UNGA President Circulates Recommendations for Synergy among UN Agendas
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The UNGA President released a report for Member States’ consideration that contains recommendations on how to move the UN beyond traditional policy silos and towards integration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development across the entire system, as well as a timeline for this process.

One of the recommendations is that the UNGA committees and bureaus hold joint meetings to discuss how the UNGA’s work relates to the implementation of 2030 Agenda, and seek advice from the UN Secretary-General on the feasibility of issuing joint UN reports for Committee resolutions.

17 July 2017: The President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Peter Thomson circulated a report to Member States containing recommendations on enhancing synergies and coherence and reducing overlaps in the agendas of the UNGA, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and their subsidiary bodies, in light of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Four of the recommendations focus on how to move the UN beyond traditional policy silos and towards integration of the 2030 Agenda across the work of the UN, while the fifth proposal contains a timeline for this process.

The recommendations are the result of a six-month process of consultations with Member States, civil society and UN stakeholders, led by Gillian Bird, Permanent Representative of Australia, and Martin Garcia Moritan, Permanent Representative of Argentina. In his letter accompanying the report, the UNGA President encourages Member States to reflect on the recommendations within the context of the on-going consultations of the Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Revitalization of the Work of UNGA. He also invites Member States to consider the proposal to continue this process during UNGA’s 72 session.

The report notes that, while it is clear that the UN Second (Economic and Financial) and Third (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) Committees will be the most involved in the implementation and follow up of the 2030 Agenda, the linkages to the other UN Committees must be strengthened. Specifically, the text states that the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) must ensure its focus on the 2030 Agenda.

The document reflects conceptual differences about what “addressing gaps and duplication” mean: for some it means mainstreaming and focusing the work of the UN; for others it means developing supplementary agenda items. The co-facilitators stress the “strong need” for Member States to agree on a framework to address gaps and duplication in the agendas of UN bodies.

The document reports a willingness by all parties to look at the 2030 Agenda horizontally, through the lens of the entire UN.

Noting that historically the division of work of the UN has been vertical, with the division of Committees by different subjects with almost no mechanism of dialogue and interaction between them, the text notes that discussions indicated a willingness by all parties to look at the 2030 Agenda horizontally, through the lens of the entire UN.

The first recommendation is that the UNGA committees and bureaus hold joint meetings to discuss how the UNGA’s work relates to the implementation of 2030 Agenda, and seek advice from the UN Secretary-General on the feasibility of issuing joint UN reports for Committee resolutions.

The second recommendation is for the ECOSOC President and the UNGA to convene an annual briefing for Member States, outlining connections between the UNGA’s work on the 2030 Agenda, taking into account the sub-set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) annually discussed at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The third recommendation is that future work on this process take into account other ongoing processes related to the 2030 Agenda, such as reform of the UN development system and the review of UNGA resolution 68/1 on the work of ECOSOC.

The fourth recommendation is for the 72nd UNGA’s General Committee to present proposals on gaps and duplications in the UNGA’s agenda as they relate to the 2030 Agenda, based on the 2016 report produced by a small group of Member States, ‘Report on Strategic Alignment of future sessions of the General Assembly with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’

The fifth recommendation is for the UNGA President to consider the feasibility of completing the alignment process by 2019, in order to align it with the HLPF session that will be held under UNGA auspices. [Report of the Co-Facilitators on the consultations on the alignment of the work of the UN with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development][SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Member States’ Reactions to the Recommendations][UNGA Resolution 68/1]

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