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

Remarks to the Second Committee
for the introduction of the Report Update of the Secretary General
on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review

Your Excellency Ambassador Djani, Chair of the Second Committee
Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am honoured to introduce the update to the Secretary General’s report on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR).

This update is to be read in connection with the QCPR report issued in December 2015, which reported on implementation of the QCPR and captured the analysis of the current state of play in the UN development system.

The update provides recommendations for Member States’ consideration as they reflect on the upcoming 2016 QCPR resolution.

I take this opportunity to thank the UN development system for their inputs and contributions to this update.


The update report advances a number of recommendations based on the shared understanding that today’s development landscape has changed.

Global challenges – spanning the effects of climate change, pandemics, conflicts and humanitarian crises, and the interconnectedness of global markets – are not contained by borders on a map.

Country needs, capacities and priorities have evolved. The number of middle income countries continues to grow, yet inequality is on the rise. Uncertainty and volatility continue to threaten, or even reverse, development gains.

The field of development actors has expanded too, and resourceful players continue to widen the landscape.

In response to the fast evolving realities of the 21st century, Member States adopted a new development agenda that is ambitious in nature, universal in scope, and integrated in intent.

The 2030 Agenda embodies the recognition that today’s challenges must be addressed collectively. It requires adjustments within the UN development system that are commensurate with the intention of the 2030 Agenda and the level of change it requires.

Over the course of the ECOSOC Dialogue that took place for eighteen months, ending in July, we have, together, come a long way in our reflection on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system.

First and foremost, in support of their efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda, Member States need a UN system that works as one.

The update to the Secretary General’s report identifies a set of recommendations intended to catalyze a process of change to that end.

Allow me to briefly summarise the essence of these recommendations.

• First, the core functions of the UN development system must be clearly defined in response to the 2030 Agenda – both what the UNDS should do, and what it should no longer do.

These functions should be tailored, context-specific and integrated in a manner that delivers effective results, while focusing on
o Providing integrated normative policy support for implementation, monitoring and reporting on global agreements, norms and standards;
o Delivering integrated, evidence-based policy advice and thought leadership to support countries to nationalize the SDGs;
o Convening stakeholders across constituencies;
o Supporting capacity development and technical assistance; and
o Supporting comprehensive and disaggregated data collection and analysis to inform evidence-based, context-specific and inclusive policy choices;

• Second, the report recommends that the functions of the UN development system be supported by appropriate funding flows and financing mechanisms.

The report lays out a number of proposals to scale-up “core-like” funding, for example through improved structured financing dialogues, well-designed and sufficiently resourced pooled funding mechanisms, and incremental costs to strictly earmarked resources.

It also calls to explore innovative financing modalities, deepen partnerships with international financial institutions, and move to an integrated financing approach on the ground.

Finally. to increase transparency and build trust. It recommends a system-wide adoption of the IATI common reporting standard.

• Third, the report calls for adjustments to governance structures that would better enable the UN development system to be accountable for system-wide results.

Strengthening horizontal governance, for example, through dedicated meetings under the purview of ECOSOC, would contribute to ensure a system that can truly operate as one.

The report also recommends improving the composition and working methods of individual entities’ governing bodies to increase ownership and strengthen guidance on effectiveness and coherence at both entity and system-wide levels.

• Fourth, to improve the system’s functioning, the field architecture of the UNDS needs to be reviewed, rationalized and aligned with the new agenda and demands from countries and regions.

Specific country needs to be matched with a globally mobile workforce that has the right skills and incentives, and can work across institutional boundaries, guided by transformative leadership.

The report points to the need of building synergies by strengthening coherence across the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding nexus, and opening up to the realities of the 21st century by embracing the strengths of all development players. A critical element in that regard is a system-wide approach to partnership, paired with appropriate oversight and transparency efforts for accountability.

• Fifth, an overall vision for collective outcomes should be developed at country level that embodies the “one country, one UN framework” approach. It should ensure complementary multi-year planning, encompassing development needs and protracted crises requirements, based on joint analysis and comparative advantages.

Equally essential are the advancement of business practices to operate as one, starting with the adoption of the SOPs, the roll-out of the BOS in all countries, and common back offices and further harmonized business practices.


The universal and integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda has raised the bar for the UN development system.

The Secretary General’s report recognizes that the system will have to transform itself, but this will require a phased approach. The UNDS has already embarked on a number of initiatives to embed the new Agenda in the ways the system works at global, regional and country-level. Member States must now chart the course for the UNDS with a dynamic and strategic QCPR.

The immediate years ahead will be critical to set the course and mark the path to success. Short- and medium-term action will lay the foundations for change in the longer-run.

As such, the report calls for a new kind of QCPR – one that provides strategic direction; one that focuses on outcome rather than process; and one that encompasses the whole UN development system.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Colleagues and Friends

The proposals outlined in this report are just one starting point: the seeds to catalyse the kind of change needed, in a phased approach. There are many options, some discussed during the ECOSOC Dialogue. Others include new possibilities that are emerging from debates taking place around us.

Now is time to rise to the vision in the 2030 Agenda, and respond with a QCPR that is bold and meets the needs of our times.

As the Secretary-General says in this update report, “it is vital that the next QCPR provides the foundations for the United Nations development system to rise to the challenges of the new development agenda, both at the entity level and system-wide. The opportunity to set the course for the next four years must not be missed.”

Thank you.

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