UN Deputy Secretary-General Reports on Resident Coordinator System Reform
UN Photo/Kim Haughton
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The publication responds to UNGA’s request for the UNSDG Chair to report annually on the operational, administrative, and financing aspects of newly established Development Coordination Office, which is tasked with the management of the Resident Coordinator system.

The report notes that the RC function has been delinked from the UN Development Programme, and is now fully dedicated to coordinating development activities on the ground.

The report will be presented to UN Member States during ECOSOC's 2019 Operational Activities for Development segment.

18 April 2019: The UN Deputy-Secretary General, as Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG), issued an update on the reform of the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) system. The report will be presented to UN Member States during the 2019 Operational Activities for Development Segment (OAS) of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In its resolution 72/279, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) decided to reform the UN development system to better respond to the 2030 Agenda, including a “reinvigorated, empowered, and independent” RC system. Pursuant to that resolution, the RC function was delinked from the UN Development Programme (UNDP), through a process detailed in previous SDG Knowledge Hub stories. During the OAS, convening from 21-23 May 2019, in New York, US, governments will have the opportunity to provide feedback on the ongoing changes.

The document titled, ‘Development Coordination Office: Report of the Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group,’ reports that the RC function is now fully dedicated to coordinating development activities on the ground. The report explains that the new RC system brings together the capacity, reach, and impact of the UN development system with the expertise of national partners, in order to support sustainable development “more coherently, effectively, and efficiently.” It notes that the reform was designed to enable a coherent and well-coordinated response by UN country teams in the delivery of integrated support across the SDGs, for the achievement of national development priorities and needs. The 129 RCs are designated representatives of the UN Secretary-General for development operations at the country level, leading the implementation of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF – which has been redesigned and renamed the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework). According to the report, the reform enables RCs to provide full-time, independent leadership for UN coordination at the country level, working collaboratively with UN country teams, guiding strategic policy, and enabling “innovative partnerships and investments” for the SDGs.

The cost-sharing arrangement for the RC system has been implemented swiftly, the report notes.

The RC system is funded through a hybrid model set out in UNGA resolution 72/279. The model comprises three funding streams: voluntary contributions, a cost-sharing arrangement among UNSDG entities, and a levy on tightly earmarked contributions to UN development activities. The report notes that the cost-sharing arrangement “has been implemented swiftly”: of the total USD 77.5 million expected, USD 75 million has been transferred to the special purpose trust fund by 16 of the 19 UNSDG entities contributing to the cost-sharing arrangement.

After an intensive consultative process of technical meetings as part of the funding dialogue for the overarching UN development system reform, UN Member States agreed on operational guidance to implement the coordination levy. The guidance was circulated to governments on 19 March 2019, marking the start of the implementation of the levy. According to the Chair’s report, since that date, 14 countries have formally confirmed that they have opted for the agency-administered levy collection option, and one country has chosen the donor-administered option. Eight countries have confirmed that the coordination levy should now be collected on their tightly earmarked, third-party, non-core contributions for development-related activities. The entry into force of the levy depends on donor-specific arrangements, and the levy does not apply to agreements signed before 1 March 2019.

The report responds also to the UNGA’s request (contained in resolution 72/279) for the UNSDG Chair to report annually on the operational, administrative and financing aspects of the newly established Development Coordination Office. Coming only a few months after the establishment of the new RC system on 1 January 2019 and the related transformation of the Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO) into the Development Coordination Office, the report suggests that it be considered a “transitional update.” The Office is now a stand-alone coordination office within the Secretariat, while it previously functioned under the leadership of the UN Development Group (UNDG) Chair and guidance of the UNDG. The Office is headed by an Assistant Secretary-General who reports to the Deputy Secretary-General, and the Office serves as the secretariat for the UNSDG. In December 2018 Robert Piper of Australia was appointed to lead the Office, which assumed managerial and oversight functions of the new RC system in January 2019.

The report is presented at a “companion” to the 2019 report of the UN Secretary-General on the implementation of UNGA resolution 71/243 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) of operational activities for development of the UN system (A/74/73-E/2019/4). Together, the two reports aim to provide clarity on all mandates for the reform of the UN development system, as “all transformative measures underway are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.” [Publication: Development Coordination Office: Report of the Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group]


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