Helen Clark: Sustainability of Delivering as One

Nov 8, 2011

Remarks by Helen Clark, Chair of the UN Development Group
Session 4: Sustainability of Delivering as One in the framework of a New Modality for International Cooperation for Development
Montevideo, 8 November 2011 at 2.30pm

It is a pleasure to be here in Montevideo at this important high-level intergovernmental conference on Delivering as One. I sincerely thank the Government of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay for hosting the conference at this critical time in the reform process.

Let me also express my appreciation to the Resident Co-ordinator and UN Country Team here in Uruguay for their work with the government to prepare the conference, and to María Cristina Lazo for facilitating the preparation of the outcome document.

We are meeting in times of immense global challenges. The recent financial turmoil in the world’s most developed countries has shaken confidence in the global economy and demonstrated the fragility of the recovery, which was occurring.

As well, food insecurity, lack of access to key resources such as water and energy, ongoing conflict in some countries and difficult transitions in others, the effects of climate change, and overall an increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters all pose risks to development.

While poverty reduction and human development have been significantly advanced in many developing countries, many hundreds of millions of people still face poverty, inequity, and exclusion.

The great challenges which our world is facing call for enhanced commitments to deliver better outcomes with and for the world’s poor, and a determination from all of us to do the very best we can to support accelerated development progress.

The UN development system is fully committed to playing its part in helping support the transformational changes countries need to make to reach their national development goals and the Millennium Development Goals.

Since 2007, the Delivering as One approach has been an important tool for strengthening the coherence, effectiveness, and efficiency of the United Nations development system in the countries where it has been pursued.

Following the establishment of the pilots in Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay, and Viet Nam, a rapidly growing number of countries voluntarily adopted the approach.

As a result, governments and UN Country Teams in 29 countries are now implementing a Delivering as One.

Over the course of the past five years, all those represented at this meeting have worked tirelessly to turn the vision of a more effective UN development system into a reality. All present here have demonstrated leadership in experimenting with different models of Delivering as One, tailored to specific country contexts.

Throughout this time, the UN Development Group of agencies, funds, and programmes has also been committed to implementing Delivering as One in the countries using the approach. We are committed to building on the successes and lessons of the Delivering as One pilot countries. We recognise that more will need to be done to realise the vision for the Delivering as One approach fully.

At the previous intergovernmental meetings held to take stock of progress in Hanoi, Kigali and Maputo the governments of Delivering as One countries said that the initiative had:

  • strengthened national ownership and leadership;
  • led to better alignment of UN support to national priorities;
  • allowed better access by governments to the broad range of knowledge and expertise of the UN development system; and
  • brought about more strategic and focused UN support and;

These governments sent a strong message to the UN member states and agencies, funds and programmes that “there is no going back to doing business in the manner prior to the Delivering as One initiative.”

The country-led evaluations have also suggested that Delivering as One can be an innovative and relevant model which responds to country needs.

Here in Uruguay, for example, Delivering as One has been instrumental in aligning the support of the UN development system to a number of key national priorities, from prison reform to tackling gender-based violence and establishing a national system to provide care services for children under two, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

In each of these cases, multiple UN agencies have leveraged their individual mandates and expertise to deliver integrated support for core issues in the global rights-based development agenda.

The impact and relevance of the Delivering as One approach must also be reflected in better development outcomes. We need to learn from what has worked and what has not to get the best results possible.

We should also be guided by evidence. Good practices emerging from the Delivering as One countries must inform system-wide reform and practice.

Evidence from the country-led evaluations indicates that Delivering as One has led to a number of tangible efficiency gains, and has reduced transaction costs for governments and partners in several countries. That was one objective of the approach.

Setting up new processes and structures during the initial phase of the pilot took a considerable amount of time and resources. As the process matures, the benefits of that investment can be realised, and be available to others embarking on this reform.

The evaluation of the pilots will inform the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of UN operational activities for development to be conducted by the General Assembly next year.

That will lead to a renewed framework for UN development work for the period 2013 - 2016.

The policy review will no doubt acknowledge that the global development landscape is rapidly changing, with the number and diversity of development actors greatly expanding across the Global South and through civil society organizations, philanthropic foundations, and the private sector.

While all these actors are playing an increasingly important role, the work of multilateral organizations, not least the United Nations development system, will remain vital for programme countries. Our universal presence, our legitimacy, and our unique capacity to support countries to implement global norms and standards make us a key partner.

Accompanying that must be our determination to maintain our relevance and responsiveness, and to continue to improve our effectiveness and efficiency.

But, to succeed, strong partnerships across the development actors are required. As well, predictable, un-earmarked, multi-year funding is critical for enabling the UN agencies, funds, and programmes to work strategically and coherently. The shrinkage of core funding is not conducive to that.

Allow me to conclude by thanking the Governments of the Delivering as One pilot countries and of those who have voluntarily adopted the approach. Your leadership and advocacy has enabled the UN development system to come a long way in an ambitious reform process.

I also wish to express my sincere gratitude to the donors which have supported the reform - your backing, advocacy, and funding have been, and continue to be, indispensable to making it work. 

My thanks also go to the Resident Co-ordinators and UN Country Teams who have worked so hard to kick start Delivering as One and show its worth in supporting countries to accelerate development. I now look forward to hearing from fellow panellists on their views on and experiences with the Delivering as One approach.

Thank you.

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