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DSG/SM/1189-DEV/3344
3 July 2018

Deputy Secretary-General, in Briefing to Member States, Highlights Steps Under Way for Creating Stronger Resident Coordinator System

(Delayed for technical reasons)

Following is UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s briefing, as prepared for delivery, to Member States on the status of the implementation plan for the inception of the reinvigorated the Resident Coordinator system, in New York, on 27 June:

Let me begin by congratulating you once again on the adoption of the landmark resolution to reposition the United Nations development system.  Thank you for your constructive engagement, ambition and perseverance.  You are helping to ensure that our actions match the ambition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and make a difference in the lives of people.

The Secretary‑General and I are deeply committed to translate your resolution into action.  And we are determined to maintain the same spirit of transparency and partnership that has marked this process as we implement the mandates you have entrusted to us.  We have been at work since the adoption of the resolution to operationalize its mandates.  I am working through the United Nations Sustainable Development Group to move forward in a coordinated, smooth and swift manner.

In recent days, we have engaged with United Nations entities, staff and Resident Coordinators.  We have also sent letters to the system and Resident Coordinators, to ensure that the resolution and its mandates are well understood.  This early engagement has been very encouraging.  The system has embraced the resolution and is unpacking all its elements to operationalize these both at entity and system‑wide levels.  We also count on Member States to continue to support the overall process of change in your engagement in the executive boards of all agencies, funds, programmes, specialized and non‑resident entities.

As we begin our discussion, let me dive into some of the details of three key action areas:  first, the transition team; second, an update on the implementation plan for the reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system; and third, funding issues.

First, the transition team.  The Secretary‑General is establishing a transition team to manage the change process in the Organization in a coordinated manner across all reform streams, with a dedicated and lean capacity for the repositioning of the United Nations development system.

I am very pleased to welcome the head of the United Nations development system transition team, Mr. Robert Piper.  Robert brings a wealth of experience from his work across the United Nations system.  He has served as Resident Coordinator in different contexts and is uniquely positioned to support us moving forward.

As we welcome Robert, I would also like to express my deep gratitude to John Hendra and Navid Hanif — our Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review Co‑Chairs — who have accompanied us in this journey since our first steps in early 2017.  John and Navid have played a critical role in supporting our analytical process and consultations around the vision of the Secretary‑General.  The mandate of the Co‑Chairs expires this month, but our gratitude will remain as we proceed.

The United Nations development system transition team will focus on strategic direction, progress tracking towards the deliverables requested in the resolution and ensuring minimal disruption to our work on the ground.  It will be a lean team, which will benefit from secondments from the system.  It will be fully operational by late August, and active for 18 to 24 months.

Let me now turn to the second action area — and an immediate priority for the transition team — that is, reinvigorating the Resident Coordinator system.  The Resident Coordinator system is at the heart of the ability of the United Nations development system to deliver results on the ground and support countries in their efforts to realize the Sustainable Development Goals.  We are discussing with the system a first draft of the outline for the implementation plan.  We will also be holding a series of briefings and informal conversations with Member States — like the one today — to ensure that there are no surprises when you receive the final draft of the implementation plan by early September.

In principle, the plan will outline short‑term and medium‑term actions needed for a smooth transition, with a time horizon of 24 months.  It will provide clarity on overall timeliness and sequencing of actions, including on immediate actions needed.

In outlining actions from now to December, the plan will focus on creating the authorizing environment by looking at all administrative, legal and oversight arrangements for the new Resident Coordinator system.  It will also specify arrangements to transition staff and operational support.  In doing so, it will clarify the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) new role in serving the Resident Coordinator system, including which services it will continue to provide — now on a fee‑for‑service basis.

The plan will also look into the recalibration of functions and relationships both in the field and at regional and Headquarters.  This will cover, for example, the provisions to ensure accountability for results from Resident Coordinators to national counterparts; as well as reporting lines between Resident Coordinators and the Secretary‑General, United Nations country team members and Resident Coordinators.  Finally, it will outline the start‑up financing needs for the new Resident Coordinator system to be operational from day one.

In looking into longer‑term transition measures, the plan will specify what changes will be made to Resident Coordinator selection, attraction and training processes, as well as longer‑term mechanisms to fully operationalize the hybrid funding model for the Resident Coordinator system.  This section will also elaborate on the implications for the Resident Coordinator system of the reviews of our regional architecture and multi‑country offices; as well as of new models of physical presence.  Finally, the plan will identify risks and contingency measures needed for a smooth and timed transition.

In gathering inputs for the implementation plan, we have established a working group comprising UNDP, Development Operations Coordination Office and the Department of Management.  This working group is reviewing all details of the Resident Coordinator system — including human resources, procurement, logistics, legal status — with an emphasis on ensuring business continuity as the role of the functions of Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative are separated.  The group is working with the assumption that the core capacities of the Development Operations Coordination Office and all Resident Coordinators will be transferred to the United Nations Secretariat by January 2019, with the strengthening of the Resident Coordinator offices to unfold during 2019.

The members of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group and the Co‑Chairs of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group Strategic Results Group will serve as a sounding board as we explore the best pathways forward.  Throughout the process, we will also be sharing regular updates with you on the various aspects of the reinvigorated system.

Now let me turn to the third action area — funding of the Resident Coordinator system, the Funding Compact and the critical need to secure the necessary resources for the Resident Coordinator system this year.  The implementation plan will outline details regarding the hybrid model and its innovative proposal of a 1 per cent levy.  But we all know that the implementation of this proposal will take time; and the immediate needs will need to be covered through voluntary contributions.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of front‑loading of the trust fund to be up and running by 1 January 2019.  Considering the amount to be mobilized in cost‑sharing from United Nations Sustainable Development Group entities — approximately $70 million — we would still require about $220 million for the first year of operation of the Resident Coordinator system, including the full costs of the Development Operations Coordination Office, Resident Coordinator offices and the “coordination funds” needed for United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks and other in‑country planning documents.

I appeal to you to contribute generously and without delay.  A dedicated Trust Fund is being established as I speak — the details of which will be communicated in a letter to all Member States by the Secretary‑General.  I appeal to all of you to be part of this effort.  The Resident Coordinator system belongs to all of you, and returns on this investment will be measured in development results.

The Resident Coordinator system is a critical — but not the exclusive — focus of the Funding Compact proposed by the Secretary‑General.  We will be providing you shortly with further information on the scope, timelines and format of the Funding Dialogues that will allow us to flesh out the details around the Funding Compact.  I am meeting with regional groups to better understand your expectations around this critical piece, so that we can launch the dialogues in the second half of July.  It is our intention to ensure that the Dialogues conclude by December — to ensure that its outcomes can be endorsed by the Economic and Social Council at its 2019 operational activities segment.  By then, we must have clarity on all mutual accountability measures, indicators and follow‑up mechanisms for the Funding Compact.

We will keep you updated on all other mandates – including the independent reviews of the United Nations development system regional architecture and of multi‑country offices — as the process unfolds.  Rest assured that all aspects of the repositioning of the United Nations development system are being taken extremely seriously.  This is, after all, an indivisible package.

I am grateful for your support and leadership and will continue to count on you over the course of the months ahead.  Transformational change is a complex endeavour, but together we can ensure that it is well managed and inclusive to ensure smooth transitions and tangible outcomes for people.  In the meantime, I welcome your input and feedback.

For information media. Not an official record.