UN Member States and officials exchanged views on their desired content for the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) 2016, on which governments are expected to begin negotiating in October 2016.
The QCPR is the UNGA mechanism to assess UN operational activities for development and the functioning of the UN Development System (UNDS) every four years.
Discussions on the 2016 QCPR will focus on ensuring that the UNDS is fit to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
28 September 2016: UN Member States and officials exchanged views on their desired content for the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) 2016, on which governments are expected to begin negotiating in October 2016. The QCPR is the UNGA mechanism to assess UN operational activities for development and the functioning of the UN Development System (UNDS) every four years. Discussions on the 2016 QCPR will focus on ensuring that the UNDS is fit to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The final module of a five-part training series on the QCPR, organized by the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and the Permanent Mission of Switzerland, took place on 28 September 2016. The training series started in March 2016 and covered UNDS functions, funding for UN operational activities for development, and their operational implications of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Héctor Alejandro Palma Cerna (Honduras), Vice-President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), noted that the QCPR 2016 should provide both a “clear long-term vision” for aligning the System with the SDGs, as well as an understanding of the steps to be taken in the next four years. He said the QCPR should serve as a monitoring and follow-up mechanism, enabling dialogue between Member States and the UNDS to ensure alignment with the 2030 Agenda.
Amir Abdulla, Vice-Chair of the UN Development Group (UNDG), said QCPR 2016 should: endorse a new series of UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs), which bridge the humanitarian- development divide; scale up the ‘Delivering as One’ program; reflect issues that UN agencies face in order to drive their strategic alignment with the 2030 Agenda; and be ambitious but achievable and “lay things out in a way that can be done.” He argued that the reforms being discussed would use ten of the 2030 Agenda’s 15 years, which would not leave enough time to achieve the SDGs.
Stephen Browne, Co-Director, Future United Nations Development System, explained that, after working in the UNDS for over 30 years, he concluded that fundamental UNDS reform is impossible for several reasons, including that: the lack of consolidation in UNDS serves governments’ purposes; the organizations within UNDS do not want to give up autonomy and independence, and compete for funding; and donor governments lack a common vision, so prefer a project-based approach and earmarked funding. He said QCPR 2016 should: employ a monitoring and reporting mechanism such as that used by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC); give Resident Coordinators (RCs) the authority to “filter” UNDS responsibilities on the ground, as earmarked funding proliferates mandates; require RCs to have expertise in the areas in which they are appointed; and empower the RCs to decide how pooled funding at the national level is dispensed to other UN agencies in the country.
Navid Hanif, DESA, noted that the preparations for QCPR negotiations have never been as extensive as they have been for the 2016 QCPR. He said the QCPR will be only a first step in aligning UNDS with the 2030 Agenda, not an all-encompassing program. He suggested that QCPR 2016: focus first and foremost on UNDS’ architecture in the field, at the country-level; and include suggestions for extending the funding base. He said that in every system there is a moment for change, which if not grasped then cannot be retrieved, and for UNDS, QCPR 2016 represents that moment, as the momentum from the SDGs’ adoption will not exist in 2020.
In the ensuing discussion, delegates discussed whether the QCPR 2016 should address: the functioning of UN’s Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB); the reporting lines of the Resident Coordinator (RC) system; and the role of the parliaments. Norway asked for suggestions that increase RCs’ authority but are “less radical” than making the RCs independent from UNDP, given the high costs that such a change would imply. Switzerland inquired whether QCPR 2016 should be more prescriptive or more strategic, in order to gain traction for implementation.
Hanif informed participants that a first draft of the text for negotiations will be issued on 17 October 2016. The intergovernmental negotiations will be informed by the dialogue process convened by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on the longer-term positioning of the UNDS in the context of the 2030 Agenda, which took place from December 2014 to May 2015 (first phase) and from December 2015 to July 2016 (second phase). The Dialogue fed into the UN Secretary-General’s recommendations report for the QCPR, which was released in August 2016, and which will also inform the intergovernmental negotiations on the QCPR. [IISD RS Policy Update on the QCPR] [Report of the Secretary-General on the QCPR of operational activities for development of the UN system: Recommendations] [Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (QCPR): 2016] [QCPR Website] [ECOSOC Dialogue Website] [IISD RS Coverage of ECOSOC Dialogue] [IISD RS Coverage of QCPR Training Series]