Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

ECOSOC Dialogue Retreat on the longer-term positioning of the UN Development System

Framing the priorities of the UN development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda

President of ECOSOC, Ambassador Oh,
Vice President of ECOSOC, Ambassador Palma,
Deputy Secretary-General,
Ms. Luise Rürup of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung foundation,
Dear colleagues and friends,

I am very pleased to be here today. I join the Deputy Secretary-General in thanking the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung for hosting this very important retreat.

Today, the United Nations is at a historic juncture. 2015 marked the beginning of an era of change.

Member States adopted the landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a very bold vision that leads the way for the next fifteen years — a vision that roots sustainable development in universality and integration. A vision that acknowledges that we are all deeply interconnected. And that the actions of a few affect the lives of all. A vision that acknowledges that there can be no peace without development and no development without peace. A vision that leaves no one behind. And a vision that calls on everyone to play their part, while recognizing that each country has its priorities and must be supported through a differentiated approach.

The 2030 Agenda also stands strong because it can count on solid agreements that sustain its pillars, namely the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris climate agreement. These agreements support the new Agenda through the financial, environmental and resilience efforts that are key to the new Agenda’s success.

The landmarks agreements of 2015 have critical implications for the UN system as a whole.
The new development landscape requires a new way to operate to live up to today’s expectations. The ECOSOC Dialogue has offered a platform to mapping the elements needed to reform and align the building blocks of our Organization.

Today we inaugurate a critical phase, one that must conclude with concrete ways to ensure that the UN development system realigns to be able to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.

I am very pleased to welcome in these discussions the members of the Independent Team of Advisers that the ECOSOC Bureau has established to help us craft concrete proposals for Member States’ consideration.

Your bold and ambitious ideas will be critical in this process.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you start your discussions today, allow me to briefly summarize the key messages of this first phase of the Dialogue, so we can start from a common vantage point.

It is now fully understood that business as usual is no longer viable. There is a shared understanding that the UN development system needs to reform itself, building on its unique and comparative advantages, primarily defining its functions for the next fifteen years. Support to the needs and priorities of the least-developed countries should remain at the heart of UN interventions. And the increasing number of middle income countries and protracted global crises call on the UN development system to tailor and diversify its approach to respond to very different needs in different contexts.

From addressing the multi-dimensions of poverty to addressing the needs of fragile States, an integrated approach across all pillars of the UN system is critical. We can no longer continue to work in silos. We need to work in unison, with shared strategies and plans that mirror the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda. And we must do so at global, regional and country levels alike.

This requires a closer look at the UN development system, to ensure the necessary and adequate capacity, mechanisms and coordination to deliver on today’s priorities swiftly, efficiently and effectively, maximizing the use of limited resources and tapping into the strengths of all development players.

At the heart of the matter is the funding architecture, and various challenges it leads to, including enhancing the predictability of resources and effectiveness of their use.

Coherent system-wide governance is also key to ensure lucid and effective system-wide guidance, while leaving space for innovation.

The starting point is the alignment with and support to national priorities and needs and full national ownership of interventions. It is also the end point, through capacity development of national institutions and systems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is clear that we know what we need to do. The task at hand now is how we will do it. Our discussions between today and tomorrow will be critical in this regard.

The UN development system has made efforts to strengthen coordination and coherence, particularly at country level. We still have a ways to go, as today’s challenges are quite different from those that existed as the development system was being put in place.

We must ensure that we tune our action and mindsets to the transformation that is required of us.

DESA is committed to continue to make every possible effort in support of the ECOSOC Dialogue.

I thank you.

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