Helen Clark: Statement to the Annual Meeting of the UNDP Executive Board

Jun 11, 2013

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Statement to the Annual Meeting of the UNDP Executive Board
United Nations, New York
10 am, Tuesday 11 June 2013


Yesterday’s session on the annual report, the cumulative review, and the draft strategic plan was a full and informative discussion of a wide range of issues related to these documents. UNDP is most appreciative of the thought and time which went into the substantive and constructive comments which were made.

In the five minutes’ available at the end of yesterday’s session, I responded briefly, but I would like to take the opportunity this morning to build further on that.

I was heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response of Member States to the open and transparent process which is being followed in the development of the new Strategic Plan. There have been many discussions on the Plan, and I believe that there is good will among delegates to ensure that progress continues to be made on it.

Let me now address some of the key issues which have been raised.

Member states have stated clearly that the outcome of the QCPR should be reflected in the new Strategic Plan.   The QCPR resolution represents legislation on the UN’s operational activities for development. Therefore it is important that the Plan is consistent with the QCPR.  That has been at the forefront of our minds when working on the Plan.

The strategic plan, however, gives direction only to UNDP, and not to the whole UN development system. So while consistency with the QCPR will be ensured, UNDP’s strategic plan can only reflect the QCPR resolution in ways which are consistent with its own mandate.
Many members raised the importance of South-South and Triangular Co-operation, and the need to give both more prominence within the Plan. We agree:  the next draft of the Plan will give both more prominence.  

The Office of South-South Co-operation should take the lead in system-wide co-ordination of South-South initiatives and the sharing of knowledge on best practice. What we want to ensure is more interaction between the Office and UNDP overall, and to see UNDP become much more effective in mainstreaming South-South and Triangular Co-operation. We need new instruments to facilitate such exchanges, and we need to build these into our programme design.
Member States were also clear yesterday that recommendations made by evaluations which have been considered by the board need to be properly reflected in the final document.
There has already been a serious effort to incorporate these evaluation findings in the approach proposed in the Plan, but we will review this further in preparing the next draft. UNDP does take evaluations seriously.

Many who spoke yesterday were very positive about the effort of the draft plan to bring more focus to UNDP’s activities.

The proposal to have a single vision focused around simultaneously eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities and exclusion was generally endorsed in delegates’ comments yesterday. Our proposal to reduce UNDP’s proposed number of outcomes from 26 to seven across three clearly defined areas of work has been well received over weeks and months of consultations.
That significant reduction in the number of outcomes and the much greater focus it would bring to our activities is key to progressing the Plan now – and to agreeing on a quality Plan in September.  

As was pointed out yesterday, the Board is asking UNDP to produce a new strategic plan, an integrated results and resources framework, and an integrated budget for endorsement at the September Board. Not achieving this in September could have unforeseen consequences.

While we fully recognize that wording changes still need to be developed, especially within some of the areas of work proposed, my reading of the comments yesterday was that these wording changes are around the detail rather than about the overall direction.

Given that, I would strongly urge Board members to reflect that general level of satisfaction with the overall direction in the decision reached by this Board meeting, so that we can proceed with confidence to finalise the detail in full consultation with Board members.

Improving the focus of the plan does not in any way detract from our commitment to national ownership of all country programmes.  Many members commented on the importance of that. UNDP strongly agrees with the emphasis on national ownership.

Board members commented on the importance of UNDP’s role in leading co-ordination across the UN development system. We are indeed champions of the importance of the Resident Co-ordinator role, the management and accountability framework, and the Standard Operating Procedures for Delivering as One.

Members also suggested that the Plan should be more explicit about our commitment to work with other parts of the UN system, so that we not only bring the system together, but also we build on the comparative advantage of each organization.

These suggestions reinforce the importance of our work delivering results for programme countries.  Co-ordination must be about much more than process – it must be co-ordination for and working jointly for results.

Building effective working relationships with the International Financial Institutions, which some delegates raised yesterday, is also related to how we can help maximize the contribution of the whole multilateral system to development.

With respect to the Plan’s treatment of the green economy, we have heard that wherever the term is used we should ensure that it is consistent with paragraphs 56 and 58 of the Rio document.  We agree.

I was pleased to note that the priority given in the draft plan to improving our institutional effectiveness was generally endorsed by members.

There were many other suggestions made on specific points, which our drafting team is working to incorporate wherever possible.  I am sure that with continued constructive engagement between the drafting team and Board members, we will be able to finalise detail on these issues in time for submission of a new plan in mid-July.

Let me conclude my comments with a request to you – our Executive Board members:
The process of developing the new Strategic Plan has been progressing constructively for many months.This Board meeting is a very important milestone on the path to agreeing to a new plan in September.

I urge members to ensure that in the decision to which you agree at this meeting, you reinforce the positive momentum we now have on the Plan. From this meeting, UNDP needs a clear direction set, so that the new Strategic Plan, including the integrated results and resources framework and the integrated budget can be completed and agreed to at the September Board meeting.

We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with you to achieve this objective.

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