Deputy Secretary-General Tells ESCAP Meeting of United Nations Resolve ‘To Do More with Less’

17 October 2011

Deputy Secretary-General Tells ESCAP Meeting of United Nations Resolve ‘To Do More with Less’

17 October 2011
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General Tells ESCAP Meeting of United Nations


Resolve ‘To Do More with Less’


These are the remarks of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to the Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in Bangkok on 13 October:

It is a pleasure to be back in Bangkok to again chair the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific’s (ESCAP) Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting tomorrow.

We meet at a moment of exceptional fluidity in international affairs.  Around the globe, we see economic upheaval, political instability, social unrest, mega-disasters.  While globalization has brought many benefits, it has also helped exacerbate many challenges, including the rapid transmission of financial shocks, international crime and human trafficking, increasingly volatile and turbulent financial and product markets, issues of food and energy security, and widening income and social inequalities in many countries.  The ESCAP region itself has been tried by a devastating earthquake, tsunami and series of floods.

Progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals is uneven across the board.  While the Asia-Pacific region has some of the fastest growing economies in the world, it is also home to around 60 per cent of the world’s poor.  Much remains to be done.  The region lags in areas such as reducing hunger, reducing child mortality, and improving maternal health care.  Rising food and energy prices remain a concern and are having dire effects on the poor in the region.  In such times and in the face of such challenges, sustainable development will be among the keys to our future work.

As the Secretary-General stated in his recent address to the General Assembly, we must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment.  Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth — these are one and the same fight.  Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.

The regional commissions have much to contribute to this agenda.  The regional dimension of development is now recognized as critical for an effective and coordinated response to an ever-growing number of transboundary issues.  Indeed, a recent study sponsored by the United Nations regional commissions found a great degree of commonality between regional and global issues, as well as regional and global agendas.  The study identified a number of issues — notably macroeconomic cooperation to food security, to climate change and disaster risk reduction — where regional efforts can be especially effective.  That is why next year’s Rio+20 conference will be so important.  The voice of the regional commissions is important and must be heard.  I urge you to fully engage in the preparatory process.

As crises widen and deepen, States and people alike are turning to the United Nations.  Our challenge is to deliver integrated solutions to interlinked challenges — and to meet the global public’s expectations and needs, even at a time of budgetary constraint.

In outlining the priorities for his second term, the Secretary-General has been very clear that we must do more with less and we need to focus on attaining the utmost cost-efficiency.  For every dollar gratefully received, we are working to ensure it is both prudently allocated and wholly accounted for.

All United Nations managers were recently asked to conduct a thorough review of their programme activities and related resources.  As a result, we reduced our overall budget proposals by over 3 per cent.  Those proposals are now before the General Assembly for its consideration.  Further organizational changes are under consideration.  The Change Management Team, established earlier this year by the Secretary-General, will help us accelerate innovations and changes already under way.  The Team is looking at a number of key areas, including information technology, procurement, business processes and work-life balance.  We will continue working to ensure accountability and transparency in everything we do.

I do have to emphasize, however, that we are not just looking at cutting costs.  Rather, we are looking at improving overall effectiveness.  A multi-year Human Resources reform programme is under way to realize the Secretary-General's vision for a global, dynamic and adaptable workforce.  We have achieved a harmonized framework for conditions of service for staff of the United Nations Secretariat, agencies, funds and programmes; this will come into effect in 2016.

Various initiatives have been launched to support staff mobility and we are developing, in consultation with Member States and staff, a mobility framework for consideration by the General Assembly at next year’s sixty-seventh session.  As the United Nations undertakes such extensive efforts to strengthen itself, it is important to recognize the need for adequate and predictable resources.  That is why we have called on Member States to do their part and to provide funds in a predictable and timely manner.

The “delivering as one” approach has achieved significant gains in a number of areas, including the reduction of transaction costs, enhanced coherence of programmes at the country level, and overall efficiency of our operations.  The strong guidance and leadership of national Governments has been essential in making these advances possible.  The pilot phase of this effort will be concluded by the Fourth High-level Conference on “Delivering as One” due to be held in Montevideo next month, followed by the Independent Evaluation in March 2012.  The Montevideo gathering will also examine what “delivering as one” means in middle income countries, least developed countries, and in crisis and transition settings.  In order to ensure the continued success of this approach to integrated programming and operations, I encourage national Governments to continue providing political and financial support.

Thank you again for this opportunity to share some thoughts with you about where we are and where we must go at this time of transformation and challenge.  The Secretary-General and I, along with the staff and leadership of ESCAP, look forward to working with you to generate progress across our shared agenda.  I look forward to our interaction this afternoon, and to learning of your collective priorities and concerns for the ESCAP region.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.