United Nations Development System’s Performance Only as Responsive, Predictable as Its Financing, Deputy Secretary-General Tells ‘Funding Dialogues’ Event

DSG/SM/1256-DEV/3386
28 February 2019

United Nations Development System’s Performance Only as Responsive, Predictable as Its Financing, Deputy Secretary-General Tells ‘Funding Dialogues’ Event

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the fourth meeting of the plenary track of the Funding Dialogues in New York today:

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this fourth and final plenary meeting of the Funding Dialogues.

Today marks an important milestone in the repositioning of the United Nations Development system.  We conclude the Funding Dialogues, with gratitude for your engagement and spirit of partnership, and acceptance of the United Nations development system’s responsibility to deliver on the commitments assumed through the Funding Compact.

You have before you the final draft of the Funding Compact between Member States and the United Nations development system.  This is our joint product.  Following this meeting, we will circulate a final document – the Funding Compact - for formal consideration by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in May.

As we take our final steps towards a Funding Compact, it is important to look back.  We have come a long way since we initiated this process in the summer of 2018.  I would like to thank all of you for the extraordinary level of engagement throughout.  The Compact embodies our partnership and mutual accountability in transforming the United Nations.  It is also a testament to the value and potential of a multilateral development approach.

I would like to highlight, in particular, the leadership role of the ECOSOC regional representatives, the representatives from the “Group of 77” and China, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, who coordinated inputs from their constituents and represented their views through the technical track.  Allow me to express my gratitude also to colleagues in the United Nations development system who worked under Assistant Secretary-General Robert Piper to advance the system contributions to the technical track.

I understand that the discussions in the technical track have been both collegial and in-depth.  I also want to highlight the many contributions provided by the entire United Nations development system, and notably [the Department of Economic and Social Affairs] on data and indicators.  To all involved, thank you.

The Funding Compact is a key piece of our collective effort to focus the United Nations development system towards realizing the 2030 Agenda.  It was proposed by the Secretary-General in his December 2017 report and welcomed by Member States in document GA/RES/72/279.  Our shared intent is clear:  to equip the United Nations development system with the means to provide you with the maximum funding support in your efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Our shared outcome is also clear:  results on the ground.  On the Member State side, the Compact lays the foundation for a much-needed shift in the funding base of the United Nations development system.  Restoring a healthier balance between core and non-core resources is all about investing, leveraging and accelerating results on the ground.  Both sources of funding are needed to maintain strategic course and better focus investments to reach the SDGs in support of national priorities and the people’s rights and aspirations.

But we also know that the type of funding the United Nations system often receives limits performance and the ability to deploy our multilateral development strengths and assets.  The system’s performance is as flexible, responsive, predictable and impactful as its funding.  A fragmented funding base can only produce fragmented results.  The evidence and your concerns make this clearThe Funding Compact sets firm targets on a minimum share of core and projected increases in pooled and thematic funds.  This will help us get to more flexible, responsive, predictable and high-quality funding.

I want to acknowledge the Member States that have already initiated these important shifts by increasing their core contributions and support to pooled funds.  The specific commitments on the resident coordinator system are equally critical.  A strong resident coordinator system is absolutely essential to ensure we can deliver on our commitments and better support you in advancing the 2030 Agenda.

This is why we now need to fully implement the 1 per cent coordination levy.  Following extensive consultations, we will be sending a letter to all Member States with the final operational arrangements for the levy’s implementation.  We count on you to proceed without delay with its application.

On the United Nations SDG side, country-level impact drives our commitments to work more jointly together and invest in common results.  We commit to report more systematically and clearly on what we do and achieve, linking resources to results at all levels.  We also reaffirm our commitment to continuously seek efficiency gains, and to deliver higher-quality support at greater scale.  The Compact reaffirms the Secretary-General’s pledges to accelerate efficiency gains.

The commitments of the Compact regarding efficiency gains are both collective and entity-specific.  They will be realized in multiple ways, through traditional and innovative means.  These include:  the consolidation of premises and functions; better use of new technologies; and more joined-up approaches and enhanced collaboration on the ground.

We must continue the dialogue on efficiencies.  How and when the gains will be realized and redeployed will require more work and more engagement with you ahead of our next update to the ECOSOC in May.  But let me reassure you of our rock-solid commitment to continuously seek greater efficiencies.  The United Nations SDG team led by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is doing intensive work and has achieved some early successes.

This includes agreement on mutual recognition by 11 entities, including the Secretariat – which allowed us to finally deliver on a long-standing request of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR).  The team is also investing significant efforts to develop a more detailed strategy for common back offices and to establish a strong tracking system to measure and monitor efficiency gains.  Member States will be kept fully informed.  And our other commitments in the areas of cost recovery and visibility are designed, ultimately, to cement a stronger partnership with all of you.

The Compact’s last section is about monitoring.  Let me emphasize three important dimensions.  First, the primacy of ECOSOC.  In resolution 72/279, you entrusted ECOSOC with the leadership and responsibility for providing oversight to the United Nations development system.  The Funding Compact preserves and strengthens this role.  Reporting on the Compact will be a key dimension of the Secretary-General’s report to ECOSOC.

Second, we will continue to hold informal briefings and engage to complement formal oversight by ECOSOC.  It will be important to sustain political support for the Funding Compact, engaging with policymakers in New York, as well as in capitals.

Finally, the Compact must matter where results are expected, on the ground.  We will, therefore, work with our resident coordinators and the United Nations country teams to unpack the Compact in-country and to take forward country-level aspects of the Compact.

In closing, I want to reaffirm that the value of the Compact also lies in its mutuality.  These Dialogues have helped gain a greater appreciation for the interdependency of our respective behaviours.  For example, it can be difficult for agencies to work in a more integrated manner if most of their funding is tightly earmarked for individual initiatives.  And United Nations coherence is ultimately determined by the coherence of Member States requests – donor and host Government alike.

At the same time, we fully take our part of the responsibility.  We recognize that to sustain Member State support, and to receive more flexible, multi-year funding, core or non-core, United Nations development system entities must deliver high-quality results, report clearly and transparently on how we use the funds entrusted to us, and be as efficient as possible in our operations.  In other words:  the levy, the efficiency gains – all other commitments – enable each other.  Progress on one leads to progress on many others.

This is why we deeply appreciate Member States’ constructive engagement and steer.  You have engaged openly and with high ambition in what is always one of the most complex negotiations in the United Nations:  funding.  You have put ideas and proposals on the table.  You have found common ground without resorting to the lowest common denominator.  Through your engagement, you have shown that you have high demands for the United Nations development system.  We welcome that.

Expecting the highest standards from the United Nations on results, on transparency and on efficiency reflects the value you place in multilateralism and its unique potential.  We all know that few of the themes of the Funding Compact are really new.  Some of them have been under discussion for decades.  But the Compact now binds the United Nations entities together with clear measurements of progress and a shared responsibility amongst each entity to reach those targets.  And it provides a measurable, tangible commitment of Member States to ensure a more adequate funding base for the United Nations to better support the 2030 Agenda.  And this is a major achievement.

Now from dialogue, we need to move to action.  This Compact means little if it is not implemented now, and by all.  With this Compact, we are now equipped with ambitious commitments and robust targets, commensurate with our collective responsibility to realize the promise of sustainable development everywhere, for everyone.  Using this opportunity, I believe, will deepen the trust that will encourage more investment for the 2030 Agenda in a transformed United Nations response in all countries.  I am confident that, together, we will deliver.

On behalf of the Secretary-General, thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.