Helen Clark: Remarks on "Delivering As One: Follow-Up to Hanoi"

07 Feb 2011

Remarks by Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, at the Joint Session of the Executive Boards of UNDP, UNFPA, and UNOPS, UNICEF, UN-Women, and WFP
on "Delivering As One:  Follow-Up to Hanoi"

Madam President,
Members of the Executive Boards,
Colleagues and Friends,

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce this segment of the joint meeting of the Executive Boards which UNDP has coordinated in partnership with our sister agencies.  At your suggestion we have taken as our theme for this meeting, ‘Delivering as One:  Follow-Up to Hanoi’.

At the third inter-governmental meeting on Delivering as One in Hanoi, Viet Nam, participants learned more about the Delivering as One approach through the findings of the country-led evaluations, and shared experiences of what has worked and what has not.

Recognizing the progress made and the remaining challenges, the Hanoi outcome document states that: “Delivering as One is the future for UN development activities.”

This is an important year for Delivering as One, with the independent evaluation of the Delivering as One pilots about to begin. An Evaluation Management Group is expected to meet for the first time in early March. The findings of that evaluation will inform inter-governmental discussions on the future course of UN support to programme countries, including the General Assembly’s Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review in 2012.

With that in mind the UN agencies participating in this joint session today have together prepared a concept note which takes a measured look at how far we have come since Hanoi on Delivering as One.

Let me focus on five areas in particular:

First, the lessons emerging from the Delivering as One pilot countries and those which have voluntarily adopted this approach suggest that UN Country Teams in those countries are engaged in more coherent joint planning, prioritization, and programming.

The governments of the Delivering as One countries have stated on numerous occasions that this reform has supported enhanced national ownership and leadership of the development agenda, and that they now have better access to the full range of the mandates and expertise of UN agencies.

For the first time, the UNDG has agreed to a set of strategic priorities which will guide its work at the global, regional, and country levels. This will further advance coherent and effective programming of the UN development system.

Second, the Hanoi outcome document noted that the One Programme or One Plan is a “significant improvement from the earlier” approach and that it has “allowed the UN system to be more relevant, coordinated and coherent”.

Building on the lessons from the Delivering as One approach, and to support more joint programming, the UNDG in late 2009 developed simplified UNDAF guidelines. They respond to the need for more flexibility, coordination, coherence, and responsiveness in UNDAF formulation and implementation. 43 country teams used this guidance when working on their UNDAFs last year.

Common Country Programme Documents are also expected to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of the UN’s development work.

Tanzania was the first to prepare such a document covering the work of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP. It was presented to the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board last week, and will be presented to the UNICEF and WFP Boards shortly.

Last month, during joint informal Board consultations, there was an opportunity to hear from Tanzanian officials about their experience of developing the first Common Country Programme Document.

The UNDG is committed to supporting all countries which wish to follow Tanzania’s example, and, as a first step, has developed interim guidance to support their efforts to develop such documents.

We are aware that our development agencies can be heavy on process, and that programming can be fragmented. Country-led evaluations of the Delivering as One pilots have suggested that, in some instances, there has been an increase in the reporting burden on national counterparts and agencies.

The UNDG is working to address these concerns, and to ensure that all our interventions are more catalytic and support the transformational change in development status which countries seek.

Third, in the current funding environment we all need to focus on cost effectiveness.  Participants at the Hanoi meeting noted the importance of harmonizing our business practices further.

The pilot countries and the voluntary adopters have in many cases designed and implemented innovative ways to do that – such as by creating joint ICT platforms, one communications team, and undertaking common procurement.

Lessons learned from these country-level initiatives have been influencing corporate guidelines, such as those on harmonized country level procurement and on the establishment and management of multi-donor trust funds.

To build on these experiences, and to overcome remaining bottlenecks, last year Josette Sheeran, as Chair of the HLCM, and I commissioned joint UNDG-HLCM high-level missions on harmonization of business practices. These missions visited Albania, Mozambique, Malawi, and Viet Nam.

An implementation plan has now been adopted to carry out their recommendations.

Fourth, the governments which gathered in Hanoi observed that the coordinated mobilization of funds through the One Funds reduced competition and fragmentation among UN agencies, and that the governance structures of those Funds supported stronger national ownership.

To date, One UN Funds have been established in seventeen countries – the eight pilots and nine voluntary adopters.

An ongoing challenge, especially in these straitened times, is to ensure the sustainability and predictability of multi-year funding. Such funding allows UN Country Teams to respond more directly and flexibly to national priorities.

Fifth, through the Management and Accountability System we are empowering Resident Coordinators to lead and prioritize the work of UN Country Teams, and ensure  mutual accountability for results.

A review of implementation of the System has begun.  It is important that this System works and that we improve implementation where that is needed.

Overall, the experience of the pilots and the voluntary adopters has been diverse, as befits the principle of ‘no one size fits all’.

While much progress has been made challenges do remain.

To drive sustainable change, we need commitment from agencies and support from Member States.

My colleagues and I here today thank the government representatives from Mozambique and Uruguay who have kindly agreed to join us for this session and share their experiences with the Delivering as One pilots in their countries.

We hope that their reflections, combined with those in the concept paper, will stimulate a fruitful discussion today.