UN Member States were recently briefed on initiatives underway by the UN General Assembly, the UN Economic and Social Council, and the UN Secretariat, including the creation of a high-level panel on financial accountability, transparency and integrity aimed at helping to realize the SDGs by 2030. The officials also highlighted that 2020 is a “QCPR year” and outlined preparations for that process.

Speaking at the briefing on 28 January 2020 at UN Headquarters in New York, US, UNGA President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande and ECOSOC President Mona Juul introduced the panel, known by its acronym FACTI, as a joint initiative of the two intergovernmental bodies. Recalling that the outcome document of every ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development (FfD) Follow-up has stressed the need to eliminate illicit finance, Juul said the FACTI panel is a way to make process in that area.

Muhammad-Bande said the panel’s purpose is to: review current challenges and gaps in the international architecture, and then generate proposals to update or develop financing frameworks and their governance arrangements, including on ways to build capacity for more effective implementation. The Panel will be co-chaired by the former Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and the former Prime Minister of Niger, Ibrahim Mayaki. The composition of the panel is underway.

Juul said the panel will have a public launch on 2 March 2020, followed by at least four face-to-face meetings in different regions of the world within 2020. The panel will produce an interim report in July 2020 and a final report with recommendations in January 2021. The secretariat will be hosted at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), with financial support from the Government of Norway and the Office of the UNGA President.

Turning to key events on the calendar for 2020, Juul noted that the UNGA will conduct its periodic review of the UN system’s operational activities for development – the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, or QCPR – and that ECOSOC’s session of the Operational Activities Segment in May 2020 will inform and guide the UNGA’s deliberations. The UNGA is expected to produce a resolution on this matter at the end of 2020. Juul said that the 2020 OAS, therefore, will “take stock of the implementation of the 2016 QCPR resolution, as well as assess progress in the major on-going reforms for the repositioning of the UN development system.”

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed also highlighted the importance of the “QCPR year,” and observed that the OAS segment in May is an opportunity for Member States to: “consolidate ECOSOC’s role as the main accountability platform” for the new Resident Coordinator system and the wider UN development system; and assess how the reforms to the UN development system are unfolding on the ground.

She also anticipated a decision by Member States on forthcoming proposals by the UN Secretary-General on strengthening the UN’s regional support and its multi-country offices (MCOs). Mohammed concluded that the 2020 QCPR resolution could emerge as a “a forward-leaning tool that takes the system’s collective accountability for results to the next level.”

On other upcoming events in 2020, the Deputy Secretary-General said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will convene an “SDG Action Forum” in September, with the aim of building on the HLPF’s findings and keeping the SDGs at the top of the political agenda.

In preparation for the July 2020 HLPF session convened by ECOSOC, Juul noted its aim of advancing the cross-cutting actions identified in the September 2019 political declaration on the SDGs, and said it should “reflect on making the best use of the entry points for accelerated SDG implementation” identified in the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR). Juul also noted that ECOSOC is working with the countries that will present Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) in July to ensure they are “as evidence based and inclusive as possible” to maximize peer learning during the HLPF.

Other upcoming events include:

  • A UNGA interactive dialogue on ending hunger, aiming to map a new trajectory to achieving zero hunger by 2030, on 12 February;
  • A Youth Panel convening on 31 March in conjunction with the ECOSOC Youth Forum, from 1-2 April, in order to ensure youth are included in discussions on the future. Juul said that UN Resident Coordinators have been asked to help bring youth to the plenary and the forum.
  • The ECOSOC Partnership Forum on 3 April, which will have a focus on partnering for the Decade of Action for the SDGs, specifically in the areas of agriculture, food and nutrition, well-being, energy and urban development;
  • Earth Day on 22 April, followed by high-level events on transportation, ocean and biodiversity, all of which should “make nature a central part” of action, because of the biodiversity-related SDG targets that will mature in 2020, Muhammad-Bande noted;
  • A UNGA high-level thematic debate on the impacts of rapid technological change, on 11 May, held back-to-back with ECOSOC’s annual Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum;
  • A thematic event on the least developed countries (LDCs) in May 2020, in preparation for the Fifth UN Conference on the LDCs (UNLDC-V) to be held in Qatar in 2021 for the review of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPOA); and
  • Following the 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in March 2020, a multi-stakeholder dialogue on 21 July to build on the CSW’s discussions and inform the commemoration of Beijing+25 in September 2020.

The joint briefing by the UNGA and ECOSOC presidents took place as part of the process to address synergies, coherence and duplication among UN bodies in light of the 2030 Agenda. [Meeting webcast]  [UN News story