Statement by His Excellency Sergiy Kyslytsya, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council and Chair of the 2021 ECOSOC Operational Activities for Development Segment

Statement by His Excellency Sergiy Kyslytsya, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council and Chair of the 2021 ECOSOC Operational Activities for Development Segment

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have arrived at the conclusion of this year’s Operational Activities for Development Segment.

These past three days have been very productive. We have listened to a comprehensive array of experiences and exchanged views with major actors involved in operational activities for development at national, regional, and global levels.

The presentations have been informative, and the dialogue was stimulating.

I believe the Segment has lived up to the expectations that it be a platform for accountability on the results of the UN development system in supporting countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the segment’s opening, the Secretary-General underscored how the COVID-19 crisis had set the SDGs’ implementation back -- making our mission and the role of the UN more challenging. He also pointed out that the pandemic and its impact have shone a light on the shortcomings of international cooperation, specifically in terms of international solidarity and vaccine equity, but also on the value and enormous potential of multilateralism and the unique role of the UN development system.

There is no question in anyone’s mind that the pandemic served as a litmus test for the repositioned UN development system, which it passed with flying colours. COVID-19 accelerated the evolution of a new generation of UN country teams, well-equipped to address complex and varied challenges faced by countries through a whole system approach, making the most of the UN’s assets at global, regional, and country levels.

The debates during these three days highlighted the many other achievements of the historical reforms of the UN development system we launched in 2016 and 2018, with the leadership of the Secretary-General.

We also had frank discussions with the Secretary-General and other actors on areas where further efforts are needed to consolidate the reform fully and unleash the system’s full offer and potential.

The 2020 QCPR adopted a few months ago points at the height of the pandemic also points to some key priorities and areas of action.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Deputy Secretary-General provided a solid overview of the transformation taking place at the country level, with the Resident Coordinators’ spearheading a coherent and coordinated approach in support of countries’ needs and priorities, with full national leadership and ownership. We discussed ways to sustain and institutionalize this approach.

Resident Coordinators, UNCT members and government representatives from capitals candidly shared how change is taking root on the ground. They spoke of collective innovations and successes, many of which were spurred by the pandemic, and the need for extraordinary joined up efforts to overcome the crisis. They highlighted how Common Country Analyses and Cooperation Frameworks are helping bring together the different parts of the UN development system and government. It was noted that more is needed to ensure participation from other stakeholders – from civil society, trade unions, academia and the private sector, including to reflect the specific country circumstances. We have also heard that country configuration and business models will require dedicated efforts this year.

All recognize that partnerships with international financial institutions are crucial, including supporting the transition from humanitarian emergencies to development, as demonstrated in recent initiatives during the pandemic. It is essential to consider multi-dimensional vulnerabilities and criteria for resource allocation. As the Secretary-General said in his report, closer cooperation with the World Bank and IMF is a new frontier for the repositioning of the UN development system.

Agency Heads and Member States stressed the importance of complying with the Management and Accountability Framework (MAF) as a critical accountability tool. UN development system entities are increasingly aligning policies, procedures and practices with the MAF. However, all UNCT members and staff of entities with minimal or no physical country presence need to be fully familiar with the MAF. RCs and UNCT members emphasized the importance of consistent and coherent messaging to percolate from internal coordination mechanisms such as the CEB as well as from headquarters to the regions and countries, and this was echoed by Member States. Some agency procedures and processes need to fully reflect the reform and the MAF.

Participants in the session on the Funding Compact acknowledged that “we will get the UN that we fund.” The delivery of integrated policy advice depends critically on how the UN development system is funded. Predictable core contributions and pooled funding are the means to enable whole of system approaches and joint programming. Pooled thematic funds were also highlighted as a middle ground, with the ability to deliver responsive impacts moving away from projectization to integrated policy advice. Multi-stakeholder platforms and national mapping of financing and funding from source to SDGs were noted by countries trying to ensure that each dollar goes further and funds the best multiplier for SDG achievement.

The follow-up to the multi-country office review was recognized as a complex exercise. Support to SIDS should not be seen as being synonymous with the MCO as a business model. It was said that the MCO business model could be further explored, more broadly, for countries other than SIDS. There was agreement that the UN development system has generally strengthened its support to countries served by MCOs, with scaled-up capacities, and the establishment of the north Pacific Office.

Nonetheless, there is a need to further enhance tailored, coherent and coordinated support to SIDS including through additional capacities and resources. The special situations in SIDS underscore the need for a multidimensional vulnerability index that better considers their highly vulnerable situation.

The UN development system’s reconfigured regional assets have already brought significant change to the way the system has performed and supported Governments in its response to COVID-19. There is increasingly closer collaboration between the regional level and RCs and UNCTs. We heard concrete suggestions on how efforts should further deepen and expand, including in terms of assets mapping, more focus on inter-regional collaboration, and continued consultation with Member States as we move forward.

Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen

I think I can speak for all when I say that I have gained a deeper understanding of many different moving pieces that are now taking shape and transforming the way that the UN development system operates.

The UN development system reform is now in its third year. It has been complex and far-reaching, and has clearly moved from architecture and process to results. We now have a UN development system that is better-positioned to help countries build back better from the COVID-19 crisis through more collective and sustainable support, and embark on a path towards the SDGs.

Member States have shared the importance they attach to the forthcoming RC system review, which is under way, and we will discuss it in the coming weeks. The review should be an evidence-based reflection that adds value and considers how to ensure a sufficient, sustainable and predictable funding model for the RC system beyond 2021.

We are very grateful for the strong commitment of the Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General, and Executive Heads for leading the effort to strengthen the UN development system’s support to countries as we strive to implement the 2030 Agenda.

We are deeply grateful to all the panellists who gave us so much food for thought, and our moderators helped us focus the discussions.

I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to DESA for its invaluable substantive support to the programme and its contents, and to DGACM and BCSS for all of their technical assistance to ensure its smooth operation.

As you know, the outcome of the OAS is a Chair’s Summary, which we will prepare and share in the coming days, as well as an Annex that addresses those questions that we had no time to address during the short time available, as mandated in the QCPR.

I wish good health to all of you and your families.

I thank you.

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