Mr. Thomas Gass Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Setting the scene for QCPR 2016

LDC Ambassadorial Level Consultative Meeting on the QCPR

H.E. Mr. Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh and Chair, LDC group,

H.E. Mr. Kai Sauer, Permanent Representative of Finland,

Under Secretary General and High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya,

Dear colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to be with the group of LDCs once again. Six months have passed since I joined you at the LDC retreat in February. I believe this well-timed meeting will benefit preparations for the upcoming Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).


We live in an era of unprecedented opportunity, and of unprecedented global challenge.

A new development landscape has emerged, marked by interconnectivity, challenges that know no borders and new development players.

The needs, priorities and capacities of Member States have also changed. So too have the needs and capacities of LDCs.  The causes and consequences of the vulnerabilities to which LDCs are exposed have shifted.

Deep pockets of extreme poverty and inequality persist, across countries from different income groups.  In LDCs, these are further compounded by vulnerabilities and volatility that expose them to a higher degree of risks caused by issues beyond their control – from climate change to pandemics, and market volatility to name a few.

In response to these challenges, Member States adopted the landmark ambitious 2030 Agenda, which calls for universal and integrated action and to leave no one behind.

Indeed, the 2030 Agenda poses an unprecedented opportunity, but also a challenge to the United Nations and its development system. It places greater demand on the system, and calls for a new approach to deliver its operational activities for development.

Repositioning is needed for the UN development system to be fit for purpose.

The United Nations development system must find a new way of working together towards collective outcomes, and one integrated system.  This must be done through efforts to increase coherence and coordination.

This is where the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review – or the QCPR – comes into play. While the 2030 Agenda sets out the ‘what’, it is the QCPR that provides the ‘how’.


The QCPR is the instrument in which Member States provide system-wide guidance to the United Nations development system.

In support of the 2030 Agenda through the 2016 QCPR, it will be essential to capture the varying capacities and needs of Member States, and provide differentiated, tailor-made responses.   Some countries may wish for the support from the UN development system to increasingly shift towards upstream policy advice. Others, particularly LDCs, may still require a significant share to be dedicated to direct support and service delivery.

The Secretary General has made clear in his report on the QCPR that the priorities of least developed countries, including those set out in the Istanbul Programme of Action, must remain the priority of the United Nations development system. It is now up to Member States to ensure that these priorities are accounted for in the QCPR.

At present, the United Nations development system provides strong support for least developed countries.  In 2014, 53 per cent of total UN country-level expenditure was spent in LDCs.  UN expenditures account for over 20 per cent of ODA in 23 LDCs – almost exactly half the total number of LDCs].

But this support must go hand in hand with a transformation on how the UN development system organizes itself, and builds its skills to respond to new needs and capacities. To that end, a new kind of QCPR is needed to guide the United Nations development system to transform itself.

And the 2016 QCPR is particularly critical. Not only because it will set the course for the next four years, but also because it can establish the strategic direction of operational activities for development in the first years of implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The 18 month ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system shows a growing degree of convergence from Member States that, to be truly an instrument for change, the QCPR should be strategic. This means that:

  • First, it should be focused. While much of the detail contained in the QCPR cannot be divorced from the complex realities of the system, there is a need to prioritize strategic issues and address those that will allow the system to truly operate as one, and thus respond to the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda. If all the issues are kept on the table as a priority, it has the opposite effect where nothing is a priority.
  • Second, it should be clear – whether in terms of the specifics of the role of the UN development system, or the form and language that it is uses. Clarity makes it accessible to all parties that engage with delivering, monitoring, reporting and reviewing it.
  • Third, a strategic QCPR should be brief. The 2012 QPCR resolution has 189 operating paragraphs. Many of these go into highly technical details that not only loses the vision and the objectives of a comprehensive policy review, but also restricts accessibility to a handful of experts.   A strategic QCPR should be focussed on outcome over process.
  • And lastly, a strategic QCPR should be realistic. Deep institutional change will likely require phasing over two or three QPCR resolutions. The system was not created by design – it is complex and diverse, with redundancies and contradictions.   The QCPR should set out achievable and measurable results.

The successful pursuit of change will require bold action and strong leadership from both the United Nations development system and Member States alike. Political will and political leadership to realise change and stay the course are key.

I thank you.

Follow Us