Regional Commissions Consider Objectives for UN Reform
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The Regional Coordination Mechanism's 23rd meeting took place from 20-21 November 2017, in Beirut, Lebanon.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General said the Regional Economic Commissions have a key role to play “as the regional think-tanks” that the UN system and the regions require.

From an environmental perspective, and considering the region’s priorities, UNEP identified five nexus areas that should be considered as entry points for an integrated approach to implementing the SDGs.

21 November 2017: The UN Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) conveved a meeting to identify ways for the regions to engage with the UN Secretary-General’s agenda for reform of the UN development system (UNDS), and to discuss entry points for an integrated, cross-sectoral approach to policy making in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The RCM’s 23rd meeting took place from 20-21 November 2017, at the UN-House in Beirut, Lebanon, and was held back-to-back with the regional meeting of the UN Development Group (UNDG). The meeting aimed to respond to the call for closer collaboration, deeper integration and enhanced policy and programme coherence, as expressed in the Secretary-General’s report titled, ‘Repositioning the UN development system to Deliver on the 2030 Agenda.’ The report, released in June 2017, captures the development track of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ reform agenda. The other tracks are peace and security, and management.

Addressing the meeting, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed reminded participants that the UNDS reform process is taking place in the context of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR). She said the Regional Economic Commissions have a key role to play as the “regional think-tanks” that the system and the regions require, and as well as hubs for partnerships. To recalibrate the regional system to support the 2030 Agenda, Mohammed stressed the need to: optimize existing arrangements; rationalize how the current RCM Working Groups and Task Forces work in light of the 2030 Agenda and the UNDS reforms; and pursue a longer-term transition to well-defined functions and responsibilities.

Martti Antola, UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA), reviewed the implications of the QCPR on the regional work and programmes. He identified as objectives of the reform at the regional level:

  • More sophisticated policy integration skills and a cohesive policy voice on issues like trade-offs and prioritization of the SDGs;
  • Capacity to assist Member States in developing project financing proposals, including for the private sector and international financial institutions (IFIs);
  • Regional approaches to cross-border challenges and regional priorities;
  • Revamped capacities to support partnership building through provision of multi-stakeholder platforms;
  • Co-location or pooling of system-wide expertise and assets across the UNDS;
  • Limiting overlaps through adequate division of labor and collaborative approaches;
  • Harmonizing data and reporting systems across agencies; and
  • Cutting across the peace, development and human rights pillars.

David Griggs, Monash University (Australia) and Warwick University (UK), said that to operationalize linkages among the SDGs, UN agencies should help to clarify what needs to be tackled at the national and regional levels, respectively. UN agencies could bring additional value by: promoting an integrated humanitarian-development approach to SDG implementation; and conducting monitoring, follow-up and review on SDG implementation at a regional level, he said.

In an input to the RCM, the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) underscores the challenge of finding relevant synergies between SDGs and identifying potential trade-offs to offset. UNEP suggests finding policy solutions that serve as many SDG targets as possible in a coherent way, bringing together the economic, social and environmental dimensions. From an environmental perspective, and considering the region’s priorities, UNEP identifies five nexus areas that should be considered:

  1. Human Well-being • Healthy Environment
  2. Water and Sanitation • Clean Energy • Food Security
  3. Sustainable Consumption an Production • Sustainable Cities
  4. Healthy Oceans • Trade Opportunities • Pollution
  5. Disasters • Conflict • Migration

The World Food Program (WFP) input to the RCM notes that the crisis in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region presents several entry points for determining approaches by UN humanitarian agencies and partners. Crisis-affected countries, the note explains, could offer opportunities to leverage the humanitarian-development nexus and contribute to longer-term resilience and stability, by addressing the root causes of vulnerability. Other possible entry points are linking emergency interventions to strengthening livelihoods, and supporting ongoing reforms of social protection system as instruments of social inclusion, stability, enhanced food security and poverty reduction outcomes.

The RCM was established in 1998 by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to hold regular interagency meetings in each of the five regions (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean and Western Asia), in order to improve coordination among the work programmes of the UN entities in each region. ESCWA was mandated to serve as RCM secretariat. Members include all the UN regional agencies, the League of Arab States (LAS), and representatives from regional and international financial institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). [Event Website] [Deputy Secretary-General Statement] [ESCWA Press Release] [UN Press Release] [UNEP Input] [WFP Input]

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