Tegegnework Gettu: Statement to the Annual Session of the UNDP Executive Board

May 30, 2017

Mr. President,

Members of the Executive Board,

Colleagues and friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to the UNDP segment of the 2017 Annual Session of the Executive Board.

These are exciting times for UNDP as we prepare for the arrival of a new UNDP Administrator and UNDG Chair, Mr. Achim Steiner on 19 June. Mr. Steiner will bring strong leadership and professional experience, and deep knowledge of the international development agenda. We look forward to welcoming him to UNDP. I know he looks forward to working closely with the Executive Board and hearing your guidance and advice.

Mr Steiner’s arrival happens at a time of broader change in the UN, under the leadership of the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General. The start of his tenure is timely as we work under this Board’s guidance to finalise a new Strategic Plan for UNDP, and with partners across the UN system as well as member states to implement and follow up on the 2016 QCPR Resolution, to make the UN – and the UN Development System – more fit for purpose to support countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda and their overall development objectives. 

In my statement today, I will brief you on: the current context in which UNDP operates; the Cumulative Review of UNDP’s current Strategic Plan and Integrated Budget, and progress made on the upcoming Plan; our commitment to the advancement of global agendas; and UNDP’s support in a number of crisis contexts. 

Current Context in which UNDP Operates 

The SG’s vision focuses on the three pillars of peace and security, sustainable development and human rights for the work of the UN. In this context he has put an emphasis on prevention, asking for it to permeate everything we do, connecting the three pillars.

To achieve this vision, the SG has initiated a range of reviews, aimed at making the UN more integrated than fragmented in thought and action. Central to this, is a push for UN entities to work more closely together, with the development, humanitarian, and peace and security actors better coordinated through “new ways of working”. 

UNDP is totally committed to help advance the SG’s priorities, under the direction of Member States, for reforming the UN Development System, including to ensure strong and accountable leadership, greater trust, close and coordinated team work with all Agencies, and a focus on country results. We also strongly support his efforts to ensure that development, peace and security and management reforms are mutually reinforcing.  

For the UN development system, the 2016 QCPR approved by Member States provides a clear blueprint for change and improvement.  At UNDP, we believe that success hinges on making real difference in the following areas: 

- First, UN Country Teams need to become more agile, lean, and efficient: We need to reorganize ourselves at country level to eliminate duplication, fragmentation, unnecessary bureaucracy and transaction costs, and provide access to the entire range of UNDS expertise as a team. UN agencies should invest more in expertise and knowledge to better support our programme countries. More integrated presence, capacities and operational systems will also be key. 

- Second, the Delivering as One approach and the Standard Operating Procedures, together with a new generation of UNDAFs, should be comprehensively applied, as far as possible: As we pursue new solutions, it is important to build on what already exists and works – and to improve it further. Evaluations show these initiatives have been successful and are valued by programme countries. New UNDAF guidelines, with the Sustainable Development Goals at their core, put UNCTs in position to provide quality programmatic support to help countries realize the 2030 Agenda.

- Third, the importance of an empowered, impartial Resident Coordinator with the authority to make cooperation work for programme countries:  RCs must be able to ensure UNDS activities are aligned with national priorities. To help countries tackle barriers to SDG progress, the RC’s role in bringing the entire system together to act as one is crucial. As the QCPR Resolution indicated, this requires further changes to improve the system, including to ensure that all partners have confidence in the impartiality and even-handedness of RCs, and that the RCs have the authority required to meet this challenge. Let me underline UNDP’s readiness to work constructively and openly to help define such changes.

- Fourth, a clear and common understanding of our respective needs and offers within the UNDS should be established: This is key to achieve greater impact and better results. The DSG-led exercise to map UN Agencies, Funds, and Programmes functions and capacities against the SDGs should provide the right insights to better calibrate what we do, as well as where, and how, we operate. This will help countries prioritize and sequence all efforts to achieve the SDGs. Setting out a clear and compelling narrative for UNDP’s contribution to this collective endeavor is a vital requirement for our new Strategic Plan

- Fifth, to increase trust in the UN development system, we must be able to show our systems and accountability are effective, efficient and transparent, impartial, robust and reliable for effective team effort.  

We look forward to the SG’s initial report on all this in June, and his further proposals later in the year, as well as continued engagement with all Member States to ensure the QCPR outcomes are realized and put into practice.

I am pleased to note that UNDP has implemented over 90% of the 60 concrete actions identified in the 2012 QCPR, and is working on the remainder. Further information on progress can be found in an annex to the Annual Report. 

Cumulative Review of the Strategic Plan (2014-2017) and Annual Report of the Administrator for 2016

As in previous years, the 2016 Report was informed by strong evidence and data, stemming from corporate reporting, evaluations, financial data, surveys, and external reviews. It is accompanied by several annexes that further explain our performance through detailed information and analyses.

The Development Report Card presents UNDP’s cumulative performance against annual milestones, the gender performance using the Gender Marker ratings, and sex-disaggregated indicators. The format of the Report Card has been harmonized with UNICEF, UNFPA and UN WOMEN as requested by the Executive Board and the QCPR.  

Overall, UNDP’s performance for the past three years has been solid, and we expect to achieve the 2017 targets. An analysis of our footprint shows that sustainable development and democratic governance portfolios (Outcomes 1 and 2) remain central to our work. Strengthening of capacities of sub-national institutions to deliver basic services, rule of law, and HIV-service support under Outcome 3 is also an important element. The largest proportion of our programme resources were spent for Outcomes 1 and 2. 

On development performance, the Review clearly demonstrates how, through quality programmes and projects, the organization continues to deliver sustainable results in changing contexts. 

In particular, the Review shows how supporting countries to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities remains at the heart of UNDP’s work including in complex and protracted humanitarian settings. 

I would like to share some of the results that UNDP enabled through its work over the last three years, starting with key achievements in the area of Sustainable Development:

• UNDP supported the creation of over two million new jobs in 98 countries, and assisted 18 countries to increase access and coverage of social protection systems; and

• In follow-up to the Paris Agreement, UNDP supported 94 countries to implement measures promoting low-emission and climate-resilient development, and facilitated access to energy.

UNDP also contributed to more Inclusive and Democratic Governance. Among flagship results:

• UNDP supported electoral management bodies in 41 countries to strengthen their capacities, enabling the registration of nearly 75 million additional voters; 

• With UNDP’s contribution, over 3.2 million people – over half of whom are women - gained access to legal aid services; 

• We assisted parliaments in 50 countries to strengthen their capacities for lawmaking, representation and oversight; and, 

• Through the UNDP partnership with national governments and the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria, two million people in 21 countries received antiretroviral treatment and close to 28 million people took part in HIV-related behavioural change communication initiatives over the last three years.

Strong results in resilience building, emergency response and early recovery speak to UNDP’s added value in risk-informed development, including in humanitarian contexts:  

• UNDP supported the development of 1,239 disaster reduction and adaptation plans by national partners; and,

• 240 new end-to-end early warning systems were established in 30 countries with UNDP support.

It is noteworthy that UNDP’s programming for early recovery has increased by 42%, from $281m in 2014 to $331m in 2015 and $399m in 2016, especially related to the Syria crisis.

In terms of institutional performance, while much remains to be done, UNDP made some notable progress over the last three years. 

In 2014, we adopted a rigorous programme appraisal system, which has led to better quality country programme documents (CPDs). All CPDs submitted to the Executive Board in 2016 met our quality standards – and yours, as you subsequently approved them. At the project level, in 2016, compliance with quality standards stood at 63% - showing clearly the ample room that still exists for improvement. 

Our commitment to transparency and accountability has been widely noticed and valued, reflected in the fact that for two years in a row, UNDP ranked first in the ‘Publish What You Fund’ aid transparency index. We are pleased that the most recent UNDP Partnership survey, conducted by PwC, which includes a broad range of partners including Member States and multilateral development banks, states that 90% of them consider UNDP to be a valuable partner. Furthermore, the 2015-16 MOPAN (Multilateral Organization Performance Network) assessment, hosted by the OECD, concluded that UNDP “largely meets the requirements of an effective multilateral organization, and is fit-for-purpose.”  Despite these positive results, there of course continue to be areas of improvement that we vigorously pursue.

In terms of UN coordination, I have already noted that we recognize the need for further improvements to the Resident Coordinator system, in line with the QCPR. Nonetheless it is encouraging that the percentage of partners satisfied with UNDP’s leadership of the system increased from 62% in 2014 to 74% in 2016 according to the Partnership survey.  The review also shows how UNDP has consistently promoted the use of the Delivering as One Standard Operating Procedures, which are currently being used in 66% of all country offices, in all country contexts.

With the new Administrator reaching out to sister agencies and other partners during his recent visit to New York, our coordination and close cooperation will be reinvigorated and UNDP firm commitment to working to strengthen the UN’s effectiveness as a development partner will grow. As a former RC in three countries, I appeal to you to make sure that you do not throw the baby with the bathwater.

UNDP is also committed to improving efficiency. The management efficiency ratio was 7.9% in 2016, an improvement from 8.3% in 2014. Services have become more efficient through advanced information technology systems. For example, the roll-out of a global e-recruit/e-hire initiative has improved the speed and accountability of recruitment, and thirty-two country offices benefited from e-tendering, channeling over 25 per cent of UNDP procurement volume through this mechanism.

As the Cumulative Review of the Integrated Budget for 2014-2017 shows, UNDP continues to make significant progress towards the objectives of the Integrated Budget. This was achieved in an environment of significantly reduced contributions to regular resources, exacerbated by fluctuating exchange rates with the US dollar. Core funding fell from $896 million in 2013 to $618 million in 2016, approximately a 30% reduction.  

UNDP used regular resources across all outcomes and outputs, enabling the organization to meet the demand of the programme countries and deliver results, including in countries and areas which attract few non-core resources. Out of the core resources spent, 77% went to low income countries (LIC) with 70% to least developed countries (LDC). 

The 2014 – 2017 Integrated Budget introduced the concept of shielded and non-shielded lines. Accordingly, areas were shielded in line with decisions by the Executive Board, encompassing programmatic activities, including TRAC 1 and 3. On the institutional budget side, and by UNDP Management decisions, the first call on core to be the coordination function was also ensured, thereby ensuring stable funding for that critical role. The impact of the reductions in core can, however, be seen in both the programmatic and institutional components of the Integrated Budget, including significant reductions in the non-shielded regional and global programmes, and overall management activities.

Nonetheless, despite reduced levels of core resources, UNDP’s financial resource plan for 2014-2017 remains within the financial framework approved by the Board in 2013. The three month liquidity levels mandated by the Board have been consistently met. This can be attributed to consistent efforts to contain spending and increase efficiencies.  

Let me highlight here that reversing the fall in regular resources is a top priority for UNDP. Core funding remains the bedrock of our support to programme countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, and is essential to the coherence and effectiveness of the UN development system. 

In this context, we appreciate the support of the 52 Member States who contributed to core in 2016, when we also welcomed our first ever private sector core contributor.  22 Member States have contributed $250m in Core resources for 2017 to date, ie $63m more in funding and five more contributors than at the same time last year. However, this still remains below needs and potential, and we will continue our efforts to diversify our Core funding base across governments and beyond. 

In light of the constrained funding environment, UNDP will also continue to increase the quality and flexibility of our support to maximize our impact and ensure delivery on the Strategic Plan and the 2030 Agenda. 

To this end, we are committed to continue to increase effectiveness and efficiency. We will leverage our new funding windows; adjust spending levels according to needs and available resources; accelerate implementation of all aspects of the current cost-recovery policy; and reinvigorate government local cost (GLOC) collection, whilst thanking Member States for GLOC received to date. At the same time, we will maintain our support to the United Nations co-ordination function.

Let me also underline the need to review funding of UN development system in the context of UN reform. I hope we can work with member states and other UN partners to identify ways in which your funding of our work can provide incentives for collaboration between UN agencies, instead of competition. Dedicated funds for joint programme initiatives are essential in this regard.

Lessons learnt from the Cumulative Review of the current Strategic Plan are critical to the development of the upcoming Strategic Plan for 2018-2021. 

The new Strategic Plan will guide the work of UNDP through what may be the most crucial time for getting traction on the achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

The draft of the Plan before you already recognizes the importance of being both more focused in what we are trying to achieve and at the same time being more integrative. This refers to both integrating our own work on different SDGs and to ensuring we work more in partnership with other UN agencies and outside entities to achieve joint objectives.

The draft emphasizes that UNDP will contribute to all the UN agendas through our development work recognizing that the eradication of poverty and reduction of inequalities is our primary mandate by building and strengthening national efforts and national approaches, as well as ownership.

Obviously given the other review processes underway, the plan needs to be flexible to allow the organization to adjust to whatever decisions Member States make as well as the upcoming SG reports.  The SP is a work in progress. 

This meeting has two full sessions to discuss the draft Strategic Plan for your input and further refinement. We greatly appreciate the readiness and understanding to add a few weeks to the approval process, to ensure our new Administrator has time to internalize the plan and add his input.  We will also be able to adjust the Plan where appropriate to reflect the various Secretary General’s reports mandated by the QCPR – subject of course to the guidance and decisions of member states. The Strategic Plan will be transparent, inclusive and reflect the whole views of all Member States, particularly developing countries for obvious reasons. I will not go into more detail at this time, however, I would like to thank Member States for their support and understanding during this broad transition period.

Advancing on global agendas

Support to implementation of the 2030 Agenda is a clear priority for UNDP. Our broad development mandate and extensive experience across countries facing a wide range of development challenges, including our experience during the MDG-era, have enabled the organization to provide “integrated” perspectives on SDG implementation in collaboration with other agencies in the UN System.

We support countries to connect the dots between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, helping to translate the Agenda into national strategies and actions that address the integrated and indivisible nature of the SDGs. This includes support to the preparation and implementation of national “SDG Roadmaps” through the UNDP-led, inter-agency “Mainstreaming, Acceleration, and Policy Support – or MAPS - missions”. 

UNDP is responding to increased demand around the SDG follow-up and review process. This includes supporting 29 of the 31 programme countries that are presenting “voluntary national reviews” at this year’s High-Level Political Forum; partnering with the World Bank and DESA on an High Level Political Forum (HLPF) preparatory conference on SDG 1 (ending poverty in all its forms) earlier this month in Copenhagen; and supporting around 15 countries to prepare their first national SDG reports.  We are also among those agencies that have taken responsibility for specific global SDG indicators, including helping countries to collect and report the relevant data. 

Keeping in mind the critical importance of broad partnerships in support of the SDGs, I’m also pleased to note that the SDG Action Campaign – based in Bonn – is already making significant contributions to that end.

The implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is closely related to successful achievement of the 2030 Agenda.

This year’s Climate Change Conference, COP23 – to take place in November in Bonn - will be convened under the Presidency of Fiji – the first Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to hold that important role. UNDP is actively supporting the preparation for the conference, in close collaboration with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and UNEP.

In Bonn, Parties will continue to define the guidelines for translating the Paris Agreement into action, with the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) being a central issue. Supporting developing countries to prepare and implement their NDCs has been a key element of UNDP’s climate-related work. We are also directly involved in the Climate Principals Team, convened under the leadership of the DSG. 

UNDP’s support in crisis contexts

The world is facing an unprecedented level of crises with protracted conflicts leading to long-lasting humanitarian crises and enormous levels of displaced people. Around 1.5 billion people are estimated to live in countries affected by conflict and fragility. Over 60 million people are displaced.

These crisis call not only for humanitarian and political solutions, but also for development solutions that tackle root causes and build resilience for the longer term. This is reflected in the New Way of Working, agreed to at the World Humanitarian Summit, the aim of which is to jointly advance collective outcomes that seek to end, not merely meet, humanitarian needs.

In line with the New Way of Working, the SG has asked for a co-ordinated UN approach in response to the famine in South Sudan, and the impeding famine in North-East Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen. 20 million people are near starvation and the SG has called for US$6.3 billion  in 2017 to avert “catastrophe” in the four countries.

UNDP is fully engaged in supporting the four affected countries:

• In South Sudan, UNDP is partnering with other UN agencies through an integrated area-based Recovery and Stabilization Programme to build the resilience of vulnerable communities through livelihoods, food security, local economic revitalization, basic services, and peace and reconciliation. 

• In Northeast Nigeria the UN is piloting the New Way of Working, with UNDP leading the Early Recovery Sector, ensuring coordination of efforts. Through integrated community-level resilience-building and stabilization support, we are also addressing immediate basic service delivery, livelihoods stabilization, and community security and peace building. 

• In Somalia, UNDP is supporting national authorities to effectively coordinate the humanitarian response, as well to improve water access and management.

• In Yemen, UNDP’s support to community resilience is being taken to scale in partnership with the World Bank. Our efforts to generate income opportunities for impoverished Yemenis will make an important contribution to offsetting the impact of growing food insecurity.

Turning to Syria - where we remain committed to support vulnerable communities facing extraordinary difficulties - 3.3 million people in the whole of Syria benefitted, directly or indirectly, from UNDP’s work in the first months of 2017. We are also actively supporting the governments of neighboring countries – particularly Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey – in managing the impact of the refugee flows, through a mixture of support on policy development, livelihoods, and local development initiatives. In this context, we are proud to co-manage the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) with UNHCR.

In Iraq, UNDP’s Stabilization facility plays a key role in the recovery and return of displaced persons to areas liberated from ISIL. In this context, support to stabilization efforts in Mosul is a critical task. UNDP’s Stabilization Facility in Libya also continues to yield results, enabling the quick rehabilitation of essential services.

In the Central African Republic, the recent flare up in violence is of grave concern. Our work focuses on strengthening social cohesion, security and justice, youth employment, and state administration reform. We are also leading the UN’s efforts in establishing a mechanism for the implementation of the National Stabilization Plan.

Conclusion 

In conclusion let me emphasize that in an ever changing global development context, UNDP remains fully committed to adjust and adapt, both as an organization and as a part of a broader UN Development System.   

Much has been achieved in this regard already, and UNDP has become more efficient, results-oriented, flexible, and responsive organization. 

Having said that, we all realize that there is still much room for progress. We look to the leadership of our new Administrator to continue this work, including to set out in our new Strategic Plan how UNDP can become ever more effective in supporting countries to achieve transformational change.

We look forward to continuing working with the Board to this end, and thank you in advance for your strong commitment and support. 

UNDP Around the world