5 November 2004
Second Committee Debate on United Nations Operational Activities Begins with Call for Better Planning, Funding, Coordination
Resident Coordinators Should Report on Progress in Meeting Goals, Says Under-Secretary-General
NEW YORK, 4 November (UN Headquarters) -- United Nations agencies in the field must improve their planning, funding and coordination of operational activities for development in order to eliminate duplication of efforts and ensure that national development priorities took centre-stage in the process, Qatars representative told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it began its debate on operational activities for development.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, he said that Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) must support existing national plans and poverty reduction strategies. United Nations resident coordinators and country teams should share expertise and make regular contact with those entities that had no country presence. The relevance and effectiveness of CCAs and UNDAFs depended on better coordination between the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations system.
Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, agreed, saying that United Nations resident coordinators needed an internal monitoring system, whereby they would report to Headquarters on progress made in realizing specific goals.
Emphasizing the vital importance of national ownership of development activities, he said it would drive efforts to mobilize international support and resources for least developed countries. There were a total of 18 national forums and 45 national focal points to enhance least developed countries ownership and capacity for country-level implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for those countries. In addition, the High Representatives Office was working closely with 19 United Nations agencies and other entities to mainstream the Brussels Programme into their respective work programmes, and consulting with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), civil society, the private sector, intergovernmental organizations and other relevant regional and multilateral bodies to support programme implementation.
Kenyas delegate, while lauding CCAs, UNDAFs and the efforts of the United Nations Development Group as good initiatives for improving coherence, cooperation and coordination, noted that the low level of funding and dependence on a small donor base continued to impede progress in development cooperation. Programmes were supply-driven when they should be driven by demand or need. Moreover, most specialized agencies depended on earmarked voluntary funds, the deployment of which reflected donor preferences rather than national priorities or internationally agreed development goals and targets.
That negated the spirit of multilateralism and neutralism in development cooperation, contrary to inter-agency coordination and collaboration, he said. Moreover, the current funding system was unreliable and money raised through the United Nations Pledging Conference had fallen to as little as 0.9 per cent of total development funding and few donors attended or participated in the Conference. A multi-year funding mechanism was needed with an emphasis on core resources.
Similarly, the Russian Federations representative noted that Member States, particularly major donors, had lost much of their confidence in the Conference. While its policy allowing donors to give written pledges throughout the year was indeed useful and should be maintained, a more pragmatic overall approach was needed, whereby the annual Conference would allow for pledging by donor countries for both United Nations Development Group Executive Committee agencies and all other United Nations entities.
The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the United Nations system needed to pursue its reform agenda vigorously, reduce fragmentation and avoid competition and overlap in order to attract resources for programmes. Also, it must further simplify and harmonize its activities, with clear targets and deadlines for the next three years. The resident coordinator system must be given more authority and clearer lines of accountability so that country teams could contribute to national strategies for poverty reduction. Country teams must also have sufficient gender expertise, including gender theme groups, to monitor the implementation of national poverty-reduction strategies and mainstream gender into results-based programming frameworks.
Jamaicas delegate, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that efforts to harmonize activities should not be driven by criteria and procedures proposed by donors, but by the wider United Nations membership. The focus should be on effectively implementing current reforms rather than creating new ones, which would unnecessarily burden recipient countries. Moreover, there must be a better balance between core and non-core contributions, as well as closer scrutiny of resource spending to ensure that United Nations bodies operated effectively and delivered services.
Also speaking today were representatives of China, Norway, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Iran, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Ghana, United States, Australia (also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand), Pakistan, Japan, Indonesia, Algeria, India, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, Ukraine and Ethiopia.
Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and Manuela Tortora, Chief of Technical Cooperation for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), also made statements.
The Second Committee will meet again at 2:30 p.m. Friday, 5 November, to take action on several draft resolutions in the areas of macroeconomic policy questions, financing for development, sustainable development, and human settlements.
The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met today to consider operational activities for development. Before it was a report of the Secretary-General on the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/59/85-E/2004/68), which provides the Economic and Social Council with an analysis of operational activities upon which it can base suggestions for the General Assemblys triennial policy review.
According to the report, the United Nations has made significant progress in unifying country-level activities and aligning its operations with the development aims of major United Nations conferences, especially the Millennium Development Goals. Organizational reforms have strongly encouraged various groups to work together and the resident coordinator system is becoming a vibrant instrument in many countries. Joint programmes have actually been developed in such areas as HIV/AIDS, the protection of children and the advancement of women.
The report notes that United Nations development cooperation in the transition from crisis to development is being examined, and stresses that integrating reconstruction, rehabilitation and long-term development within a single strategic framework for peace-building and development is critical in such situations. Substantial progress had been made in to increase cooperation in that area, as seen in the system-wide response to recent crisis situations such as Afghanistan and Liberia.
Yet, the pace of change is slower than desired, the report states. The United Nations Development Group has drawn up a new work programme to simplify and harmonize the Organizations activities, but implementing it will depend greatly upon further institutional change and funding. The system as a whole is hampered by a lack of incentives and institutional rewards to encourage various entities to make knowledge and expertise available to the resident coordinators. Above all, a stronger commitment to system-wide collaboration is needed by all United Nations bodies involved in operational activities for development.
The report stresses the need for stable, predictable funding for development activities so that the United Nations system can fully play its vital role in advancing comprehensive, durable development, rooted in national and international consensus. The current mismatch between funding levels and mechanisms and the sustained efforts required in supporting countries to implement the Millennium Goals needs to be addressed.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on activities of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) (document A/59/135), which reviews UNIFEMs activities in 2003. It also tracks progress in implementing the Funds strategy and business plan in the last three years to strengthen womens economic security and rights, leadership in governance and peace-building, human rights, and the capacity of the United Nations system to support womens empowerment and gender mainstreaming in policies and programmes.
It states that UNIFEMs Consultative Committee encourages collaboration with the United Nations system to facilitate integration of a gender analysis in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and the common country assessment of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). It also supports ongoing efforts to expand the Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women, to finalize a strategy for collaborating with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Political Affairs, and to further mobilize financial resources from donors, the private sector and new strategic partnerships.
The Committee also had before it reports of the Secretary-General on comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2002 (document A/59/84-E/2004/53); comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2003 (document A/59/386); and triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system: conclusions and recommendations (document A/59/387).
Introduction of Reports
PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the reports of the Secretary-General on comprehensive statistical data on operational activities for development for 2002 (document A/59/84-E/2002/53); preliminary statistical data on operational activities for development for 2003 (document A/59/386); the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/59/85-E/2004/68); and on the conclusions and recommendations of the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/59/387).
During last weeks dialogue on the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, he said, the United Nations system had shared a sense of urgency to achieve field-level coherence and to orient United Nations development cooperation toward achieving the Millennium Goals. There was a keener awareness of the magnitude of demands for development cooperation, and for the system to work at full capacity to meet them. Greater cost-effectiveness and coherence, the objectives driving reform, were increasingly seen as instruments to maximize results, rather than ends in themselves. The United Nations Resident Coordinators role was indispensable in facilitating dialogue with governments and supporting national coordination, as was a key part of national leadership and ownership. There was also growing awareness of the critical relationship among Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, UNDAF and other country-level programming instruments.
NOELEEN HEYZER, Executive Director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), introducing the report on UNIFEMs activities (document A/59/135), noted that several recent assessments of gender equality and womens empowerment had shown mixed results. On the positive side, gender equality policies and action plans had been adopted by more than 120 countries and legislation had been passed to strengthen womens rights to land and property, increase their political representation and penalize gender-based violence. However, legislation, policies and programmes often failed to lead to action. When gender equality was made a cross-cutting issue, it often became invisible, as did the effect of development policies on women and their role in shaping them. Moreover, gender experts within the United Nations often lacked the status, time, resources and capacity to influence decision-making and support technical areas.
She said that supporting countries to produce, use and build capacity in sex-disaggregated data and gender-responsive budgeting was a high priority. The UNIFEM was supporting gender-responsive budgeting initiatives in more than 20 nations. In Latin America, it was demonstrating the need to change budget allocations to better support gender equality at the national and local levels. In sub-Saharan and North Africa, it was seeing how gender budgeting capacities were contributing to more dialogue between government, parliamentarians and citizens on budget processes.
Within the United Nations system, UNIFEM was chairing a task force of gender equality specialists from various agencies, she said. The task force had concluded that the Organization needed a coherent set of performance indicators on gender equality for United Nations country teams; to ensure that those working on gender equality had seniority, resources and capacity; to make better use of existing gender equality expertise; and to more effectively position and resource UNIFEM and its womens fund.
Questions and Answers
Concerning the predictability and mobilization of funding for Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review initiatives in developing countries, Mr. CIVILI said the issue should be addressed in totality among both private-sector and public donors. The solution was not to encourage more agencies to bring their offices to the field, but rather to harmonize existing operations and foster greater involvement among agencies and non-resident agencies in order to respond to the countrys specific needs. A different mindset was needed, whereby the resident country team fully utilized all system capacities to correspond with country requirements, and non-resident agencies contributed to the system as part of a greater goal. A good example of that mindset at work was the recent agreement between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in which the latter would place its own experts at the disposal of resident coordinator offices. Coordination modalities in information and communications technologies were also being explored.
SARBULAND KHAN, Director, Division for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said leadership and ownership were the most important elements in bringing the United Nations system together around the UNDAF and Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers agendas. With such a fundamental shift, and the participation of bilateral donors, there could be a unified rather than fragmented response to development cooperation. As for ensuring that resources were budgeted and allocated in a way that supported national priorities and a results-driven approach, evaluation and monitoring were key elements that would help strengthen the capacity of systems to work together. That process had already begun in many specialized agencies.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the United Nations system should take measures to improve organization and planning at the country level, based on national development agendas and geared towards helping developing countries to achieve the Millennium Goals. It was necessary to increase funding for operational activities, engaging non-resident United Nations entities, gender mainstreaming, peace-building and post-conflict assistance, South-South and regional cooperation, monitoring and evaluation.
United Nations resident coordinators and country teams should network, share experts, and make regular contact among agencies to facilitate participation in United Nations operations by entities without a country presence, he continued. Planning through the Common Country Assessment and UNDAF must support national plans and poverty reduction strategies where they existed. However, the relevance and effectiveness of the CCAs and UNDAFs would remain limited without better coordination between the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations system. The CCAs and UNDAFs focused mainly on humanitarian, social, environmental and microeconomic domestic issues, while Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, which addressed macroeconomic policies such as finance and trade, poverty-reduction, were linked to assistance from the Bretton Woods institutions. Developing countries themselves must be the ones to decide how to ensure coherence among different instruments according to their own needs. The Group of 77 called for a regular comprehensive review by the Economic and Social Council on trends in the financing of development cooperation compared with other forms of international assistance.
DIRK JAN VAN DEN BERG (Netherlands), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, stressed that lack of resources did not justify failure to perform efficiently within the current funding framework. The United Nations development system must reposition itself to fulfil an effective role at the country level. To attract resources for programmes, it must pursue its reform agenda vigorously, reduce fragmentation and avoid competition, duplication and overlap. It must take further steps to simplify and harmonize its activities, with clear targets and deadlines for the next three years. Reform of the United Nations system must be accompanied by a substantial and sustained increase of unearmarked core funding for operational activities.
He said that the United Nations contribution towards the Millennium Development Goals at the country level had been marred by duplication of activities, fragmented structures and decision-making, multiple institutions and lines of accountability, and competition for funding. If country teams were to contribute to national strategies for poverty reduction, the resident coordinator system must be given more authority and clearer lines of accountability. The coordinator should ensure that UNDAF was fully aligned with national poverty reduction strategies; ensure that all United Nations partners aligned themselves fully with UNDAF priorities; and be mandated to monitor achieved results.
Noting that accountability for gender equality within the United Nations system was inadequate, fraught with inadequate analytical capacities and monitoring mechanisms, he said it was vital to have sufficient gender expertise in the country team to monitor the implementation of national poverty reduction strategies and to mainstream gender into results-based programming frameworks. Gender-themed groups should be mandatory in all country teams to ensure adequate inter-agency collaboration and the monitoring of country efforts to mainstream gender equality into programmes and policies.
EVGENY STANISLAVOV (Russian Federation) said operational activities should respect fully the principles of national ownership, universality and neutrality and should ensure a substantive focus and identity, as well as a mandate independent of United Nations funds and programmes. That would enable the United Nations system to be effective in turning the Millennium Development Goals into reality by 2015. Greater and more active involvement by specialized agencies, regional commissions and other bodies could make United Nations operational activities more effective and future reform should take into account the interests, priorities and work of the Executive Committee agencies of the United Nations Development Group and other entities of the United Nations development system.
The United Nations Pledging Conference, which allowed donors to give written pledges throughout the year, was indeed useful and should be maintained, he said. However, Member States, particularly major donors, had lost much of their confidence in the Conference. A more pragmatic approach was needed, whereby the annual Conference would allow for pledging from donor countries for both United Nations Development Group Executive Committee agencies and all other United Nations system entities. It was also necessary to simplify and harmonize rules and procedures, greater resource and service-sharing at the country level, and post-conflict recovery and development.
ZHANG YISHAN (China) said United Nations agencies could play an irreplaceable role in helping developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. They should make every effort to increase development resources and draw up strategies and programmes to help developing countries meet their financing needs. They should also take advantage of the opportune 2005 General Assembly high-level meeting to comprehensively review the Millennium targets, further mobilize political will in donor countries and turn commitments into concrete actions.
He noted that the people-centred approach to development had been pursued in the United Nations, and efforts made to increase participation, reduce disparities and respect diversity. There had also been regular joint inter-agency meetings to coordinate cycles of development programmes. Each agency had made full use of its comparative advantages and jointly drawn up programmes to avoid wasteful duplication and resource competition, thus reducing unnecessary burdens on programme countries. The resident coordinator system had also been further strengthened and had played a pivotal role in harmonizing development cooperation activities.
JOHAN LØVALD (Norway) said a unified, efficient and coordinated United Nations required strong country teams headed by resident coordinators. The triennial review must address how that system should be funded, as well as how to strengthen its resources, authority and accountability. In some cases, it may be sensible to relieve coordinators of their role as heads of UNDP country offices since they must assist all agencies, including non-resident ones.
The United Nations must be flexible at the country level, working according to local needs, as agreed with local authorities, he said. A strong field presence should be maintained in an integrated structure, including experts in areas given priority by local governments. Agencies with more limited operations could be represented by other agencies. Too much was spent on administration, and in some countries, more was spent on presence than poverty reduction. Progress had been made in post-conflict situations, which used joint analytical frameworks, multi-donor trust funds with shared procedures and joint reporting, and a lead-agency role for delegated cooperation.
SOLOMON KARANJA, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), expressed concern that the funding of United Nations development cooperation continued to be low and dependent on a small donor base. The current imbalance between core and non-core resources undermined the systems core mandates by making programmes supply-driven rather than driven by demand or need. Most specialized agencies depended on earmarked voluntary funds, the deployment of which reflected donor preferences rather than national priorities or internationally agreed development goals and targets. That negated the spirit of multilateralism and neutralism in development cooperation and ran contrary to inter-agency coordination and collaboration.
He underscored the need to review funding modalities for operational activities, noting that the current annual voluntary funding system was unstable, unpredictable, and did not account for long-term development planning needs. There was a need to review funding modalities and adopt a multi-year funding mechanism for the system while emphasizing the importance of core resources. Funding raised by the United Nations Pledging Conference had fallen to as little as 0.9 per cent of total development funding and few donors attended or participated in the Conference.
Improved coherence, cooperation and coordination were needed, he said, adding that the CCA, UNDAF and efforts of the United Nations Development Group were good initiatives to advance that process. Kenya thanked the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and bilateral donors for their prompt relief assistance after drought this year had caused widespread famine. However, more assistance was needed.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that collaboration among national governments, United Nations agencies, civil society and other stakeholders would ensure the effective implementation of country-level programmes, and also avoid duplication and competition for funding. Efforts to harmonize programmes should include mechanisms to channel resources for country development through a single agency, which would be cost-effective on the ground. Joint programming at the field level had great potential for delivering assistance and elaborating a comprehensive development approach.
He said that efforts to harmonize and simplify Development Groups activities depended greatly on institutional reforms, which should aim to group a countrys development activities behind a well-rooted, broadly-owned national strategy. The resident coordinator system should be strong and vibrant, with a powerful country office and a single development strategy. Unfortunately, the system needed greater financial, organizational and technical support, and undue competition for extrabudgetary resources had thwarted inter-agency collaboration. All United Nations bodies, both resident and non-resident, should continue their attempts to develop a vibrant resident coordinator system.
ANWARUL CHOWDHURY, High Representative of the Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review called for strengthened coherence within a unified nationally-owned development framework, adequate use of the systems relevant capacities, greater emphasis on results and evaluation, national strategies for achieving internationally agreed development goals, adequate funding and a greater role for the United Nations Resident Coordinator.
He said his office was working closely with 19 United Nations agencies and other entities to mainstream the Brussels Programme of Action into their respective programmes of work. It was also consulting with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), civil society, the private sector, intergovernmental organizations and other relevant regional and multilateral bodies to support programme implementation. Moreover, it had encouraged least developed countries to create national mechanisms and focal points to enhance ownership and capacity for country-level implementation of the Brussels Programme. This year, the number of national forums had doubled to 18 and national focal points had increased from nine to 45. An internal monitoring mechanism was needed in the United Nations resident coordinator system, whereby coordinators would report to Headquarters on progress or the lack of it regarding specific commitments. The advocacy and coordination work of Headquarters and efforts to mobilize international support and resources for least developed countries would be seriously impeded without a national perspective.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stressed that deliberations on operational activities should focus on implementation and tangible results rather than progress in coordination and coherence. Also, individual organizations have adopted harmonized procedures and common tools, but tended to retain their own separate administrative requirements, creating additional burdens both for governments and the United Nations system.
Coherence and coordination should not be limited to United Nations activities, but encompass the activities of other multilateral institutions and bilateral donors, he said. Efforts by the Organization to harmonize activities should not be driven by criteria and procedures proposed by donors that had been developed without the wider membership of the United Nations. Moreover, greater focus should be placed on effectively implementing current reforms rather than devising new reform measures that would place unnecessary burdens on recipient countries.
He also emphasized the need for a better balance between core and non-core contributions to ensure that United Nations bodies operated effectively. The Organization should not revisit the practice of annual voluntary contributions, which were unpredictable by nature and had been unsatisfactory, given the low levels of contributions. Assessing operational activities also meant looking more deeply into exactly how resources were being spent, how much was reaching recipients and the effectiveness of delivery. In addition, operational activities must be responsive to national priorities and strategies, especially for countries in transition from crisis to development.
OLIVIER CHAVE (Switzerland) said the United Nations system must play a key role in international development cooperation, given its capacity to operate complex and highly sensitive issues of peace and security, human rights, humanitarian aid, and economic and social development. The Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review should focus on improved coherence and greater use of UNDAF, in full alignment with the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers of the respective country programmes. Specialized agencies must be active at the country level and UNDAF should be overseen by resident coordinators. Further harmonization and simplification of programming and management instruments and procedures was required. The CARICOM called for a more comprehensive approach to conflict, post-conflict situations and reconstruction efforts, as well as more gender mainstreaming in the United Nations system.
The current funding situation of the United Nations operational system was difficult, he continued. While summit meetings and international conferences had entrusted the United Nations system with monitoring and implementing the Millennium targets, additional core-funding had not been forthcoming. Negotiations on multi-year replenishments of the International Development Association and the African Development Fund would be concluded soon. The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria also needed replenishing.
He noted that the United Nations continued to favour trust funds and other multilateral and bilateral arrangements over core contributions, adding that non-core contributions were useful but not a substitute for core contributions. The Organizations annual pledging system paled in comparison to the multi-year replenishments of international financial institutions. A careful analysis of the entire multilateral development architecture was needed, as was a broadening of the United Nations donor base and new measures for more predictable funding.
MEHDI MIRAFZAL (Iran) said the overall environment and context of United Nations development cooperation had changed considerably in recent years. Simultaneously, income inequalities within and among countries had created a more challenging environment for funds and programmes geared to promoting development. The Organization should ensure a wider impact on development by taking stock of its performance over the past three years, and identifying clear guidelines for the period ahead.
He said capacity-building was indispensable in ensuring national priorities in operational activities, and that country ownership should be ensured. To that end, recipient countries should participate fully in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating development programmes and projects. United Nations bodies should provide technical assistance to recipient countries according to their national economic and social needs and priorities. It should also be recognized that the predictability of core funding for operational activities and the achievement of international development goals were strongly linked.
NADIESKA NAVARRO (Cuba) said it remained critical for United Nations funds and programmes to provide humanitarian assistance, particularly amid great humanitarian crises worldwide. The growing tendency to earmark more resources and efforts to emergency activities was a cause of concern because United Nations funds and programmes were not relief institutions. Their role was to foster long-term development, including the transition from relief to development, which did not apply only to post-conflict situations, but also to natural disasters, an issue of vital interest to developing countries, particularly small island developing States.
Debates should focus on earmarking resources for operational activities, she continued. Basic core funding was insufficient, yet non-core funding for themes of specific interest to donors was increasing. Donor countries must provide sufficient, permanent, steady and predictable resources for core activities. Resources and assistance were needed for South-South cooperation. Cuba lauded the efforts of the UNDPs Special Unit for South-South Cooperation and encouraged increased funding for it.
DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso) said his Government was committed to carrying out various reform initiatives that the donor community had agreed to support. Official development assistance (ODA) to the country exceeding $400 million a year from some 40 international donors was directed at technical cooperation, investment projects, food and emergency situations. But difficulties had arisen in the coordination and effectiveness of aid due to the large number of coordinating structures, numerous donor conditions and lack of feasibility studies.
He said the Government had been carrying out aid reform in a project to combat poverty over the period 20042006, which aimed to promote public dialogue on development problems. It had also been conducting round tables to coordinate foreign aid. Coordination had been placed under the chairmanship of the United Nations resident coordinator. Establishing new directives for operational activities was an important step forward, but their success would depend on the commitment of all parties involved.
CARLOS ARMANDO LAZO-GARCIA (Venezuela) said that officials in his country had instituted several programmes to provide social, educational and health services to poor and historically marginalized communities. The Return Face Mission, a right-to-work programme, focused on generating job networks and development in industrial production, agriculture, services and tourism. With an initial investment of $156.25 billion dollars, the Mission was providing job training for 100,000 people and participants formed cooperatives where they worked. The Mission aimed to cut unemployment by 5 per cent and generate 1.2 million jobs. It was supported by the National Development Bank for public and private-sector development.
The work of the Development Bank also showed what could be achieved through South-South cooperation, he said. The Bank currently sponsored socio-economic development and cooperation projects with 11 Central American and Caribbean countries through lines of credit. Venezuelan development institutions were working with 14 Caribbean States on development programmes. Their work was important in the context of development cooperation and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
PAUL YAW ESSEL (Ghana) said that funds and programmes played a central role because, as operational organs of the United Nations system, they engaged in practical activities for development cooperation with Member States at the country level. Together with the specialized agencies, they brought the Organizations work to the doorstep of the ordinary individual.
Referring to the country level impact of the reforms set in motion by the Secretary-General in 1997 and 2002, he said positive results had been achieved in Ghana through the active collaboration between the Government and the United nations country team, culminating in the publication of Ghanas maiden Millennium Development Goals Report, which would be produced annually to monitor achievements and plot directions in Ghanas development. The year 2003 had been the third implementation year of the second UNDAF for Ghana (UNDAF II) covering the period 2001-2005, which had seen joint activities in the integrated programme for the promotion of girls education, launched in July 2002 and covering a four-year period at a total cost of $7,170,000; the Guineaworm eradication programme, planned for three years at a cost of more than $1 million; and the Millennium Development Goals. There had also been progress in two ongoing joint activities in the areas of gender and HIV/AIDS.
He said his country appreciated greatly the efforts of the United Nations system to help developing countries achieve sustainable development on the basis of clearly articulated plans and within the broader context of the Millennium Goals, although there was still room for improvement. The resources available for operational activities was very limited and constituted a major constraint on their positive impact at the country level. Ghana, therefore, shared the view expressed in the Secretary-Generals report that, as long as funding arrangements for United Nations development activities remained inadequate, unstable and unpredictable, the Organizations development system would be handicapped in its crucial role as a catalyst for advancing comprehensive, durable development, rooted in national and international consensus, for which it was so uniquely equipped.
JANE HULL (United States) said that operational agencies had been carrying out necessary and impressive reforms over the last few years to enhance coordination and programme coherence. Internal coordination had improved and ways in which United Nations agencies should work with programme countries had become better defined. However, the drive for coherence, simplification and harmonization must be pursued to ensure that the Organizations development system remained a relevant and effective partner.
She expressed the hope that the consensus reached at the Monterrey and Johannesburg conferences would inform and enrich the triennial policy review in the areas of accountable and representative governance, rule of law, political and economic freedoms and gender equality; domestic macroeconomic policies; and mobilization of all resources, particularly domestic and private. Developed and developing countries should also work together in reforming regulations and strengthening the rule of law; encouraging the informal sector to participate in the formal economy; and engaging the private sector in the policy process.
ROD SAWFORD (Australia), speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, stressed the need for internally coherent national approaches to the governing boards of United Nations institutions so that the direction of reform activity was consistent. Since the last Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review, the process of preparing the UNDAF document had been simplified and a greater focus put on results. That commitment to support national strategies for poverty reduction among agencies of a United Nations country team and the country it served created greater coherence and transparency in programme implementation. Still, more could be done to improve effectiveness in the United Nations development system, such as creating joint administrative, reporting, evaluation and programming.
He also underscored the need for better system-wide understanding of development funding resource flows and how to better match existing funds with countries needs for aid and development. In that regard, future multi-year funding frameworks and Joint Board meetings could conduct the necessary analysis and planning. Strengthening the United Nations resident coordinator system and country teams coherence and unity of purpose and action was critical. Australia welcomed the recent pilot project that separated the resident coordinator role from that of UNDP country director to protect the integrity of both functions.
FARRUKH IQBAL KHAN (Pakistan) said the review should not be seen only as a stocktaking process, but also as a dynamic mechanism to bring United Nations operational activities and available resources in line with national priorities. With the modest global economic recovery, some analysts had indicated that the economic difficulties facing most developing countries would eventually be alleviated and reports by credible institutions suggested that that spin-off effect had already begun. But what lay at the core of the developing countries economic difficulties was not simply the recovery, but rather the rules and the structure which governed them. The economies of the developing countries must become autonomous engines of growth, job creation and welfare.
He said the United Nations had a central role in helping to achieve the Millennium Goals and other development targets. The central challenge in the reorganization of the Organizations operational activities had been to establish a strategic framework at the national level to achieve the targets. Much progress had been achieved in the quest for better coordination among the entities of the United Nations system, and efforts were under way to ensure the further coherence and effectiveness of the Organizations development cooperation activities. Pakistan had found that the delivery process under a single interlocutor not only provided a strategic direction, but also helped to reduce poverty, promote gender mainstreaming and good governance, as well as institutional capacity-building.
Despite the encouraging trends, however, there had been little progress on three critical issues, he said. They were insufficient resources; inadequate collaboration between key financial institutions and the United Nations Resident Coordinator; and the absence of an enabling international environment that supported the development priorities of the developing countries. On resources, the existing mechanisms to secure necessary funds had outlived their utility and the annual United Nations Pledging Conference had done little to find a way out of that morass. A related problem was the prescriptive identification of priority themes by donors, which was, in most cases, either not relevant to the development priorities or led to a distortion in the existing programmes. Pakistan encouraged the Committee and the General Assembly to initiate a debate on how best to address the latter issue. The effectiveness of the operational activities for development should be assessed from their impact alone. It was also time to address the resources issue.
KAZUO SUNAGA (Japan) said that national capacity-building was vital in creating a vision of development, prioritizing issues, implementing programmes, monitoring results and drawing up national plans and strategies. Budgetary assistance may not contribute significantly to poverty alleviation unless recipient countries had sufficient national capacity. The United Nations development system knew the needs in the field and had experience in implementing programmes with governments and civil society. It was, therefore, in a good position to provide assistance in developing capacity.
He said that each agency must recognize its own comparative advantages, as well as that of others, in order to have effective coordination in the field and to reduce competition for resources. Any question of reducing the burden of the resident coordinator by dropping the work of UNDP resident representatives should be based on feedback from relevant agencies, as well as coordinators in the field. The current system of funding, which came mainly from UNDP core resources, could be re-examined.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia) encouraged agencies of the United Nations system to align their operational strategic approaches within the framework of the CCA and UNDAF. National authorities and all the United Nations field operations involved in the UNDAF process had a shared responsibility. There was a need to assess United Nations agencies performance at the country level on the basis of a set of integrated performance-based indicators. Greater coherence was necessary among those agencies and the Breton Woods institutions. Indonesia called for the creation of a coordinating mechanism to facilitate policy coherence, funding procedures and programme sustainability.
Despite a positive trend in funding operational activities in the past two years, it was essential to ensure predictable, continuous and assured funding in the future, she said. The donor community must provide adequate funding for the United Nations development system to ensure a steady and reliable base for operational activities without conditions imposed on recipient countries. Only in that way could legitimate development goals be achieved. Operational activities for crisis prevention and recovery should not undermine the activities of development programmes.
DJIHED EDDINE BELKAS (Algeria) noted that United Nations operational activities supported development efforts in developing countries at all levels. However, significant results would not be achieved unless they were accompanied by a considerable increase in resources, which must be predictable and stable in the long term. Recent increases in assistance to developing countries were encouraging, but they were still insufficient to ensure the achievement of developmental goals. Developed countries must strive to honour their commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic products to development assistance.
Coordinating United Nations work on the ground was vital to providing coherent support to needy countries, he said. In so doing, the mandates of resident coordinators, as well as country teams, must be broadened. The primary goal of operational activities should be to build capacities and respond to national priorities. Coordination at the national level went hand in hand with regional cooperation for development. The regional dimension should be incorporated in framework programmes, considering gender equity and the problems of transition in countries emerging from conflict.
VAYALAR RAVI (India) said the financing of the United Nations development system warranted the international communitys attention. Voicing concern over the increasing imbalance between core and non-core contributions to United Nations agencies, he lamented that core resources comprised less than half of the overall assets of UNICEF. He also lamented that any increases in core resources came from the private sector, and not governments.
Stating that sufficient investment in development could prevent huge future expenses in peacekeeping, he called on developed countries to provide ODA at a level of 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product. Promoting development cooperation activities must not take a backseat to peace-building, conflict prevention and humanitarian emergencies, he said.
Turning to reforms, he said that, at the last policy review, too much energy had been devoted to discussing and implementing procedural recommendations. Instead, such efforts should be redirected towards eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development. He also emphasized the need for national capacity-building. On the work of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in that area, he said it might be more helpful to reintegrate the Office with the UNDP, and subject it to UNDPs financial rules and disciplines.
Regarding South-South cooperation, he lauded it, saying that developing countries could benefit greatly from sharing experiences with each other. At the same time, however, he cautioned against one-size-fits-all policies. After all, it was important to consider sociocultural and historical factors when designing development plans for specific States, and to closely involve recipient countries in the planning and implementation process.
KANG SEOK-HEE (Republic of Korea) underscored the importance of a participatory development approach, increased funding, simplifying and harmonizing procedures, and enhancing the role of information and communication technologies in operational activities for development. Developing countries could not lead the way to sustainable development without the substantial support of civil society and the private sector. Both were increasingly vital to the development process in the era of rapid globalization. A participatory, inclusive development approach must be further explored to complement existing public-sector development cooperation.
Stable, secure and reliable funding of United Nations development cooperation was crucial to strengthening capacity and effectiveness, he said. While the recent increase in core resources of some United Nations agencies was laudable, overall funding was still insufficient, unpredictable and unstable. The multi-year funding framework had made significant progress in increasing core resources on a predictable, assured basis and it must be developed further as a way to stabilize regular resource funding.
ILESSANMI ADEGUN (Nigeria) noted the need to build up national development capacities by meaningfully engaging with the United Nations system. In many developing countries, there were mismatches between the expertise of the Organizations country teams and national stakeholders, which could be exploited to undermine ownership, or lead to non-compliance with set operational guidelines. If countries were to assume true ownership of development strategies, the United Nations should be assisting with capacity-building and the transfer of knowledge.
While UNDAF aimed to ensure coordination among United Nations agencies, no implementation structure had been established, he said. Moreover, programme coverage had been decreasing in each programme cycle, presumably due to inadequate funding. If United Nations agencies were to perform effectively, they would need adequate, predictable and regular funding. Also, the agencies should be held accountable for their actions. Indicators and targets for achievement should be clear and measurable and, above all, country teams should not exceed their legislative mandates.
OLEKSII HOLUBOV (Ukraine) said the United Nations Development Group had intensified its efforts to streamline programming procedures by setting up a thematic task force and other harmonization tools. However, simpler procedures should be sought to improve services to recipient countries and enhance their capacities in managing development programmes. Moreover, the impact of operational activities could be enhanced through a substantial increase in funding on a predictable, continuous and assured basis and according to the needs of recipient countries.
Stressing the need for strengthened links between resource mobilization and performance in the field, he suggested that multi-year funding frameworks were effective tools to sharpen the focus and results-based management of operational agencies. The United Nations Pledging Conference seemed to have outlived its validity and utility. In addition, more attention should be paid to promoting greater policy and programming coordination between United Nations agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions and other development partners at the sectoral and strategic levels.
Considering the overall alignment of United Nations operational activities in Ukraine with national development priorities and goals, he said there should be more emphasis on such programme areas as HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care, and mitigating the long-standing consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe. Hopefully, the recent transfer of coordination for United Nations Chernobyl-related activities from OCHA to the UNDP would stimulate resource mobilization and enhance programmes in that field.
TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) urged the United Nation to seek ways to accelerate Africas progress in achieving the Millennium targets, which could involve advocacy, capacity-building and strengthened programme support. Ethiopia lauded the creation of programming instruments such as the CCA and UNDAF. The governing bodies of funds and programmes had also strengthened the monitoring and evaluation of development activities. However, the effectiveness of development cooperation depended on work in the field.
In recent years, Ethiopia had intensified its cooperation with the United Nations through the CCA and UNDAF on national priority development goals such as sustainable development and poverty reduction he said. United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies must adhere to national modalities for development cooperation, which would strengthen national ownership and simplify administrative procedures, thus alleviating the burden of reporting and reducing transaction costs. Some progress had been achieved, in that regard but more must be done.
MANUELA TORTORA, Chief, Technical Cooperation, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that, for her organization, the issue of coordination was not only one of operational efficiency, but also of coherence of development policies and priorities. The UNCTADs contribution to the effectiveness of United Nations operations was related to concern about the quality of the resources allocated to development assistance. While ODA was increasing, analysis of ODA to the least developed countries indicated that the proportion that went to finance current expenditures and to social sectors was going up as opposed that going to productive investment. Official development assistance should be re-linked with productivity and growth. It should be meant to supplement the resources available for investment and supply capacity, not only to solve immediate problems of cash flows or of social safety nets.
She said UNCTAD had wide experience of inter-agency cooperation at the international, regional and national levels. That experience showed that inter-agency arrangements and partnerships needed to be based on flexibility so as to take into account different local situations. One third of UNCTADs total budget came from voluntary contributions to finance some 300 projects. Utilization of UNCTADs financial resources to participate in United Nations integrated country programmes was, therefore, constrained by the decisions of bilateral donors.
In order to enhance UNCTADs participation in system-wide country planning, she said, some practical initiatives would be required, particularly in view of improving the dissemination of information between UNCTAD, the resident coordinators, the beneficiaries and the donors. A wider UNCTAD participation in country-level operations largely depended on the importance that the recipient country and, therefore, the resident coordinator, gave to trade and development in the national plans, the UNDAFs and poverty reduction strategies.
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