New York

17 December 2018

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at the third plenary meeting of the Funding Dialogues [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies,

I am pleased to meet with all of you today at this third plenary meeting of the Funding Dialogues.
 
A lot of work has gone into the Technical Track discussions. Member States and the UN development system alike have been engaging in complex discussions to advance this critical aspect of the reform process.
 
I truly appreciate the efforts of each and every one of you for engaging constructively and with a real sense of ownership.
 
More broadly, as the year comes to an end, the Secretary-General and I would to thank you for your leadership in advancing the UN development system reform. At the beginning of this process, many thought that what we have achieved was impossible.
 
And here we are today, on the verge of a major transition.
 
The Secretary-General has briefed you very recently on all reform streams – development, peace and security and management reform.
 
Today, we will focus on taking stock on the Funding Dialogues and its linkages with the broader development system reform.
 
Excellencies,
 
We have said it time and time again: funding will make-or-break the reform.
 
Enhancing the quality of funding provided to the system is necessary to change the incentives and enhance the skillsets and capacities needed to deliver the results that Member States expect on the ground.
 
It is this shared recognition that has driven the process so far.
 
We are now making strides in finalizing the Funding Compact, hand in hand with Member States.
 
We are grateful for your continued engagement in the process. Your participation, your inputs, your leadership have been incredibly helpful. A true testimony to the value you place, and the expectations you have, for the UN.
 
Let me assure you that the system is fully committed to delivering on its part and being held accountable for commitments made. And the Secretary-General and I count on Member States to fully act and follow through on the much-needed shift in our funding practices.
 
A draft of the Funding Compact has been circulated to all of you, on the basis of discussions held in the Technical Track of the Funding Dialogues.
 
Guided by the letter and spirit of General Assembly resolution 72/279 and the QCPR, the draft provides a more elaborate set of commitments by the Member States to increase core, pooled and thematic funds; as well as commitments by the UN development system to improve transparency of spending, visibility requirements, joint activities, system-wide evaluations and reporting, efficiency gains and cost recovery.
 
These are all complex issues, which have been discussed for years in different fora and in different manners. Time has come to reach an agreement on our mutual expectations and turn resolutions into action on the ground.
 
The Funding Compact remains a work in progress.
 
It requires further work to tighten the commitments and refine indicators. It is also important to strengthen the narrative to highlight the importance of these commitments within the broader context of reform, and more importantly, as a means to delivering better results for countries.
 
A robust narrative is indeed important for all of you, for your constituents, and for us, to maintain a focus on what the end goal is.
 
We also recognize that some of the discussions remain difficult; notably around the issue of core versus non-core resources. The reality is that both are needed, at scale, to achieve the SDGs. But core resources remain essential if the unique strengths of the UN development system, as a multilateral development actor, are to be fully leveraged.
 
Achieving the right balance between core and non-core  is therefore critical.
 
We also understand that more dialogue is needed on issues around efficiency gains, when and how they will be realized, and to what end. We need to stay truthful to what we have said from Day 1 – the key goal of this reform is not to reduce costs; but to improve results on the ground. In doing so, we remain committed to be much more efficient, with more focus on programmatic results and reduced fragmentation and inefficient overlaps.
 
I believe that the current draft reflects a genuine commitment on all sides to move forward constructively. And I am confident that we will find a consensual – yet ambitious – way forward on these outstanding issues.
 
I also want to stress that the RC system is an integral part of the Funding Compact. If our coordination functions is not well-resourced, the impact of the reforms will not fully materialize.
 
There is currently a placeholder in the draft regarding the RC system, as discussions on this aspect have followed a separate track. At the next iteration, we will reflect commitments – from both the system and Member States - to fully fund the reinvigorated RC system.
 
We will also reaffirm our commitment for full transparency in the management of funds allocated to the RC system.
 
Excellencies,
 
The Funding Compact is a key piece in our overall work to reform the Organization. It needs to move forward with commensurable ambition and the same sense of urgency.
 
The Secretary-General is sparing no effort to advance all mandates you have provided to him.
 
We are days away from the establishment of a reinvigorated RC system on 1 January.
           
The Secretariat, UNDP and DOCO have worked hand in hand to ensure a smooth transition.
 
Since we last met, we have issued operational and legal guidance to all Resident Coordinators.

We have reached out to all agencies, funds and programmes to ensure full support and alignment by UN Country Teams.
 
We have started hiring for DOCO to build the type of backstopping that a reinvigorated system requires.
 
We are working on a new accountability paradigm to provide full clarity on the RC-UNCT reporting model on the ground from day one.
 
And the Secretary-General has sent letters to host countries to designate Resident Coordinators in their new, delinked functions. We count on all governments to facilitate a swift designation process.
 
We have been working hard to operationalize the hybrid funding model agreed by the General Assembly.
 
Following intense consultations with Member States, we will be finalizing detailed operational guidance on the implementation of the 1% coordination levy, before the end of the year. 
 
The voluntary commitments received to date – combined with the doubled cost-sharing from UN entities – represent $177 million, which will allow us to transition as planned with core capacities in RC offices and DOCO.
 
Yet, a funding gap of $104 million remains and we call on all Member States to step up.
 
The RC system belongs to all countries; we all must own it, and no contribution is too small.
 
We now look forward to a swift decision by the Fifth Committee to appropriate $13.5 million as part of the RC system cost-sharing agreement. This is a small but critical share of the Resident Coordinator budget and an important political signal of continuing support for the reform.
 
Excellencies,
 
The two reviews mandated by the General Assembly resolution are moving forward. The review of multi-country offices and the regional review are critical elements of the Secretary-General’s vision to reform the United Nations.
 
We will engage in this exercise with the same ambition and determination that has marked the process so far. And we will do it in full consultation with Member States and the UN development system.
 
Next year will see the advent of a new generation of UN Country Teams.
 
We are working to ensure UNCTs will have the tools and support required to transform the way we support the 2030 Agenda.
 
This includes the redesigning of the UNDAF; the articulation of a system-wide strategic document; and advancing the work on common business operations to make sure that more effort is placed on mandates, less on administration.
 
Excellencies,
 
All these reform workstreams are mutually-dependent. And their benefits will only fully materialize with a change in funding practices. This is how important this Compact is.
 
We are almost there. Let us finish the job.
 
We must finalize the document together. I acknowledge that we need more time to finalize the Funding Compact and ensure that the outcome is even more meaningful. 
 
We will therefore extend the Funding Dialogues until mid-February next year. The Technical Track will resume on 15 January, so that this document can be further refined, with clear commitments and measurable targets.
 
A final plenary meeting will take place in February.
 
By then, I trust that we will be well positioned to confirm our shared commitment around a robust Compact.
 
I trust I can count on your support.
 
I would now invite you to share your perspectives.
 
Again, today we are here to listen.
 
Thank you.