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The Council’s operational activities segment was held from 14 to 18 July 2011 in Geneva. Member States reviewed how far the UN system had gone in making its operational activities more relevant, effective and efficient – by implementing the guidance given by the General assembly in 2007. They also provided recommendations on how best to prepare for the 2012 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) of UN system operational activities by the General Assembly. (click to see summaries of discussion)

At the end of the segment, the Council adopted a resolution, providing guidance to the preparations of the 2012 QCPR of the GA (ECOSOC RESOLUTION/2011/7).

The following are amongst the key messages emerged from the segment:

  1. The new development landscape requires the UN development organizations to work strategically together in order to help programme countries to identify emerging opportunities and achieve the Internationally Agreed Development Goals, including the MDGs.
  2. National development priorities include horizontal, cross-cutting issues. In the context, the UN system must increase its work across current institutional borders in order to address the multidimensional development challenges. Donor Governments should shift more funding streams to more thematic, horizontal intervention and avoid small operations. In the current challenging resource environment, UN operational activities for development must target initiatives that have catalytic impact and multiplying effects on other development dimensions, such as gender equality.
  3. The fast-changing development needs in some cases challenge UN’s relevance. The UN must increase its efficiency and agility to respond to different country situations. General Assembly guidance must be implemented by all UN agencies as priority, and subject to strengthened monitoring and evaluation.
  4. The funding of the UN system should become more adequate to enable it to respond to long term development needs. It is important to better understand what critical mass of core/unrestricted funding an organization needs to be able to respond to its core mandates and to the priorities of programme countries. There should be an improved burden sharing of UN system funding among Member States.
  5. The UN should further gain credibility and support by demonstrating its results and impact. The entire development system should invest more in the tools and systems to reinforce results-orientation. The UN needs to move its coherence agenda from a process to a results-orientation approach.
  6. The exponential growth of competent, local non-government institutions raises the need for the UN to adjust its operations to ensure “when and where it works, it is strategic and at the high end of the value-chain”. In this context, the UN must rely more on partnerships to achieve its goals.
  7. The UN resident coordinator must be a team leader. Resident coordinators should have the competencies, authority and resources to lead the UN system, contribute to the work of the UN country team and promote change.
  8. The role of the resident coordinator should go beyond UN internal coordination efforts, and must include strong coordination with programme countries, the donor community and other actors in the area of development cooperation and emergency relief.
  9. The widely differing and frequently changing UN procedures act as critical obstacles to cooperation between a country and the UN. Measures are needed to accelerate simplification and harmonization of business processes. One back office can be explored as a solution.
  10. There is a need to improve the links between UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) and agency-specific programming. This could be done by peer reviewing agency country programmes in the UN Country Team.

Four reports of the Secretary-General supported the deliberations of the Council (highlights of reports):

  1. Report of the Secretary-General on results achieved and measures and processes implemented in follow-up to General Assembly resolution 62/208 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations (E/2011/112)
  2. Report of the Secretary -General on comprehensive statistical analysis of the financing of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for 2009 (E/2011/107)
  3. Report of the Secretary -General on the functioning of the resident coordinator system, including costs and benefits (E/2011/86)
  4. Report of the Secretary-General on simplification and harmonization of the UN development system (E/2011/88)

The work of the Segment was organized around four panels (Programme):

  1. Preparing for the 2012 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of the General Assembly - “What are the expectations: issues, process and outcome?” (concept note)
  2. Dialogue with Executive Heads of UN Funds and Programmes: “Looking to the future of operational activities for development of Funds and Programmes: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats”
  3.  “Strengthening the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator: role of accountability frameworks, resources and results reporting” (concept note)
  4. “How to define the concept of “critical mass” of core resources?” (Funding update for 2010) (concept Note)

The functions of the segment were defined by the General Assembly in its Resolution (A/RES/48/162)


  • Ms. Monica Nogara, Senior Economic Affairs Officer, Development Cooperation Policy Branch, Office of ECOSOC Support and Coordination/DESA, (212) 963-4901.
  • Mr. Huanyu Liu, Economic Affairs Officer, Development Cooperation Policy Branch, Office of ECOSOC Support and Coordination/DESA, or write to