New York

10 November 2017

Secretary-General's briefing on the Repositioning of the UN Development System, in the Context of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review

On July 5th, I briefed this Council on my vision and proposals to reposition the UN development system in line with the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review.
I committed to work with you to match the boldness of the 2030 Agenda with ambitious reforms.
This process can only succeed if it is done in partnership with all of you.
The Deputy Secretary-General has led, on my behalf, a robust consultative process. I thank each of you for your engagement.
We have also taken important steps to deliver the system-wide strategic document you have requested. We are focusing on targeted actions for system-wide coherence, functions, instruments and funding, in support of the 2030 Agenda.
I welcome the opportunity to meet with you today, in advance of my follow-up report next month. The contributions of this debate will be very important for the drafting of that report.
I count on your insights and perspectives.
Your feedback has been very helpful. We have heard you loud and clear. I will enumerate some of the points we have heard loud and clear:
Priority one for Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams: they should remain sustainable development and poverty eradication focused.
A repositioned system that remains anchored on respect for national sovereignty, leadership and ownership.
The need for reasonable and sustainable funding arrangements.
Ensuring entity-specific accountability to host governments and donor partners as we enhance coherence.
And avoiding new layers of bureaucracy. We need indeed strategic direction in headquarters, for results on the ground.
Allow me to zero in on five issues that have stood out in our consultations and will be at the core of my next report.
First, we need empowered and impartial Resident Coordinators leading a new generation of country teams
Member States will be in the driver’s seat and the 2030 Agenda will be the driving force. 
We simply must make sure our support is responsive and effective, with more resources for people in need and less on bureaucratic structures.
The separation of the Resident Coordinator function from the UNDP Resident Representative is a necessary step in our effort to empower Resident Coordinators. They need to draw on the expertise and assets of the entire system to address the development priorities of the countries where they serve.
A strong development system requires a strong UNDP. We will rely on UNDP’s operational platform and advisory services as a bedrock for the new Resident Coordinator’s system.
We can achieve a major development impact without major budget increases. We know, however, that our development coordination function is vastly underfunded today. We are exploring multi-funded approaches that would combine contributions by Member States and more robust cost-sharing across agencies.
We will be discussing with you detailed cost-estimates ahead of the December report.
It would also allow for a stronger development coordination office – a renewed DOCO, for more robust support to RCs and better results management. 
It is absolutely critical to reinforce the accountability of UN Country Team members to RCs – and RCs to the countries themselves and to me, through the UNDG Chair and with a focus on development results.
At the country level, we envision a dual reporting line.  Agencies would report to RCs on system-wide results -- and to their own home agencies on matters that require specific technical backstopping and guidance.
The report will also detail measures for common back-office functions, with a focus on the country level.
We will present our broad roadmap to harmonize business procedures. This is something you have long asked for, and we will be trying to respond.
It will make the UN development system more nimble, more swift and effective; and it could generate many hundreds of millions in savings for taxpayers and added resources for the countries and people we serve. 
Second, to realize the promise of the 2030 Agenda, we need a revamped regional approach. 
We have conducted a review of UN regional capacities. It confirms the richness and diversity of our assets across regions, but also unfortunately the fragmentation of action within each region. And regional structures of different UN entities are substantially different.
So I will propose to proceed in two steps.
First, optimizing existing arrangements. This means clarifying the division of labour and improving the interface between the UN regional coordination structures, for greater policy impact.
Second, Regional Economic Commissions must progressively refocus to truly become the think tanks and providers of the intergovernmental platforms that the regional space requires. In doing so, they will draw on the bottom-up expertise from our Country Teams and strengthened interface with DESA.
Under my direction, DESA has started its own internal review to better serve as global policy hub -- particularly on Financing for Development -- and better coordinate with the regional level as it improves its support to Member States.
Over the longer term, we will continue to explore measures for further regional consolidation.
Third, we must strengthen accountability to you, the Member States, and to the people we serve.
I am moving forward in detailing my proposal to strengthen system-wide evaluations. We need evidence of impact at a system level.
I have also urged all UN entities to report their expenditures through the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
There is a profound need for strategic guidance on system-wide action. I am convinced the ECOSOC can play an ever stronger role.
I propose, for example, institutionalizing two sessions of its Operational Activities Segment – one to improve system-wide policy guidance; another to guide governing bodies of development entities to ensure a system-wide approach. 
A Joint Board of UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, UNICEF and UN-Women would unify Member States’ voice and ensure a coherent approach, following guidance from a strengthened ECOSOC.
A Joint Board would eliminate the need for multiple meetings of multiple boards, simplify reporting, and focus discussions. It would be done progressively, under the guidance of Member States.
Fourth, we must make sure the system has the funding it needs to do its job.
The Funding Compact is critical to the success of all the proposals.  Fragmented funding can only deliver fragmented results.
My proposal is of a different approach. We want to provide you with sufficient accountability, transparency and value for money to build a strong case for more flexible funding. At the same time, we rely on your support in building a predictable funding base that provides incentives for collaboration.
I am consulting on the specifics of the Compact and look forward to hearing more from you today. This is not about creating a complex budget framework; but ensuring a new spirit of cooperation to maximize your investments in the UN and in people. 
Fifth, we need stronger partnerships, at scale, for the 2030 Agenda.
Partnerships will make or break the 2030 Agenda.
We need a system-wide approach to partnership for the Agenda. One that focuses on impact, and accountability to Member States.
That also means better support to South-South and triangular cooperation, and greater engagement with the private sector and other stakeholders.
I will update in December on concrete ways to take that forward.
I am already implementing change measures that can help accelerate action.
We have 17 goals, and only 13 years left.
We have to pick up the pace.
I am following through on many of the immediate actions you have requested in the QCPR.
For example, you called for a more impartial Resident Coordinator system. This week, the first meeting of the UN Development Group was held under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Secretary-General. 
You asked to enhance development coordination with humanitarian assistance. This week, the Deputy Secretary-General also held the first meeting of the Steering Committee of Principals to foster synergies in humanitarian and development action.
You recognized the need for stronger integrated policy analysis. I will be appointing a Chief Economist in DESA that will regain with that very important central role in the expression of UN policies on development for global discussion.
We have no time to lose.
We know climate change, inequality, rapid urbanization and other mega trends, are not abstract issues.
They are life or death concerns for too many people, in too many places.
We need to change – and we need to change urgently. 
I look forward to hearing from you -- and continuing to work with you to deliver the change that will help us deliver for the people we serve, for their hopes, for their aspirations and to better respond to their needs.
Thank you very much.