UN Member States commenced informal consultations on the 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR), which is expected to guide the alignment of the UN Development System (UNDS) with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The text contains six chapters that address: general guidelines for the QCPR; the contribution of the UNDS' operational activities for development; their funding; ways of strengthening their intergovernmental governance; measures for improving UNDS' functioning; and follow-up and monitoring.
7 November 2016: UN Member States have commenced informal consultations on the 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR). This process is expected to guide the alignment of the UN Development System (UNDS) with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The QCPR is the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) mechanism to assess UN operational activities for development and the functioning of the UNDS, and is conducted every four years. For the 2016 QCPR, the consultations are being facilitated by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland. Following the circulation of a draft of the QCPR resolution by the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), delegates met in New York, US, on 1, 4 and 7 November to exchange general views on the document.
The text is structured in a preamble and six chapters that address: general guidelines for the QCPR; the contribution of the UNDS’ operational activities for development; their funding; ways of strengthening their intergovernmental governance; measures for improving UNDS’ functioning; and follow-up and monitoring.
Chapter 1 on ‘General guidelines’ highlights principles that should guide UNDS’ support to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as: respect for national ownership and leadership over UNDS operational activities; adaptability and tailored responsiveness of UNDS to countries’ needs and circumstances; countries bearing the primary responsibility for their development; support of an enabling international economic environment; SDGs’ mainstreaming in the work of all the UNDS entities; and system-wide coherence and coordination. The chapter also contains a call for the UNDS to support developing countries in their efforts to achieve internationally agreed development goals, in particular African countries, the least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), and countries in conflict and post-conflict situations.
Many developed countries opposed singling out certain groups of countries, noting that the 2030 Agenda calls for leaving no one behind, irrespective of where a person lives. G-77/ China said it is essential to mention specific groups of countries, as the principle also refers also to leaving no country behind.
G-77/ China underlined that strengthening links between development and humanitarian efforts should not lead to diverting development resources to humanitarian assistance, and vice versa.
Chapter 2 on the ‘Contribution of the operational activities for development of the UN system’ calls for an independent, system-wide mapping of mandates and existing capacities of UNDS, and a system-wide action plan with timetables, allocation of responsibilities and accountability frameworks. Many developed countries suggested a mapping of functions of the various UNDS entities rather than of their mandates, which are “traditional,” and they opposed the idea of a system-wide action plan. Also on this chapter, G-77/ China underlined that strengthening links between development and humanitarian efforts should not lead to diverting development resources to humanitarian assistance, and vice versa.
Chapter 3 on the ‘Funding of operational activities for development of the UN system’ urges donor countries to maintain and substantially increase their core contributions to UNDS, and to make their non-core contributions more flexible. Many developed countries stressed the need to move beyond the “donor-recipient” narrative, which they said is not suitable for the 2030 Agenda, and supported prominent references to the role of multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Chapter 4 on ‘Ways of strengthening the intergovernmental governance of operational activities for development of the UN system’ calls for: strengthening the role and capacity of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to coordinate and guide the UNDS; exploring options for the UN Development Group to evolve into a UN development system-wide mechanism; and any resource or policy commitment of all entities of UNDS to non-UN processes (such as the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation) to be formally decided at the intergovernmental level through relevant governing bodies. Many developed countries opposed expanding ECOSOC’s existing role, developing a system-wide mechanism, or micromanaging UNDS’ engagement in non-UN processes.
In Chapter 5 on ‘Measures for improving the functioning of UNDS,’ G-77/ China proposed to: include the governments of programme countries in the process of presentation, consideration and selection of Resident Coordinators (RC) from the initial phases of the process; achieve diversification in the composition of the RC system in terms of geographical distribution and gender, paying due regard to regions that are underrepresented; and call upon the UN Regional Commissions to continue to identify and respond to common regional development priorities.
Many developed countries cautioned against programme countries’ having control over the work of UNDS on the ground. They underlined that skills and achievements should be more important than geographical representative criteria in selecting RCs. They also opposed the “strong language” on Regional Commissions, preferring to reflect their relationship with the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
Chapter 6 on ‘Follow-up and monitoring’ calls for the establishment of a clear mechanism for system-wide monitoring and reporting on progress in UNDS’ implementation of the provisions contained in the QCPR, through a framework to be aligned with the SDGs. This idea was rejected by many developed countries.
On 10 November, governments will commence the first paragraph-by-paragraph reading of the draft and discuss changes and new language proposals. [IISD RS Reporting Sources] [IISD Policy Update on QCPR]