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

EU Statement – United Nations Joint Meeting of the Executive Boards: The UN development system reform in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

New York, 29/05/2020 - 20:22, UNIQUE ID: 200529_24
Statements on behalf of the EU

29 May 2020, New York – European Union Statement delivered by Ambassador Silvio Gonzato, Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, at the 2020 Joint Meeting of the Executive Boards UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS, UNICEF, UN-Women, WFP on the the United Nations development system reform in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

I speak for the EU as a donor. Almost exactly two years ago, we adopted the most far-reaching reform of the United Nations Development System in its history- designed to make it fit for delivering the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. The EU has been a staunch supporter of this ambitious reform from the start.


 Nobody imagined that this reform, the United Nations Development System and the multilateral system itself would have to pass a test of the kind we witness with the COVID pandemic today: More than 350 000 lives cut short. Borders closed almost everywhere, global supply chains disrupted, businesses bankrupt, tens of millions of jobs lost, violence against women and children in a shameful increase, hundreds of millions of children out of school. Hard won progress on the sustainable development goals endangered at the beginning of the Decade for Action. And the UN complex closed for months.

The EU commends and fully supports the UN Secretary-General’s leadership shown throughout the pandemic and we witness that the system is rallying behind him. For the UN Development System Reform COVID-19 is a crash test. We listened carefully to a  series of presentations on the UN Development System’s response to COVID-19 , including at a Joint Town hall meeting in April and in the ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment last Wednesday. Overall, the impression is that COVID-19 for all the threat that it represents to our common goals has served as an accelerator in bringing the agencies and the Country teams closer together and cooperating better in the face of the challenge. This should be sustained, so that the new UN Development System can  come out stronger from this crisis. A more integrated, coherent, efficient and results-driven UN presence on the ground, led by the empowered UN Resident Coordinators, will play an important part in ensuring that countries recover better from the current crisis and get back on track to the 2030 Agenda, our common roadmap to leaving no one behind.


The EU is keen to strengthen cooperation with the UN at all levels, and notably with the UN's Resident Coordinators and its Country teams in the field for a green, just, resilient and digital recovery from the COVID-19 crisis everywhere. 


The EU’s “Team Europe” Global Response to COVID-19 of currently EUR 23 billion, supports our partner countries in addressing urgent needs emanating from the impact of COVID-19. The EU also works towards securing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics for which pledges to the tune of almost  EUR 10 billion have been secured. Work is underway, in Brussels, EU Member States' capitals and EU partner countries all over the world, to ensure that the package is rolled-out swiftly and effectively. Yesterday, President von der Leyen called for a Global Recovery Initiative.


The EU’s  efforts resonate well with the UN Secretary General’s call to “Recover better” by building more sustainable, inclusive, just, peaceful and equitable societies. Together, we have to ensure that women are actively involved in the COVID-19 response and long-term recovery in order to prevent that progress on gender equality is reversed by the crisis. This is the only way to “build back better” for everyone.


Increasing the cross-pillar coherence of the UN’s work as well as advancing on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus will be of critical importance to address the multiple situations of fragility and significant humanitarian caseload that is further aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis. We therefore encourage the UN system to step up efforts in leading a coordinated and collaborative approach by all relevant humanitarian, development and security actors, to address needs, reduce risks and vulnerability, and increase the resilience of people, communities, and states in the long term. The UN Development System reform constitutes a key opening to build upon. 


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