Deputy Secretary-General, at Funding Model for Resident Coordinator System’s Second Plenary, Highlights Achievements, Seeks Suggestions on Way Forward

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the second plenary on the Funding Model for the Resident Coordinator System, in New York today: 

Today, we reconvene to discuss the funding model for the Resident Coordinator system.  This is the second of three plenary discussions contributing to the development of the Secretary-General’s report on the funding model for the Resident Coordinator System.

From the outset of this meeting, I wish to underscore two points. First, we have listened and continue to do so.  Second, we are approaching the last mile of this process.  We want to hear from you so we can put forward a proposal that addresses your concerns and makes full use of your suggestions.

Since the last plenary, I have met with every UN regional group for pragmatic discussions on the impact of the funding shortfall and the way forward.  You asked for better evidence of the impact of the shortfall.  We have since provided every regional group with slides showing the impact in their region, and the circulated information on the global impact of the shortfall, in advance of this session.  These slides demonstrate the very real impact felt in countries where the system does not have full capacity due to the shortfall.

For example, in Mongolia, the freeze recruiting a partnerships officer resulted in a funding gap of nearly $160 million.  This impeded the ability of the UN country team to deliver on the priorities agreed with the Government through the Cooperation Framework.

You have asked for better-evidenced results of the resident coordinator system.  We have provided you with countless examples and data on the impact of the work of the resident coordinators.  For example, in Cuba, following the devasting Hurricane Ian, the resident coordinator marshalled the policy expertise across the UN to develop a plan of action and convened donors to mobilize nearly $15 million for immediate assistance.

You asked for clarity on the governance and oversight functions for the resident coordinator system.  We have provided the circulated information setting out the governance and oversight already provided by the Economic and Social Council Operational Activities for Development Segment, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of the General Assembly, and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  And we look forward to the discussion on these functions today.

You asked for more information on the staffing structures of the resident coordinator system.  We have held a dedicated briefing, providing information on the staffing structures, the roles, vacancies, professional development support and the appointment process.

You asked for more information on efficiencies and whether the efficiency gains could be redirected to fund the resident coordinator system.  We held a technical meeting on efficiencies and set out the legal and financial impediments.  Redirecting funding would effectively penalize countries by repurposing the funding that would have otherwise supported programming.

You asked for the conversation to move beyond the last the General Assembly discussion on funding for the resident coordinator system in 2021.  We have provided everything you have asked to ensure that the dialogue moves forward constructively.  We now look to you to ensure that we deliver a robust resident coordinator system fit for the purpose of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In an extraordinary fashion, and to prevent any surprises we have circulated a copy of the draft table of contents of the Secretary-General’s report and invite your feedback in the course of today’s discussions.  I also would like to open a discussion on the governance and oversight arrangements of the resident coordinator system.  We sought to build on the Secretary-General’s 2021 report and reflect the feedback received in the consultations so far.

First, on the draft Table of Contents, we begin by looking back at what was in place prior to the 2018 reforms.  The repositioning enabled UN agencies to focus more on programming and delivery for developing countries.  With the leadership of impartial, empowered and independent resident coordinators, UN country teams are able to focus on delivering programming — with resident coordinator offices supporting the convening and coordination of resources and policy expertise.

But, challenges remain — some of the reforms are taking time to fully root in the system.  We continue to look for your guidance as the system evolves and strives to deliver better for Member States and meet the challenges of the delayed progress on the 2030 Agenda.

The report will set out the data-evidenced returns on investing in the resident coordinator system and make clear the value proposition.  We would appreciate your insights on what information you have found most compelling thus far and what remains unaddressed.  We will also set out what actions the system has taken, under the Secretary-General’s leadership, to try to make the existing model work.

We will then explore the existing accountability systems — including the governance and oversight provided by Fifth Committee and Economic and Social Council Operational Activities for Development Segment.

The Secretary-General will provide his recommended way forward on the funding model.  We will include an overview of the options considered — including those presented by Member States in the consultations — and an analysis of whether they can provide a basis for adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for the Resident coordinator system.  There will also be suggestions for Member States’ consideration on the governance and oversight of the resident coordinator system.

Second, as I noted previously, several Member States have asked for a discussion on the governance and oversight of the resident coordinator system.  To guide this conversation we have circulated slides that set out the current arrangements.

Economic and Social Council Operational Activities for Development Segment is the main governing body of the resident coordinator system.  The body also reviews the implementation of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review.  The Secretary-General and I, as Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, report annually to the segment.

We provide information on the results of the resident coordinator system, the capacity of the resident coordinator offices, operational administrative and financial aspects, including funding for the system, resident coordinator recruitment and workforce management, and the development of cooperation frameworks.  Many of you will be aware that this information forms the basis of discussions on the Operational Activities for Development resolution.

This is the main forum where the UN development system receives systemwide guidance on an annual basis.  This is complemented by Member State governance of the agencies through the Executive Boards and Second Committee (Economic and Financial).  Member States have a critical role providing oversight of the agency specific implementation of the repositioning through the Executive Boards.  We have provided tools — including the reform checklist — to aid the oversight functions of the Boards.

As the resident coordinator system receives $13 million from the regular budget through the cost-sharing arrangement, oversight is also provided by the Fifth Committee and informed by ACABQ analysis.  In these forums, information is shared on:  The objectives for the following year including deliverables; budgets broken down by expenditure, demonstrating the expense from the previous year and future estimated costs; posts broken down by grade and regional location.  These are accompanied by an explanation for any new roles or substantive changes; and road maps and targets for the efficiencies initiatives.

These discussions are supplemented by Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) evaluations and Board of Auditor reports. Throughout the reports, there is often reinforcing oversight.  For example, the recruitment of resident coordinators and workforce management is examined across the Economic and Social Council, the ACABQ, Fifth Committee and the Board of Auditors.

As I have said time and time again, we are committed to full transparency.  It is an intrinsic component of these reforms and critical to the system’s long-term viability.  We have addressed every question presented to us through Fifth Committee, the ACABQ, the Operational Activities for Development Segment and other fora.

We share a common objective of improving the oversight of the resident coordinator system.  If a larger portion of funding were coming from assessed contributions, it would be matched by commensurate levels of increased oversight by Fifth Committee.  Member States could also consider adjusting Operational Activities for Development Segment to better fulfil their vision of oversight.

We encourage Member States to consider options that ensure that the oversight is owned by all Member States, not just a select few.  We are in the last mile of these discussions.  We will meet again in plenary format in December where I will present a summary of the report and seek any final comments.  If you have not shared input, now is the time to engage.  As reflected in the questions, we will welcome your input on the following points.

One, what further information do Member States require to provide oversight of the impartial and empowered Resident coordinator system?  Two, are there additional technical briefings you would like the Secretariat to convene before the end of 2023?  Three, are there adjustments to OAS which Member States could consider to better perform their oversight responsibilities?

Four, should there be a shift to a hybrid 2.0 model, with an increased share of assessed funding, what would be your expectations regarding oversight by the ACABQ and Fifth Committee?  Five, acknowledging that there are still unresolved challenges in realizing the fully repositioned resident coordinator system.  What do you believe are the areas that require the most attention?  And six, do you believe we have covered the necessary areas in the draft Table of Contents to inform your subsequent deliberations?

As always, my team and I remain available to discuss any aspect of this consultation process.  We welcome further inputs shared today and over the next two weeks.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.