2 March 2017
2017 Session, 14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)

General Assembly President Urges New Approach to United Nations Development, Humanitarian Work, as Economic and Social Council Closes Three-day Segment

The concept of sustaining peace and eradicating poverty provided an opportunity to bring an integrated, coherent and coordinated approach to United Nations development and humanitarian efforts, the President of the General Assembly said today as the Economic and Social Council concluded its three-day operational activities segment.

Emphasizing the need to “let go of old mistrusts and ways of operating”, Assembly President Peter Thomson (Fiji) highlighted a growing recognition of sustaining peace as a way to create an enabling environment for achieving sustainable development.  Tasks at hand included pursuing complementary and coordinated approaches to delivering humanitarian assistance, supporting sustainable development and sustaining peace, he said.  That meant considering ways to strengthen collaboration among key actors across all three pillars of the United Nations system.

He went on to say that United Nations funds and programmes must continue to place the eradication of poverty at the centre of their work and to bring a sustaining peace perspective, including at country levels where their tailored development plans should consider ways to both implement development and sustain peace.

Informing the work of the operational segment was the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  The quadrennial review was the General Assembly’s primary policy instrument for defining the way in which the United Nations development system operated to support the development efforts of programme countries.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said in closing remarks, that the past three days had seen the successful launch of the quadrennial review.  The deliberations would inform the Secretary-General’s proposals on strengthening the United Nations development system that would be submitted for further intergovernmental consideration later in 2017.  It had been a very productive segment, he said, adding that everyone agreed that the 2030 Agenda marked a new era for the development system.

Cristián Barros Melet (Chile), Council Vice-President, who chaired the segment, said there was a unique opportunity to improve the work of the United Nations.  While it was not easy to change the paradigm, he said, it was imperative to explore new dimensions.

During a general debate, Member States reflected the many issues and concerns dealing with the operational aspects of development, from the need for transparency and accountability to the fact that 73 per cent of the world’s poor lived in middle-income countries.  The United Kingdom’s delegate said that, as second largest funder of United Nations development activities with more than $2.1 billion in voluntary contributions in 2017, her country believed the need to face challenges to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals had never been more acute.  That called for a development system that was more strategic, accountable and transparent and that put collective outcomes above mandates.

Echoing a common view, Mexico’s representative said the United Nations development system must adapt to the 2030 Agenda — and not the other way around.  A paradigm shift was needed in order for the United Nations to move from conflict management to conflict prevention, and inclusive development was crucial for conflict prevention.  Thailand’s delegate said the United Nations development system should enhance South-South and triangular cooperation for developing countries.

Speakers also shared a range of perspectives.  The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said United Nations agencies, funds and programmes must build on their comparative advantages, while the development system as a whole should identify both data and capacity requirements for monitoring the Goals.  The speaker from Bosnia and Herzegovina said implementation of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation “will certainly be bumpy”, while the Russian Federation’s delegate said planned changes to the development system should not upset the fragile balance of States.

Delegates elaborated on related issues during three panels.  Discussions focused on the following themes:  “from coordinated to integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda:  the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding nexus”; “integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda:  the role of the United Nations development system in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and countries emerging from conflict”; and “integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda:  the role of the United Nations development system in addressing the needs and diverse challenges of middle-income countries”.

In other business, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operation activities for development of the United Nations system:  funding analysis (document E/2017/4) and the Report of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (document E/2016/34/Rev.1).

Also speaking during the general debate were representatives of Cuba, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Korea, Philippines, Estonia, Egypt, Guatemala, Netherlands, India, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Panama, Switzerland, Indonesia, Myanmar, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Armenia and Algeria, as well as a representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Opening Remarks

PETER THOMSON (Fiji), President of the General Assembly, said that more than 700 million people continued to live in extreme poverty, while conflict and humanitarian crises were bringing untold human suffering and displacement across the world.  The international community must unite to meet the challenges of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Fundamental to meeting the challenges was an understanding of the nexus between peace, development and humanitarian activities.  The “sustaining peace” concept provided an opportunity to bring an integrated, coherent and coordinated approach to its development and humanitarian efforts.  Given the growing recognition of sustaining peace to creating an enabling environment to achieve long-term sustainable development aims, today’s session provided an opportunity to consider how to operationalize related work.

He said that included understanding how the United Nations system could enhance coordination between peace, humanitarian and development actors.  Pursuing complementary and coordinated approaches to delivering humanitarian assistance, supporting sustainable development and sustaining peace was the task at hand.  That meant considering how to strengthen collaboration among key actors across all three pillars of the United Nations system.  United Nations funds and programmes must continue to place the eradication of poverty at the centre of their work and to bring a sustaining peace perspective, including at country levels where their tailored development plans should consider ways to both implement development and sustain peace.  It was important to “let go of old mistrusts and ways of operating”, he said.

Panel Discussion I

The Council held a discussion under the theme “From coordinated to integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda:  the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding nexus”.  Moderated by Rima Salah, former Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and former Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary‐General, United Nations missions in the Central African Republic and Chad.  The panellists were Ján Kubiš, Special Representative of the Secretary‐General in Iraq; Mbaranga Gasarabwe, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary‐General in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), United Nations Resident Coordinator, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mali; Nawaf Salam, Permanent Representative of Lebanon; and Berit Fladby, Policy Director, United Nations Operational Activities, Department for United Nations and Humanitarian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.

Ms. SALAH, noting how the panel brought together Member States and United Nations colleagues working in the field, said the discussion would explore concrete steps towards building synergies, as well as challenges and opportunities in moving towards a “one country, one United Nations” framework.

Mr. KUBIŠ said the Secretary-General’s vision of giving priority to conflict prevention would change the way the Organization operated, with a greater emphasis on cross-pillar work.  He suggested that the Secretary-General be empowered more in order to ensure system-wide coherence, notably on issues that did not belong to any individual governing body.  He disagreed with the Deputy Secretary-General’s description of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review as “ambitious and clear”, saying it appeared to be business as usual.  In the case of complex Security Council-mandated operations, he said all partners must understand the primacy of political approaches in addressing situations that involved a permanent state of crisis management.  Delivering bottles of water, while important, did not change an overall situation.  In such environments, walls needed to come down.  That was being done with the country team in Iraq, which was moving into a post-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) period requiring a very integrated approach.  He also emphasized how efforts often depended on the personal goodwill of critical players.  If the chemistry was there, it worked.  If not, it became quite an ordeal, he said.

Ms. GASARABWE recalled her experiences in Mali, first in 2009 to 2011, when the country was more stable with many resources, and — after a period at Headquarters — how it had returned to a crisis state in 2012.  Mali now had a stabilization mission comprising 15,000 military, civilian and police personnel and was in a “no-war, no-peace situation” that illustrated the complexity on the ground.  The question was how to address both resilience and a humanitarian crisis amidst an insecure environment.  Persistent instability had undermined a fragile national capacity, further complicated by funding shortfalls and increasing competition between development and humanitarian needs.  Shifting from a coordinated to an integrated response would require a profound change in mind set.  Regarding authority, she said at present the Mission in Mali relied on goodwill.  A single framework, a programme based on a joint needs assessment and one pool of funding would be required.  Above all, leadership support was needed.

Mr. SALAM said peacebuilding, development, humanitarian and peacekeeping activities had been running simultaneously in Lebanon for several decades.  In that context, Lebanon and the United Nations system had signed in October 2016 a pioneering strategic framework for the 2017-2020 period that called on the Organization to follow a “whole-of-Lebanon” approach.  He detailed the framework’s core priorities, including peace and security for everyone in Lebanon, domestic stability, effective governance, poverty reduction and sustainable development, that also addressed immediate needs in a human rights- and gender-sensitive manner.

Ms. FLADBY said a whole-of-system approach was not new.  Policies and instruments for integration were already in place.  However, there seemed to be a knowledge gap, at least for those involved in development, in terms of systematic and comprehensive analysis of what had been achieved and of the actual collaboration between missions and country teams.  The United Nations strategic framework in Lebanon as a very promising example of integration, she said, proposing a number of bold steps, including enhanced leadership and accountability, harmonization of administrative policies and procedures between the Secretariat and the United Nations development group, addressing fragmented funding patterns and increasing the authority of those serving in multiple roles, including deputy special representatives of the Secretary-General, resident coordinators and humanitarian coordinators.

In the ensuing discussion, the panel responded to questions and comments on such topics as the distinction between integration and coordination, refugees, “innate conservatism” in the United Nations, how to make the quadrennial comprehensive policy review more ambitious, financing modalities and the neutrality of humanitarian and development work.

Mr. THOMSON said no one was questioning national sovereignty.  The Sustainable Development Goals were the responsibility of national Governments, with the United Nations playing a supporting role.  He said, in his personal opinion, there was far too much emphasis on branding and strengthening individual programmes.  The United Nations had to be one entity in the countries in which it operated.

Mr. SALAM said half of all Syrian refugee children in Lebanon did not go to school, adding that Lebanese schools operated on three shifts a day in order to accommodate those who could go to class.  “This we cannot do on our own,” he said, emphasizing the need for assistance from the international community.  The same applied to Palestinian children who faced a serious problem if the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was not funded.  The root causes behind the presence of Syrian and Palestinian refugees were political and the United Nations had to do much, much more to address both situations.

Ms. GASARWABE referred to the role of good will in the functioning of United Nations missions, stressing that it was not a substitute for authority.  She said a task force being put into place by the Secretary-General was an opportunity to address that.

Mr. KUBIŠ said he was encouraged by references to the quadrennial review as a process.  That should be seized as an opportunity to make a leap of faith, rather than to “run in circles” by defending institutions and mandates.  Development could not be isolated as a technocratic exercise.  He urged Member States to work with the Secretary-General and to empower him, saying he was a good practitioner who knew the situation and would be coming up with ideas.

Ms. FLADBY said that while there were many shortcomings, the quadrennial review could not solve all of them.  She added that the Secretary-General’s leadership was crucial.

Participating in the panel discussion were representatives of Ecuador (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), United Kingdom, Colombia, Belgium, Peru, Brazil, Australia and Ireland, as well as the State of Palestine.

Panel Discussion II

The Council held a panel on the theme “integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda:  the role of the United Nations development system in least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, small island developing States and countries emerging from conflict”.  Moderated by Manuel Montes, Senior Adviser on Finance and Development, South Centre, Geneva, the panel featured presentations by Muhammad Abdul Mannan, State Minister, Ministry of Planning, Bangladesh; Amina Shaaban, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning, United Republic of Tanzania; Raul Martinez Villalba, Director, International Organizations, Ministry of External Relations, Paraguay; and Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives.

Mr. MONTES said the South Centre’s main approach was that development should be tailored to each specific circumstance.  He asked each panellist to discuss how they dealt with an unruly United Nations development system, to what extent it had been difficult to handle pressure from the system’s different agendas and how much say national officials had over it.

Mr. MANNAN emphasized a need to focus on the specific priorities of least developed countries, giving them comprehensive, fine-tuned nominal and operational support.  The current United Nations development system’s support level was far from adequate.  It should produce innovative ways to better support such key areas as access to public health care, education, fighting climate change and support for data and statistics gathering to inform and guide national implementation initiatives.  Welcoming the quadrennial review, he was concerned that its development-related components were declining for the least developed countries.  He welcomed the Secretary-General’s recognition that implementing all the Sustainable Development Goals would contribute to sustaining peace.  Bangladesh supported that approach to development.  The needs of least developed countries must be recognized across the United Nations system to ensure coherent follow-up activities.

Ms. SHAABAN said the United Republic of Tanzania, working with other stakeholders, had made concerted efforts to integrate the 2030 Agenda into the national development plan and the Zanzibar plan for growth and poverty eradication for 2016-2021.  Effective implementation of national development frameworks required quality, disaggregated national data, she said, as limited data in key areas like gender equality hindered progress.  A national statistical master plan was crucial for carrying out demographic and housing surveys and enabling local authorities to collect and process data.  External aid, although declining, had been helping to finance development and would continue to play a role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level.  She called for stronger partnerships for pro-poor economic growth and great strategic analysis across the United Nations.  Drawing on South-South cooperation, the United Republic of Tanzania had sent a team to Uganda to learn about land management and support small farmers.  The United Nations Development Assistance Framework for 2016-2021 was a good foundation for achieving inclusive growth, health, democratic governance, human rights, gender equality and resilience.

Mr. MARTINEZ said that, for remote landlocked developing countries like Paraguay, being isolated from world markets had hindered competitiveness and economic growth.  The United Nations system must enhance synergies with the 2014‑2024 Vienna Programme of Action for least developed countries and the 2030 Agenda, maximize its reach at the national level and avoid duplication of efforts.  In that regard, the work of UNDP resident coordinators was key, as were inputs from the High Representative of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.  Paraguay’s national development plan through 2030 had been designed to reduce poverty and promote social development, equal opportunity and inclusive economic growth.  In September 2016, a presidential decree had led to the creation of an inter-institutional commission to coordinate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  In February, UNDP representatives and the Government of Paraguay signed an agreement whereby the United Nations would help set up an information technology tool to consolidate data across various institutions and track progress in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.  Paraguay would promote the goal of leaving no one behind and lessons learned with the aim of implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. SAREER said the United Nations system must step up to quickly and holistically address the special needs of small island developing States as 2030 was not far off.  Working in a coordinated manner, rather than in silos, was vital.  In Maldives, a low-emission climate-resilience programme, carried out in coordination with United Nations agencies, targeted goals supporting low-carbon lifestyles and climate change adaptation.  Access to financing for development partnerships and capacity-building were critical for small island developing States to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  The United Nations development system must better coordinate with international financial institutions over funding practices and policies.  Funding from such institutions, regional development banks and bilateral donors should be granted based on needs rather than income criteria.  As capacity-building was essential to facilitate national empowerment, the United Nations development system should provide training and help small island developing States with gathering, disaggregating and analysing baseline data.  He suggested one United Nations staff member be based in all remote locations to liaise with the rest of the United Nations system, instead of having different entities go to the same location.

In the ensuing discussion, speakers echoed the need for reform and a more coherent approach in the United Nations development system and welcomed the request by the Secretary-General and the United Nations Resident Coordinator to conduct a biennial survey on the system.  The delegate from Bangladesh said that, while overall funding for least developed countries was declining, UNICEF and UNDP were earmarking 60 per cent of their respective budgets to support those countries.  An observer from the State of Palestine, noting the sharp disparity between the minimum wage in Palestine and Israel and that Palestine’s gross national income was 11 times less than Israel’s, said countries under foreign occupation needed special attention under the 2030 Agenda to ensure no one was left behind.  “This gap is the best recipe for non-sustainable peace in the short and the long run,” he said.

Ms. MANNAN addressed several questions asked by Belgium’s delegate about the lessons learned in “delivering as one” and what could be done better in least developed countries.  She said the United Nations development system must give priority to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and support the programme of action for least developed countries for the 2011-2020 period, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  She highlighted the merits of the “delivering as one” approach in the country, with one leader and one budgetary team.  The new Government of the United Republic of Tanzania had moved the United Nations headquarters to Doma and had set up a steering committee with United Nations agencies.  Both UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) had programmes in the country.

Mr. MARTINEZ responded to questions posed by Australia’s representative, including on the role of the Green Climate Fund and UNDP in increasing funding to small island developing States, the importance of international financial institutions and South-South cooperation and where Member States could best support such countries in the future.  He said it was important to leave no one behind and welcomed that certain countries with special circumstances were receiving more attention.  They needed more efficient financing from international bodies.

Ms. SHAABAN said the Green Climate Fund was a main source of financing for the United Republic of Tanzania’s five-year development fund.  The country was now working to set up a national climate fund.

Mr. MANNAN said the lessons that had been learned from the Millennium Development Goals were being applied to the Sustainable Development Goals.  Financing and technology were critical for the least developed countries, as was national ownership over country-specific needs.  Bangladesh had a clear 2030 vision and it would pursue the goals in cooperation with all development partners.  In addition, Bangladesh would like to cooperate in the biennial survey.

Mr. SAREER said the main point was to keep all United Nations processes working in harmony and to avoid fragmentation.  The biennial survey would be highly useful and would help to adapt to needs and identify gaps in each country.  Regarding the United Nations development funds, the main issue for small island developing States pertained to greater access and flexibility.  For those States, such funding came through regional bodies.

The representatives of Ireland and Ecuador, speaking on behalf the Group of 77, also participated in the discussion.

Panel Discussion III

In the afternoon, the Council held a panel discussion under the theme “integrated implementation of the 2030 Agenda:  the role of the United Nation development system in addressing the needs and diverse challenges of middle-income countries”.  James Cockayne, Head of Office, United Nations University, New York, acted as moderator.  The panel featured Olga Marta Sanchez Oviedo, Minister for National Planning and Economic Policy of Costa Rica; Andrei Dapkiunas, Permanent Representative of Belarus; and Rene Mauricio Valdes, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Argentina.

Mr. COCKAYNE said middle-income countries were a very diverse group.  They enjoyed relatively high growth, but with stubborn pockets of poverty, as well as inequality and challenges in retaining human and financial capital.  The panel would consider such questions as the changes needed within the United Nations development system to better serve the needs of those countries.

Ms. SANCHEZ said there was no strategic plan to guide the development system in middle-income countries and a multidimensional approach was needed.  Costa Rica had looked at its own gaps and seen meaningful elements to move forward on poverty and inequality issues.  At the political level, the international community should continue to acknowledge the growing challenges of developing countries.  Middle-income countries were part of the solution, capable of helping less developed countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Costa Rica was currently negotiating a programme with the United Nations system in moving forward to overcome structural gaps in the country.

Mr. DAPKIUNAS said that by not harnessing the experiences of middle-income countries, the global development effort would be missing out on an important catalytic influence.  The Like-Minded Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries was honourable, but too modest to affect change, he said, adding that, while such countries represented a majority of Member States, they needed to become more engaged as a group.  The Economic and Social Council Committee for Development Policy could draft a road map for tending to the needs of middle-income countries with a clear focus on the most vulnerable sectors.

Mr. VALDES discussed options for developing a multidimensional index to address poverty in all its forms.  Per capita income was not enough to reflect capabilities of middle income countries.  One option would be a human sustainable development index, incorporating health, education, per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and carbon emissions.  Clearly, there was a plethora of measures being developed that went beyond income, but consensus needed to be found on some of those measures.  He went on to emphasize strengthened national statistical systems and the need to harness the “data revolution”.

In the ensuing discussion, the panel took questions and heard comments on topics including a need to address poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon, support from the United Nations development system to middle-income countries, ways to ensure that such countries did not slip back to least developed status and measuring development solely from an income perspective.

Ms. SANCHEZ said time was passing quickly for reversing trends that challenged development in middle-income countries.  Their progress would be at risk if inequality and other limitations were not tackled.  Middle-income countries had to continue to identify systemic gaps that were limiting their potential.  For the United Nations, it was important to work on a set of analysis and interpretation tools that would lead to policies for moving middle-income countries along the correct course.  She also emphasized a need for a financial system that would strengthen investment and production possibilities.

Mr. DAPKIUNAS cited a need for understanding and a willingness to work out an elaborate perspective on middle-income countries.  He also reiterated the need for middle-income countries to work more closely together.

Mr. VALDES said UNDP had been working on the issue of avoiding large population segments in middle-income countries from sliding back into situations of poverty and vulnerability.  With the 2030 Agenda, and given the extent to which the question had been discussed, various options for new categories and data classifications were at hand.

Participating in the discussion were the representatives of Honduras, Ecuador (on behalf of the Group of 77), Peru, Belgium, El Salvador, Australia, Colombia and Argentina.

General Debate

ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), emphasized a need to integrate the 2030 Agenda with other global development tools.  Integration, while important, should not be interpreted as imposing uniform models or pre-established formulas.  The United Nations development system must remain focused on eradicating poverty, with respect for national sovereignty being key.  In addition, innovative funding mechanisms must respect the Organization’s intergovernmental character.

VLAD LUPAN (Republic of Moldova) recalled that his country had participated in recent Security Council and the General Assembly meetings on the links between development and sustaining peace.  He expressed interest in further exploring the links between development and disaster risk reduction and among development, humanitarian assistance and sustaining peace.  Emphasizing that the way in which each United Nations entity mainstreamed the 2030 Agenda into its strategic plans must be based on its respective mandate and comparative advantage, he said each body — as well as the Organization as a whole — should build on past lessons learned, address gaps, avoid duplication and overlap and enhance the interagency approach.  He also called for a special emphasis on work at the country level and for enhanced accountability and transparency and more efficient uses of existing resources.

OH YOUNGJU (Republic of Korea) called on the United Nations Development Group, funds, programmes and specialized agencies to enact action plans to implement the quadrennial review in earnest.  Elements needed to better deliver mandates on the ground included enhanced coordination with the Group, joint analysis, needs assessments and coherent multi-year timeframes.  Preventing and tackling the root causes of conflict was fundamental for attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.  Innovative financing should be explored to complement official development assistance (ODA).  More transparency and accountability in resource mobilization would maximize value for money.  The Republic of Korea would actively participate in the informal meetings to be held by Deputy Secretary-General on assessing the United Nations development system.

MARIA ANGELA PONCE (Philippines), associating herself with the Group of 77, and the Group of Like-Minded Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, urged a focus on core resources.  The basis for such financing issues must be the quadrennial review, which should not be expanded or reinterpreted.  As 70 per cent of world’s poor lived in middle-income countries, she urged moving beyond traditional economic and financial indicators to a more multifaceted approach.  The Philippines had worked with the United Nations development system on a national road map, which emphasized that funding and strategies must be aligned with national plans.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, said implementing the 2030 Agenda required action at national, regional and global levels, which, in turn, required the United Nations development system to be fit for purpose.  He looked forward to the results of the system-wide review of its functions and capabilities, stressing the need to address gaps and overlaps and to improve an interagency approach in support of the 2030 Agenda.  He expressed hope that the resident coordinator system would be supported by more integrated country teams and that standard operating procedures would be strengthened.  Implementation of the Goals would require an adequately financed system that had enhanced capacity to recognize and address the root causes of conflict.

MARTIN SHEARMAN (United Kingdom) said, as second largest funder of United Nations development activities with more than $2.1 billion in voluntary contributions in 2017, the United Kingdom believed the needs to face challenges to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals had never been more acute.  Humanitarian crises, as well as major famines in South Sudan, Yemen, the Lake Chad Basin and other areas highlighted the need for coordinated operational activities for development.  A development system that was more strategic, accountable and transparent and that put collective outcomes above mandates was needed.  The United Kingdom looked forward to working with colleagues across the system to ensure the United Nations rose to the challenges ahead.

MOHAMED OMAR GAD (Egypt) said the quadrennial review resolution reflected a consensus on the need for operational activities to be consistent with the priorities of countries in the implementation of their national development plans.  Expressing concern about the declining proportion of core resources — and particularly the declining ratio of the development-related component of the total volume of operational activities — he said the idea of shifting from funding towards an “integrated financing strategy” needed to be more clearly defined.  Stressing the importance of respecting national plans, needs and priorities, as well as the concept of national ownership, he also underscored the need to clarify that the quadrennial review resolution did not provide a mandate to the United Nations development system to engage in political or peace and security issues.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said that United Nations support had been sought in the form of technology and knowledge transfer and South-South and triangular cooperation for his country’s national development plan and institutional capacity-building.  Guatemala was dealing with specific challenges, as it was a post-conflict nation, and understood the relationship between peace and development.  Guatemala needed help from all interested countries to promote a coherent, coordinated way of addressing its key challenges.  Noting the gap between core and non-core resources, he called for increased availability of core funding and that all countries should mobilize domestic resources through innovative schemes with the private sector and international financial institutions.  He looked forward the Secretary-General’s report on improving the United Nations development system.

ANNE POORTA (Netherlands), associating himself with the European Union, urged a focus on the development system’s advantages, such as its normative role.  He had asked the Secretary-General to articulate the comparative advantages of the entire system in his June report, from a belief that its strength was determined by its ability to deliver together.  “Reform is a shared responsibility,” he said, adding that the Netherlands was committed to predictable, long-term funding that reduced fragmentation and was tailored to functions.  As nearly three quarters of the $26.7 billion budget was provided by 10 countries, scarce resources should be allocated where needs were greatest.

ASHISH KUMAR SINHA (India), endorsing the statement of the Group of 77, appreciated the need for the development system to adapt to opportunities for cooperation.  For India, the two takeaways from the quadrennial review were adherence to the 2030 Agenda and implementation of resources that considered the needs of the world’s poorest.  The system must sharpen its tools to attack poverty more directly, he said, noting that the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda required more flexible funding.  To achieve a balance between core and non-core funding, issues arose when funding structures responded to selective donor priorities.

The representative of the Russian Federation said planned changes in the United Nations system should not disrupt the fragile balance of States.  He supported the Deputy Secretary-General’s intention to hold an ongoing dialogue, particularly when taking into account the Secretary-General’s intention for the rapid implementation of reforms.  The review of development priorities lay with national Governments.  The focus should be on improvement, which was particularly important for countries in vulnerable situations.  Given the globalization trend, the sovereign rights of countries to define their own socioeconomic development should guarantee that their view prevailed among donors.  Harmonized timing was needed to avoid overlaps of work.  He was concerned by alternative interpretations of the review, stressing that sustaining peace did not come under the mandate of economic development.  Giving the system other functions could politicize it.  There was a need to develop a well-coordinated approach to implementing the 2030 Agenda.  Pointing to the Secretary-General’s June report, he hoped there would be conclusions regarding the operation of the United Nations development system with donor countries.  He pointed out that the European Economic Commission had set up a scheme with UNDP in Europe to coordinate programme implementation.

CHULAMANEE CHARTSUWAN (Thailand) said engagement with all United Nations agencies was critical to ensure that the Thailand-United Nations Partnership Framework 2017-2021 aligned with national priorities and needs.  Thailand highly valued the contributions of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) towards regional development and called for stronger support by the United Nations development system to regional commissions on the ground.  She welcomed a more open, transparent, merit-based and gender-balanced management and recruitment process for the resident coordinator system.   The United Nations development system should enhance South-South and triangular cooperation for developing countries.  As an emerging donor, Thailand’s International Cooperation Agency was sharing the knowledge and best practices of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), endorsing the Group of 77 and CELAC, emphasized the importance of operational activities in deploying programmes and funds aimed at eradicating poverty.  Governments were mainly responsible for development and the coordination of all forms of foreign assistance, including funds provided by multilateral organizations.  All measures to enhance the resident coordinator system should ensure respect for sovereignty in public policy decisions, he said, urging increased coherence in implementing the Goals in line with countries’ national programmes.  It was vital to establish better capacity in developing countries to promote sustainable development, and to consider the special realities in each State.  Venezuela had an excellent relationship with UNDP in designing an assistance framework action plan for 2019.  The system should enhance South-South and triangular cooperation.

MOHAMMAD YAMA AINI (Afghanistan), recalling that his country was a least developed nation, underscored the importance of enabling the development system to provide coordinated and integrated support to the most vulnerable.  It should address the special needs and challenges facing those countries, keeping them in mind in the implementation of the quadrennial review resolution.  Afghanistan was committed to the Goals through its implementation of the policy review at the country level.  In preparation of the national voluntary review in 2017, challenges included the review of policies and mapping of indicators and data.  Success would hinge on helping Afghanistan advance development gains and align its work with peace and institution-building efforts.

LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama) said the development paradigm demanded an impartial, coherent and increasingly transparent system to better support the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  Agencies’ strategic plans must be aligned with the development agenda and they must work together.  It would be impossible to eradicate poverty and tend to the needs of middle-income countries if the United Nations development system did not adapt to those nations’ particular needs.  Improved coordination would lead to achievement of the 2030 Agenda.  Capacity-building was also needed.   Panama was ready to contribute in a constructive manner on such issues.  As Vice-President of the Joint Executive Board of UNDP, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and a member of the Executive Board of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), Panama would make sure those suggestions were heard.

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) welcomed the Secretary-General’s three main priorities and his emphasis on gender equality and women’s empowerment.  “We all want to see the best development results on the ground,” he said, adding that the United Nations work therefore needed to be more focused, coherent and integrated in supporting Member States towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.  The Organization’s development system should concentrate on what it did best in each specific context, and that “the race to have as many entity-specific representations around the world must end”.  More flexible and cost-efficient field presence was needed, requiring better integration of back-office services and further advances in the implementation of common business operations strategies.  Calling for a “re-engineering” of the current resident coordinator system, as well as of the United Nations Development Group’s regional and headquarters set-up, he said the latter’s accountability to Member States must also be strengthened.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said the United Nations development system must adapt to the 2030 Agenda and not the other way around as achieving the Goals required a coherent, efficient approach.  A new, integrated and cross-cutting focus was needed to realize the three pillars of sustainable development.  A paradigm shift was needed in United Nations work to achieve international peace, security and development.  Sustainable peace was a fundamental part of that shift in order for the United Nations to move from conflict management to conflict prevention.  Inclusive development was crucial for conflict prevention.  Better coherence was needed to reduce transaction costs, reinforce interagency activities and develop national capacities.  The United Nations system must function in a unified manner with improved governance and financing to ensure no one was left behind.

INA H. KRISHAMURTHI (Indonesia) said the development system must be aligned with both the 2030 Agenda and countries’ development plans in order to strengthen national ownership at all stages.  Silos and an exclusive mentality must be eliminated from its works.  The depletion of core funding should be addressed through improved coordination on the ground to make use of each entity’s comparative advantages and resources.  She looked forward to the Secretary-General’s mapping of existing capacities and expertise, as mandated by the quadrennial review.  Finally, the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation offered a unique global forum for the exchange of knowledge and experiences.

EI EI KHIN AYE (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77, advocated policy orientations to reposition the United Nations development system in the context of the 2030 Agenda, with the quadrennial review guiding the implementation process.  The system was ubiquitous in the global development agenda and must be better aligned in order to respond to the opportunities and challenges of the integrated nature of the Agenda.  It must build expertise on the Goals in a balanced manner, guiding countries through implementing the Goals while pragmatically addressing their disadvantages and enhancing their strengths.  It must also fully align its operational activities with national development plans, she said, urging countries to fulfil their ODA pledges.

VALENTINA MARINČIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said the 2030 Agenda’s implementation “will certainly be bumpy”, and the United Nations development system needed to be ready to address challenges in a coherent, comprehensive and integrated manner.  Stable, flexible funding was essential, she said, adding that more must be done to broaden the system’s donor base and that it must work closely with Governments to prepare quality projects authorities would be willing to co-finance.  Emphasizing, in that vein, that the United Nations Development Assistance Framework must be guided by the principles of national ownership, she recalled that Bosnia and Herzegovina had signed a development partnership agreement with the Organization for the 2015-2019 period and was currently preparing a two-year Sustainable Development Goals implementation programme.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) described his country’s efforts to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals into its national plans and strategies, including through the creation of the National Coordination Council and plans to submit in July its voluntary national report to the High-level Political Forum.  The United Nations development system must be better positioned to support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda in a coherent and integrated manner, he said.  His delegation supported the Secretary-General’s proposed reforms, as well as his vision to focus on conflict prevention and resolution.  The development system also needed to fully align itself with the development plans and strategies of Member States and to continue to pay attention to the specific vulnerabilities of least developed countries and small island developing States.MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) said operational activities for development must be strengthened and made more efficient and transparent.  In dealing with challenges, promoting the development of national capacity was critical.  South-South and triangular cooperation were also essential.  The United Nations development system must adopt flexible schemes tailored to national priorities and requirements and ensure the full participation of relevant stakeholders at the national level.  Strengthening of the resident coordinator system was also vital.

AMINA SHAABAN (United Republic of Tanzania) said her country had made efforts to integrate the 2030 Agenda into its development plans and would continue to mainstream it into the sectoral and local levels.  Globally, the United Nations development system should continue to help least developed countries to identify links between their plans and the Sustainable Development Goals.  United Nations agencies, funds and programmes must build on their comparative advantages, while the system as a whole should identify both data and capacity requirements for monitoring the Goals.  In her country, work could be carried out with other stakeholders to strengthen national statistical bodies and the Resident Coordinator could play a significant role in rallying support among development partners.

SOFYA SIMONYAN (Armenia) underlined the importance of updating policy and programmes at national and international levels and of adapting the Goals to national contexts was a priority.  There was also a need to adapt the development system to the context of decreasing resources and increasing humanitarian challenges.  The system should adapt its prevention function, and in that regard, it was important to consider the role to be played by regional mechanisms, which had their own resources and financing.  The financial landscape had grown more complex since Armenia had become a Member State 25 years ago, especially for middle-income countries.  Moving forward, the system should help countries enhance domestic resource mobilization.

MOURAD MEBARKI (Algeria), aligning with the Group of 77, emphasized a need for effective resource mobilization for the United Nations development system and innovative tools to ensure the achievement of the goal of eradicating poverty and leaving no one behind.  Improving tax-revenue-collection required specific technical expertise at the national level.  Without solidarity in that area, it would not be possible as not all countries had the domestic resources available.  Mobilization was also understood as the implementation of instruments to raise domestic financial resources, such as bond loans, he said.  “But, it would be a delusion to think that these instruments can work in countries where there are no resources available, which means that putting this option at the forefront of innovative resources would be a questionable step.”  It would be like blaming a country under foreign occupation for not emancipating themselves from that occupation.  A coherent, inclusive international financing system was needed as was equipping the United Nations development system with the requisite capacities.

MARIANGELA BAGNARDI of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said a strategic framework had been developed under the umbrella of the 2030 Agenda, which included policy commitments from the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  FAO and its work programme would contribute to the achievement of 40 targets of 15 Sustainable Goals, measured by 53 indicators, with special attention given to the 25 indicators for which FAO was a custodian or contributing agency.  FAO had been reporting on progress on the quadrennial review, with its first progress report submitted to the FAO Conference in 2007, and the next due in July.  Touching on several examples of partnerships, she said United Nations bodies played a unique role in upholding intergovernmentally agreed norms and standards.

For information media. Not an official record.