25 August 2018: A representative of the UN-Water Secretary and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) updated UN-Water Members and Partners on the UN reform process, during the 29th UN-Water meeting. Nicolas Franke outlined the three major reform tracks currently in motion: UN management; UN development system; and peace and security.

The UN-Water meeting convened in Stockholm, Sweden, from 24-25 August 2018. Franke informed participants that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has developed reports outlining the recommended reforms, guided by four themes: prioritize prevention; strengthen the field focus; deliver on the SDGs; and break down silos.

Elaborating on the reforms to the UN development system – also referred to as “repositioning” – Franke said it seeks to bring seven transformations, resulting in: a system-wide strategic document; a new generation of country teams; impartial, independent and empowered Resident Coordinators; a coordinated, reprofiled and restructured regional approach; a funding compact; a partnership for the 2030 Agenda; and direction, oversight and accountability. At the end of May 2018, following the presentation of these ideas to Member States, the 193 UN Member States adopted a resolution that mandates the Secretary-General and the UN system to move forward with the reform process. In particular, Franke noted that they approved measures to reinvigorate the Resident Coordinator (RC) system, endorsed the proposed approach for a new generation of UN country teams (UNCTs), and agreed to revamp the regional approach. He said they also welcomed the proposal for a funding compact.

On next steps, Franke highlighted efforts by the Secretary-General to engage all countries, UN entities and other partners in transitioning to a renewed UN development system, starting in January 2019. He said the Secretary-General has set up a team headed by the Deputy Secretary-General to implement the plan. In addition, Guterres will present an implementation plan to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on reinvigorating the RC system by mid-September 2018, and will provide a progress report to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in early 2019, including an updated system-wide strategic document that is specific, concrete and targeted in addressing gaps and overlaps.

During the discussion, UN-Water Members and Partners inquired about expectations for the level of transformation that the changes could bring. In this regard, they highlighted the need for funding to ensure that the reform measures can be implemented. The strong support from Member States for reform was also emphasized. [Backgrounder on UN reform process] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on 29th Meeting]