UN Member States and civil society representatives discussed the longer-term positioning of the UN development system at a hearing organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The civil society hearing was part of a series of workshops and retreats on the topic continuing throughout May and in the fall of 2015.
28 April 2015: UN Member States and civil society representatives discussed the longer-term positioning of the UN development system at a hearing organized by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The civil society hearing was part of a series of workshops and retreats on the topic continuing throughout May and in the fall of 2015.
The hearing took place on 28 April 2015, in New York, US, under the guidance of Ambassador María Emma Mejía Vélez (Colombia), ECOSOC Vice-President.
In a session on ‘Key functions, funding, governance and organizational arrangements issues,’ Mejía Vélez said the UN development system needs to: rethink its function given the changing needs of developing countries; support national priorities; focus on institutional building and capacity-building, taking into account the needs of middle income countries (MICs); develop partnerships; and step up the quality of governance and coherence both within the system and with other development systems.
Noting that the UN cannot perform effectively if its budget is constrained, Debra Jones, Save the Children, called for strong commitments on financial means of implementation (MOI). She also stressed the need for: respect for country ownership; engagement of civil society; participatory accountability and review mechanisms; establishing a global partnership on data; and help for the country-level implementation from the UN country teams.
Marina Ponti, Global Policy Forum, said the UN development system needs to: coordinate economic and financial policies at the global level by providing political space where consensus can be reached; ensure coherence between sustainable development, human rights, and peace and security by introducing a more systematic approach to assessing the impact of development on human rights; and foster UN Member States’ accountability for their shared but differentiated responsibility.
Roberto Bissio, Executive Director, Instituto del Tercer Mundo, said that 20 years ago the UN was running on 80% funding from Member States and 20% from other funds, while now the proportion is inversed. He noted that extra-budgetary funds are often in conflict with the mandate of the UN agencies because of the “pick and choose” capacity of those who ensure the funds. Bissio added that the Global Partnership is between governments, and should remain that way for the UN to keep its legitimacy. Mauricio Fávero, Permanent Mission of Brazil, said the UN needs to help implement the SDGs in a balanced way, with only the social pillar taking prevalence, since “all agree” that poverty eradication is the major goal. He added that the UN should provide the narrative and policy space, and monitor other institutions that will have a role in implementing the post-2015 development agenda.
Yasuaki Momita, Permanent Mission of Japan, said the UN system must share responsibility with other stakeholders, having in mind those stakeholders’ comparative advantages. On trust funds, he underlined the need to consider Member States’ constraints, and suggested providing “appropriate status” to each Member State that substantially contributes, as incentive. Charles Chauvel, UN Development Programme (UNDP), noted that the most successful country teams are those that establish strong connections with national civil society, as civil society best knows the realities on the ground.
In a panel on ‘Key elements to ensure the necessary capacity and sustainable impact,’ Sophia Garcia Garcia, Beyond 2015, called for capacity building to allow people to be agents of change, as they are the ones who can foster the most appropriate MOI. She stressed the need for making the UN better known at the national level. Margo LaZaro, International Council of Women and Global Family, called for new guidelines that are more inclusive of partnerships with the civil society and the private sector, adding that it is also the responsibility of civil society to open up.
Afolabi Sam-Adeboye, Gabasawa Women & Children Empowerment Initiative, explained that in developing countries it is more difficult for civil society to get engaged and make its voice heard in governance. He called for the UN system to give civil society: a stronger role; encouragement; motivation; and less strict rules for the selection process, as the current requirements are so large that many civil society organizations lack the ability to make their voice heard.
Fawaz Aliu, Permanent Mission of Ghana, noted that civil society is funded by donors, thus its agenda is driven by donors, and stressed the need to look at bridging the gaps between these donors’ interests and the governments’ interests in implementation. Liza Barrie, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), highlighted the need for strengthening coherence in handling the multiple challenges of development, especially through South-South and triangular cooperation.
The next ECOSOC workshops on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system will take place on 8 May, 13 May and 27 May, to be followed by a retreat on 29-30 May 2015. The series of workshops will continue in the fall of 2015 with three other workshops and two retreats. [Hearing Webpage] [Roadmap of the ECOSOC dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system] [IISD RS Sources] [IISD RS Story on First Workshop]