United Nations Agencies Discuss Ways to Align Strategies with Sustainable Development Agenda, as Economic and Social Council Continues Segment

ECOSOC/6894
28 February 2018
11th & 12th Meetings (AM & PM)

United Nations Agencies Discuss Ways to Align Strategies with Sustainable Development Agenda, as Economic and Social Council Continues Segment

The heads of various United Nations agencies, funds and programmes discussed methods for aligning their strategies with the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development today, as the Economic and Social Council continued its consideration of the United Nations operational activities for international development cooperation within the broader context of Organizational reform.

In an interactive discussion with Member States, representatives from across the Organization gave specific examples of how their objectives dovetailed not only with the 2030 Agenda but also with the goals of others working in the field of development, both within the United Nations and in the private sector.

Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), joining the discussion via videoconference, said that ILO had embraced the 2030 Agenda from the very beginning, as it gave a central and important place to the idea of “decent work”.  That was particularly evident in Sustainable Development Goal 8, he said, underscoring that the organization had also measured its own work against the Goals in its latest programme and budget.  In addition, ILO always paid great attention to ensuring that the High‑level Political Forum received inputs on its work to implement the Agenda.

David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), also joining the panel via videoconference, cautioned that reforms could obstruct progress if they were not carried out properly.  To avoid that possibility, he highlighted the constructive discussions held in the Council on Tuesday regarding the work of Resident Coordinators, who approached their work with the correct attitude.  As funds were limited, it made sense for the United Nations system to work together, without worrying about silos, or who got credit for what.

Ramiz Alakbarov, Director of the Programme Division of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), stressed the importance of the Sustainable Development Goal indicators in the Fund’s work, noting that 60 per cent of the Fund’s strategic plan’s indicators replicated them.  The 2030 Agenda, he said, was a “shared promise” and a unique responsibility, which needed sound data to be implemented.

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), emphasized that in order to achieve the Goals, the ability to work across United Nations agencies was essential.  Collaborative efforts saved resources while accelerating results, she noted.  In the same vein, she highlighted an example from Liberia, which had brought various business operations to work together and where United Nations agencies were sharing technologies and services.

Delegates took the opportunity to ask panel members questions on various matters, from innovative solutions to complex challenges, to the link between development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding efforts.

Yannick Glemarec, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN‑Women), said that with regard to innovation, he had never seen such eagerness to cooperate and work together on the part of agencies, funds and programmes.  For example, cooperation with WFP had made it possible for UN‑Women to implement a cash transfer programme for women refugees.  Without such collaboration, the initiative would have taken years to enact.

Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), noted that delegates had placed great importance on mandates in humanitarian development, peace and security, and cautioned that separate mandates should not take the place of common sense when it came to putting such mandates into practice.

In addition to the panel discussion, the Council also received an introduction to the Secretary‑General’s 2018 report on progress in the first year of implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/243 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system.

Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under‑Secretary‑General for Economic and Social Affairs, who presented the report, noted that it showed that the capacity to deliver essential functions still needed to be matched to the needs of the 2030 Agenda, and coordinated approaches were required in order to develop capacity.  It was also essential that the Organization move away from entity‑based work to a more holistic approach.

In its afternoon session, the Council held a panel discussion on the revitalization of the United Nations development system’s funding architecture.  Deputy Secretary‑General Amina J. Mohammed outlined the Secretary‑General’s proposal of a funding compact between the United Nations system and Member States, which had the goal of ensuring that funding levels did not fluctuate.

Following the panel discussions, the Council resumed its general debate.

The Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 1 March, to discuss the topics of oversight and accountability.

Also speaking were representatives of Chile, Viet Nam, Maldives (speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States), Norway, United States, Egypt (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Iran, Switzerland, United Kingdom, El Salvador (also speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), France, Bangladesh (also speaking on behalf of the least developed countries), Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Cuba, China, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Iraq, Turkey, Morocco, Australia, Bulgaria (on behalf of the European Union), Guyana (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), New Zealand (also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia), Paraguay (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries), Federated States of Micronesia (on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States), Costa Rica (also speaking on behalf of the Like‑minded Group of Supporters of Middle Income Countries), Indonesia (also speaking on behalf of Mexico, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia), Finland and Lebanon.

2018 Progress Report on Implementing Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review

LIU ZHENMIN, United Nations Under‑Secretary‑General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary‑General’s 2018 report on progress in the first year of implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/243 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/73/63-E/2018/8).  On the basis of data and accounts, the report assessed how the review system was shifting to better support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development nationally, regionally and globally.  To gather information from the field, three Department of Economic and Social Affairs surveys were conducted, targeting programme countries’ Governments, Resident Coordinators, and operations management teams.  The Department also completed another survey at Headquarters.  The report was also based on data collected from other sources, including information from documents and inputs from entities of the United Nations development system.

The report found that the full shift needed to move from a Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals mindset was still in progress, he noted, partly because it required the decisions of Member States on critical elements.  The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, where the United Nations development system had made the most contributions so far, were primarily the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals regarding health, food, poverty eradication, gender equality and education.  The analysis showed that the Organization was successful in assisting Governments to identify the people that were the furthest behind, but less successful in helping Governments reach those people.

The review also showed that the capacity to deliver essential functions needed to be matched to the needs of the new 2030 Agenda, he said.  Evidence showed that the system was effective in developing national capacities, but Governments saw the need for more systematic, coordinated approaches to develop capacity.  The system also needed to shift from sectoral entity‑based approaches.  In addition, the picture was mixed on the quantity and quality of funding for the United Nations operational activities for development.  Total funding reached an all‑time high in 2016.  Most of the increase could be attributed to a high growth in humanitarian assistance.  However, the quality of funding continued to deteriorate, with only 22 per cent earmarked for operational activities in the form of core contributions.  In addition, resource allocation remained concentrated in a small number of programme countries.

The report also noted that mechanisms and capacities in support of leveraging the partnerships required in support of the 2030 Agenda were a work in progress, he said.  There was good progress on South‑South cooperation, which had been incorporated into most United Nations entities’ strategic plans.  The report also observed that action was necessary on essential aspects of results‑based management.  There was strong agreement by programme countries’ Governments of the need to simplify the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, rationalize agency‑specific planning and programme processes and improve the content and coverage of reporting to Government.

Panel Discussion I

The Council then held a dialogue with Executive Heads of the United Nations development system on the theme “planning and delivering collective results”.  Moderated by Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, Vice‑President of the Economic and Social Council, it featured presentations by Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP); Guy Ryder, Director General, International Labour Organization (ILO); Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and Coordinator, United Nations Regional Economic Commissions; Yannick Glemarec, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN‑Women); and Ramiz Alakbarov, Director of the Programme Division, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Mr. STEINER, noting that this morning’s panellists had been asked to be entertaining, said that prioritizing the needs and concerns of least developed countries was a given.  In UNDP’s strategic plan, as much as 91 per cent of resources were earmarked for low‑income countries.  Much of the 2030 Agenda centred around the economy as an opportunity to address such issues as inequality, fairness, vulnerability and sustainability.  Leaving no one behind was a foundational principle that Member States had set out as a key criterion for accountability, he said, emphasizing that a collective approach to the 2030 Agenda was the best guarantee that the United Nations development system would have reasons to celebrate.

Ms. FORE, who noted that she had recently returned from visiting South Sudan and the United Nations country team there, drew attention to UNICEF’s 2018‑2021 strategic plan.  UNICEF was thinking about ways to blend programmes into a synergistic whole, and it was fully committed to the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts and the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Achieving results and supporting Governments in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals hinged on the ability to work across United Nations agencies, saving time and resources while accelerating results in new and innovative ways, including bringing new partners on board.  She added that new ways must be found to address youth issues, and for the United Nations system to expand their engagement with Governments, businesses and non‑profit organizations.  She went on to underscore efforts to bring various business operations together, citing for example Liberia, where United Nations agencies were sharing technologies and services, yielding savings.

Mr. BEASLEY, speaking via videoconference from Rome, said that since joining the United Nations system, he had been impressed with the commitment of many colleagues to get down to brass tacks.  The Organization had some great success stories, but reforms could get in the way if they were not carried out correctly.  The best option was to have the best structure and the best people, he said, adding that if Resident Coordinators approached their work with the correct attitude, “we could have great success stories”.  With limited funds, the United Nations system had to work together without worrying about silos or who got credit for what.  He cited the Tigray region of Ethiopia as an example of turning humanitarian funding into development opportunities, adding however that in the greater Sahel region there was only a brief window of opportunity — in the face of extremist groups, climate change and instability in fragile countries — to get things right.  He said that he had sensed a keen desire for the private sector to engage and become part of the solution, and that the Steering Committee of Principals — bringing together the Organization’s humanitarian and development entities — was a practical approach that could make a difference.

Mr. RYDER said that ILO had embraced the 2030 Agenda from the beginning as a progressive focus for its work.  The 2030 Agenda gave a central and important place to ILO’s “decent work” agenda, particularly in Sustainable Development Goal 8.  The ILO had an institutional opportunity and a heavy responsibility to contribute to the system‑wide mandates in place.  In 2016, it had aligned its own strategic planning period with the United Nations planning framework, with the aim of better contributing to system‑wide mandates.  The ILO had benchmarked its own work against the Goals in its programme and budget that took effect at the beginning of 2018.  The organization had also engaged actively as a leader and participant in various alliances created to deliver on various parts of the 2030 Agenda.  Every year its governing body devoted a session to its inputs to the High‑level Political Forum to show what it was doing to implement the 2030 Agenda.  In March, the Deputy Secretary‑General would address the governing body session of ILO on the United Nations reform process.  It was an important moment for ILO’s constituents, as well as for those people who lived and worked in Geneva to receive a direct account of how things were shaping up in New York.  At the country level, ILO was working actively to align its programming activities on decent work with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.

Ms. BÁRCENA said that the regional commissions could offer a regional platform for research on applied economics and evidence regarding the 2030 Agenda, which could be used to strengthen public policies.  Regional commissions were equipped, for example, to chair the Publications Committee and work with the flagship publications it was producing to avoid duplication of efforts.  Regional commissions could sit with that Committee and see if some of those publications could be linked together.  On the operational level, it was a question of whether the regional commissions could go to Member States directly.  When they requested help on a certain issue, the Regional Commissions could bring certain tools to the table.  The regional commissions also exercised regional efficiencies, and had gone through two levels of cuts as it aligned its programme to the 2030 Agenda.  She noted that the Economic and Social Council should include a special session where the agencies, funds and programmes at the regional level could be seen “live”.

Mr. GLEMAREC said that UN‑Women tried to anticipate requests from Member States to ensure that its strategic plan would be ready and aligned with the common chapter across UNDP, UNFPA and UNICEF.  UN‑Women had tried to ensure alignment between the common chapter and its own agency planning.  The Agency had 12 flagship programming initiatives to further deepen its programming and achieve transformative results for gender equality and women’s empowerment.  He expected most of UN‑Women’s programming to take place in the future through those initiatives.  UN‑Women had also translated its strategic plan into annual work plans and individual performance plans.  As of 1 January 2018, there was a direct link between the United Nations system‑wide document, the strategic plan of UN‑Women and its individual performance plans.

Mr. ALAKBAROV noted that he was proud to say that 60 per cent of the indicators in UNFPA’s strategic plan were also Sustainable Development Goal indicators.  Partnerships were important to strengthen national capacity, and that process started with national ownership of UNFPA programmes.  UNFPA’s new strategic plan focused on the “three zeroes” of zero unmet needs for family planning, zero preventable maternal deaths and zero violence against women and girls.  UNFPA wished to partner with others to address those needs.  Another important element of its plan was cooperation with other efforts to address child marriage and female genital mutilation.  The 2030 Agenda was a shared promise and a unique responsibility, but could not be implemented without good and sound data.  UNFPA would also partner with the United Nations Statistical Commission and others in the organization of work related to 150 upcoming country censuses.  UNFPA also partnered with the European Union on its spotlight initiative to end gender‑based violence.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates asked questions and made comments on, among other things, common chapter implementation; country‑level programming procedures; the link between development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding efforts; avoidance of duplication; and the role of regional commissions.

Mr. STEINER said delegates should consider the panel as careful listeners, and that issues raised had been noted with great care.  On the common chapter, he said work was under way at the Assistant Secretary‑General level to convert its contents into operational guidelines.  He noted the emphasis that delegates had put on mandates in the humanitarian, development, and peace and security domains, adding that separate mandates should not preclude common sense when it came to delivering results on the ground.  There was something wrong when humanitarian response plans were being produced for 13 years in a row.  Shifting from a mission with hundreds of staff members to a country team of perhaps 25 people was not intelligent transition management. On back office functions, he said that there was great potential for efficiency gains, and that UNDP was already providing payroll services for 17,000 staff members.

Mr. RYDER, discussing efficiency gains, said it was important to be pragmatic, but also to be determined to move forward.  Common evaluation monitoring systems must be complementary and avoid duplication.  The ILO had invested heavily in such systems, which played an important role in improving the quality of work.  Partnerships did not imply overlapping mandates, but finding common issues to work on and adding value through interaction.  In addressing gaps in the 2030 Agenda, attention must be paid to mandate specificities, he said, adding that partnerships in some cases could imply heavy transition costs.  Processes must not crowd out efforts to reduce bureaucratic overload and excessive transaction costs, he added.

Ms. FORE noted that 90 per cent of UNICEF’s resources went to its country programmes, and most of those programmes were directed at vulnerable countries.  Thinking of other partners was part of the Agency’s job, she said, adding that board mergers should be a decision taken by Member States.  Different agencies worked best when they were paired in a way that drew on their respective strengths.  More could be done in the way of joint analysis, human resources and information and communications technologies, with a focus on results and doing “big things” together.  She went on to underscore opportunities in the development‑humanitarian continuum, citing for example giving mothers collecting food aid seeds and tools to help them become self‑sufficient.

Mr. GLEMAREC said that when it came to innovation, he had never seen such eagerness to cooperate and work together.  UN‑Women would never have been able to achieve what it had without help from other United Nations agencies.  For example, cooperation with WFP made it possible for UN‑Women to implement a programme to provide cash transfers to women refugees that would have otherwise taken years to put into place.  Regarding common chapter, he said the relevant agencies would likely end up with a few global thematic programmes, such as eliminating violence against women, as well as some regional programmes, such as an updated United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel centred on resilience and climate change.

Mr. ALAKBAROV said that when it came to governance and accountability mechanisms, UNFPA was not married to any particular form.  In substituting those mechanisms, however, “less should not become less”.  Turning to common chapter, he said Eastern Europe and Central Asia was a region with a good example of where UNFPA and other agencies were cooperating to provide technical assistance, with the regional commissions playing a strong role in policy development and analysis.  UNFPA’s business model was revised five years ago to ensure that its resources were strongest in places where needs were greatest, and leaner when host countries had more capacity.  That was much in line with the Secretary‑General’s proposals, he said, adding that universality and national ownership were an absolute imperative.

Ms. BÁRCENA said the regional commissions could contribute to vulnerable countries like small island developing States which shared common issues.  One idea under consideration was the creation of a resilience fund for middle‑income island States, as well as a single methodology to manage and assess the economic and social damage caused by hurricanes.  On innovation, she said ECLAC was bringing together initiatives to address tax evasion, a huge issue in the Latin American and Caribbean region.  She went on to discuss the possible co‑location of United Nations offices in the region, and recommended that more opportunities be created to discuss the regional dimension with Member States in New York.

Participating in the interactive discussion were representatives of Chile, Viet Nam, Maldives (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Norway, United States, Egypt (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Iran, Switzerland, United Kingdom, El Salvador, France, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Japan, Germany, Cuba, Canada, South Africa, Iraq and Turkey.

Panel Discussion II

In the afternoon, the Council held a panel discussion on the theme “revitalizing the United Nations development system’s funding architecture in support of the 2030 Agenda implementation:  Towards a Compact”.  Moderated by Mr. Pecsteen de Buytswerve, it featured a keynote address by Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary‑General of the United Nations, as well as presentations by Ghulam Asmal, Director of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and Partnerships, Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa; Nojibur Rahman, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh; and Efraim Gomez, Deputy Director General, United Nations Policy Department, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden.

Ms. MOHAMMED said that the Organization’s funding base was not fit to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.  Earmarked contributions had grown six times faster than core contributions, and that meant that 80 cents of every development dollar was subject to strict earmarking.  As a result, the development system was less flexible to respond to changing national needs and more prone to bureaucratic battling for funds.  A fragmented funding base delivered fragmented results.  The Secretary‑General had proposed a funding compact, which was an agreement between the system and Member States to ensure that funding levels did not fluctuate.  Pooled funding brought proven results, incentivized United Nations collaboration and reduced transaction costs.  Today development coordination was underfunded, particularly for implementing the 2030 Agenda — an ambitious undertaking that could not be matched by a system designed to respond to yesterday’s needs.  Additional elements, or a regular funding dialogue, could be established to adjust the compact over the years to come.

Mr. ASMAL said that dialogue about financing was important in any relationship.  It was also uncomfortable, but needed to take place sooner or later.  Regarding the Sustainable Development Goals, the question was not how much they cost to implement, but rather how much it would cost to humanity if not implemented.  It was important to note that contributions would not be equal for all countries because of historic and present injustices in the world.  He said that there should also be an awareness of the tendency in partnership circles to try to substitute investments with foreign aid.  Both types of funding should be simultaneously pursued, he said.  In addition, non‑State actors could not be absolved from their social responsibility in making the world a better place.  While the assessed contributions of Member States were important, non‑State actors should share the financial responsibility.

Mr. RAHMAN said that as the Deputy Secretary‑General had pointed out, there was a trend towards earmarked funding, which was creating a negative impact on the ground.  Core resources provided more flexibility to respond to countries’ needs and to gain results.  Both pool and thematic funds were important as they could support bigger 2030 Agenda projects on the national, global and regional levels and provide considerable outcomes for the system as a whole.  In addition, United Nations development system funding should be aligned with national priorities.

Mr. GOMEZ said that his Government concurred with the Secretary‑General regarding the flaws in the current financing system.  For Government officials it was “a complete nightmare” to work in such a finance environment.  The United Nations system and its agencies must rebuild trust with Member States, and it could start to do so by enhancing countries’ capacities to implement the 2030 Agenda.  The Organization also needed to show its willingness to be more cost‑effective, and there were a host of measures that could be adopted in that regard.  He shared the philosophy behind the funding compact, he said.  Concerning Resident Coordinators, how that aspect of the United Nations work was funded depended on how it was viewed.  For Sweden, it was a core business of the Organization.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates asked questions and made comments on several topics, including pooled funding among United Nations development entities, outreach to donor countries and their parliaments, lessons to be drawn from current best practices, prospects for partnerships, guaranteeing the integrity of the Resident Coordinator system, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and striking an equilibrium between humanitarian and development funding.

Mr. GOMEZ said his country was amenable to the idea of a more sophisticated approach to non‑core funding, adding however that least developed countries were the ones most dependent on core funding, given their vulnerability to crises.  The prospect of multi‑year agreements was something worth discussing, he said, adding that Sweden was fully behind the proposed use of assessed contributions to fund the Resident Coordinator system.

Mr. RAHMAN said that putting smiles on the faces of those who benefited from development efforts was the best way to incentivize donors.  In Bangladesh, local consultative groups were in place to show results being made on the ground and to highlight both challenges and opportunities.

Mr. ASMAL said the old system was not yet dead and its successor not yet born.  It was thus an opportunity to create something new that would move the process forward.  Non‑State actors could not stay in the corner, he said, adding that development funding was no longer an act of charity, but a necessity.

Ms. MOHAMMED said there must be better outreach to parliaments, given their oversight and budgeting roles.  Support from those in national capitals who knew best how to transmit development‑related messages to parliaments would be appreciated.  It would help advocacy for more resources.

Participating in the discussion were the representatives of Germany, China, Ireland, Egypt (on behalf of the Group of 77), United States, Switzerland, Bangladesh (on behalf of the least developed countries), Maldives, Morocco, United Kingdom, France, Norway, Australia and Iran.

General Debate

MOHAMED EDREES (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, said that the configuration of a new generation of country teams should be determined in full consultation and agreement with national Governments.  The most vulnerable countries needed the continued strong presence of the country teams.  Resident Coordinators should serve the purpose of the implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, under national leadership and ownership, with a developmental and non‑politicized perspective.  The Group shared the view expressed by the Secretary‑General in his report on the need to review regional functions and capacities.  However, unlike the Secretary‑General’s proposals on the global and national levels, the regional approach lacked sufficient details.  A one‑size‑fits‑all approach should be avoided, he said.  Concerning the funding compact, he expressed concern over the continuing decline of core contributions.  There was a need to move from the present funding pattern by improving flexibility and the quality of non‑core contributions.  On partnerships, he emphasized the need to ensure that they were aligned with the national priorities of programme countries.

RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), stressed that the ongoing process to reform the United Nations development system should improve and enhance coordination at the global, regional and national levels.  The repositioning of the development system should be undertaken through a flexible approach that responded to the needs and specificities of each country and region, he said, emphasizing the regional dimension of the development system and reiterating strong support for ECLAC’s work.  The Group welcomed discussions on the proposals to align the physical presence of the United Nations development system with national needs and priorities, taking into account the multidimensional demands of the 2030 Agenda.

He highlighted the need for United Nations country teams to present annual reports to the programme country Governments on results achieved, and supported strengthening the Resident Coordinator system.  He called upon all parts of the United Nations development system to mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals into their strategic planning documents and their work at all levels, and stressed the importance of continuing to allocate resources to realize the development objectives of developing countries.  Further, CELAC also stressed the crucial role of funding, particularly of core resources, as the bedrock of the United Nations operational activities for development.

YULIANA ZHIVKOVA ANGELOVA (Bulgaria), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the bloc supported the Secretary‑General’s overall vision of strengthened Resident Coordinators leading more integrated and results‑driven United Nations country teams.  Impartial, independent and empowered Resident Coordinators should be at the core of a reinvigorated, more integrated, efficient and effective development system.  However, there needed to be a clear picture about the areas or functions where the United Nations would do less in the future due to the lack of comparative advantages.  Expressing support for measures proposed by the Secretary‑General aimed at strengthening oversight and evaluation, he welcomed the proposal to establish an independent system‑wide evaluation unit.

A new, comprehensive approach toward partnerships was needed to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, she said, adding that proposed common standards and criteria should be balanced and aimed at maintaining and protecting United Nations values and objectives without hindering the necessary increased and more constructive engagement with external partners.  The European Union appreciated the attempt to produce a first system‑wide strategic document and supported the idea of it evolving alongside the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the reform process.  Nevertheless, if that document was to fulfil its task, it would need to be more specific and concrete.

RUDOLPH MICHAEL TEN-POW (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning himself with the Group of 77, stressed that Member States should be fully integrated into the process of restructuring the Resident Coordinator system and the United Nations country teams to meet the specific needs of CARICOM multi‑country offices.  In such a governance structure, a Resident Coordinator’s office with the capacity to manage a range of programmes would ultimately need to be implemented for each country.  Emphasis within the United Nations development system must be placed on poverty eradication.  As an area subject to natural disasters, the CARICOM region often required humanitarian assistance.  In that connection, he emphasized the need for specific budget allocations for humanitarian needs rather than a single budget or a pooled fund to meet both humanitarian emergencies and development programmes.

He said that CARICOM recognized the regional commissions as an important branch of the governance architecture of the United Nations development system and believed that South‑South cooperation was integral to the subregion’s achievement of the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda, particularly regarding the challenges of middle‑income small island developing States.  Monitoring the implementation of all the processes involved in the repositioning of the Resident Coordinator system and the United Nations country teams was of importance, while there was also a need to strengthen national capacities and institutions, including for data collection and analysis.

CRAIG J. HAWKE (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia, voiced support for the full package proposed by the Secretary‑General in relation to the Resident Coordinator system and the new generation of country teams.  Calling for an agreement on depoliticized and predictable funding for that system, accompanied by a clear transition plan that would minimize the impact on UNDP, he said financial incentives such as pooled funding would help encourage country teams to act as one.  There must also be a strong demonstration of leadership and investment from all United Nations Development Group members to the enhanced Regional Coordinator system, with the governing boards of the agencies also embracing a renewed commitment for it.  Among other things, that should include clear reporting lines, a more capable and better‑resourced Resident Coordinator Office and career incentives for Resident Coordinators.

Also calling for stronger regional coordination, he said that should include management reform and a review of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs as well as a careful examination of co‑location and duplication at the regional level to provide major efficiencies in both time and money.  Efforts should also focus on increasing the quality of management information and data from the agencies, funds and programmes, utilizing new technologies.  Turning to funding, he said new sources of financing should be identified and the donor base — including non‑traditional donors — should be expanded.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said its 32 members shared special challenges due to their remoteness, lack of direct territorial access to the sea and isolation from world markets.  For those reasons, they were among the most vulnerable groups and deserved special attention in accordance with the 2030 Agenda.  Voicing support for efforts to reposition the United Nations development system to deliver on that Agenda — and underscoring that the implementation of the Vienna Programme of Action for the landlocked developing countries for 2014‑2024 would be integral to those efforts — he stressed that country teams and Resident Coordinators must be aware of the goals and priorities laid out in that strategy.

Expressing support for a broad range of partnerships and a system‑wide approach that prioritized vulnerable countries — complemented by joint efforts with international and financial organizations such as the World Bank — he said the revitalized United Nations development system must have the funding to do its job.  Support should be scaled up for landlocked developing countries, he said, adding that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda recognized the needs of such nations.  The development system should be adequately funded by core resources on a predictable basis, he stressed, voicing concern over the decrease in the United Nations overall budget.  In order to meet expectations, the system itself should improve its functioning through enhanced transparency, accountability, oversight, efficiency and effectiveness.

JANE J. CHIGIYAL (Federated States of Micronesia), speaking on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said the operating context in the Pacific was a unique one.  United Nations operations in the region functioned based on multi‑country engagement led by two Resident Coordinators and a joint United Nations country team across two regional hubs.  Challenges were significant given the region’s geography and because air travel was indirect and expensive.  The Pacific small island developing States endorsed reforms to the United Nations development system that would strengthen the Resident Coordinator system to support the integrated and coherent activities mandated by the 2030 Agenda.

Strong central planning would be critical to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, she said, adding that those efforts must be undertaken in close consultation with Member States and reflect national priorities.  Calling for a balance to be struck between the Pacific’s regional planning document — the United Nations Pacific Strategy (2018‑2022) — and the global agenda, she also underscored as top priorities the development of a new generation of country teams, a quadrennial comprehensive policy review mandate that would tailor the role and operational activities of the multi‑country offices, and the creation of a new office in the North Pacific.

ROLANDO CASTRO CÓRDOBA (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Like‑minded Group of Supporters of Middle‑Income Countries, emphasized that 73 per cent of the world’s people living in poverty were in middle‑income countries, where inequality remained pervasive.  No comprehensive strategy for the operational activities of the United Nations development system would be coherent without a revised and enhanced support strategy for middle‑income countries.  The physical presence of the United Nations development system must be based on, and aligned with, national development strategies and priorities, with a focus on making the biggest difference.  In that regard, future reports of the Secretary‑General should put more emphasis on the role of the Chief Economist, which was pertinent in discussing concessional finance and graduation policies for middle‑income countries with international financial institutions.

The United Nations development system should take the lead in, among other things, fostering new partnerships with international financial institutions, regional organizations and regional development banks, he said.  He called on the development system to continue efforts to mainstream support to South‑South and triangular cooperation, given the multiplying effect they could have on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  He noted the Secretary‑General’s willingness to designate a focal point within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to follow up on the mandates of the quadrennial comprehensive review policy for middle‑income countries, adding, however, that much more could be done to create a comprehensive United Nations development system response for those States.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), also speaking on behalf of Mexico, Republic of Korea, Turkey and Australia, said a strengthened Resident Coordinator system should ensure national leadership, ownership and priorities through close consultation and coordination with Governments, as well as recruitment processes which fostered gender balance and geographical diversity.  In the same vein, a new generation of United Nations country teams must be able to work with Governments as they implement the 2030 Agenda.  The United Nations Development Assistance Framework should be the basis for a more strategic engagement with national Governments, with country teams configured to ensure the needs of the relevant host countries.

Cooperation with the private sector should be enhanced, he said, emphasizing also the need for greater flexibility vis‑à‑vis earmarked contributions and wider development system funding.  While supporting increased coordination between United Nations bodies at the regional level, lessons learned and best practices of existing regional institutions must be taken into account, together with the specificities of each region.  Turning to strategic direction, oversight and accountability, he acknowledged the Secretary‑General’s call for the Economic and Social Council to be a more deliberative organ.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) said that it was encouraging that the Secretary‑General’s report sought to address gaps and overlaps in the functions and capacities of the United Nations development system as it endeavoured to work more efficiently, transparently and inclusively at the country level.  A coordinated and coherent development system could not be achieved without adequate, predictable and stable funding for operational activities.  The continued and ever‑increasing imbalance between core and non‑core resources remained a serious concern that hindered programming at the country level.  In addition, a rapid increase in earmarked funding also made an impact on the fragmentation of United Nations entities at the country level, and required attention.

Mr. CASTRO CÓRDOBA (Costa Rica), speaking in his national capacity, said it was essential to recognize the particular challenges faced by middle‑income countries.  Investments in those countries had a multiplier effect on regional development.  The United Nations development system must contribute to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, avoiding duplication while building on best practices.  The role of the regional commissions should meanwhile be enhanced, he said, emphasizing that they were more than think tanks.  Careful thought must meanwhile be given to the future financing of operational activities and Resident Coordinator functions.

JOUNI LAAKSONEN (Finland), associating himself with the European Union, said that the purpose of reform should be kept clear.  The ultimate goal was to ensure that the promise of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind was efficiently fulfilled.  He acknowledged that the report of the Secretary‑General contained key elements on how the United Nations development system could support countries in a more efficient, coordinated and coherent manner to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda.  The new generation of the country teams constituted one of the key elements.  Those teams should be more integrated, efficient and results‑driven. There was clear scope for increasing synergies and greater strategic integration of functions and resources at the country level.  He encouraged the United Nations to focus in particular on the needs of the least developed countries and fragile States.

AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), associating herself with the Group of 77, stressed the need to maintain the universal and voluntary nature of operational activities for development, which also must be neutral, flexible and in line with the priorities and requirements of programme countries.  The United Nations development system should take every effort to integrate poverty eradication into strategic plans, she said, noting with concern the growing imbalance between core and non‑core funding for operational activities for development.  Noting that Lebanon was a country where peacebuilding, development, humanitarian and peacekeeping activities had been running simultaneously for decades, she emphasized the role that the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) was playing as a partner with Lebanon on many important issues, including in identifying regional priorities and needs and drafting results‑oriented and people‑centred plans of action.

PATRICIO AGUIRRE VACCHIERI (Chile) associating himself with the Group of 77, CELAC and the Like‑minded Group of Supporters of Middle‑Income Countries, welcomed the launch of the negotiating process on the development pillar once the current segment under discussion had concluded.  His country attached great importance to the special needs of middle‑income countries.  Only through a multidimensional approach to poverty would the Sustainable Development Goals be achieved.  He was also convinced that the regional commissions had a rich organic structure that must be strengthened.  ECLAC was a major centre for study, analysis and intergovernmental dialogue.  He was pleased to note that the current programme for the segment included an intersectoral vision, as the 2030 Agenda could not be achieved without the private sector, academic and civil society.

For information media. Not an official record.