Governments Exchange Views on UN Development System Reform
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The UN General Assembly's Second Committee held a meeting on operational activities for development, during which Member States exchanged views on reforms to the UN Development System.

Russia stressed that introducing any changes to the UN development system are possible only with broad consensus among Member States, and Cameroon said any adaptation or repositioning must be based on an intergovernmental resolution.

25 October 2017: Governments stressed that reforms to the UN development system should address the imbalance between core and non‑core resources, strengthen South‑South cooperation and focus on delivering on national development priorities, during a meeting of the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the topic of operational activities for development.

The Secretary-General will deliver his second report on reform of the UN development system in December.

The meeting took place on 25 October 2017, in New York, US. Opening the discussion, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed noted the UN Secretary-General’s desire for Resident Coordinators to be highly skilled individuals who connect the global and local to serve one agenda on the ground, and who help governments with partnerships and financing. She said her team is taking steps to support financing strategies, and engaging internationally to ensure fulfillment of commitments on official development assistance (ODA) and to shape the policy context for financing decisions. Mohammed noted that the Secretary-General will deliver his second report on reform of the UN development system in December, and these issues will be considered by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in February 2018 and, subsequently, the UNGA.

Navid Hanif, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of UNGA resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) of operational activities for development of the UN system: funding analysis (A/72/61-E/2017/4). Hanif noted that the UN system is currently spending US$26.7 billion in funding for the 2030 Agenda, which represents two thirds of the financing received for all the three UN pillars combined.

In the ensuing discussion, Ecuador for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), Viet Nam for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and China said ODA should be a key determinant in leveraging other international sources of financing. Supported by others, they called for developed countries to meet their ODA commitments.

Also on financing, El Salvador for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (CELAC) said the UN development system should incorporate and support South‑South and triangular cooperation “under the leadership of developing countries.” Kenya requested information on trends in South‑South cooperation financing.

The Philippines called on Member States and the UN system to operationalize the critical mass of core resources, incentivize donors, broaden the donor base and ensure full cost recovery. Costa Rica highlighted the need to widen the selection criteria for access to development finance.

The Russian Federation stressed that changes to the UN development system can only be introduced with broad consensus among Member States. She urged the Secretariat to submit additional details about the ramifications of any proposed changes. Mexico said the core forum for the discussions on the UN development system reform should be ECOSOC, which could be transformed into a deliberative body that holds effective discussions for achieving the 2030 Agenda.

Cameroon said any adaptation or repositioning of the UN development system must be based on an intergovernmental resolution. He added that the discussion of development system changes must avoid the areas of conflict prevention and peace and security. Republic of Korea said the reform efforts should “de‑silo” humanitarian, development and peacebuilding work on the ground.

Bangladesh, for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), said there must be a strong presence of the development system in all vulnerable States. Iran recommended the reforms focus on the quality of work rather than administrative considerations such as reducing programme activities.

Maldives for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) said the entire system must discourage highly earmarked non‑core resources, which encourage silos and disconnection from priority areas. Nauru for the Pacific Small Island Developing States (P-SIDS) noted that a single Resident Coordinator oversees ten countries in the Pacific, and this poses significant challenges. South Africa said the Resident Coordinator system should remain “under the leadership and ownership of national governments.”

Trinidad and Tobago observed that operational activities for development must encourage national capacity-building by ensuring the promotion and transfer of new technologies to developing countries. He added that the UN development system should enable and facilitate middle income countries’ (MICs) access to the full range of services available throughout the UN development system. Belarus called for the establishment of a MIC-specific strategy. Jamaica noted that regional policy coordination is operating at a suboptimal level due to an unclear division of labor and the inefficient use of UN policy capacities on regional priorities. [UN Meetings Coverage] [Second Committee Website] [Second Committee Calendar of Meetings][SDG Knowledge Hub Policy Brief: UN Considering Reforms to Deliver the SDGs]

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