Remarks Committee of Experts on Public Administration, 20th Session

Madame Chair,
Distinguished CEPA Members,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I extend DESA’s warm greetings to all of you, and I thank you for your continued engagement with the Committee’s work despite the current challenges.

As many countries are considering how to recover better and get back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, this 20th session of CEPA could not be more timely.

The Committee has before it a forward-looking agenda. It is well aligned with the pursuit of efforts to achieve a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Your focus on building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is at the heart of efforts to accelerate delivery of the SDGs.

I note that, at this session, you will deepen your study of what it means, concretely, to build inclusive, effective and resilient institutions. This can be very useful to ECOSOC and the HLPF. A commitment to strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions – and bolstering local action to accelerate implementation – are integral to the call for action during this decade of delivery for sustainable development.

CEPA points out that the global community, led by national Governments, must systemically address the deeper causes of poverty and exclusion. This needs to be done through institution-building and development policies focused on the long-term. Initial responses to the pandemic have shown that it is both necessary and possible for Governments to play the leading role in sustainable development. Indeed, all over the world, Governments are working towards a successful whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach.

Some four years ago – at the beginning of the current term – the UN principles of effective governance were adopted by the Committee and endorsed by ECOSOC. With the encouragement of the Council, and through the dedicated leadership of the members, we have come a long way.

At this session, we will hear about two groundbreaking studies on the status of implementation of the UN principles. The first is in Africa, undertaken by the African Peer Review Mechanism, and the second in countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The studies may serve as a model and inspiration for others.

My department, UN DESA, stands ready to engage with regional organizations and the Resident Coordinator system in the operationalization of these UN principles. In our early activities to promote the principles, beginning with sound policymaking, we have observed a clear appetite for guidance and support from the UN development system in building strong institutions for the SDGs.

Soon, the President of ECOSOC will be convening the sixth Forum on Financing for Development. The Forum will help build global action to achieve the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and its seven action areas, including the mobilization and effective use of domestic public resources. The Committee’s guidance on integrating the SDGs into national and subnational budgets and financial management, are an important contribution.

Some countries are initiating efforts to develop integrated national financing frameworks (INFFs). These aim to facilitate contributions of all sources and types of financing and deliver on the Addis Agenda.  Adequate institutional capacity to guide and underpin the entire INFF process, is crucial for the SDGs. Guidance recently published by DESA sets out a governance framework for the success of an INFF. In this regard, there is an important synergy between the work of CEPA and the FfD process.

You will also be discussing the public sector workforce of the future in the context of the pandemic, and the powerful role of technology in modernizing public administration. Indeed, if properly managed, the digital economy can be a critical enabler of the SDGs to provide opportunities, reduce poverty and promote social inclusion. The Committee’s insights on preparing the public sector workforce – both to leverage frontier technology and guide broader economic activity towards sustainable development – are timely.

Sustainable public procurement is another area where there is significant potential. I look forward to hearing your views on how public spending – representing on average 13 to 20 per cent of GDP as you have observed – can be better aligned with the objectives of the SDGs. This can ensure that the public sector workforce has the capacity to manage sustainability factors in procurement processes.

Later this week, the UN Peacebuilding Commission is scheduled to convene an expert-level meeting on institution-building. This is an important component to delivering on all of its lines of work – especially in conflict-affected countries that have been further weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic and in their ability to implement the SDGs.

The Committee’s insights into how to counter such effects and promote inclusion of marginalized groups is especially important in post-conflict settings where levels of trust are low. This is a welcome addition to your ongoing informal collaboration with the Peacebuilding Commission.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The dedication you have shown to the ideals of the United Nations and to our collective effort to achieve sustainable development for all, is deeply appreciated. I look forward to your expert guidance on further action to take us forward – to the future we all share, and that we all want.

I thank you.

File date: 
Monday, April 12, 2021

Mr. Liu