Concluding Coordination Meeting, Economic and Social Council Adopts Resolution on United Nations Staff College’s Role as Catalyst for Change

ECOSOC/6826
21 April 2017
2017 Session, 22nd Meeting (AM)

Concluding Coordination Meeting, Economic and Social Council Adopts Resolution on United Nations Staff College’s Role as Catalyst for Change

The Economic and Social Council today adopted a resolution calling on all organizations in the United Nations system to make full use of the United Nations Staff College in Turin, Italy, and welcoming its role as a catalyst for organizational change.

By its terms, the Council called on the College to develop its management training for staff to improve the effectiveness of the Organization, recognizing its ability to mainstream the principles of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through inter-agency learning.

The text’s unanimous passage animated the Council’s broader discussion of three United Nations research and training institutes — with presentations by their administrators — and punctuated the final day of its Coordination and Management Meeting.

As the meeting opened, Mourad Mebarki (Algeria) introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) (document E/2017/L.19), noting that his Government had coordinated the drafting process.  It was important to capitalize on UNITAR’s experience, and in turn, for the Institute to work more closely with United Nations offices and to forge partnerships at all levels.  Having delivered services to more than 120,000 people worldwide, its focus for 2018-2021 would be on growth, innovation, modernization, policy assurance, visibility, openness and inclusivity.  UNITAR depended on a small number of donors, mainly Algeria, he said, calling on Member States to increase their contributions.

Mohammed Hussain Kathom Alessawi (Iraq), noting the Institute’s successful work in capacity-building, encouraged it to continue meeting the training needs of Member States and to harmonize those activities with the 2030 Agenda.  It should bolster its partnerships with United Nations agencies, academic and all other stakeholders.

Nikhil Seth, Director of UNITAR, introducing the Secretary-General’s related report (document E/2017/48) via video link, noted that while the Institute had continued its diplomatic training in New York, Geneva and Vienna, its scope had also expanded to cover all pillars of the United Nations work.  Its strategic framework covered six broad programming areas:  Strengthening multilateralism; promoting economic development and social inclusion; advancing environmental sustainability; promoting sustainable peace; improving resilience and humanitarian assistance; and supporting implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Institute was formulating its 2018-2021 strategic framework, which he said would align with the 2030 Agenda and build on a common vision of growth, modernization, innovation and a push to reach those furthest behind.  During the 2014-2015 biennium, the Institute had delivered training and knowledge-sharing services to nearly 75,000 beneficiaries, with more than three quarters hailing from developing countries, he said.

Describing recent activities, he said the Institute had co-organized a regional workshop on developing national evaluation capacities, launched a women’s leadership programme, worked with the World Bank and others to share best practices on mobility in urban centres, and helped to build States’ institutional capacities to overcome environmental challenges and promote low-carbon growth.  It was 100 per cent funded by voluntary contributions, and despite the present challenging economic environment, its income had remained stable with $24 million received in 2016.

Jafar Javan, Director of the United Nations System Staff College, then introduced the Secretary-General’s report on that body (document E/2017/52), noting that since 2015, all of the College’s activities had been geared towards enabling the United Nations to address challenges posed by the 2030 Agenda.  They ranged from residential courses to distance-learning to strategic exchanges and seminars, and had reached more than 30,000 United Nations staff and partners worldwide, a 29 per cent increase over the previous biennium.  “Being an inter-agency institute gives us an unparalleled view and a deep understanding of the UN system,” he said.

He went on to highlight several of the College’s recent accomplishments, including its launch of the United Nations Laboratory for Organizational Change and Knowledge and the creation of a Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development in Bonn, Germany.  Noting that the College continued to derive about 59 per cent of its funding from self-generated sources, he stressed that it was in the process of transitioning from a training provider into the United Nations main learning hub.  “We must develop and equip our greatest asset — our people,” he concluded.

James Cockayne, Head of the Office of the United Nations University, introduced the report of the Council of the University (document A/2017/51), which outlined institutional priorities, as well as education and capacity development aims.  The University was funded solely by voluntary contributions and income derived from the Endowment Fund, which as of November, had a market value of $331.4 million.  The approved budget for 2016-2017 was $117.6 million.

Describing activities, he said the University had influenced discussion on the ethical role of the President of the General Assembly — after a former President had been charged in 2015 with engaging in corruption — and developed a code of ethics for that Office.  In January, it had assumed chairmanship of the Global Migration Group, and in April, convened a conference on the theme “strengthening the United Nations research uptake” attended by representatives of more than 40 policy units within the United Nations system.

Going forward, the University’s priorities for 2015-2019 were to strengthen management, ensure sustainable growth and streamline partnerships, he said.  It would focus resources on relevant areas and ensure that both researchers and policymakers were more available to United Nations staff.  Finally, the University had submitted a revised United Nations gender equality policy and action plan to its council in December, he said, noting that seven of those council members were women.

The Economic and Social Council then took note of that report.

Following those presentations, delegates took the floor to welcome the work of those bodies, spotlighting areas where they could prove especially crucial in the coming years — including migration, economic growth and competitiveness, capacity-building and the promotion of a more holistic approach to the United Nations work.

“Knowledge and learning and key to the objectives of this Organization,” Sebastiano Cardi (Italy) declared.  Learning was more important than ever.  Underscoring the importance of promoting an understanding of the Agenda — throughout the United Nations and beyond — he said the Organization must shift to a more integrated approach.  Indeed, the United Nations was growing larger as the demands on it had expanded and become more complex.  No Sustainable Development Goal could be excluded from the work of its organs and entities.

Yashar T. Aliyev (Azerbaijan) said the Secretary-General’s report on UNITAR had revealed the Institute to be an effective and efficient body.  He voiced support for the related draft resolution, which was an important recognition of the Institute’s work.

Stefanie Ulrike Schmid-Luebbert (Germany), recalling that her country was hosting a new knowledge centre for the United Nations System Staff College, said the 2030 Agenda demanded a new approach to knowledge and skills-development, as well as a deeper exploration of the linkages between among thematic issues.  The College deserved strong support from Member States, she said.

Jason Neil Lawrence (United States), emphasizing that staff from all delegations must be armed with knowledge and new ways of thinking, welcomed efforts by the various United Nations training bodies to address those needs while also improving coherence and cost-effectiveness.

Majid Mohammad Abdulrahman Mohammad AlMutawa (United Arab Emirates), underscoring his country’s longstanding cooperation with UNITAR, welcomed the realignment of its programmes with the 2030 Agenda.  The Institute offered capacity-building and training for States to translate the Sustainable Development Goals into national development plans, he said, and the need for such programming would expand in the coming years.  Innovation was a driver of growth and competitiveness, he added, expressing support for that principle’s inclusion in the Institute’s guiding principles.

Bruno Ríos Sánchez (Mexico), recalling that the United Nations University had served as Chair of the Global Migration Group since 1 January, said that role would become increasingly important as the world moved closer to the adoption of a global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.  Member States would soon require more data and innovative ideas in that arena, he stressed, adding that the University was well positioned to provide them.

For information media. Not an official record.