time to take advantage of discussions on the post-2015 development agenda by revitalizing negotiations on United Nations reform.  It was also time to recall internationally agreed commitments. 

Ms. CLARK said that a sharp decline in funding had forced United Nations system entities to seek new sources.  As a result, many funds, including the Global Environmental Facility, had been set up.  She meanwhile stressed the importance of improving the quality of non-core funding.  As for the continuity between peacekeeping and development processes, she said the United Nations could do better, including by reviewing ways those missions were set up. 

Ms. PIRES said that donors should allow Governments to manage funding, instead of dictating what to do, recalling that when the funding management had been entrusted to her, results followed.  As for capacity‑building, she proposed that United Nations personnel should work within the host Government and not in separate United Nations offices, in order to build national capacity.  She recalled how she had struggled to find support, while the United Nations country team was equipped with capable doctoral talents.  Too often, expectations set by the United Nations were too high.  Managing and lowering them were important as some objectives could take one or two generations to achieve. 

Also speaking in the debate were the representatives of Sweden, Switzerland, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria. 

Introduction of Report

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of United Nations Operational Activities for Development.  It outlined the system’s response to the mandates contained in that resolution, as well as steps taken by the United Nations to improve efficiency and recommendations on how the system needed to position itself for the post-2015 development agenda. 

Discussing highlights, he said the report contained a coherent quadrennial comprehensive policy review monitoring framework, with 99 results-oriented indicators for all mandated areas.  It also clarified methodology and identified sources for data collection.  The United Nations had internalized the policy review with notable achievements: 14 of 22 United Nations entities had aligned their 2014-2017 strategic plans in content and timing to the policy review, which was a significant step towards a more coherent United Nations system.  Further, several funds and programmes had embraced sustainable development as a key area of work and had stepped up efforts to support South-South cooperation. 

However, he said, transaction costs and other issues posed challenges that the United Nations must address if it was to be a significant partner.  More efforts were also needed on the issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Requests for the timely unification of regulations, rules, policies and procedures, as well as the consolidation of support services at the country level had direct implications for the organizational set-up of individual entities.  All should systematically implement the management and accountability system. 

As for funding trends, he said that while the United Nations was the largest multilateral partner, there had been a downward trend in funding for operational activities.  Also, that financing had become more diversified.  That underscored the need for United Nations entities to achieve full cost recovery, which was still a “work in progress” for many funds and programmes.  To speed action, the policy review resolution had requested the Executive Boards to organize a dialogue on how to finance development results.  With that, he said strategic, institutional and operational transformations at the United Nations should “stay ahead of the curve” and be driven by the need to better serve Member States.

Panel II

The dialogue this afternoon with the Executive Heads of United Nations Funds and Programmes was on “Looking to the future: current and emerging strategic priorities”.  It was moderated by Carlos Enrique García González (El Salvador), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, and included the following speakers: Ms. Clark, Chair, United Nations Development Group, and Administrator, UNDP; Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); Elisabeth Rasmusson, Assistant Executive Director for Partnership and Governance Services, World Food Programme (WFP); John Hendra, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women); Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). 

Ms. Clark addressed such questions as: how will a unified and universal agenda focused on sustainable development in the post-2015 era affect the role of the United Nations system in global development cooperation and how can the United Nations development system become an important player in supporting the objectives of South-South cooperation.  The poverty-reducing impact of the global economic growth had slowed, she said, noting the largest ever group of unemployed youth.  In that new landscape, the United Nations system had to practice what it preached by making it “fit for purpose”. 

United Nations reform must be about substance, not process, she said, stressing that it must become cost effective by stripping out duplicate services, and it must get results, which required more radical approaches.  The “Delivering as One” had broken ground, but the emphasis now should shift from planning to delivery.  Monitoring and evaluating implementation were fundamentally important to all players.  UNDP hosted the Organization’s office for South-South cooperation, a partnership that was fully endorsed by the Programme’s new strategic plan.  Entitled “Changing with the World”, it reflected the need for the United Nations system to adapt to an evolving environment.  “We don’t need fractured entities operating in silos,” she said, calling for a better coordination for the United Nations system. 

Dr. OSOTIMEHIN said there were 670 days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Gains had been made, with the proportion of people living in extreme poverty halved, and more than 2 billion having gained access to improved sources of drinking water.  Yet, persistent inequalities between and within countries threatened to reverse those achievements, especially for young people.  Millennium Goal 5 (maternal health) lagged farthest behind, as 800 women died daily from preventable causes.  Goal 6B — universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment — was also off track, with some areas showing a trend of increased incidence, especially among young people.

The ‘MDG acceleration framework’, he said, tackled “off-track” Goals by helping to develop country-level partnerships.  In doing so, it helped Governments focus on disparities and inequalities — two of the major causes of the uneven progress.  A platform had been put in place last year, which gave UNFPA an opportunity to interact with the World Bank.  “We’ve seen great progress and stronger partnerships with stakeholders on the ground,” he said, adding, however, that the agenda was still unfinished.  The Goals associated with women’s and children’s health would likely not be achieved at the current rate.  “Post-2015 must be an era of equality and human rights,” and the United Nations, to remain relevant, must build on lessons learned, including from “Delivering as One” and the multisectoral approach of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). 

Ms. RASMUSSON said that development planning must be responsive to sudden changes in the needs of vulnerable populations.  That meant that the WFP must work to meet a dual objective — first, to respond to emergencies so that the impact of conflict and natural disasters were mitigated, and, second, to deploy safety nets, including for school feeding, asset creation, and crop insurance, in order to sustainably and comprehensively eradicate hunger, while strengthening vulnerable populations’ resilience.  Following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, WFP had responded with multiple interventions appropriate for the local context.  It delivered high-energy biscuits and then full rations where food was unavailable.  It provided cash and voucher transfers once the markets started functioning. 

Beyond the United Nations system, government leadership and investment were critical to ending world hunger.  National safety net programmes that provided vulnerable populations with transfers of cash or feed were effective tools for ensuring access to food.  With functioning safety nets, countries could more rapidly, effectively and efficiently respond to shocks, such as sudden food price increases.  That contributed to social stability, reducing the risk of crisis at the local and national levels. 

Mr. HENDRA said United Nations funds and programmes had improved their focus on gender equality, with 55 entities and Secretariat departments now reporting on that issue.  Yet, challenges remained.  Overlapping mandates and gaps, United Nations development system versus agency identity, and donor funding behaviour all undermined coherence and coordination.  Recalling that the “Delivering as One” initiative had not had broad support at the outset, he said that strong national leadership had driven the eight pilot programmes, and the first generation of countries had boosted the United Nations relevance on the ground.  Today, “Delivering as One” was the preferred modality in more than 40 countries.  Speaking with one voice on multisectoral challenges would be increasingly essential.

He went on to say that the most important challenge for coherence was the ability to deliver strategic policy advice in line with normative standards and commitments.  In that context, UN-Women offered a potential blueprint for the United Nations, with its normative mandate across all three pillars of the Organization’s work.  Going forward, the United Nations must better leverage the development system to bring together normative, coordination and operational goals in support of policy options.  Also, funding was more short-term than sustainable, as it was driven by individual donor priorities rather than collective commitments.  “This has to change,” he urged.  Only through effective collaboration would gender equality and women’s empowerment be achieved. 

Ms. BRANDT said that progress had been made on the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review since adoption of the resolution that launched it 14 months ago.  National capacity‑building and development effectiveness were two areas of progress.  For the first time, UNDP, UNFPA, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), UN-Women, WFP and UNICEF had aligned their respective new strategic plans with the International Club for Peace Research, in timing, content and indicators for results.  The convergence of strategic plans provided an opportunity for a joint and complementary response to the multidimensional nature of poverty and inequity.  Improvement had been made on the functioning of the United Nations development system.  The cost-sharing agreement for the Resident Coordinator system had come into effect on 1 January 2014, and agencies were endeavouring to reduce operational costs at the country level by consolidating support services where appropriate.

He noted that more than 80 countries were rolling out the new United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) at the country level.  That provided a huge opportunity to develop a strategic blueprint with a strong focus on supporting national results.  That would also link her agency’s work on poverty, vulnerability, equity and resilience, and apply good coherence principles, such as joint planning, joint programming and joint results monitoring, in all settings.  UNICEF was fully committed to a results-focused coherence agenda and was pressing all field offices to apply those sound principles in practice.  To be “fit for purpose”, the United Nations system must be strategic and adaptive, he concluded. 

Mr. STEINER said the post-2015 development agenda must evolve significantly.  The principle of universality would be fundamental to articulating a contemporary agenda.  Within that universality, diversity must be recognized in order for the United Nations to evolve alongside the many global challenges.  Otherwise, it risked marginalization.  Integration was also important.  The success of different institutions handling different “elements” depended on a joint approach.  He said States should set an agenda that drove the United Nations towards its objectives. 

Turning to implementation, he said South-South cooperation, research and development, and varying educational levels were changing the nature of capacity development in many countries.  Policy frameworks were increasingly a concern in terms of preventing or enabling change.  The United Nations was struggling in terms of justifying the financing it received, which was extraordinary given its development and peacekeeping goals.  Financing for development was a concern to developing countries, with emerging challenges such as climate change, unemployment and inequality.  The ability of public finance alone to underwrite the necessary investments challenged the traditional mode of development financing. 

On the use of private finance, he said:  “Development is not privatizable”.  At the same time, investing in development could mobilize domestic resources and foreign direct investment.  The question centred on how the United Nations would face that challenge.  “We’re talking about the most far-reaching economic and societal transformations we have had to face for decades,” he said.  The development agenda must be rethought against the backdrop of very diverse realities.  Such decisions would not be determined by groups of nations alone; the Council must find equitable solutions that accepted that the development agenda could only progress if it embraced a universal dimension.

Interactive Discussion

When that segment began, the representative of Ethiopia asked panellists to elaborate on underfunding for maternal health. 

The representative of Croatia stressed the importance of systemwide coherence and the need to avoid duplication of services. 

The representative of Sweden sought more information on preparations for structured dialogue for financing. 

Dr. OSOTIMEHIN said that in cultures where child marriage was condoned, the maternal death rate was higher because girls were not physically ready to bear a child and the health system was not constructed to serve that purpose. Expectant mothers must see doctors at least three times during pregnancy, but due to a shortage of medical workers, that was not happening, he said, urging Governments to invest in health.  A larger issue was women’s marginalization.  It was not a matter of rich or poor.  Causes for maternal deaths were already known: bleeding, infection and high blood pressure.  Sri Lanka, for instance, reduced its maternal mortality rate, without becoming a rich nation.  Education would also help women become “fit for purpose” for bearing a child. 

Ms. CLARK said the United Nations agencies represented in today’s panel discussion were looking to organize a structured dialogue for financing in the new strategic cycle.  She was waiting for further guidance from the respective bureaus. 

Mr. HENDRA said that violence against women was hard to measure, stressing the importance of indicators.  Discussions on the post-2015 development agenda would provide a huge opportunity to reflect on the importance of data collection as a tool to better target the vulnerable groups and address inequality. 

Regarding food security, said Ms. RASMUSSON, Rome-based agencies were making coherent efforts to support smallholder farmers. 

Ms. BRANDT added that maternal health was not an issue of concern only to health-related mandates, but also required education-related interventions, underscoring the complementary role of each specialized agency. 

The representative of the Russian Federation sought an update on the status of consolidation of support services at the country level and asked about the changes to be made to the format of annual reports on the Resident Coordinator system.

The representative of Norway said that in addition to traditional donors, new donors were in the picture now.  That situation required an analysis as part of preparations for structured dialogue for financing. 

Ms. CLARK, responding to questions, said agencies, funds and programmes were collaborating on piloting the business operations strategy, which involved 11 countries.  In Brazil, a high-level committee on management would establish a joint operations facility to support all participating agencies.  Going forward with more specific plans, such pilots should be fully operational and provide evidence as to whether there was greater efficiency and effectiveness.  By early next year, cost benefit analysis of new pilots would be conducted, which would guide plans for more systematic consolidation.

To other questions, she said the Resident Coordinator annual report would shift its focus to shared results achieved.  The United Nations Development Group was covering 27 per cent of the Resident Coordinator system, with the UNDP covering an even greater share.  Lifelong learning for Resident Coordinators was a priority with cost implications.  More attention was being paid to assessing who was suitable for that post.

In a second round of questions, the representative of Bangladesh drew attention to malnutrition and stunted growth, an issue that should be addressed more vigorously within a specified timeframe and resources.

Ms. BRANDT, responding, said malnutrition and stunting was among UNICEF’s biggest priorities.  Much work had been done in recent years on costing those problems, and she would be happy to share that research with States to determine a joint way forward.

Ms. RASMUSSON added that the “Zero Hunger Challenge” aimed to address those issues.  Indeed, agencies and Governments must assess the situation and determine what more could be done.  UNICEF had conducted studies that showed how the cost of stunting affected a country’s GDP.  There were no such studies ongoing in Asia, but she would be interested in discussing that possibility.

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