5 October 2020

Deputy Secretary-General, Briefing Second Committee on Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, Pledges Support for Implementing Country Priorities

Following are UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the briefing on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of the United Nations operational system to the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), today:

It is a great pleasure to be with you today as you kick off the deliberations on operational activities for development in the Second Committee.

This segment holds particular importance this year with the quadrennial comprehensive policy review taking place just when we are entering a Decade of Action for sustainable development.  I wanted to be here in person to mark this moment.

The last quadrennial comprehensive policy adopted four years ago paved the way for the deepest transformation in the history of the United Nations development system.  Since then, working together, we have established a new coordination system to better respond to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

We reinforced leadership for sustainable development at the country, regional and global level.  We enhanced accountability for results and transparency on our joint efforts.  We launched ambitious workstreams to scale up partnerships, to enhance our support to financing, to improve the efficiency of our operations.  We agreed on a historic funding compact with Member States.  And if we achieved what many considered impossible, it is thanks to you.

Last May, Member States showed once again their determination to see a lasting transformation in the United Nations development system.  At the Economic and Social Council Operational Activities Segment, you decided to move forward on all remaining quadrennial comprehensive policy review mandates.

We are now on track to operationalize a new regional architecture, strengthen our support to multi‑country offices and bolster independent system‑wide evaluations for accountability.  In the course of the year, we will be providing additional briefings on these mandates so that you continue to accompany us throughout our journey.

In the weeks to come, you have another critical task.  COVID‑19 means that we need to set the bar even higher to avoid a backslide on poverty, and to accelerate action towards the 2030 Agenda.  We need scaled‑up results on the ground to help countries recover better from COVID‑19, building on our socioeconomic response plans.

And to do so, we must take full advantage of the improvements we have made to the United Nations development system.  To guide the United Nations development system along this path, we need strategic direction on your expectations and priorities.  And we need a framework that holds us accountable, together.

This is what the next quadrennial comprehensive policy review is all about.  This is the time to turn from the mechanics and design of reforms to implementation.  From institutional change to behavioural transformation.  From process to results.  Simply put, we need a quadrennial comprehensive policy review that delivers exactly what is it is intended to provide:  policy guidance to advance sustainable development.  Throughout the segment, we will be here to listen to your expectations and guidance.

But allow me to put forward five areas where I believe the new quadrennial comprehensive policy review can make a significant difference:  first, priority policy areas.  The 2030 Agenda continues to be our raison d’être.  To get there, each country will have a unique pathway.  But we all know there are critical areas of high demand for support across developing countries.

These are areas where the interlinkages are strongest and our impact in lifting people out of poverty and leaving no one behind may be the greatest – priorities such as climate change; economic transformation and employment; women’s empowerment; digitalization.  These are areas where the new generation of United Nations country teams are expected to demonstrate a real step change in their ability to engage and respond to country priorities and needs.  Additional investments will be needed to support domestic resources.

The quadrennial comprehensive policy review can help clarify the priorities our new generation of United Nations country teams, taking account of country contexts and capacities.  With a stronger Resident Coordinator system, we are ready to turn quadrennial comprehensive policy review policy guidance into operational reality on the ground.

Second, means of implementation.  We are reinforcing the United Nations system’s capacity to support countries in mobilizing partnerships, financing, technology to leapfrog in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  It is at the country level that impact will be felt.  And our new generation of United Nations country teams will be partners at the forefront.  With greater convening capacity, new tools, skill sets and renewed impetus, we are ready to move ahead.  The integrated national financing frameworks we are rolling out in several countries offer a good way forward.  The quadrennial comprehensive policy review can help chart the way with clarity on expectations.

Third, coherence between United Nations pillars.  This has been a contentious issue in the last quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  But I am confident that there is now sufficient common ground to help us take decisive steps forward.  From evolving emerging concepts like the “nexus”, to providing clear guidance on your expectations.  We need your leadership and support to ensure a much more integrated United Nations response to unique country contexts and to challenges that know no borders.  It boils down to this:  we must be able to deploy assets from across all United Nations pillars to respond to diverse country situations and ensure no one is left behind in the road towards 2030.

Fourth, leaving no one behind.  This quadrennial comprehensive policy review is an opportunity for all Member States to help realize their commitment to leave no one behind.  Most importantly, it can give visibility to those excluded and on the margins, and clarify your expectations for a recovery from COVID‑19 that is anchored in inclusive and green economies.  The issue of disabilities, for example, has not been adequately covered in the previous quadrennial comprehensive policy reviews.  This must change.  And our efforts for gender equality need to be accelerated and amplified.  We must also invest in data for evidence‑based decision‑making.

Finally, the unfinished business.  The quadrennial comprehensive policy review is an opportunity to give further impetus, not least to ensure that the targets we have set ourselves in our funding compact are met.  In doing so, the new quadrennial comprehensive policy review must look forward and reinforce our shared responsibility - by United Nations entities, Member States, executive boards – to consolidate the reforms we have delivered.

By the end of the next quadrennial comprehensive policy review cycle, we will be halfway into the Decade of Action.  The decisions you will take in the coming weeks may determine whether we are able to deliver on the transformative promises of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  The road ahead will not be simple. But I know we can get there together.

You can count on my determination and that of the Secretary‑General – and the full commitment of all members of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group – to continue to honour your trust and support you throughout your discussions.

For information media. Not an official record.