Working Together United Nations Agencies Can Find Solutions to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Executive Boards

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Joint Meeting of the Executive Boards of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), in New York today: 

Thank you for the opportunity to join you again for the Joint Meeting of the Executive Boards.  These Joint Meetings play an important role in ensuring coherent action across major operational entities of the United Nations development system.

I like to commend the Presidents, and my colleagues in each entity, for approaching today’s meeting as an opportunity to galvanize action on joint development solutions and stable, quality finance.  As we gear up to the SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] Summit in September, active engagement and leadership of Governing Bodies of all entities of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) will be critical.

First, delivering an SDG-integrated agenda and financing support means of implementation requires enhanced coordination and capacities from the United Nations entities as they shift to new business models, more collaborative working methods and the right tools.

The Executive Boards play an essential role in ensuring the needed flexible United Nations footprint with the right skill-set and integrated expertise, able to adapt and respond to the evolving needs and priorities of countries.  The current global context shows that entities more than ever need to collaborate, share expertise and provide surge capacity when required — be it to address emergency responses efficiently or to tackle in a meaningful way more structural development issues.

This also means more conducive policies and tools for integrated policy advice and a sharper focus to accelerate transitions in key areas — on food systems, education, climate, energy, jobs and social protection, and digital transformation.  And this means enabling agencies to pull together resources and deliver capacities to support coordinated planning and joint programming for effective implementation of responses.

Second, to prepare the ground for an optimized United Nations development system response and integrated support, quality cooperation frameworks, underpinned by data-driven and evidence-based Common Country Assessments, are essential to building a solid analytical foundation for countries’ Sustainable Development Goals acceleration.  They are also essential tools to inform the most effective configuration of the United Nations country team on the ground and prepare for structured programming.

The entities that you represent today are leading the way for the United Nations development system to ensure that the cooperation frameworks are operationalized much more effectively through the entities’ country programme documents while ensuring flexibility to adapt to evolving country contexts.  I hope that we can build on their best practices to ensure greater alignment and joint action throughout the UNSDG.

Third, we need to further enable the convening role of the United Nations development system in support of Governments to mobilize the means of implementation for Sustainable Development Goals acceleration — in particular, financing for the Sustainable Development Goals.  This means lifting the offer provided by the United Nations development system to support Sustainable Development Goals financing and extend a lifeline for countries to overcome the immediate crisis and invest in their longer-term development outcomes.

The integrated national financing frameworks is a critical tool in this regard.  With the technical leadership of UNDP, the financing frameworks offers a coherent framework for countries to mobilize additional financing, aligned with national priorities and plans.  They provide a framework for convening key actors such as development banks, donors and the private sector.  We have seen more than 80 countries taking forward the integrated national financing frameworks.  But we need much more to help countries mobilize financing at the scale that will really change the game.

Fourth, to ensure collaboration and the joint outcomes needed, increased core funding to the United Nations development system entities and pooled funding at both the country and global levels are critical, urgent and needed. These instruments have proven effective in allowing organizations to shift from projectized, small-scale support to large-scale and integrated programming.  And for incentivizing joint programming that achieves greater impact than individual agencies working alone.

The Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund is our main vehicle to support joint programming.  Under the leadership of the reinvigorated resident coordinators, it has the potential to leverage each agency’s expertise and improve the quality of joint programmes for Sustainable Development Goals transformation.

To date, the Fund works with 31 Sustainable Development Groups entities in 119 United Nations country teams and multi-country offices, supporting the implementation of the integrated national financing frameworks.  It has enhanced access to social services for over 188 million people and leveraged $2.3 billion in additional resources for the Sustainable Development Goals.  It has provided seed funding for rapid response to the socioeconomic impacts of the cascading crises that have hit developing countries.

And it has also helped address cross-border development issues such as climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction and internal displacements through innovative schemes and financing mechanisms.  Over 60 per cent of the Fund’s commitments has been channelled to UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, UN-Women, and UNOPS.

Before concluding, I like to take the opportunity to say that I am excited to see that many United Nations entities and their governing bodies are already making use of the reform checklist that I shared with all governing bodies earlier this year, at the request of the General Assembly.  I encourage you to take profit of it as you look at transformations required within each United Nations entity, completing the guidance and oversight the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly provide to the system as a whole.

When I look across the room today – I see real leadership of the Presidents and members of the executive boards.  And I see a commitment from all United Nations colleagues.  And it does gives me the confidence, in the time of crisis and great challenges, that working together, we can find the solutions and the hope to ensure that in 2023, as we take stock of the Sustainable Development Goals, we will succeed in the that final stretch to 2030 and the promises we have made for people and planet.

There is no doubt this will not be easy.  And there is too much at stake.  We must do all we can to make the impossible possible, once again.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.