Mr. Sha Zukang Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the Operational Activities Segment of the Economic and Social Council Geneva, 12 July 2007

Introduction of the report of the Secretary-General on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review and of the 2007 comprehensive report on the Financing of Operational Activities for Development

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Today you commence debate on the full implementation of General Assembly resolution 59/250 on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities of the United Nations development system.

The resolution 59/250 set policy guidelines for the UN system’s development work at the country level. It stressed an overarching purpose: to make the UN more effective and efficient in its support to developing countries to achieve their priorities and the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.

A fundamental message was that programme countries should be able to draw fully on the system’s accumulated experience, on the basis of the comparative advantage and expertise of its different entities.

The forthcoming General Assembly will negotiate a new TCPR resolution. The Council has a unique opportunity to assess implementation of the present resolution – and to provide suggestions to the Assembly on future focus areas.

Mr. Chairman,

Since the 2004 TCPR, the development landscape has changed dramatically. The 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness reiterated the central importance of national ownership and leadership, and emphasized new aid modalities. New development actors – including foundations, the private sector, and NGOs – are playing a growing role in development cooperation. There has been a major increase in the volume and dynamism of South-South cooperation.

You touched on all of this last week, during ECOSOC’s launch of the biennial High-level Development Cooperation Forum.

Today, I have the pleasure to introduce two reports of the Secretary-General that are before you to facilitate your deliberations. Another point of reference, of course, are the consultations ongoing in New York on the System-wide Coherence Report.

Prior to this session, many of you participated in informal briefings, where the evidence and analysis contained in these reports were presented and discussed. So let me highlight just a few important features of the reports.

The TCPR report analyzes the implementation of Assembly resolution 59/250. Its main focus is to assess to what extent and in what ways the UN system has provided effective and efficient support to developing countries – to realize their national development priorities and achieve internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs. The analysis also reflects the larger reform agenda and commitment to change within the UN system. It takes into account the 2005 World Summit Outcome and earlier UN conferences and summits, as well as the changing context of international development cooperation.

The report reviews the sustainability of the outcomes of the UN development system’s operational activities. It analyses the UN system’s efforts to balance an increased strategic focus on tangible results at country-level with an emphasis on access by programme countries to the full range of knowledge and expertise offered by the different UN system organizations.

The report reviews the adequacy of funding and current funding modalities of operational activities for development. This includes innovative initiatives taken in several funds, programmes, and agencies to enhance predictability and dependability of resources.

Broadly speaking, the report shows that progress has been made in selected areas, such as: capacity development, promotion of South-South cooperation, transition from relief to development, gender mainstreaming, and evaluation. Yet, many challenges remain. Some relate to lack of human resource capacity at country-level and the overall coherence and effectiveness of the UN development system at the country level. Another is the changing nature of funding of the UN system’s operational work, with the growing share of “non-core” or “earmarked” funds compared to “core” or “regular” resources.

This brings me to the second report before you, the “Comprehensive statistical analysis of the financing of operational activities for development of the UN system for 2005”. Contributions for operational activities have increased considerably in the last year, but mainly in the form of non-core contributions. The result is the continuation in the decline of the core share of total contributions, from around 85 per cent in 1991 to just over 43 per cent in 2005. This decline has been particularly marked in UNDP, UNICEF, and the specialized agencies.

In a welcome change, the contribution of non-DAC countries has been rapidly increasing, as part of growing South-South cooperation. There has also been a steady increase in the share of total expenditures allocated to the least developed countries, from 30 per cent in 2001 to 40 per cent in 2005.

The data coverage and analysis of this report has been broadened compared to last year, through: a greater emphasis on country-specific data; the inclusion of UNHCR; and an expanded analysis of humanitarian assistance. The report also presents a joint DESA-DAC account of the differences between the way the UN and the DAC classify and report contributions to the UN system. For example, using the DAC definitions, the 2005 figure for total contributions to the system is $5.7 billion; using the UN definitions, the figure is $15.5 billion.

The Council also has at hand a number of conference room papers. Conference Room Paper 1 reports on steps by the UN Development Group to implement the TCPR. Conference Room Paper 3, prepared jointly by DESA and UNDGO, presents progress by the UN system in implementing resolution 59/250, in matrix form. The report of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation is also before this segment.

Mr. Chairman, honourable delegates,

Previous triennial reviews have all emphasized, as a key theme, the role of national ownership and leadership in the operational activities of the UN development system. The Council has an opportunity to take stock of how far the system has moved in this direction, too. It also will be able to discuss the impact of the UN system operational work on poverty eradication efforts, economic growth, and sustainable development of programme countries, including the contribution to national capacity building.

Let me close by saying that we in the Secretariat are very much looking forward to your discussions. They will be a critical input in our work to formulate the Secretary-General’s draft recommendations, which will be considered by the General Assembly when it conducts the TCPR in the Fall.

We all have the same interest here – to ensure that the UN system delivers development results for its Member States.

Thank you.

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