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ECOSOC: Operational activities for development

Statement in the Economic and Social Council on Operational activities for development, held by Policy Director Berit Fladby, 24 February 2016.

Chair,

The changing development landscape and the 2030 Agenda provide opportunities to continue to transform the way the United Nations Development System (UNDS) works.

Let me start by thanking for the Secretary General’s report on the implementation of the QCPR and to provide some comments.

An important observation is that the High Level Committee on Management (HCLM) and the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) have made a bridge between entities reporting to the General Assembly and those that are not, that is, the specialized agencies. In the time to come, we believe that also member states, in the governing bodies of the various agencies, need to take more responsibility for the construction of this bridge.

The fact that more than 50 countries have asked the UN to adopt the Delivering as One modality is proof of the advantages of this approach. A successful implementation of this modality depends on strong national ownership. However, the tracking of the implementation of the core elements of the Standard Operating Procedures shows that there is substantial room for further progress, and we urge all country teams, in close consultation with their host governments, to make active use of this guidance.

We welcome the increased emphasis on Operating as One. Norway notes with appreciation the substantial cost-avoidance and the quality-improvements documented in the mid-term evaluation of the pilot phase of the UNDG Business Operation Strategy.  We hope to see that more country teams agree on a Business Operation Strategy, and encourage the HLCM and the UNDG to continue their cost-savings endeavours, also beyond establishing long-term agreements.

An example of an area that we had hoped for even greater progress is gender equality and women’s empowerment. The percentages of entities having a gender strategy and entities meeting the requirements of the UN System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women are still low, and this is also reflected in the UNDAFs. It is disappointing that none of the UN entities met the allocation commitment in the SG’s Seven Point Action Plan on Gender-Responsive Peacebuilding.

Chair,

Norway appreciates the Operational Segment of ECOSOC as a forum for system-wide debate on the functions and functioning of the UNDS.  In the first phase of the ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UNDS, there as an emerging common understanding of the challenges that the system is facing. In order to bring us further, concrete proposals need to be tabled during the next phase, as well as in the Secretary General’s forthcoming report. Norway is ready to discuss further incremental improvements as well as proposals for more fundamental changes.

Norway would like the next QCPR to be more strategic. The resolution should define what the UNDS should do, not only how the UN is expected to work. The UN’s comparative advantages reside in its legitimacy and universality, the linkages between normative and operational mandates and its broad country presence. We must be guided by these advantages when we define the future priorities of the UNDS. The SDGs are interrelated and this adds to the need for a more holistic and integrated approach to development. Moreover, we need a UNDS that is able to meet rapidly evolving challenges and respond to the diverse and changing needs of partner countries. Differentiated models of engagement depending on country contexts are required.

The country teams are uniquely positioned to assist governments in developing national policies for implementing the SDGs as well as national policies and legislation in line with international norms and standards. 

The UN needs to continue its broad-based engagement in the Least Developed Countries. Norway would like to see stronger efforts by the UNDS in politically fragile countries and regions - with the overall aim of contributing to sustainable and inclusive states and reducing tensions and conflicts.  In such situations, it is further important to build on instruments developed and experience gained in strategic collaboration across the three UN pillars of development, peace & security and human rights.

Chair,

We are concerned about the discrepancy between what we expect from the UNDS and the way it is funded. We would welcome further exploration of models based on the idea that funding must follow function.

An empowered Resident Coordinator is a prerequisite for everything that we expect the UNDS to deliver at country level. However, it seems obvious that authority does not match expectations. We, the member states as well as the UNDS, need to place the Resident Coordinator system high on the agenda in the time to come. Availability of proper resources is one of several issues. In this regard, one first step would be that the Fifth Committee agrees to cover the secretariat’s part of the UNDG cost-sharing arrangement. 

Chair,

In conclusion, Norway would like to see the UNDS reaffirm its relevance and vitality, and we look forward to constructive dialogues among member states in the months to come.

Thank you.