Opening speech by Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDAF Review Meeting

25 Feb 2014

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I’d like to welcome you all to this 2 year progress review meeting for the United Nations Development Assistant Framework (UNDAF for short).

UNDAF was developed through intensive consultations with national counterparts and signed in 2011. It brings together 14 UN agencies to address key development challenges in Mongolia and covers the years 2012-2016.

The UNDAF and the programme included therein builds on the expertise that different UN agencies can offer to Mongolia, both by those that have offices in Mongolia and by those who are outside the country. In that sense, it brings the global expertise and knowledge of the UN to Mongolia.

The UNDAF is based on a few key premises:

  1. The UNDAF is a joint endeavour with the country. It can only succeed and achieve the planned results if there is national ownership and leadership. That is why the Framework is developed jointly with the national authorities and in partnership with all other national stakeholders. That is why it is anchored in the Comprehensive National Development Strategy and draws from the various national and sectoral strategies that address key development problems in the country.
  2. The whole is larger than the sum of its parts. The impact of the work of any one agency, any one project, any one activity is limited. Combined efforts, joint programmes, common messages have stronger and more sustainable results.
  3. The ultimate goal is to help the people of Mongolia achieve better lives. That is why the UNDAF targets the vulnerable, whoever they may be, whether it is children, disabled, women or youth.
  4. The UN has its norms and values, to which member states have signed up to. The UNDAF and all our work are human rights based and have their roots in the many international conventions, treaties and other agreements and goals that the Mongolia has committed itself to. The MDGs are among these and form an integral part of the UNDAF.
  5. One of our key goals is to develop capacity, not only of the Government but also of the civil society, the private sector and other to help them take on and address the development challenges in the country.
  6. The UN is not a donor. Our advantage is not our money. It is our expertise, our role as an impartial broker, our outreach and most importantly our normative base.

I thought it important to touch upon these premises once again before we start the review of the 2 years of implementation of the UNDAF for Mongolia.

Before we start going through the UNDAF in detail, let me also try to set the context.

 Since the UNDAF’s approval in 2011:

  • Most agencies have developed and put into action their own country programmes
  • And there is a new government
  • There have been many changes in the global context – the financial crisis in the west to name one.

Our goal in today’s meeting is to do 2 things:

Assess the development context in the country and see if the UNDAF is still valid and what adjustments (if any) need to be done. Among these we are most interested to see if there are any new challenges or priorities that are emerging that the UN should look into.

Assess how implementation of the programmes is progressing.

  • What results have been achieved
  • What are the implementation challenges that are impeding progress
  • Are there any best practices
  • What lessons have we learnt so far.

All with the goal of ensuring we achieve all the results that we set out to do and that they are all of good quality and sustainable.

Colleagues both in Mongolia and outside have worked over 4 months to prepare for this Review. I would like to thank everyone, all agencies, the UN Country Team, all staff and also all our counterparts who took part in the consultations and other review work.

Now what does the Review tell us. The details will follow in the presentations later this morning but there are some common points that I would like to share with you. By the way, these are not points that Sezin has identified. We had UN Country Team meeting a few days ago and these are our common ideas and comments:

  1. After intensive review, we believe that the UNDAF is still aligned to the country priorities as outlined in the National Development Strategy, in the Mongolia Millennium Development Goals and most recently the Government’s Action Plan.
  2. Many results have already been achieved but since we are only still mid way, there is still much to be done.
  3. There are emerging priorities, such as urbanization, which require the UN’s attention if we want to ensure vulnerabilities are sufficiently addressed. These require more study and consultation but should eventually find their place in programming.
  4. Overall, we need more studies and data. The country is growing fast and there are many changes. To keep track of those changes, adjust our work and respond to emerging challenges, we need on the one hand a robust system of data collection and analysis on the other in depth studies on key issues.
  5. The country is growing and poverty has gone down but looking at the data we have, it is clear that:
  • The growth is not balanced. There are disparities that cut across regions, urban and rural settings, women and men and sectors
  • Achievement of the MDGs have not been equal. While there has been significant improvements in maternal mortality, there is so much more to be done to even get close to the targets set for water and sanitation.
  • While poverty has gone down, inequality increasing. The Gini attests to this.
  • Environmental challenges are as acute as ever.

6.      Our view is that Mongolia has the potential and much of the capacities needed to ensure that national commitments as well as those jointly agreed in the UNDAF   are achieved. But these will require:

  • Commitment to accelerate progress in key areas-especially those identified in the MDGs
  • Prioritization of challenges and allocation of investments to those priority areas
  • Continuity in policies
  • Improved coordination among government and with development partners
  • Focus on implementation and results based programming. Many strategies, laws and programmes are approved but then not much happens in their implementation.

We are now in the year 2014, with only a year left for the MDGs to end. The 5th MDGs report was just issued and identifies many areas that still need attention. At this critical time, we recommend Mongolia to refocus its efforts to accelerate at least 1-2 of those areas where the country is lagging behind AND also to very actively start discussions on what kind of a future the country wants in the Post 2015 world.