28 June 2018
Secretary-General Announces Head of Transition Team for UN Development System
Photo by IISD/ENB
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Under the oversight of the Deputy Secretary-General, a Transition Team will be guided by the provisions of UNGA resolution 72/279 on repositioning the UN development system in light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Robert Piper currently serves as the Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of External Relations at UNDP and has 30 years of experience at the UN, including as resident and humanitarian coordinator and UNDP resident representative.

26 June 2018: UN Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed the leader of a transition team to provide “strategic leadership and oversight” to all aspects of the repositioning of the UN development system, following the adoption of UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 72/279. The repositioning process aims to better align the UN’s operational activities for development with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

By the resolution adopted on 31 May 2018, the Assembly sets out decisions, requests and calls related to:

  • a “new generation” of UN country teams;
  • “reinvigorating” the role of the Resident Coordinator (RC) system;
  • revamping the regional approach;
  • strategic direction, oversight and accountability for system-wide results;
  • funding the UN development system; and
  • following up on the repositioning efforts at the global, regional and country levels.

On follow-up, Member States request the Secretary-General to ensure an “effective and efficient” transition to a repositioned UN development system, “in particular to a reinvigorated RC system.” In a letter to Member States on 14 June, Guterres wrote that he was setting up a “lean” transition team that would work for 18 to 24 months, relying heavily on inputs from UN development system entities, including through dedicated working groups and overall steering by the UN Sustainable Development Group.

With an announcement on 26 June, the Secretary-General indicates that the Transition Team will: operate under a “broader reform coordination structure;” work under the oversight of the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed; and be headed by Robert Piper, who currently leads the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Bureau of External Relations (BERA). Piper is from Australia and has served in various countries as resident and humanitarian coordinator and UNDP resident representative.

Among other next steps on implementing the repositioning resolution, Mohammed is expected to launch discussions with Member States to develop a plan for reforms to the RC system, and Guterres said he will soon launch the mandated Funding Dialogue to operationalize the Funding Compact.

By the 31 May resolution, the UNGA also “looks forward to the update by the Secretary-General” on efforts to align the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) with the 2030 Agenda. [Biographical Note] [UNGA Resolution 72/279] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on UNGA resolution] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on 14 June letter] [All SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of reform process]

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