Let Us Ensure Development System Is ‘Well-Rooted, Able to Respond in Agile Manner to Evolving Needs of Countries’, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Segment

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the closing of the Economic and Social Council’s operational activities for development segment, in New York today:

I want to thank you, Chair and your team, for navigating us through a very intense and stimulating segment.  It is under your leadership that we saw a new approach emerge to its structure — with greater attention to accountability and oversight, including through the new session on evaluation.

I also want to acknowledge commitment by many Member States to dive into the depths of the reports and supplemental material provided to ensure a meaningful exchange.  You have come prepared to challenge us and learn about how the system is operating.

This engagement could not be more timely, in the aftermath of an SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Summit that reinforced the world’s commitment to accelerate progress to meet the promise of the 2030 Agenda.

Over the last three days, we have had robust exchanges with you on various elements core to the UN development system.

First, I heard unanimous recognition of the importance of the resident coordinator system in marshalling the panoply of UN expertise.  We heard important testimonies — from our colleagues and Member States alike — about the tangible impact being witnessed on the ground.

As many of you have acknowledged, the system continues to adapt to be more efficient at an astronomical rate, with $553 million in efficiencies in the last year alone — which the agencies have ploughed back into agency programmes.  We plan to make progress launching and expanding common back offices through this year, including in Brazil and Viet Nam this week.

We also heard loud and clear the calls for further alignment between the UN development system support and national priorities as reflected in the UN Cooperation Frameworks.

Second, we noted attentively your feedback and insights on areas where hurdles remain.  We heard you draw out funding shortfalls, including for the resident coordinator system.

Many of you also spoke to operational matters that could be strengthened, including implementation of the management and accountability framework, country configuration, enhanced joint programming, strengthening of partnerships and pivoting from a project-based approach to longer-term planning and programming.  We heard you emphasize the importance of respecting local culture.

Across the system, we take your concerns seriously and will continue to take action.

The Alliance of Small Island States called for further engagement by resident coordinators in small island developing States in the lead-up to the small island developing States conference in Antigua and Barbuda.

Despite the resident coordinator system’s financial situation and the cost mitigations measures imposed, we have asked all relevant resident coordinators that are able to travel to attend the conference — and I will meet with them there to discuss how we can better tailor our support in small island developing States.

Third, overwhelmingly, you set a positive trajectory for the development system and our ability to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  In response to accelerating the SDGs, the offer around the key transitions enables us to best leverage the UN development system to ensure catalytic and multiplier effects across the breadth of country priorities.

In the panel with Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General Clementine Nkweta-Salami in Sudan and Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Macho in Chile, we heard about the diversity in context and tailored supports provided to each country.  What was clear was that the UN is not only staying to deliver but also standing up to deliver in ways previously unimagined.

On funding, many of you expressed concern with the downward trajectory of development funding.  I welcome the resounding support provided in this room for the Secretary-General’s proposal to address the funding shortfall for the resident coordinator system before we tip over the edge of the financial cliff.

Core funding for the agencies also declined from 20.9 per cent in 2021 to 16.5 per cent in 2022.  This has a knock-on effect on the ability of the system to deliver with the agility and ambition expected.  But we have seen renewed commitment in this respect.

Both in this segment and during our recent consultations, your support for the new Funding Compact has been strong to help secure flexible and higher-quality resources and allow the United Nations to provide a more integrated response.

As we stand on the cusp of the forthcoming quadrennial comprehensive policy review cycle, we have a pivotal opportunity to address the gaps and set an ambitious course forward for the next four years.

What is next?  We now look forward to guidance by Member States through the Economic and Social Council operational activities for development resolution as you gear up for the quadrennial comprehensive policy review negotiations in the fall.

There are a series of training sessions forthcoming from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), which will support fostering technical knowledge of the system’s operations and provide an overview of the evolution of the system — with the objective of providing delegations with the appropriate tools to engage in the quadrennial comprehensive policy review discussions.

I hope that you will replicate the messages delivered here at the governing bodies of the UN agencies.  Many of the items discussed here, including alignment of country programme documents and joint programming, require follow-up with individual entities — of which governing bodies have oversight.  I encourage you to make full use of the checklist on the reform to support your oversight.

Finally, all these discussions will culminate in the intergovernmental negotiations on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  The last full quadrennial comprehensive policy review cycle before the 2030 deadline.  We encourage you to seize this opportunity to guide us as we work to scale up delivery of the SDGs.

This week showcased the efforts made by all — the leadership of the entities all the way down to the country teams — to deliver in a more effective, efficient and impartial manner for all Member States.

I am grateful to all colleagues — principals of entities, our envoys, resident coordinators and UN country teams on the ground — for partaking in these discussions.  And we remain appreciative by the leadership and support of all Member States who have joined to continue to steer the work of the UN development system.

As I heard from many of you in our dialogue on Tuesday — the UN development system is delivering but we need to press “go” on the accelerator and ensure the vehicle is fuelled.  Now is the time to deliver on the promises made.

Working together, we can ensure that the development system is well-rooted and able to respond in an agile manner to the evolving needs of countries.  Together, we can deliver the vision of the 2030 Agenda.

For information media. Not an official record.