Helen Clark: Statement to the Second Regular Session of the UNDP Executive BoardSep 1, 2015
Members of the Executive Board,
I am delighted to welcome you to the Second Regular Session of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Executive Board.
Since we met in June at the Annual Session of the Executive Board:
• the final “Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report," issued by the United Nations Secretary-General, has been released. This is an important milestone as we near the end of the MDG era;
• the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa reached consensus on a new framework for development financing; and
• here in New York, negotiations on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda concluded successfully. We very much look forward to leaders from around the world gathering here later this month to adopt the new global agenda for sustainable development.
In my statement today, I will comment further on these developments and on:
• the support UNDP will give to implementation of the new global agreements negotiated this year;
• the UN development system reform agenda; and
• our ongoing work on transparency and accountability.
The Executive Board’s agenda this week has a dedicated session on funding - including an important dialogue on how UNDP is adapting to the new development finance landscape, and the importance of predictable, flexible, and quality funding. I will also comment briefly on these issues.
UNDP’s role in response to crises and disasters
But first, let me comment on UNDP’s response to the range of crises around our world, where we must stay the course, no matter how challenging circumstances are, and do whatever we can to support human development.
Thus, notwithstanding the ongoing conflict in Syria, UNDP is preparing a two year country programme for 2016-2017. This is the first time since the crisis in Syria began over four years ago that we have commenced planning for a period longer than twelve months. Our broad objective of ‘supporting the resilience of the Syrian people’ makes this necessary.
In November, in partnership with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, UNDP is convening a Resilience Development Forum to take stock of resilience-building achievements and challenges; review current financing instruments, capacities, and resources; and bring in new partners such as the private sector and investment funds. We welcome representation of all partners at this Forum.
I described in June the range of initiatives UNDP has taken in countries neighbouring Syria. Since then, in Iraq, of the 3.2 million people who were displaced by ISIL, around 233,000 have returned to their homes or are living in areas freed from ISIL control. As the lead agency for stabilisation within the UN system, UNDP has responded quickly by establishing the Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilisation (FFIS). Since June this facility has funded stabilization projects in newly liberated areas in Ninewa Province and in Tikrit, Salah al Din Province. These projects have helped to restore services, repair public infrastructure and jump-start economic activity.
In Yemen, the ongoing conflict has resulted in many civilian casualties, major internal population displacement, and significant damage to infrastructure of all kinds. UNDP is providing short term jobs and business skills training, and helping to plug basic services gaps in some affected communities. A UNDP community-based recovery and resilience programme is now being scaled up to support the restoration of basic services, improvements in livelihoods, social cohesion, and protection.
In Libya, UNDP is in discussion with the international community on humanitarian and socio- economic issues and the need for a stronger co-ordination mechanism to support the needs of the Libyan people.
In Ukraine, there are now an estimated 1.4 million displaced people. UNDP, together with the World Bank and EU, contributed to the “Recovery and Peacebuilding Assessment (RPA)” which identified short and medium-term needs for infrastructure, social services, and economic recovery, and support for social cohesion in host communities absorbing significant numbers of IDPs.
In South Sudan, there is hope that the recently signed peace agreement will enable the country, with support from the international community, to concentrate its efforts on recovery, including on addressing the high levels of vulnerability of many people and communities. UNDP continues to contribute to the peace dialogue, and plays a co-ordinating role in peace building. Most recently, UNDP, through South-South and triangular Co-operation, brought together the Peace Commissions from Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan to engage in dialogue on establishing a multi-stakeholder infrastructure for peace.
The scope and content of the peace agreement calls for comprehensive and transformational supporting measures. In collaboration with the broader UN system in South Sudan, UNDP aims to step up its early recovery work to support implementation of the peace agreement. In this respect, UNDP has completed community consultations across six of the ten states. These consultations have deepened understanding of how conflict has affected inter-communal co-operation and of what measures could usefully be put in place to restore basic relationships, and have identified expectations of transitional justice, peace, and reconciliation processes. The community-level data gathered through this National Perception Survey helps to outline the broad parameters for transitional justice mechanisms, and to determine entry points for UNDP support.
In the Central African Republic, UNDP is providing support throughout the transition period, the end of which will be marked by the holding of elections later this year. Since this Executive Board last met in June, and despite delays in the process, 48 per cent of prospective voters have been registered throughout the country. UNDP also continues to support the establishment of the Special Criminal Court.
With respect to response and recovery from natural disasters:
UNDP expresses its sincere condolences to the Government and people of the Commonwealth of Dominica on the recent devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erika. UNDP is working with the Caribbean Disaster Management Agency and partners on immediate relief, damage assessment, and longer term rehabilitation.
In Nepal, UNDP contributed to the Government’s Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA). This underpinned the conference held in Kathmandu in late June where $4.4 billion was committed for recovery from the damage inflicted by the severe earthquakes. UNDP will continue to support the Government as it implements its plans for recovery.
In Myanmar, UNDP responded quickly to the flooding, which, from mid-July, affected more than one million people in twelve of Myanmar’s fourteen states and regions. Emergency funds have been disbursed; quick impact livelihood support is ongoing in two of the most severely affected states, Chin and Rakhine; and UNDP recovery experts have been embedded in the Government’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to facilitate recovery needs assessments and effective transition beyond the relief operation.
On the development crisis caused by Ebola in the epicenter countries, UNDP led the organization of the International Conference on Ebola Recovery hosted by the UN Secretary-General on 10 July in New York, in partnership with the Governments of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, and with the support of the African Development Bank, the African Union, the European Union, and the World Bank. Total pledges for Ebola recovery now amount to $5.2 billion, of which $3.4 billion were announced at the conference. The spirit of optimism around the conference, and the willingness of partners to see recovery as a long-term endeavour, were very encouraging. UNDP will continue to work closely with the three countries to identify financing opportunities and mechanisms, build capacity to co-ordinate aid flows, and support implementation of the Country Ebola Recovery Strategies.
In Haiti, a critical electoral process is underway, and is due to culminate in the renewal of all the country’s democratically elected institutions - including all local government representatives, the two chambers of parliament, and the presidency. In close co-operation with international partners and with MINUSTAH, UNDP is managing the elections basket fund; supporting electoral participation and civic education, with a special focus on women and youth; and strengthening the capacity of the National Electoral Council and the National Identification Office.
UNDP has given ongoing support to the Colombia peace process, by facilitating civil society participation, including that of victims; by increasing public support for peace through outreach initiatives; and by providing technical advice to the regional and national post-conflict preparation efforts.
Back to the global agendas being determined this year:
On 2 August, UN Member States concluded their negotiations on the post-2015 agenda for sustainable development - “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. The agreed text is a strong, ambitious, and visionary set of commitments, with poverty eradication identified as the most urgent task within the broader agenda for sustainable development. After the new agenda is formally adopted by Heads of States and Government at the end of this month, it will guide global development for a generation.
UNDP can support, and is already supporting, countries in three different ways, through the MAPS approach:
- Policy Support
This sees us:
- providing support to governments to reflect the new global agenda in national development plans and policies. This work is already underway in many countries at national request;
- supporting countries to accelerate progress on SDG targets. In this we will make use of our extensive experience over the past five years with the MDG Acceleration Framework; and
- making the UN’s policy expertise on sustainable development and governance available to governments at all stages of implementation.
Collectively, all partners can support communication of the new agenda, strengthening partnerships for implementation, and filling in the gaps in available data for monitoring and review. As Co-Chair of the UNDG Sustainable Development Working Group, UNDP will lead the preparation of Guidelines for National SDG Reports which are relevant and appropriate for the countries in which we work.
UNDP is deeply involved in all processes around the SDG roll out. The guidance and tools being developed will be shared as they become available. As well, we are bringing our extensive programming experience to bear in supporting countries to develop their national SDG efforts. There is a briefing session on this on the Board agenda for Thursday.
Financing for development
Financing needs for implementation of the new global development agenda and national development agendas are great. The Addis Ababa Action Agenda, agreed in July, has updated the financing for development framework; set important priorities for development investment – including in social protection, jobs creation, nutrition, and agriculture; and agreed on new global technology and infrastructure financing mechanisms.
The agenda from Addis Ababa highlights the critical need for continued Official Development Assistance, and for its more strategic use to build national capacities for domestic resource mobilization. From inclusive and sustainable growth will flow tax revenue for development spending. Investments in capacities of governments will support tax collection, budget allocation to development priorities, and implementation of policies and plans. Effective governance also builds investor confidence and helps stem illicit financial flows.
On capacity building for domestic resource mobilization, UNDP and OECD have launched a partnership to provide “Tax Inspectors Without Borders”. It will place international tax audit experts alongside national tax authorities, to help build their capacity to assess and collect the tax which should be being paid to them by international companies. The experts will be drawn from North and South.
Looking ahead, we need to ensure that all countries, and in particular the poorest and most vulnerable, are able to access the range of financing opportunities which is available. UNDP is already supporting national partners, especially in LDCs and SIDS, to ensure that diverse financing streams can complement and reinforce each other - for example by implementing Development Finance Assessments, first in seven countries of the Asia Pacific, and now also beginning in Africa. This work maps the complex resource flows, and designs integrated national financing frameworks which will support an actionable agenda on SDGs. It is particularly important to find synergies between development and environment finance. Greater synergies between humanitarian and development finance would help too.
Looking ahead to COP21
Countries now have nine negotiating days left until the Paris Climate Change Conference – COP21 – where the aim is to adopt a new, global agreement on climate change. Agreement in Paris has the potential to stop catastrophic and irreversible climate change – but we are not yet seeing the level of ambition required, as the UN Secretary-General and many others are pointing out. This must change in the interests of all peoples and countries and in particular of the poorest and most vulnerable.
The stakes are high. UNDP will continue to support the “Road to Paris” through sharing expertise and experiences from our $1.3 billion portfolio of climate change mitigation and adaptation projects in over 140 countries; strengthening capacities of negotiators from LDCs and SIDS; and partnering with the COP Presidencies from Peru and France. In addition, we have hosted seven regional dialogues on the technical elements of Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs), and are organizing three more in Morocco, Uganda and Samoa. We have also developed the first guidance note to support countries as they make important choices on their INDCs - now distributed among experts, government officials and institutions in 150 countries.
Climate action is definitely needed from governments, but the role of the private sector is also indispensable. Policy and regulatory settings are important - UNDP is supporting countries to amend these to create environments conducive to private sector investment in renewable energy and other areas of adaptation and/or mitigation.
An example - in South Africa and Uruguay, UNDP has been helping to lower barriers to private sector investments in the wind-energy sector. These interventions created new jobs; supported economic growth; diversified energy sources; and contributed to Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs).
UNDP is one of twenty organisations approved for accreditation by the Green Climate Fund. We have been working with a number of countries to support preparation of projects for the GCF to consider in its first funding allocation round later this year.
UNDP is planning a ministerial-level event to take place in late February next year, which will be a key occasion to mark both the fiftieth anniversary of UNDP’s founding and the beginning of the SDG era. The event will showcase UNDP’s fifty year journey of promoting sustainable development by supporting the transformation of countries and societies. It will enable us to recognize the substantial long-term collaboration and investments of our partners, and to provide a detailed briefing on UNDP’s approach to and package of support for SDG implementation at country level. A “hold the date” letter is going out now.
Now to items on the agenda for this meeting:
The Board will have a full discussion on funding issues – looking at not only the current state of UNDP funding, but also at resource mobilization strategies and the implications of changes to funding streams.
While no decisions will be made at this meeting on future funding levels, it is important to reach a shared understanding of the implications of different funding scenarios.
Let me make three key points about UNDP’s stewardship of its finances, the funding outlook, and further resource mobilization.
- First, UNDP has again received an unqualified audit opinion for its 2014 Financial Statements. This means that UNDP has now received clean audit opinions for a decade. Building on our strong commitment to sound financial management, we have also maintained a positive net asset position on our balance sheet, and achieved regular resources year-end liquidity above the threshold requested by the Executive Board.
- Second, these achievements have not been made without facing significant challenges. Overall contributions to UNDP amounted to $4.72 billion in 2014, compared to $4.84 billion in 2013. Contributions to core resources decreased by eleven per cent, to $793 million in 2014, from $896 million in 2013 - noting that one major contribution for 2014 of $33.4 million was received early in 2015. As well, reduced contributions from ten partners, and unfavorable exchange rate movements for a number of key currencies, continued to put pressure on funding.
Current projections for UNDP’s core budget for 2015 point to further reduction. As of end July 2015, we had received 57.9 per cent of regular resources projected at approximately $700 million for the year. This foreshadows a significant reduction in core funding this year, unless more partners are able to assist quickly. This trend runs entirely contrary to numerous decisions of this Executive Board which have stressed the importance of regular resources for UNDP. Core funding is the bedrock of our support to the poorest countries. It also funds our systems of oversight and accountability, transparency, and quality assurance, and the major contribution we make to the co-ordination and leadership of the United Nations development system at all levels. The great bulk of the cost of UNDG co-ordination is carried by UNDP.
- Third, to reverse this trend, we need the Board’s support for the ‘100 partners’ campaign we have launched to broaden our core funding base and reach the target of 100 Member States contributing to regular resources by 2017. Expanding the number of core UNDP partners is vital. In 2014, 120 member states contributed to core funding of other UN agencies, funds and programmes, but not to UNDP core funding.
• Other (non-core) resources contributions decreased slightly by one per cent, to $3.92 billion from $3.94 billion in 2013. These contributions include funding from: programme country governments, donor country governments, and multilateral and other partners.
The funding dialogue which will follow this session is an opportunity to reflect on the implications which Member States’ funding decisions collectively are having on UNDP, our work in programme countries, our ability to achieve the goals set out in our Strategic Plan, and the support we can give to both implementation of the sustainable development agenda and leadership and co-ordination of the UN development system. Of course we are moving to adapt our business model to the current nature of funding as quickly as we can. I would hope, however, that the Executive Board will continue to appreciate the value of core funding in making UNDP a highly strategic and high performing organization.
On Country Programme Documents
At this Board meeting, we are presenting 22 CPDs for approval. These are the first tranche of CPDs developed largely under the new Strategic Plan, and they reflect both improved focus and quality. These CPDs have been subject to rigorous appraisal against a new set of quality standards and processes, to ensure that they meet quality expectations, respond to national priorities and deliver sustainable development results. They are our first generation of CPDs to bridge UNDP’s work under the Strategic Plan (2014-2017) with the post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda, and to ensure that we provide the support which programme countries are requesting from us as they incorporate the SDGs in their national agendas and work to achieve them.
On internal reorganization
Since June, we have moved forward on the last major part of our HQs reorganization – the new Bureau of Management is expected to be fully operational by 1 October. This is essential for driving ongoing effectiveness and efficiency across UNDP.
On transparency and accountability
The goal set in the Strategic Plan was that UNDP should match or exceed best practice benchmarks for transparency and accountability. More documents and data about UNDP’s activities, budgets, and results are being published than ever before. Our transparency platform - open.undp.org - shows that in 2015 to date, we have published information on 4,334 development projects, which are operated in 155 countries/territories and in Regional and HQ operating units.
As part of our drive to remain among the top ranked development organisations for transparency UNDP is establishing a more independent public information disclosure appeals process. We want to ensure that UNDP implements international best practice in this area.
Our public disclosure of internal audit reports shows that our work is subject to extensive and independent scrutiny. We have publicly disclosed an additional 21 audit reports since the Board’s annual meeting in June, taking us to a total of 347 internal audit reports released to date.
Promoting UN coherence
On UN system wide coherence, let me highlight the following key developments:
With UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) being prepared in 55 countries this year, and with 28 more due to be completed next year, an UNDAF Innovation Facility managed by the UN Development Operations Co-ordination Office (UN DOCO), has already provided more than thirty UN Country Teams with support to innovate in UNDAF design and improve their focus on addressing vulnerabilities, inequalities, and rights.
Within the UNDG, we have started mapping the policy and technical capacity, as well as the tools and guidance, which are available across the UN development system for each SDG area. The UNDG has established a web platform for UNCTs, which compiles the available tools and resources for UN Country Teams.
• Governments continue to request formally that there be a Delivering as One process in their countries - most recently the Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Jamaica, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Swaziland, and Venezuela have moved this way.
• The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for UN Country Teams have been rolling out since last year, and without question will improve the way Country Teams work.
• Over the past six months, the UNDG has put in place a new global Information Management System, which compiles key data from the 132 Resident Co-ordinator Offices and from UN Country Teams, and enables us to monitor our support for implementation of the SDGs.
• Fifty two UNCTs report that they have implemented most or all of the core elements of the SOPs, and 55 UNCTs report that they have implemented some elements of the approach.
Phase II of the ECOSOC Dialogues on the longer term positioning of the UN development system is expected to begin next month. The Dialogues have facilitated a valuable conversation around the funding, governance, and accountability of the UN’s operational activities for development. As they progress, it is important to ensure that consultations also occur at the country level.
At the June meeting of this Board, UNDP was asked to provide space for meetings and workshops at a technical level to exchange views and enable a better understanding of each other’s priorities as the Dialogues move forward. The informal briefing on Thursday on post-2015 implementation is an opportunity for such an exchange, and will be followed by other informal events planned for the coming weeks.
South South Co-operation
I look forward to convening the High Level Committee on South-South Co-operation next week. It will consider steps being taken to mainstream South-South Co-operation and to strengthen the UN Office for South-South Co-operation.
UNDP is moving to finalise its South-South Co-operation Strategy to ensure that we can strengthen our contribution to this modality further in the second half of the period of our current Strategic Plan - we are in a position to brief the Board in more detail on this.
I take this opportunity to thank the outgoing Director of the UN Office for South-South Co-operation, Yiping Zhou for his leadership and efforts over many years to raise the profile of South-South Co-operation, and to wish him well for the future. I also welcome Jorge Chediek – the new Director of the Office, who will take up his appointment next month.
In concluding my remarks today, I give special thanks to Rekha Thapa who has served as Director of the Executive Board Secretariat for the past ten years. While Rekha is not leaving us quite yet, this will be her last Executive Board meeting.
This Board meeting has important matters before it – and supporting UNDP’s ability to fund the work it is mandated to do is one of the most significant. We look forward to the Board’s ongoing support to maintain UNDP as the major multilateral organization it is with its special mandate to lead the co-ordination of the UN development system. This matters greatly at this time of many crises requiring our response, and of new global agendas requiring our support for implementation. I wish you very constructive deliberations.