Economic and Social Council Operational Activities for Development Segment

Your Excellency, Ambassador Miia Rainne, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council,
Madam Deputy Secretary-General, 
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen, 

I wish to congratulate the President of the Economic and Social Council, His Excellency, Ambassador Kelapile, and our distinguished Chair, Her Excellency, Ambassador Miia Rainne and her team, for delivering a highly successful return to an in-person meeting of the Operational Activities Segment of ECOSOC. 

I hope that the findings and analysis contained in the new QCPR monitoring framework and the reports by the Secretary-General and UNSDG Chair served well as a basis of evidence to inform your discussions and guidance to the system.   

The past year was a difficult one. COVID-19 and new and protracted conflicts and crises across the globe continued to steal lives, upend global, regional and national economies and push us farther away from our development goals.   
As we have heard throughout this session, even against these fierce headwinds the UN development system is working to respond to the 2020 QCPR call     to enhance support to countries to achieve their sustainable development objectives, including through stronger action to eradicate poverty and ensure that no one is left behind.

Distinguished Delegates,

The survey responses and other data collected by DESA to support your deliberations demonstrate solid progress in the first year of the QCPR 
The UN development system is now better positioned to support countries.

As we had envisioned at the start of the repositioning, resident coordinators are becoming centres of gravity for convening development partners around the SDGs.

There is strong recognition by programme countries of the resident coordinators’ leadership, impartiality and focus on common results in delivering strategic support for national plans and priorities 

The governments of the vast majority of programme countries find that the resident coordinator system has contributed to leveraging partnerships to support their national efforts -- including by convening international financing institutions, the private sector and other stakeholders.   

The new generation of UN country teams is working more collaboratively with a clearer division of labour, guided by Cooperation Frameworks that are aligned to national priorities.  The informal dialogues allowed us to hear from colleagues on the ground about the striking shifts that have already occurred in bringing together the combined expertise of UN entities to support integrated policies that balance economic, social and environmental dimensions. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the same time, we have also heard from you that  we still have a lot of work to do  to assist countries in overcoming complex development challenges and accelerate action for the achievement of the SDGs.  

We must therefore transition to  a systems approach that recognizes the complex interrelationships and interdependency of development challenges. In this regard, the UNDSG is exploring how SDG integration can be a more explicit part of Cooperation Frameworks. 

As we heard this morning, a whole of system approach also means strengthening coordination across development, humanitarian and peace action.
While UN reforms have helped improve cross-pillar actions, further efforts are needed to embed a real culture change in that regard. Critical to the success of such change is multi-year cross-pillar funding that enables increasing humanitarian needs to be addressed in a sustainable manner, through essential development and climate action.  

Over the past decade, humanitarian expenditure has increased by 164 per cent while development spending remained roughly the same.
And some 55 per cent of all country-level expenditures for operational activities for development are now spent in countries in conflict and post-conflict situations.  

As you took stock of the improved support being provided to countries in special situations, namely, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states, we also heard that more tailored support is required to address their unique circumstances.  

To better guide development financing and action, we must also consider new ways to capture the vulnerability of different groups of countries than by looking at GDP alone. The Secretary-General has repeatedly called for progress in this area.

Yesterday, we heard how the Regional Collaboration Platforms are providing a robust foundation to improve support to countries. But we also heard that we need to make expertise of regional as well as global offices more readily accessible to ensure that we are making full use of the entire system’s assets. 

You have made it clear that while a whole system approach is essential, it is not enough.  The system needs to work with the whole government and build capacities for a whole-of-society approach to the SDGs.

Distinguished delegates,

With the pandemic entering its third year, health and well-being (SDG 3) continue to be the area in which many governments (61%) request UNDS support for the next two years. The second priority is climate action (SDG 13), followed by poverty eradication (SDG 1), education (SDG 4) and decent work and economic growth (SDG 8). 

You have underscored the importance of looking further than the immediate crises.  We must work in an anticipatory fashion, bolster prevention and build resilience.

As such, the diversion of resources in developed countries away from ODA, as well as from the necessary food- and energy-system transformations is concerning. This would further magnify adverse impacts. Sacrificing ODA budgets and climate finance will deepen poverty, inequalities, and adverse climate impacts and undermine the ability to respond to any new variant from COVID-19.

Madam Deputy Secretary-General,
Distinguished Delegates,

DESA will continue to strengthen its support to the QCPR process, in its role as Secretariat of operational activities. Thank you to my team in DESA and colleagues in the Secretary-General’s office and DCO for working together to support a successful operational activities segment of ECOSOC over the past days.

Thank you to all participants for the very inspiring and interactive deliberations of the past three days.  
Thank you for your attention. 


File date: 
Thursday, May 19, 2022

Mr. Liu