Helen Clark: Speech on "Fulfilling the promise of the Millennium Declaration: the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund Experience"

Sep 25, 2013

Speech by Helen Clark, Chair of the United Nations Development Group
"Fulfilling the promise of the Millennium Declaration: the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund Experience"
September 25th, 2013
ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations, New York
It is a great pleasure for me to speak on behalf of the United Nations Development Group about our work with the MDG Achievement Fund. I am also here representing the UN Secretary-General who could not be with us this evening, but has sent a message of appreciation to Spain for its outstanding support of the MDG Achievement Fund.
This Fund was established by agreement between Spain and UNDP in 2006 to provide dedicated funding through UN agencies to support MDG Achievement.

Spain’s contribution of close to one billion dollars represents the largest ever single donor contribution to the UN development system. For that, we in the UN Development Group are deeply grateful, and have done our best to work together in the areas designated by the Fund to make progress towards the MDG targets.
The Spanish Fund, as we often call it, was launched in the seventh year of the MDG timetable – in 2007. That was roughly halfway between the launch of the MDGs and the 2015 date set for achieving their targets.
In making this significant donation, I believe that Spain recognized that the MDGs would not be progressed through business as usual – either by the UN, or by development partners, or by programme countries.
Spain was also a strong proponent of the Delivering as One way of working by UN Country Teams which was launched through eight pilots in 2007 - the same year as this MDG-Achievement Fund  was launched. This approach was recommended by a High Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence appointed by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and aimed to make the UN development system more collaborative and effective. Dedicated funding was made available by donors for the pilots from 2007, and from the outset of the Spanish Fund there was a window for funding the One UN pilot countries. This then became the ‘Expanded Delivering as One Funding Window for Achievement of MDGs’ which was established in 2008 as a separate, pooled, multi-donor financing mechanism to support UN Country Teams involved with the Delivering as One approach. Spain's role as an innovator in getting this mode of funding established must be acknowledged here today.
The Spanish Fund was a very big project. It sought to promote joined-up efforts and coherence in a total of fifty countries. It made funding available in those countries through UN agencies where at least three came together with a proposal. Overall the Fund has worked with 27 agencies, under the leadership of Resident Co-ordinators.
When I came to the UN in 2009 and began to visit UN Country Teams around the world, it was not unusual to find that the only joint programming being done was  that supported by the Spanish Fund.
We owe a great deal therefore to Spain for the incentives and encouragement it provided for UN agencies to work together. That has not only helped the process of UN reform, but has also made available to developing countries integrated responses to complex development challenges.
I recall 2 ½ years ago visiting Kars in eastern Turkey where a number of our agencies had come together in support of a culture and development programme. It linked the area’s extraordinary history and unique crafts and culture to the development of tourism and job creation associated with that. UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP and the World Tourism Organization had come together to support different aspects of the programme. I saw the literary heritage trails in the town of Kars – where Pushkin once resided, and where Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk’s novel “Snow” was set, and the unique arts, crafts, and boutique food production of the area. The objective was to encourage tourism to come to this unique place.

Such stories can be told about the many initiatives supported by the Spanish Fund. Millions of people have been directly supported – of whom three-quarters have been women and girls, and a significant number of beneficiaries have been indigenous people or members of ethnic minorities. On average, five UN agencies have participated in each joint programme.
The Spanish Fund was also inspired by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of 2005, and the subsequent Accra Agenda for Action of 2008. An important element of the Fund's approach has been the belief that sustainable results are reliant on alignment with national priorities. The Fund has also emphasized the importance of transparency, inclusion, and accountability in its work.
There can be no doubt that the knowledge gained from programmes supported by the MDG Achievement Fund around the world is a very important contribution to work to accelerate MDG progress, especially now with the 2015 target date looming large. Global thematic evaluations of the MDG-F have been commissioned. They will shed light on good practices developed through the work of the Fund, and on how to bring the UN system together to tackle complex challenges.
In establishing the Fund, Spain wanted to do whatever it could to achieve the MDGs, improve UN coherence, and make development assistance more effective. Work on all three of those dimensions must continue. It will be as important to meeting the objectives of the post-2015 agenda as it has been to progressing the MDGs.
I would like to conclude by thanking all those who made this development initiative possible: first and foremost, the Government of Spain for its generosity and willingness to invest in innovative approaches.
I also thank the fifty partner countries and all Resident Co-ordinators and members of UN Country Teams working within those countries from across 27 agencies. I thank our subnational government and civil society partners too. Last, but not least, I thank the staff of the small and hardworking MDG-F Secretariat who have worked so hard to make this Fund a success.

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