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UN needs a 21st century development system

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10th-Jul-2017       
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António Guterres, UN Secretary General :
(From previous issue)
Let me be crystal clear: Sustainable development must be the DNA of Resident Coordinators.
Resident Coordinators should be able to steer and oversee the system's substantive contribution to the 2030 Agenda, in line with national priorities and needs.
But Resident Coordinators must also be able to take a broader view and lead integrated analysis and planning processes which have significant implications for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
They must also support Governments in crisis prevention focused on building resilience and anticipating shocks that could undermine progress, whether they come from climate change, natural hazards or the risk of conflict.
The success of the 2030 Agenda requires that the Resident Coordinator function remains anchored in the operational system for development, firmly connected to the country level, and with UNDP as a key driver for development.
I will work with you to present more detailed proposals to improve the Resident Coordinator system by December 2017.
Fifth principle, for too long, reform efforts in the field have been hindered by the lack of similar efforts at headquarters.
To enable change on the ground, we need an accountability mechanism here at headquarters that is seen as impartial and neutral. And we need to do so without creating new bureaucracies or superstructures.
To address this long standing issue, I intend to assume my full responsibilities as Chief Executive of the United Nations, and reassert a leadership role in UN sustainable development efforts, in support of Member States and our staff on the ground.
I am asking the Deputy Secretary-General to oversee and provide strategic guidance to the UN Development Group, as well as leading a Steering Committee to foster coherence between humanitarian action and development work.
Decentralization is a key goal of all my reform efforts. Effective decentralization will require strengthening accountability in headquarters, but always with a focus on delivery on the ground.
Sixth principle, we need to foster a more cohesive UN policy voice at the regional level. We will launch a review of our regional representation and activities, to clarify the division of labour within the system and explore ways to reinforce the UN country-regional-global policy backbone.
Seventh principle, the accountability of the UN development system is a matter of priority.
Accountability is indeed an end in itself, because it fosters transparency, improves results and holds our institutions to agreed standards and commitments. It is also a critical incentive for collaboration and better reporting on system-wide impact.
My report outlines three specific areas for continued engagement with Member States: first, improving guidance and oversight over system-wide results, with the ECOSOC at the centre; second, more transparency around collective results, including through system-wide annual reporting and the establishment of a system-wide independent evaluation function; and third, more robust internal accountability to ensure that internal mechanisms such as the Chief Executives Board and the UN Development Group deliver on Member States mandates and internal agreements.
Eighth principle, and last, there is a critical need to address the unintended consequences of funding that have hampered our ability to deliver as one. Around 85% of funds are currently earmarked, around 90% of which to single-donor-single agency programmes.
A fragmented funding base is delivering a fragmented system undermining results in people's lives.
I would like to explore with you the possibility of a "Funding Compact", through which the system would commit to greater efficiency, value-for-money and reporting on system-wide results, against the prospect of more robust core funding support to individual agencies and improved joint funding practices.
The true test of reform will not be measured in words in New York or Geneva.
It will be measured through tangible results in the lives of the people we serve.
This report outlines areas where I believe ambitious but realistic changes can be implemented without creating unnecessary disruption on the ground.
It also reflects my previous experience as head of a major UN operational agency. My decade leading UNHCR gave me first-hand experience on the strengths of the system and challenges of interagency cooperation.
I saw the need to preserve an adequate level of autonomy to ensure flexible and efficient delivery, in line with the specific mandates that need to be implemented.
Yet in many field visits, I heard time and time again from colleagues and partners that we must do far better in working together as a system that delivers results for people.
We have entered a critical period for your concrete perspectives and ideas.
Many questions raised in this report will require answers and further consideration. We intend to seek these answers jointly with you. Repositioning the UN development system is indeed our shared responsibility.
Just as our founders looked well into the future when they shaped and adopted the UN Charter, we too have a collective responsibility to invest in the United Nations of tomorrow and the world if we want an agenda 2030 to be the success it deserves to be.
I am convinced that, together, we can take the bold steps that the new agenda requires and that humanity also deserves.
I now look forward to hearing your questions and suggestions, and I hope more suggestions and proposals than questions.
UN Needs a 21st Century Development System By António Guterres Reprint | | Print | Send by email Secretary-General António Guterres on his Vision for the Future UNITED NATIONS, Jul 6 2017 (IPS) - Allow me first of all to express my deep gratitude to all the colleagues that have worked hard - in the Secretariat, in the Agencies, Funds and Programmes - to allow for this report to be ready on time. And to the leader of the team - the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed - who has been not only the inspiration, but also the centre of management and strength to make things happen, and to make things happen with the required ambition and with the required detail. UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Credit: UN Photo I also want to thank Member States for the very important possibility of interaction that were given to us allowing, even in this first report, to take as much as possible into account - the concerns, the aspirations, the desires of Member States, because this basically is a reform to serve Member States in the implementation of an agenda in which the leaders are the Member States themselves. The 2030 Agenda is our boldest agenda for humanity, and requires equally bold changes in the UN development system. You tasked me with putting forward proposals that match the ambition needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This report is the first step of that response. It is my offering for debate and discussion on what I am convinced is the most ambitious yet realistic roadmap for change. It includes 38 concrete ideas and actions to usher in a new era of strengthened implementation founded on leadership, cohesion, accountability and results. This effort is not about what individual entities do alone - it is about what we can and must do together to better support your efforts in implementing such a transformative agenda. The UN development system has a proud history of delivering results. Across the decades, it has generated ideas and solutions that have changed the world for millions of the poorest and most vulnerable people on earth. In many countries, we have supported flagship national policies and the reinforcement of institutions, which have made a profound difference in people's lives. The system made significant contributions to supporting countries in their pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, the most successful global anti-poverty effort in history. All of you were critical to producing the 2030 Agenda, the most ambitious anti-poverty, pro-planet agenda ever adopted by the UN. Yet we all know that the system is not functioning at its full potential. We are held back by insufficient coordination and accountability on system-wide activities. Yes, there may often be good reasons why things are the way the way they are. But far too much of what we do is rooted in the past rather than linked to the future we want. We need to change in order to secure the promise of sustainable development, human rights and peace for our grandchildren. And we have no time to lose. The 2030 Agenda points the way and has to be given life as the defining agenda of our time, because it is the integrated platform to respond to the needs of people and governments. The UN development system, therefore, must itself be far more integrated in our response … more aligned … and more able to work seamlessly across sectors and specializations - and to do so more effectively. Our shared goal is a 21st century UN development system that is focussed more on people and less on process, more on results for the most poor and excluded and less on bureaucracy, more on integrated support to the 2030 Agenda and less on "business as usual". This means asking some deep and difficult questions about our structures, skillsets and the architecture for action. This is our collective responsibility. After all, sustainable development is pivotal to the lives of every person, everywhere. It is a means to improve the lives of people, communities and societies without harming our planet; and a route to advancing the realization of economic, cultural, social and political rights for all as well as for enabling global peace and security. It is our most powerful tool for prevention. For all these reasons, I made a very conscious decision to be as explicit as possible in this first report in the interests of full transparency - to put ideas on the table in black and white for discussion and debate. This report is also an integral component of a broader reform agenda to strengthen the United Nations to better meet today's complex and interlinked challenges. These actions include reforming the peace and security architecture - giving adequate priority to prevention and sustaining peace. It includes management reform - to simplify procedures and decentralize decisions, with transparency, efficiency and accountability. It includes clear strategies and actions to achieve gender parity, end sexual exploitation and abuse; and strengthen counter-terrorism structures. But reform is not an end in itself.
 (To be continued)

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