Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations ECOSOC: Operational Activities Segment

New York, 19/05/2020 - 19:00, UNIQUE ID: 200518_16
Statements on behalf of the EU

19 May 2020, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States at the 2020 ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment

The European Union and its 27 Member States thank the Secretary-General (SG) and the Deputy Secretary-General (DSG) for their dedication and commitment to the process of repositioning of the UN development system, and for the regular updates on the reform’s progress.

We welcome the informative reports on the progress in the implementation of GA res. 71/243 on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) and on the work of the Development Coordination Office (DCO). 

The EU and its Member States have been staunch supporters of the reform from the start. We are now looking forward to finalizing the process by endorsing the SG’s proposals, particularly those resulting from the Regional and Multi-Country Office (MCO) reviews. We believe that the reports provide further clarity as regards both reviews, even though, as stated in our earlier interventions on the topic, we 1) would have hoped for a more ambitious transformation at the regional level, and 2) continue to request more precise and quantified information on efficiency gains in general and also at the regional level.

We recognize that the ongoing pandemic has drastically changed the context of the UNDS’s work. The system’s effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness are now more important than ever. To enable the system to reach its full potential, it is pertinent that all commitments undertaken by Member States and by the UNDS, including in the Funding Compact, are fulfilled. We appreciate a detailed description of the state of play in this regard contained in the Addendum to the SG’s report.

The reinvigorated RC system is the most visible achievement of the ongoing reform, and a condition sine qua non of its overall success. We applaud the system for the implementation of ambitious changes at the country level, and for putting in place modernized processes of RC recruitment, training and assessment. We are, however, concerned by the remaining issues around the RCs status, their authority and leadership, described in the reports and reflected in the Monitoring and Reporting Framework. We believe that a strong, fully functional RC system is particularly indispensable in the context of the current crisis, if the system is to assist countries in building back better and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Moreover, we expect all agencies, funds and programs (AFPs) to fully subscribe to the solutions introduced in the context of the reform. There clearly needs to be a change in mentality and direction on the part of the AFPs, and we will monitor this process through the executive boards of relevant entities. As the SG report points out, a continued effort is needed to ensure further consolidation through dedicated leadership from everyone involved.

Financing of the reform is another issue that requires further consideration: the system’s dependence on contributions from few big donors is not sustainable. Broadening of the donor base and an increase in core support are of crucial importance. Improvement in the quality and predictability of resource flows is equally pertinent. We are wondering what the system is doing to achieve the above.

We are disappointed by the lack of systematic and concrete information regarding efficiency gains stemming from the progress in the implementation of the reform, and we would suggest to put in place a system of periodic reporting on this issue.

We would like to recall our view that the UNDS should focus on fields where it has a comparative advantage vis-à-vis other actors, and should look at the possibilities of closer cooperation and partnerships with various stakeholders. This includes international financial institutions, regional and sub-regional actors. The section on partnerships, included in the report, is quite important in that regard. 

In terms of thematic aspects of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development mentioned in the report, we appreciate a detailed and insightful analysis of the state of play as regards gender equality and women’s empowerment. The EU and its Member States attach particular importance to this topic, and we would like to see a continued progress by the UNDS in this area.

We would have wished for the report to mention climate change, another topic we perceive as cross-cutting in the UNDS’ action, including for building back better, fairer and greener after the pandemic. We would appreciate regular updates on the issue in future iterations of the report, it also merits attention during the upcoming QCPR. The issues of biodiversity loss and environmental degradation merit similar attention.

In the section of the report dedicated to the tailoring of the UNDS’s support to countries in special situations, we would envisage references to countries in fragile, conflict or post-conflict situations. Given projections that by 2030 the majority of world’s poor will be living in these countries, they should be the subject of particular focus of the UNDS, including as regards efforts towards the achievement of the SDGs.

We want to assure the SG that we have heard his call for an ambitious 2020 QCPR, another historic one, asked to provide strategic policy guidance to the system on a number of issues highlighted in the report. We will analyze SG’s recommendations in this regard. We are and willing to work closely with our partners towards a meaningful QCPR.

We would like to conclude by reiterating the EU and its Member States’ strong commitment to the UNDS reform process.

Mister Secretary-General, Madam Deputy Secretary-General, you can count on our unwavering support.

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