UN Development System Boosts Regional Level to Support 2030 Agenda
Photo by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
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UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed informed UN Member States of steps taken to strengthen the UN development system's regional level and its multi-country offices.

Seven countries that are serviced by the Caribbean MCO but do not have an office in country will now have a coordination office, and a road map has been created to establish a North Pacific office.

At the regional level, regional collaboration platforoms have been proposed, and knowledge hubs are being established in each region.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed informed UN Member States of steps taken to strengthen the UN development system’s regional level, and its multi-country offices (MCOs) in the Caribbean and Pacific, among other updates. The MCO and regional reviews are part of the repositioning process for the UN development system.

Mohammed is providing a series of briefings as well as written updates ahead of the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Operational Activities for Development segment (OAS), which will convene in May 2020.

In the briefing at UN Headquarters on 29 January 2020, Mohammed said the regions have been “the ‘forgotten level,’ largely left untouched in previous reform efforts.” But regional assets are critical to achieve the 2030 Agenda because of the cross-border nature of today’s greatest challenges, including climate, trade, health and conflict, she said. 

Mohammed reported on progress that has “significantly raised the bar” for the regional level, including:

  • Establishing inter-agency teams in each region, with a focus on “unpacking the five broad transformative areas” outlined in the Secretary-General’s 2019 report to ECOSOC;
  • Detailing the architecture of proposed regional collaboration platforms (RCPs);
  • Establishing a knowledge hub in each region, with the Arab region’s ‘Manara’ being the most advanced; and
  • Enhancing transparency at the regional level.

Mohammed said that beginning in 2021, ECOSOC will receive aggregated information on regional collaboration, a type of reporting that “does not currently exist and addresses a major gap in accountability.” 

On data and statistics, regional ‘SDG Gateways’ are being established for pooling SDG data for consistent analysis and action. The first SDG Gateways will launch in March 2020 in three regions: Arab States, the Asia-Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

In late February 2020, discussions will begin with each region on their specific initiatives. The review will be finalized by late March, she said, and she will discuss work plans and transitions in her visits to each region during its upcoming SDG Forum (Regional Forum for Sustainable Development).

On the MCO review, Mohammed explained that these are offices that cover mostly small islands, which to date have had limited attention to each country’s specificities. After visiting 15 countries in 2019, the Secretariat presented recommendations for improving the UN development system’s support in MCO settings. Subsequently, an inter-agency working group and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS) facilitated more specific consultations on putting each proposal into practice. 

Mohammed said UN development system entities have made specific commitments including increased financing, data systems, physical presences, technical capacities, and policy advice. In addition, coordination capacities have been provided with greater resources. As a result of this process, seven countries that are serviced by the Caribbean MCO but do not have an office in country will now have a coordination office; and a road map has been created to establish a North Pacific office.

She said OHRLLS continues to hold dialogues with all countries concerned to address remaining questions on substance and process. Resident Coordinators are ensuring that “national counterparts are fully in the loop” and “there will be no implementation before the ECOSOC has the opportunity to consider all proposals” at the OAS session.

The OAS will convene from 19-21 May 2020, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The segment will review four years of implementation of the UNGA guidance contained in the 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of UN system operational activities for development (QCPR), as well as progress in the repositioning of the UN development system as mandated in UNGA resolution 72/279.

The UNGA will conduct its next QCPR in late 2020. The UN Secretary-General’s report to the ECOSOC operational activities segment is also the main Secretariat input to the UNGA for its QCPR deliberations. ECOSOC’s webpage on the QCPR notes that the 2020 QCPR is “expected to build on the outcomes of the 2019 SDG Summit, thus placing an unprecedented focus on supporting Member States in accelerating progress towards the SDGs.” In addition, it notes that the UNGA will discuss the QCPR “on the heels” of the high-level event commemorating the UN’s 75th anniversary, which could position it to “give new impetus and high-level political guidance to the UN development system repositioning and its efforts to work in an effective and impactful way across peace, development, humanitarian affairs and human rights.” [UN Deputy Secretary-General’s remarks] [ECOSOC website on OAS

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