Helen Clark: Opening Statement at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) Side-Event on “Building Capacities of Public Institutions for Implementing the SDGs: A Focus on Concrete Challenges and Potential Solutions”

Jul 20, 2016

Institutions which are effective and accountable will play a central role in achieving the SDGs. Photo: UN

I am delighted to join you at this High-Level Political Forum side-event on “Building Capacities of Public Institutions for Implementing the SDGs”.

Institutions which are effective and accountable will play a central role in achieving the SDGs. Indeed, many of the 169 SDG targets make direct reference to the need for institutional capacity.

The challenge now is to build strong public administrations which can manage complex cross-sectoral challenges. 

•    Those challenges include inequalities, marginalization and discrimination, and corruption. Where present, these undermine social cohesion – and maintain wide gaps between states and citizens.

•    Sustainable development requires co-ordination across economic, social, and environmental policy-making. The goal must be to promote inclusive growth which doesn’t exacerbate inequalities or wreck the environment. That requires whole of government co-ordination. 

Public administrations must also be able to: 

•    translate the global goals into national and local programming which responds to people’s needs and aspirations. This domestication of the SDGs is important for establishing national ownership of them, and for engaging the wide range of national and local stakeholders in implementation; and 

•    monitor and evaluate progress through data collection and analysis.  They need to be able to identify who is being left behind, and design approaches to overcome exclusion. Evidence-based policy-making is needed. Many countries have much to do to strengthen capacities in these areas.

 Overall institutions should be prepared to open up to greater stakeholder engagement in policy development. It is important to include the voices of vulnerable and marginalized people, and to foster accountability and trust in the public sector. Disaggregated data is vital for effective policy-making. 

UNDP’s support for institutional capacity building

UNDP has long experience of supporting countries with public administration reform aimed at promoting professional, transparent, and accountable public service. 

In Georgia, Moldova, and Montenegro, for example, UNDP has supported such reform and the bridging of capacity gaps in national institutions. There we have introduced Capacity Development Facilities which provide on-demand technical advice for the highest levels of the civil service, together with training, capacity building, and funding for key priorities. These mechanisms have enabled governments to gain access to senior level international expertise which would otherwise have been unavailable to them.

UNDP also helps countries to develop tools for assessing the performance of their public administrations against international standards and principles. We’ve worked with Vietnam, for example, to develop a Public Administration Performance Index which measures citizens’ experience of governance and public administration performance.

We also have a Gender Equality in Public Administration initiative which is working with national and sub national governments to monitor and advocate for progress on getting better representation of women across all levels of public service.

UNDP engagement on support to public institutions in fragile settings

Post-conflict contexts require particular attention. Both short and long-term approaches to addressing institutional weaknesses are needed if political settlements are to be durable. Overcoming fragility requires the restoration of core government functions and building institutional capacity to manage recovery and transitions.

UNDP currently partners with the World Bank in Somalia on a flagship Capacity Development Programme which supports the government on consolidating core government functions across the civil service and on aid management. The aim is to support the Government to tackle various dimensions of the country’s fragility, manage recovery, and build strong public sector institutions which can deliver services to Somalia’s people.

UNDP Partnerships with UNDG agencies for Institutional Capacity-Building 

UNDP partners with UNDESA in the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration. Each year this brings together the expertise of practitioners and the latest research in this area. We draw from that a wealth of knowledge and resources, which are then available to assist countries to build stronger and more responsive public administrations. 

UNDP also co-chairs with DPA the UN Interagency Platform on Support to Core Government Functions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Countries. The aim is to strengthen co-ordination across the UN system, ‘working as one’, to deliver better results on institutional capacity-building in post-conflict environments.

Conclusion

Having effective, accountable, and responsive public institutions is vital for sustained development. UNDP values its many partnerships with Member States on establishing and strengthening such institutions. 
 

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