Second Regular Session of the Executive Board - August 2022

August 29, 2022
Photo: UNDP

As prepared for delivery

  1. Madame President, members of the Executive Board and observer delegations, colleagues and friends. It is my great pleasure to join you today for this second regular session of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board for 2022.
  2. Excellencies, this is a somber, sobering time. Even for those of us, including myself, who always see the promise and possibilities inherent in human development, across our world.
  3. Every day, catastrophes fill the news. These have always been with us yet are worsening, congealing into an ‘uncertainty complex’ unknown in human history. One where we have political crisis AND the rapid spread of disease AND global economic contagion AND the risk of starvation. All framed by many ominous indications of our collapsing planetary systems.
  4. At UNDP, we bear constant witness to what these broader trends mean in daily lives. People are cutting meals for their children. They are taking out loans not to start a business but to pay for health care. Some are watching saltwater destroy their fields, their food and their livelihoods. An unprecedented number are losing everything in fleeing from crises not of their making - and never to their benefit.
  5. Amid so much crisis, we have reached a once-in-a-generation moment. We must make choices that will determine what follows for the rest of our lives and for those who come after us. Of all these decisions, those related to finance - the thematic focus of this Executive Board meeting - will be among the most significant. Sufficient, well-aligned public and private finance, steered by the right international and national policies, will largely determine whether we live in peace and prosperity or insecurity and constant want.
  6. Given the Structured Funding Dialogue today, I will speak specifically about finance and how all UNDP’s efforts to advance human development and human security depend on the right international and national financing decisions. As importantly, I will describe how UNDP is propelling major shifts in these choices, across the broader landscape of development finance, public and private.
  7. Before I go into more detail, I want to acknowledge that the policy signals are often confusing, reflecting our chaotic times. But the bottom line is we can find the money and pursue paths that are right, smart, effective and benefit us all. As dire as fiscal and other forecasts continue to be, I would remind you that the issue is not that we do not have enough money. This is a world with $1.54 quadrillion - with a ‘Q’ - in assets. The real issue is where money is spent and by whom, and who benefits or not.
  8. Unfortunately, even today, with crises all around us, many spending choices still insist on an old logic of short-term gains, where the winner often takes all. This is blind to reality. It means we are cutting public budgets when we really need to invest in protection and prevention so people can survive risks. It results in responding to crises without investing in development to resolve these. It undercuts multilateral commitments where the cost is measured in human lives as well as lost trust and goodwill, worsening already acute global concerns.  
  9. It is not surprising that record shares of people today feel insecure. Or that record low levels of people trust other people. This is happening even as we know that development overall has advanced in many parts of the world. We must keep in mind how much has been achieved. But also, how many imbalances remain, generating turbulence that destabilizes everyone. With spending decisions reinforcing these patterns instead of correcting them, individuals are forced to make impossible choices or left with no choice at all.
  10. I believe we can avoid further catastrophe and resolve our uncertainty complex before it is too late. But only if we rise to the moment and ensure all sources of finance work towards development that is inclusive and sustainable, and that minimizes uncertainties and risks. In nearly 100 countries, UNDP is already demonstrating practical solutions to rethink and reorient billions of dollars, helping to put development on the right track, for good.

Triggering systemic changes

  1. Finance is core to UNDP’s 2022-2025 Strategic Plan. We have set an ambitious but reachable goal of aligning $1 trillion with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), coming from governments, United Nations entities, the international financial institutions and private firms. This is in line with a 2021 performance evaluation that called on us to play a strong and strategic role in influencing development finance policies. 
  2. Under our future smart Strategic Plan, UNDP offers increasingly sophisticated and innovative expertise on development finance. And we have established a growing platform of proven interventions ready for scale-up. All our solutions are grounded in our principles and role as a multilateral organization that is widely trusted and owned by all.
  3. Our vision is to transform local and global financing choices so they work for people and the planet at large, not just for a few people or select places. We are doing this by finding pressure points that trigger shifts in systems of development finance, public and private. These pressure points include those that propel a move from the ‘pursuit of profits’ to ‘profits with purpose’.
  4. Such changes can better align development finance with national demands, unwind multiple sources of risk and uncertainty, and manage the play of local and global dynamics. How? I will describe four ways that UNDP is working with countries and the international community to find the ways forward.

Making money work for people and planet

  1. In the current moment, the rationale for integrated national financing frameworks is clearer than ever. The frameworks orchestrate all sources of development finance so they pull together in limiting risks, filling gaps and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. As importantly, the frameworks require people making decisions about finance to work together in new ways. People in the finance ministry coordinate with people from across other parts of the government, the business world, civil society, international financial institutions and the United Nations. This helps build institutional capacity and improve the quality of governance through better planning and management.
  2. UNDP now works with 86 developing countries in establishing the frameworks. In just the past year, they have identified 250 immediate policy reforms. As a result, 51 countries have made choices to align public spending behind national sustainable development objectives, such as Guatemala, which is investing in a scaled-up national nutrition campaign. Thirty-four countries are taking steps related to SDG-aligned debt instruments, raising new capital or restructuring existing debt. Twenty-three countries are reforming domestic revenue collection. Kyrgyzstan has linked tax incentives worth around 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to sustainable development targets.
  3. Twenty-five countries are advancing reforms related to commercial banking, capital markets, insurance, fintech and digital finance, and financing for smaller businesses. Bangladesh, for instance, assessed the potential for digital SDG finance and created a platform connecting investors and businesses. Twenty-seven countries are advancing blended finance, such as Mongolia, with draft legislation enhancing private finance in public-private partnerships.
  4. The frameworks build on collaboration among more than 17 United Nations entities, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, under the political leadership of the Resident Coordinators at the country level. They are led by finance ministries and in some cases by the offices of heads of State or government. 
  5. UNDP also actively engages with United Nations entities and key partners to further advance the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As part of these efforts, across 80 countries, UNDP is helping to align at least $500 billion in public finance to the SDGs, using tools such as SDG budget classifications. These measures have improved transparency, strengthened links between spending and SDG priorities, and boosted parliamentary oversight. In the Philippines, the Government can now apply SDG budget tagging to track and monitor spending on the global goals.
  6. In the Arab region, UNDP teamed up with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and UNICEF in producing cutting-edge analysis based on an innovative SDG-aligned social expenditure measure. A new report provides some of the region’s first concrete evidence of striking underinvestment in areas such as gender equality, and inefficiencies in others, such as fossil fuel subsidies. This opens doors for smarter spending that may not involve more money but rather sending finance in the right directions.
  7. With governments globally wrestling with hard fiscal choices during an economic downturn, UNDP recently marshalled real-time, quantifiable evidence of the value of using targeted cash transfers to cushion the blows over alternatives such as blanket energy subsidies. We documented how more than half the benefits of fossil fuel subsidies, expected to surpass $605 billion in 2022, will go to the top 20 percent of the population—even as carbon emissions will continue rising. Investing the same sums in targeted cash transfers will do far more to mitigate poverty, reduce inequality and cut climate risks. So, excellencies, that’s an example of not just a ‘do-good’ choice but an intelligent one.
  8. Globally, two premier forums on financial and economic issues, the G20 and APEC, or Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, have entrusted UNDP to help define sustainable finance roadmaps. These frame current and future efforts by 29 major economies to accelerate financial, fiscal and economic policy choices in line with the SDGs.
  9. In Latin America, UNDP has taken sustainable finance principles agreed by the G20 into work with several multilateral development banks, the regional economic commission, sister UN entities and a forum of environment ministers to develop sustainable finance taxonomies. These classify industrial activities so that policymakers can see capital flows and stocks based on social and environmental impacts. In doing so, they gain a clearer understanding of potential risks, how to manage these and where faster routes to sustainable development might lie.

Taking a longer-term perspective before it is too late

  1. Financing choices must respond to needs right now - without shortchanging the future. We should not be delinking from investment in climate action, for example, or from health and education services that will determine the well-being of future generations.
  2. To better manage the bridge between the short and long term, UNDP assists a growing number of countries to use integrated national financing frameworks to direct investment in their national climate action plans, or NDCs. Gabon, for example, is supporting the transition from an extractives-based brown economy to a greener economic model through its financing framework. This is not an easy path for a country that has achieved strong economic growth from oil production. It is in fact a courageous choice. Gabon is developing a green tax, including on carbon and the use of energy-intensive technologies, along with incentives for green investments and green financing instruments, such as environmental and social bonds.
  3. As the largest global offer of support for the NDCs, UNDP’s Climate Promise has found that the biggest hurdle to implementation is funding. Developing countries should not be making the right choices on an issue so momentous for the world—and then not be able to pay for them. UNDP partners with 87 countries to find resources even as it remains imperative for donor governments to fulfil international commitments to climate finance. One immediate possibility for scaled-up investment would be to demonstrate the most promising elements in the NDCs.
  4. Solutions already underway include UNDP’s collaboration with Indonesia to prepare its Climate Change Fiscal Framework, with a pipeline of public projects resourced through green sukuks, a type of Islamic bond. Detailed studies on environmental taxes and incentives are underpinning efforts to mobilize additional sources of finance. Indonesia is also developing a climate budget tagging system to track how well expenditure aligns with climate goals. In Chile, climate budget tagging and climate-related cost-benefit analysis are now mandatory for all government entities reporting under the national budget law.
  5. In 2021, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) upgraded UNDP’s accreditation. We worked with countries on 95 initiatives valued at nearly $240 million. A project in Egypt, for instance, has combined $31.4 million in GCF funds with national resources to construct nature-based coastal protection systems that prevent flooding in the Nile Delta. These will safeguard nearly 800,000 people along the coast and 18 million in inland communities. With $25 million from the GCF and $15 million in government cofinancing, Sudan is moving forward on its NDC adaptation plans to enhance early warning systems and protect farmers and nomadic communities against droughts. The benefits, measured in more secure food supplies and livelihoods, will reach 1.2 million people across nine states.
  6. In the new Strategic Plan, UNDP set a vision of extending clean energy access to 500 million people. With the Climate Bonds Initiative and the Global Environment Facility, we have put together the best current know-how on financial aggregation, a form of fast-track finance for small-scale renewable energy projects in developing countries. Its promise has been well known but UNDP drove a process of defining exactly how developing countries can master its complexities and make it work on their terms.
  7. Globally, through vertical fund projects, UNDP has so far supported 58 countries in mobilizing $318 million in grant financing to install or rehabilitate over 8,000 megawatts of renewable or low-emission energy sources, improving access and efficiency. We have stood with Uruguay as it achieved a commendable 97 percent share of renewables in its power generation. This began with an initial Global Environment Facility investment in a UNDP wind energy programme. Over a decade, the process has drawn $2 billion in private investment and created 4,400 green jobs. UNDP is now backing Uruguay’s transition to e-mobility through a smart shift in subsidies, using funds that once went to diesel fuel to instead cover the gap in costs between electric and diesel buses.

Protecting against risks and preventing insecurity

  1. Excellencies, investing in protection from risks is the only way out of a world of deepening inequality and compounding insecurities. We know that such investment pays off. Increasing insurance penetration by just 1 percent can reduce the tax burden from disaster recovery by up to 22 percent, for example. Developing countries that have invested in disaster risk reduction have seen dramatic reductions in deaths, a return beyond a price. Comprehensive social protection delivers economic returns, creates new jobs, draws in more taxes, reduces poverty and cuts barriers to women working. Yet half of humanity does not have it and a fifth has only partial coverage.
  2. The pandemic was remarkable in unblocking rapid, large-scale investment in social protection. It became a real-time test of feasible, affordable innovations, such as digital registries, that in many countries were spearheaded by UNDP. Building on this momentum, UNDP with the International Labour Organization is helping 88 countries design and invest in improving social protection systems. In South Africa, with a relatively strong system that still misses most informal workers, UNDP is innovating new models to reach them. In Cambodia, we advised the Government on a cash transfer scheme extending a lifeline for 700,000 poor and vulnerable households during the pandemic. To inform future investments, we also ran macroeconomic models showing that the programme stimulated GDP growth by half a point in 2020 and 2021, while reducing both poverty and unemployment. Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance referred to this evidence as “crystallizing the role of social assistance.”
  3. Globally, UNDP is a leader in nudging insurance towards people who have struggled without it. Our Insurance and Risk Finance Facility involves a unique, public-private partnership with the Insurance Development Forum (IDF), the German Government and 10 of the world’s largest insurance companies. It is already operating in Algeria, Mexico, Colombia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uzbekistan, with plans to reach over 50 developing countries and protect 500 million poor and vulnerable people by 2025.
  4. The facility is developing new insurance products attuned to varying demands in different developing countries. As importantly, it helps build systems to make insurance and risk financing central to development planning, including through integration in national development and climate strategies. In highly flood-prone Ghana, for instance, UNDP is working with IDF members Allianz and Swiss Re to develop insurance solutions offering faster payouts to poor urban dwellers hit by flooding. We are also enhancing disaster response capacities through better data, risk analysis and contingency protocols.
  5. Some of the deepest and most lasting protections against risk come from investing in development that anticipates and cuts the roots of insecurity. That is why Fiji last year passed groundbreaking legislation that requires considering and addressing climate and disaster risks in all budget submissions, effectively attuning the entire architecture of public finance to risk. UNDP supported this process, well-aware of how one-off climate projects in a small island developing State feel like “bailing water out of a canoe full of holes.” We are also testing how risk-proofing works in practice, at the local level, by providing funds for municipalities to cover extra costs for steps such as to bury power lines underground. The broader aim is to move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention. In essence, Fiji is showing a direction that the entire world needs to take.
  6. UNDP has championed the power of increasingly cost-effective digital tools for development, along with the innovation ecosystems that inspire and drive them. Precision agriculture is an example. It combines multiple streams of data, from mobile phones, drones, the Internet of things and more, to help farmers make better decisions about what and where to plant. In Nigeria, where urbanization and population growth intersect with food insecurity and climate change, a young woman innovator used these techniques to help farmers increase yields by 20 percent and reduce waste by 38 percent. UNDP’s Global Centre for Technology, Innovation and Sustainable Development in Singapore surfaced this promising practice and provided catalytic funding and guidance on scaling up. Demonstrating the power of South-South cooperation, the initiative has now expanded to Kenya, covering over 1,000 farmers.

Investing in development to resolve and prevent crisis

  1. Moving from crisis to crisis without addressing root development causes cannot meet the scale of crisis in the world today or the challenges of the global uncertainty complex. So why are we still investing in ways that suggest it can? Excellencies, we have made many misguided funding choices related to crisis, even now, despite copious evidence to do otherwise. Around 1.2 billion people live in conflict-affected areas. Not coincidentally, global human development has declined for the first time since 1990. No one is immune from crisis—the Ukraine conflict alone has left at least 74 countries vulnerable to spiking food, energy and fertilizer costs.
  2. Turning away and turning inward is happening in many parts of our world, a dangerous illusion. Decisions to boost military spending and disinvest in development, for instance, will lead only to a more fractured global community that will be poorer, less innovative and more prone to conflict. Given the contagion of crisis and insecurity, it is hard to see how national interest, anywhere, will be served by slowing progress on global poverty reduction. Development is both the only lasting solution to crisis and the best means to prevent it.
  3. Right now, preventing more crisis largely hinges on ensuring a fair and inclusive global economic recovery that reverses low growth and high inflation. Countries facing tighter fiscal conditions and higher borrowing costs as well as escalating climate risks need special consideration, which is why UNDP’s recent cost-of-living report called for a temporary debt moratorium. Once crisis happens, there is no debate that rapid humanitarian action saves lives and embodies human solidarity. But it should not be treated as a singular or permanent solution to human fragility.
  4. From Afghanistan to the Sahel, UNDP has shown the imperative and the practical effectiveness of investing in development amid the shattering consequences of crisis. In Ukraine, as part of the United Nations team, we have helped to ensure the complementarity of humanitarian, development and peace interventions, and pursued development responses from day one to preserve gains and prepare for recovery. Our investment in expanded digitalization of essential services has saved and stabilized lives through the processing of over half a million applications for emergency shelter and subsistence allowances. Other support involves assessing war-induced damages and coordinating reconstruction and recovery efforts. Partnership with the Government is tackling the insidious threat of unexploded ordnance, landmines and cluster munitions.
  5. The cost of post-war reconstruction of Ukraine is approaching $750 billion. The Ukraine Recovery Conference held last month in Lugano has begun shaping a new Marshall Plan with an approach that UNDP welcomes, as it largely reflects our experience with development in crisis. In laying the groundwork for Ukraine’s social and economic recovery alongside the humanitarian response, the plan seeks to preserve the country’s hard-won development gains. Recovery should ensure that Ukraine builds forward towards a future that is green, just, inclusive, digital and sustainable.
  6. Excellencies, an end to crisis is for our common good and should be our common goal. Let’s make choices that realistically respond to the bigger picture. We should not suspend nor delay development activities and investments but instead pursue these directly with affected communities, rapidly and at scale, so people can get back on their own feet with dignity and agency.

Resetting partnerships for development finance

  1. Among UNDP’s early advances under our new Strategic Plan, a foremost priority is to deepen collaborations that can rapidly redirect choices about finance and broader economies. Our partnerships with development finance institutions, domestic and international, and the private sector are bringing more money to developing countries based on their priorities, more equity to systems to access finance, and more alignment to sustainable development and the resolution of human insecurities. Official development assistance plays a central role in leveraging both types of partnerships and the resources they can unleash.
  2. UNDP-backed integrated national financing frameworks have already become a locus for partnership, with the World Bank involved in these in 44 countries and the IMF in 29 countries. This is a natural and highly productive collaboration. For example, UNDP brings expertise on SDG budgeting together with the deep knowledge of the World Bank on sound public financial management. That means fiscal processes align with sustainable development principles and robust accounting and oversight.
  3. With the IMF leading new global thinking on how to structure tax codes, UNDP experts are helping to define tax incentives that work best for the SDGs. We are drawing on experiences such as our Tax Inspectors Without Borders Initiative, a longer-term partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that has unblocked an additional $1.6 billion in taxes since 2016. In Nigeria, collaboration with the IMF around the integrated national financing framework has tightened connections between public spending, tax plans and SDG achievement.
  4. We are also starting to move the needle for developing countries struggling with economic downturn and high levels of expensive debt. Convening national policymakers, private firms and development finance institutions has fed insights into the kinds of debt swaps, bond issuances and other instruments suitable for developing countries to sustain SDG investments. In 2021, Uzbekistan became the first country in its region to issue a sovereign bond for the Sustainable Development Goals, for $870 million. Offered on the London Stock Exchange, the bond was executed by the Government with the support of Bankers Without Boundaries, a not-for-profit association of former investment bankers brought in by UNDP. We helped Cabo Verde set up the world’s first ‘blue economy’ sustainable financing platform and issue its first ‘grouped’ social bond involving 22 municipalities. Lao People’s Democratic Republic is among several countries working with UNDP experts to assess debt-for-nature swaps.
  5. Development finance institutions, enterprises, bond issuers and private equity funds have all begun applying UNDP’s SDG Impact Standards, the first and only global management standards for sustainability. The New Development Bank in 2021 became the first multilateral development bank to apply the standards to an SDG-linked bond worth $750 million. Japan’s largest ratings agency, Rating and Investment Information, Inc., has applied the standards to evaluating the SDG alignment of municipal plans for the city of Kobe, Japan.
  6. I was pleased recently to join political and business leaders in Japan to launch a first-of-its-kind training course on the standards, a chance for all firms, large and small, to gain knowledge and tools that will make them part of achieving the SDGs. Globally, UNDP is on the verge of launching an SDG Impact Seal to authenticate adoption of the standards along with an SDG Assurance Framework to perform rigorous, independent assessments. Both will prevent greenwashing and boost market credibility.
  7. UNDP is also working with companies to find the best places to invest in the SDGs, intelligence not available anywhere else. Our partnership with the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance has helped develop 26 SDG Investor Maps, with 15 more in the works. The maps have so far pinpointed over 500 investment opportunities aligned to the goals, government priorities and market demand. Businesses are seizing new opportunities pinpointed in the maps, such as two firms that used insights on 22 SDG investment ‘hotspots’ in Colombia to tap $500 million in financing from Latin America’s largest bank, Bancolombia.  
  8. Through UNDP’s Climate Promise, 95 percent of revised climate action plans include outreach to the private sector. In Peru, UNDP has collaborated with the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness on carbon pricing. A mitigation monitoring system helped Peru strike the world’s first carbon offset deal under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement; over 700 companies are now registered to participate in the system’s Carbon Footprint Platform.
  9. UNDP is reaching a new generation of business leaders to cultivate a fresh mentality of “profit plus principle”, including through collaboration with Duke University and the University of Cambridge business school. We have also shown this approach in action, such as through a partnership with the United Nations Capital Development Fund to develop new banking models in the Pacific. These uphold gender equality and respect women as core clients of financial institutions and have resulted in around 1.3 million women gaining access to financial services. Central banks have embedded time-bound targets to increase women’s financial access in national financial inclusion strategies.

From millions to billions through better money

  1. Excellencies, the results I have just been describing demonstrate how UNDP is triggering changes in development finance. Everything we do responds to national demands for practical solutions amid crisis and risk and upholds our core values as a multilateral organization committed to the SDGs.
  2. Cumulatively, the steps we have taken on budgets, climate finance, debt and more already add up to billions of dollars in public and private finance. We are on the verge of billions more. Here I would stress that UNDP has done this through leveraging our existing resources, which per programme intervention amount to millions and often much less. Our return on investment in essence multiplies many times over in the short term—more so over time as crises recede and more just and developed societies take root. UNDP is not an international financial institution. But in fulfilling distinct roles as a catalyst, adviser, convenor, accelerator and de-risker of investments, we enable significant shifts in public and private finance for sustainable development.
  3. Repeatedly, UNDP has shown that it is a highly accountable, responsible and principles-driven steward of its resources. In 2021, we spent $4.7 billion of programme resources, the highest level over the last two Strategic Plans. We further improved our efficiency ratio, balanced the budget for the fifth consecutive year and remained among the most transparent UN organizations.
  4. In the first months of our new future smart Strategic Plan, UNDP has made rapid progress in developing even more sophisticated risk management. We have streamlined digital platforms to further sharpen operations, from procurement to results reporting to donor management. Our platforms will set a new standard for data-driven development decision-making by linking operational and programme data, and generating the deeper insights required in managing complexity and uncertainty.
  5. Our geared-up collaboration with the private sector is grounded in innovation and backed by robust risk management. It includes tailored approaches to fragile and crisis-affected contexts and to engagement with specific categories of businesses, such as tech firms and small and medium enterprises. In work with the international financial institutions, we have a dedicated team enhancing the agility of our policies and procedures and improving reporting systems to demonstrate highest-impact points of collaboration. We are simultaneously further developing in-house expertise through our specialized SDG Finance Academy, with training in all five regions on assessing and leveraging public and private funds for SDG impacts.
  6. Under the Funding Compact, as shown in the report before you today, UNDP has realized 94 percent of its own financing commitments. We remain grateful to our many steadfast donors and partners who make our results possible.
  7. Yet Member States have only attained 33 per cent of their Funding Compact commitments. In 2021, we saw regular resources drop by 7 per cent to 12 per cent share of total funding. The number of contributors to regular resources declined as did the share of funds provided under predicable multi-year agreements. In 2022, we are seeing further cuts to core funding and unjustifiable choices such as to shift aid from poor countries to respond to the refugee crisis in donor countries. Funds for humanitarian aid and development investment are falling short because we have delinked development from crisis. 
  8. Excellencies, let me emphasize that beyond the many examples of high-impact UNDP results on development finance that I have shared today, we can also demonstrate similar far-reaching achievements on all signature solutions in our Strategic Plan. UNDP this year is already on course to bring jobs and services to millions of people, to extend durable solutions to millions who are displaced, to continue rolling out hundreds of digital service systems, and to help scores of developing countries in every part of the world maintain a focus on the SDGs and climate action through national planning and effective governance.   
  9. We are doing all of this, however, with funding that remains highly fragmented and imposes steep transaction costs. Such constraints cannot be rationalized at a moment of dire needs and radical consequences from inaction. Poor quality finance extracts a terrible price in human lives, rampant insecurity, lost trust and the erosion of the global commons. There is no better recent example of this than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One of the most insecure and underdeveloped countries has opened one of the world’s most precious remaining swathes of rainforest to fossil fuel extraction because it desperately needs financing, and past commitments have not been kept. 
  10. Let’s make this a mistake that we fix now. Frankly, we need better money, for developing countries and for UNDP to assist them as the world’s preeminent development organization. Better money upholds universal values and goals, not the narrow interests of the moment. Better money meets commitments and cements lasting, constructive partnerships, within the UN system and beyond. Better money funds the world’s top expertise and integrated portfolios of interventions that are best positioned to ensure that everyone can live in dignity, security and peace.
  11. Better money is a simple term. But it shows where we need to go in a complex world, a direction asserted by multiple evaluators such as MOPAN and the Independent Evaluation Office, and by many of you in this room today. Better money also embodies agreed international principles at the heart of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

A chance and a choice to step forward

  1. Excellencies, now is a moment when it may feel tempting to step back. Yet with millions of people descending into poverty, amid raging conflict, hunger and disease, and chronic vulnerabilities stemming from gender and other forms of discrimination, we must step forward, as a matter of common sense. A hungrier, poorer and more desperate world is not better, safer or fairer for anyone.
  2. What we do at UNDP, what you do in your capitals, how we work together—it all matters. We are past the point of my problems or your problems. Many of these problems are now ‘ours’. The rhetoric must meet reality. And solutions must reach a lot of people—fast.
  3. For that, we need wise leadership and strong partnerships and a firm commitment to make the best use of the resources we have, both public and private. Working in close partnership, including with and through a strong UN development system, we can move towards a world of human security and human development, of justice and trust, knowing this is the only course that benefits us all. This is also at the heart of the Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda and his proposals to strengthen multilateralism.
  4. We cannot go back to the old normal—only forward to a new one. Together we can make it a better one while we still have a chance. And a choice.