Helen Clark: 2011 UN Country Co-ordination Fund Donor Dialogue

03 Feb 2011

Remarks by Helen Clark, Chair of the UNDG, at the 2011 UN Country Co-ordination Fund Donor Dialogue
Permanent of Mission of France to the United Nations


I am pleased to welcome you all to this annual dialogue with donors who provide generous support to the work of the UN Development Group through DOCO.

I extend my sincere appreciation to the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, Ambassador Gérard Araud, for hosting this meeting and for taking on the role this year as the co-ordinating donor for the UN Country Co-ordination Fund.

This meeting is an opportunity to review our progress on supporting the UN development system to be more coherent and effective, and to discuss priorities for the coming year.  

As background to our discussion, I will say a few words on where we are at on advancing reforms within the UN development system.

Reality on the ground

Within the past two weeks, I have been in Yemen. It faces a range of challenges related, many of which are related to under-development. With the heightened international focus on Yemen, there is an opportunity to increase support for its development.  

Concerted efforts by the UN Country Team there will be critical. The new UNDAF signed with the Government is more strategic and focused, and envisages more joint action.

I was pleased to announce when I was there that the Country Team will be working on a joint programme on food security and malnutrition.

Yemen is neither a Delivering as One country, nor a voluntary adopter of that approach, but the UN Country Team there is one of many looking to step up co-ordination within its ranks.

Both DOCO and the UNDG global and regional levels can support that joined-up effort. Your support to the UN Country Co-ordination Fund makes that work possible.

Bringing a strategic focus to our work

When I assumed the role of Chair of the UN Development Group, I called for a more strategic approach to guide our efforts in the years leading up to the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review and the 2015 target date for the MDGs.

I saw this as critical in ensuring that the UN development system remains a highly relevant and effective development partner, assisting countries to bring about the transformational change they seek in their development prospects.

The adoption of the Strategic Priorities last year was not another bureaucratic exercise. Rather, it positioned the UNDG around a common vision for making a bigger difference on the ground.

The Strategic Priorities aim to achieve a step change in the quality of what we do to support countries, and how we do it.

They make it clear that MDG achievement, national responses to climate change, support for fragile and transition countries, support for the Delivering as One pilots and self-starters, and harmonizing business practices are at the top of our agenda.

UNDG agencies are hard at work now implementing these Strategic Priorities.

UNDAFs

As we advised at this meeting last year, the UNDG has given priority to improving the quality of the ninety UN Development Assistance Frameworks being rolled out in the years from 2010 –2012.

To help position the UN development system more strategically through these new UNDAFs, forty in-country retreats were held in collaboration with the UN System Staff College last year, and some thirty in-country workshops received  on-demand technical support. A comparable effort is being made this year.

As my colleague Ajay Chhibber, Chair of the Regional UNDG Team for Asia-Pacific, will tell you later today, the Regional UNDG Teams at a senior level gave priority to the the UNDAF rollout countries, and did so at an earlier stage of that process than in the past.
 
The Regional UNDG Teams report that their early engagement did ensure better strategic focus and positioning of the UN Country Teams in response to anticipated challenges.

The synthesis of the Resident Co-ordinator Annual Reports from 2009 suggests that the Country Teams which developed new UNDAFs in 2009-2010 were better equipped to develop high-quality programmes in support of national priorities than in the past.

Delivering as One

We do see positive results from both the Delivering as One pilot countries and the voluntary adopters. They were highlighted in the country-led evaluations presented at the Hanoi inter-governmental conference last year.

We are making the lessons learned from the Delivering as One pilots available to those countries which are interested, while we await the independent evaluation of them and further consideration of the approach by the General Assembly.

We are grateful for the ongoing political and financial support we receive from donors for the Delivering as One countries and voluntary adopters, including through the One Funds at the country level and the global mechanism of the Expanded Delivering as One Funding Window.

We also appreciate the support to be given by donor and programme countries through the new “Friends of Delivering as One” initiative.

The independent evaluation of Delivering as One, the next inter-governmental meeting on Delivering as One in Uruguay in October, and the preparations for next year’s Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review are all opportunities to push for further gains and to consolidate those which have been made.

Harmonization of business practices

An integral part of the UNDG’s Strategic Priorities is continuing to simplify and harmonize business practices between agencies.

That will continue to be a top priority in the year ahead.

We have also begun to look at standards which could be applied to results reporting. That would help provide increased clarity between Member States and different parts of the UN development system on what the expectations of reporting are.

Leadership

The Strategic Priorities emphasize the need for leadership at all levels of the system to drive the agreed vision and the substantive areas of our work forward.

To that end, we are working to improve the selection and induction processes for Resident Co-ordinators. The Resident Co-ordinator assessment has been revamped to reflect the complexity of the job as seen by the many stakeholders, and it is now more rigorous.

The second generation of the One80 tool for Resident Co-ordinators and UN Country Teams has been rolled out. This peer-to-peer feedback can help improve performance and strengthen mutual accountability at the country level. Since its launch, it has been used for 118 UN country teams with almost 1,500 participants.

The Regional UNDG Teams are also being strengthened, so that they can give strategic leadership to the provision of technical support, quality assurance for UNDAFs, and support for performance management, and be effective troubleshooters.

We have received positive feedback from the field on how the deepened engagement of the Regional UNDG Teams is helping UN Country Teams.

Management and Accountability System

The review of implementation of the Management and Accountability System has begun.

Fellow UNDG heads of agency are working with me to oversee this review and its follow up.

It will take the reviewers about three months to complete their work and issue their findings and recommendations.

It is important that this System works and that we improve implementation where required.

The role of DOCO

The important role of DOCO in co-ordinating and supporting all UNDG activity must be acknowledged.  

DOCO is  the glue which binds together the work of the UNDG at the headquarters, regional, and country levels. It also helps propel change across the development system.

As you know, DOCO has been undergoing a major restructuring in recent  months.

Debbie Landey and her team have done an outstanding job in keeping DOCO’s work on track while undergoing this change.

Once the new structure is fully staffed, Debbie and her team will be even better positioned to support the UNDG in its work.

Support from donors

I cannot emphasize enough how crucial your support is to the work of the UNDG.  

Your role in ensuring that the need for a well co-ordinated UN development system is kept high on the political agenda in your capitals is critical. So is the voice of your representatives at the country level, and in the governing bodies of UN entities.

Your financial support is of tremendous importance too.

Later today you will receive a more detailed update from colleagues on progress made in the UNDG in 2010.  UNDG’s priorities and funding requirements for 2011 will also be presented to you by DOCO. DOCO’s report on UNDG’s results in 2010, which you have in front of you, provides numerous examples of what the investment made in country level co-ordination achieved in 2010.  

For now, let me stress that the UN Country Co-ordination Fund remains a vital instrument for strengthening co-ordination.   

With these funds, we have been able to provide direct support to programme countries to enhance co-ordination capacity across Resident Co-ordinators, UN Country Teams, and non-resident agencies.

We have also been able to provide direct support to post-crisis countries and others in transition, to Delivering as One countries and self-starters, and to countries rolling out UNDAFs.

The UNCCF has also supported strengthening of the capacity of the Regional UNDG Teams, through increased allocations to support their work, and through an additional professional post to support each of the Regional UNDG Teams.

In addition, the UNCCF funds are used to provide technical support to countries, and to the work the UNDG is carrying out in collaboration with the UN System Staff College for UNDAF design.

Last year, the UNDG Advisory Group Principals expressed a willingness in principle for agencies to contribute in the longer term to the funding of DOCO. The immediate priority is to get the new DOCO up and running. I will meet with the Advisory Group Principals again in April, and lead a discussion on the possible timeframe for and means of cost sharing - which could take different forms, including the secondment of staff.

Closing remarks

Let me assure you that the UNDG, under my leadership, and supported by DOCO, remains committed to becoming more efficient and effective in order to deliver good results.  

We count on your continued support for our efforts.