We submit this statement on behalf of the EU as a donor.
We thank Mr Steiner for an insightful presentation, and all those involved in UNDP for the massive briefing effort ahead of this session of the Executive Board and the vast amount of information and knowledge shared with us. Unfortunately, it contains a lot of inconvenient truth. For the first time since its inception 30 years ago, the Human Development Index has fallen. COVID-19 is making a significant dent in the hard-won achievements towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Vulnerable people are hurt the most. Gender based violence has increased dramatically. The recovery from COVID-19 will take at least three years, adjusted from the previous 18 month estimate. The list goes on. Yet, truth is what we need to know, in order to be able to devise, adopt and implement the right strategies to overcome the biggest challenges in a century that COVID-19 and the climate crisis represent.
The 2020 Human Development Report “The next frontier: Human Development in the Anthropocene” is testimony of UNDP’s thought-leadership on development. It is a long overdue attempt to integrate the effect of human action on the climate and the environment into how we measure human development. And it also shows with solid data that so far, no country has made economic progress without significant cost to the environment and that environmental destruction comes at the highest cost to the most vulnerable.
UNDP and the EU are key partners in the implementation the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, facilitated by the strong field presence of EU Delegations and UNDP Offices. This translated in significant financial contributions from the EU to the UNDP budget, usually based on multi-year commitments and frequently directed to thematic priorities, reaching more than EUR 500 million in 2019.
Beyond finance, the EU and UNDP are strong “like minded” partners. This includes notably the importance of climate and environmental action as integral elements of the SDG Decade of Action and of Building Back Better after COVID 19.
UNDP is an important partner for the EU’s international cooperation under the European Green Deal. We commend UNDP on its “climate promise” and on working with partners across the UN system with more than 100 countries on their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The EU also contributes financially to the NDC Support programme. At the recent Global Adaptation Summit, we also launched a new cooperation on adaptation with UNDP, the African Adaptation initiative and the AU Commission. This is the year of global ambition on climate and biodiversity. This is the year to make progress on the transition towards circular and more resource efficient economies.
Unfortunately, this will also be another year of COVID-19. UNDP, in its capacity as technical lead for the socio-economic response within the UNDS side, and the EU collaborate closely in mitigating the immediate socio-economic consequences of the pandemic in partner countries. This is one of the key areas of interventions in the “Team Europe” response to COVID-19, which combines resources from the EU, its Member States, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with funding standing at more than EUR 38.5 billion – half of which is already disbursed. Our collaboration with UNDP includes joint socio-economic impact assessments (SEIA) in many countries. Moreover, COVID-19 Recovery Needs Assessments (CRNA) have been rolled out in Cape Verde, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mozambique and Haiti.
We also team up in international initiatives such as Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, where UNDP facilitated the ‘Recovering Better for Sustainability’ strand, which was co-chaired by Fiji, Rwanda, the UK and the EU.
COVID-19 has moreover increased the importance and urgency of some of the existing cooperation. Our collaboration with UNDP on Integrated National Financial Frameworks (INFFs) resulted in financing and support for INFF projects in 68 countries. Conceived as tools to link the SDGs and the Paris Agreement to available financial flows, they are proving to be useful in linking recovery plans to risk-informed and sustainable financing policies, while maintaining the course on the long-term goals of the 2030 Agenda.
The pandemic has tested and continues to test the repositioned UN Development System and its capacity to provide integrated, coherent and efficient support in line with the new way of working, attention to the development-humanitarian-peace nexus and effective collaboration with the UN family beyond the UNDS. In that context, the report by UNDP itself as well as the positive assessment of UNDPs role in and contribution to the reform to-date by the Board of Auditors is encouraging. We call on UNDP - and the UN system more broadly - to continue with implementation of the UNDS reform and the QCPR resolution to achieve demonstrable long-term effectiveness, efficiency gains and transparency. This is particularly relevant at country level, where the benefits of collaborative actions and respective comparative advantages are clearly felt. Two years into the UNDS reform, almost one year into the COVID-19 pandemic and nine years from 2030, we have no time to lose.
We look forward to engaging actively in consultations on UNDP’s next strategic plan for the period 2022-2025. Among other things, we welcome that the new plan will be informed by the recent evaluations, and notably on UNDP’s support to conflict-affected countries, which accounts for more than 50% of UNDP spending. We encourage UNDP to follow-through with the strengthening of its integrated prevention “offer”, developing a crisis and fragility framework, and prioritizing support for gender-inclusive prevention, response and peace solutions, as well as assuming a leadership role on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus within the UN system and beyond. In that context we recall that the EU and the UN hold annual consultations on conflict prevention, the last of which took place in January.
Our strong commitment to multilateralism and the beginning of a new financial cycle in the EU offer a great opportunity for shaping our future effective partnership and strategic engagement focused on our common priorities aligned to the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and building even closer cooperation, including on Team Europe initiatives.
In that context, we already had a virtual information session earlier this month with a large number of UN staff, Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams, in the field, in preparation of the upcoming EU programming cycle 2021-2027, which is overall geared towards more coherence, through collaborative approaches for a green, sustainable and inclusive recovery while keeping the focus on the Sustainable Development Goals.
We reaffirm the importance of our strategic partnership and express deep appreciation for UNDP’s dedication to our common goals in these challenging times.