Presenting Reinvigorated Resident Coordinator System Plan, Secretary-General Urges Member States to Fully Support, Fund United Nations Development System Reforms

SG/SM/19206-DEV/3349
11 September 2018

Presenting Reinvigorated Resident Coordinator System Plan, Secretary-General Urges Member States to Fully Support, Fund United Nations Development System Reforms

Following are UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ remarks on the Implementation Plan for the Reinvigorated Resident Coordinator System, in New York today:

Thank you very much.  I want to start by apologizing.  It was absolutely my interest to stay until the end of the meeting as usual.  Unfortunately, I have to go to Ghana later today and that has forced me to completely compress my agenda.  So I will only be able to stay for the presentation.  I will ask my Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed to be able to replace me, of course, an advantage for all present members of this meeting.  I deeply apologize, but really, today, it became absolutely impossible to manage.

Thank you for this opportunity to present to you, the implementation plan for the reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system.  You will receive a final copy of the plan before the end of this week.  But I want to mention that today we reach another milestone in our journey to reposition the United Nations development system to meet the ambition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As I stated from day one, reform is our joint endeavour — and I am grateful for your engagement on the Implementation Plan.  Your feedback, ideas and scrutiny have helped create a solid plan that leverages the best mechanisms to take the development system to the next level.

We have been at work since the adoption of the resolution to operationalize all its mandates, including the critical issue of establishing a reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system.  We have established a transition team to manage the change process in the Organization in a coordinated manner across all reform streams, headed by Under-Secretary-General Jens Wandel.

The team includes dedicated capacities for the repositioning of the United Nations development system, working under the guidance of the Deputy Secretary-General.  It is largely the product of this group that is presented today, of course, in close dialogue with Member States and in very close cooperation with the leadership of the Organization.

The development team is focused on coordinating the overall implementation, setting targets and tracking progress towards the deliverables requested in the resolution, and ensuring minimal disruption to our work on the ground.  It will remain a lean structure, staffed primarily from secondments from the system.  This is to ensure not only strong buy-in, but also that we leverage the vast expertise across United Nations entities to get it right. It will be active for 18 to 24 months.

The transition team is working with the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) to move forward in a coordinated, smooth and swift manner.  In gathering inputs for the Implementation Plan, we have also established a working group comprising of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Development Operations Coordination Office and the Department of Management.

This working group has reviewed all details of the Resident Coordinator system — including human resources, procurement, logistics and legal status — with an emphasis on ensuring business continuity as the functions of Resident Coordinators and UNDP resident representatives are separated.  I am grateful for colleagues in this working group — and across the system — for going beyond the call of duty to ensure robust transition planning.

Allow me to underscore the basis and main elements of the Implementation Plan.  Specifically, this Plan responds to the resolution and provides the building blocks for a new system that will:

One, strengthen accountability and transparency for system-wide results; two, provide greater incentives for integrated action; and three, enable United Nations country teams to deliver, and report on, country results at a scale that respond to national needs and national priorities.

To make it happen, the Implementation Plan outlines short- and medium-term actions needed for a smooth transition, with a time horizon of 18 to 24 months.  It starts with immediate actions needed for the start-up phase of the new Resident Coordinator system model.  

This includes the establishment of a funding platform to receive, consolidate, manage and account for all contributions and financial transactions of the reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system.  A United Nations Special Purpose Trust Fund has been established and will provide the highest degree of transparency and reporting on the usage of funds.

The Plan also specifies arrangements to transition staff and operational support.  In doing so, the Plan outlines a number of services that UNDP will continue to provide – now on a fee-for-service basis – to the new Resident Coordinator system.  This is to ensure that we maintain the necessary flexibility for field operations and draw on the expertise and economies of scale of an entity with physical presence in all developing countries.

The Plan also covers the initial recalibration of functions and relationships at the country level, as well as in regions and at headquarters.  This will help ensure accountability for results — from Resident Coordinators to national counterparts — and clear reporting lines between Resident Coordinators and the Secretary-General, and between United Nations country team members and Resident Coordinators.

The plan is clear about minimum capacities that need to be in place in January — even as the transition and progressive strengthening of the system unfolds through the end of 2019.  These include:  129 Resident Coordinators with a minimum complement of 2 support staff and 3 national professional staff; a fully restructured Development Operations Coordination Office, to manage and support the new Resident Coordinator system, with enhanced capacities to ensure sufficient backstopping and oversight to Resident Coordinator offices and respond to the heightened demands of the 2030 Agenda; and an adequate funding base to ensure smooth and effective operations through our first year.

Looking to the medium-term, the Plan provides an overview of additional actions required to consolidate the transition, such as:  Potential changes to the Resident Coordinator selection and training processes — and how to ensure we maintain full gender parity while also enhancing geographic balance; the implications for the Resident Coordinator system of the future reviews of the United Nations development system regional architecture and multi-country offices, new models of physical presence or the revised United Nations Development Assistance Framework guidelines; and the overall transition towards a new generation of United Nations country teams.

As we develop the institutional and operational details of the Implementation Plan, the spotlight falls on you — the Member States — to help us maintain the momentum.

The new Resident Coordinator system will cost $290 million.  We have some distance to go to ensure predictability in funding and we are counting on Member States to act on the commitments made through the resolution.

I am pleased to note that all entities of the United Nations development system have indicated their readiness to step up by doubling their cost-sharing agreement.  We welcome action by the Executive Boards in New York last week endorsing this decision — and look forward to similar action in Geneva, Paris, Vienna and Nairobi.  Discussions are underway to operationalize the 1 per cent levy on tightly earmarked non-core resources that Member States have proposed in the resolution.

I thank all those who have shown readiness to advance this innovative idea, but, of course, these funds will not be immediately available, as implementation discussions and analysis continue.

We have also received funding commitments or soft pledges from 15 countries, amounting to a total of close to $75 million for the coming year.  But — as you know — we need many more, and faster, commitments to guarantee success.  We need to be sure we can underwrite personnel contracts and rental agreements from day one.

Let’s be clear.  A repositioned United Nations development system depends on a reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system.  And a reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system depends on adequate resources.  We now look to the other 178 countries that have yet to communicate their pledges to step up. 

The Resident Coordinator system belongs to all of you – and the success of the reform is our shared responsibility.  We must ensure that the new Resident Coordinator system is fully financed so we can scale up our response to the 2030 Agenda and ensure the world remains on track in making an impact on everyone’s life, everywhere.

You can count on my firm determination to deliver on all mandates you have granted to the United Nations.  We will spare no effort to put in place the empowered and impartial Resident Coordinator system we need by 1 January.  I can assure you that transparency, inclusiveness and national ownership will continue to guide our work.

We are closer than ever to a reformed United Nations development system that responds to your expectations and people’s aspirations.  Let’s finish the journey together.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.