Economic and Social Council Adopts Decision to Hold Panel Discussion on Transition from Relief to Development

25 April 2014

Economic and Social Council Adopts Decision to Hold Panel Discussion on Transition from Relief to Development

25 April 2014
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council

2014 Substantive Session

13th Meeting (AM)

Economic and Social Council Adopts Decision to Hold Panel


Discussion on Transition from Relief to Development


Senior Official Gives Update on Organization’s Business Practice Improvements

In the final segment of its first Coordination and Management meeting of the 2014 session, the Economic and Social Council adopted a draft decision entitled “Economic and Social Council event to discuss the transition from relief to development”, which would take place on 23 June and consist of one panel discussion.

Ibrahim Dabbashi ( Libya) introduced the text (document E/2014/L.8).  A concept paper related to the event would be issued at a later stage, once consultations were completed.  The Council noted that the decision contained no programme budget implications.

Jan Beagle, Vice-Chair of the High-level Committee on Management and Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), outlined progress that had been made harmonizing and simplifying business practices in the United Nations system.  The High-level Committee, composed of the most senior administrative managers, had worked closely with the High-level Committee on Programme and the United Nations Development Group.  It also had manager networks in the areas of human resources management, information and communications technology, finance and budget, and procurement.

She said the High-level Committee’s 2013-2016 strategic plan focused on five priorities.  In the area of attracting and retaining talent, human resource policies, practices and contractual arrangements in “Delivering as One” countries had been reviewed.  Work had aimed at harmonizing the recruitment and selection processes for national officer positions at the country level.  The Committee also had coordinated the implementation of a performance management and reward recognition framework, as well as the inter-agency mobility agreement.

In the area of redesigning and innovating business models, she said the High-level Committee had focused on common and shared services, resulting in the delivery of higher quality services and a “culture of working together”.  Collaborative procurement at Headquarters duty stations and harmonization in the field had also been addressed.  For example, a 10 per cent savings could be realized by initiating the common procurement of vehicles, negotiating jointly in various locations.  A simplified vendor registration system had been put in place to ensure better coordination among countries.  All such projects represented significant cash savings.

A third focus was on supporting the second generation of “Delivering as One”, she said.  The High-level Committee was aligning country-level operations with Headquarters policies, and enabling the implementation of Standard Operating Procedures, as well as the Business Operations Strategy.  In the area of strengthening risk management and oversight, it was developing a “common organizational resilience” policy for the United Nations system, coordinating work in the areas of business continuity and cyber security, and facilitating collective engagement in order to strengthen internal control policies.

As for measuring and communicating results, the focus was on increasing transparency around the sources and use of resources, she said, citing a project that would automate and present data collection in a more user-friendly way.  Financial and human resources data had already been included; procurement data would be implemented, as well, providing a complete picture of the resources used to deliver on the mandate.  In sum, the High-level Committee sought to enhance resource efficiency.  An unprecedented atmosphere of cooperation had led to tangible results, with small investments yielding significant returns.

Susan Ecky (Norway), stressing that country-level funding pledges for coordination efforts must be fulfilled, inquired about how the initiative had increased the flexibility of United Nations staff, particularly with regard to humanitarian crises.  More information was needed about communication and coordination with various United Nations agencies and how efforts were addressing some of the challenges of working with the Secretariat, particularly when related to existing rules and regulations.

After clarifying the term “second generation” to Claudia Assaf ( Brazil), Ms. Beagle then turned to the issue of increased flexibility, saying that the platform being developed would allow organizations to share common experiences and develop coordinated approaches.  That did not mean that individual organizations would stop their own individual efforts.  Much of what was being accomplished was through a joint approach, particularly when looking at procurement and administrative services.  Throughout the United Nations system, the rules and regulations could be quite complex, but progress had been made in harmonizing existing structures, including common recruiting practices.  In addition, an agreement was already in place that would ensure funding for country-level initiatives would be provided.

Beate Elsaesser ( Switzerland) requested more information about the common service centre pilot that was being constructed in Brazil and what efforts were being taken to ensure that the Brazil centre did not duplicate similar work under way on the regional level.  It had been surprising to learn that only eight agencies were collaborating in the initiative thus far, she noted, underscoring the importance for other United Nations agencies to join in the pilot.

Remo Lalli, Chief Executives Board, Geneva, said the Brazil pilot service centre was the first such initiatives, with 11 other pilots being established in parallel.  However, before any such efforts were begun, a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis was conducted.  Although the context varied country by country, they always started with a baseline, which allowed for a more scientific approach and objective analysis of results, rather than a trial-and-error approach.

The Economic and Social Council would reconvene on 12 June.

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