I am honoured to deliver this statement on behalf of Finland, the United Kingdom, and my own country, Norway.
Let me start by congratulating the Executive Director and her staff on the final UNOPS annual report on its strategic plan, 2014-2017, the second report aligned to the Global Reporting Initiative.
The annual report provides a comprehensive view of UNOPS' operations, including the substantial deliveries in infrastructure, project management and procurement in 2017.
The number of critical humanitarian emergencies crises has given a rise in demand for UNOPS services. Recognising UNOPS' significant contribution to the operational results of the United Nations as well as of host country governments, we would in particular express our appreciation of the ability to operate in war-torn countries, humanitarian situations and other challenging environments.
We appreciate UNOPS’ unique role within the UN system as the only UN organization that is self-financing through fees earned on project management/provision of services in all development and humanitarian fields.
UNOPS, being a professional, gold standard, project management and procurement body has an important role in optimizing use of resources in other UN organizations. To that end, and in the area of procurement, we encourage UNOPS to further strengthen its cooperation with other UN organizations.
Regarding UNOPS work with gender equality, we welcome the progress made in recruitments for 2017. We know that UNOPS will continue its work to secure gender balance amongst its employees, especially locally, and to continue to increase its focus on gender equality and women’s empowerment in its projects.
We suggest that UNOPS include reporting on targets for securing equal access for persons with disability and minority groups in the annual report.
We encourage UNOPS to report on how the organization work with responsible business conduct in line with UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights in the annual report
We would also encourage UNOPS to include in the annual report information on how the organization manages risks, including how it assesses conflict sensitivity and potential negative impacts for vulnerable groups. This analysis is vital to prevention-focussed development and we would urge UNOPS to work closely with other agencies in this regard.
Efficient use of resources is key for the UN Development System as a whole. Strengthened collaboration between UNOPS and other agencies, particularly related to procurement and infrastructure implementation, are of utter importance. We appreciate the efforts of UNOPS to renew relationships within the UN system and with member states.
We commend the important steps that have been taken to create linkages to the Secretary-General’s reform agenda for increased efficiency and quality. We also welcome the important integration of relevant SDGs to deliver on Agenda 2030.
We welcomed the adoption of the General Assembly resolution on the repositioning of the United Nations development system, in the context of the QCPR. We appreciate the flexibility shown by all Member States.
We now expect UNOPS, alongside all UN entities, to swiftly implement these reforms and would like to see concrete plans on how they will do so.
We highly appreciate the agreement to establish the position of an independent Resident Coordinator with authority to lead the UN country team, make the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) the single most important instrument for planning and implementation of UN development activities, and establish a new generation country teams.
With regard to the position of the Resident Coordinator, we feel confident that the Secretary General also will ensure that the Resident Coordinator will be accredited as the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system in all host countries.
The governing bodies of all funds, programmes and specialized agencies must take decisions required to ensure that the respective entities contribute constructively to the reforms decided by Member States.
It is key that UNDAF is the de facto strategic planning tool for the UN at country level, and that country team composition is based on activities foreseen in the UNDAF
Moreover, we expect UNOPS, as the largest procurement agency in the UN, be at the forefront of meeting the SG’s targets to harmonise back office functions for all UN Country teams by 2022 and scale up business operation strategies. We are over ten years into Delivering as one. We welcome the progress made towards making this a reality in every UN Country team but we have more to do. Further harmonization of systems and procedures within and between UN agencies is crucial to enable more effective joint programmes and a truly one UN approach to delivering results on the ground.
Burden sharing is a central multilateral principle, and we would urge all Member States to contribute to the voluntary trust fund for the RC-system.
Let me end by acknowledging that the Executive Director has made clear her zero tolerance sexual exploitation and abuse, and sexual harassment.
The focus must now be on implementation of appropriate and necessary institutional and cultural changes, and ensuring a joined-up, system-wide, coherent One UN approach.