Background

At the CEB first Regular Session for 2014, the UNDG, HLCP and HLCM presented a joint contribution - Chapeau - to the Board, framing the commitment of the three CEB pillars to support in a complementary and integrated manner the effort by the UN system to make the transition to a new post-2015 agenda. HLCP and UNDG also presented their individual contributions to this discussion, which were each developed around the five ‘elements’ of universality, equality, human rights, integration and data revolution.

Noting that the strategic repositioning of the organizations of the UN system on the management and operational sides needs to be pursued concurrently with the programmatic one, in order not to risk a disconnect between the goals and the means, the Board agreed that HLCM would subsequently prepare an input to the second regular CEB Session of 2014 around the value added of HLCM’s work towards this discussion.

Subsequently, on 30 May 2014, the Secretary-General wrote to CEB Principals seeking their views and suggestions on "actions in support of a coherent and coordinated system-wide approach to render the United Nations system competent in contributing to a transformative agenda”.

At the session on 8 October, the Committee had before itself a draft document (CEB/2014/HLCM/10), for review and discussion, and further submission to CEB as its contribution to the CEB Post 2015 – Fit for Purpose strategy.

While introducing this agenda item, the HLCM Vice-Chair underlined that the 2013-2016 HLCM Strategic Plan, with its five strategic priorities, provided a strong basis for the Committee’s contribution to the CEB Post 2015 - Fit for purpose Strategy. HLCM had already made a start on this process during its retreat in early 2013 in Turin, and had subsequently launched its work on the Plan’s priorities, delivering concrete and valuable outcomes.

The intense discussions of the recent months on the theme of Fit for Purpose had added a lot of material to HLCM’s thinking. The Vice-Chair therefore indicated that, with its regular session and the joint HLCM-HLCP session of 9 October, the Committee would have an opportunity to adjust and refine the strategic directions set in its Strategic Plan, and deliver to the CEB a vision that is fully integrated with those of the other two CEB pillars.

Discussion

The Vice-Chair stressed that the redesign of modern operational and management functions was instrumental in positioning the United Nations system’s contribution to a transformative agenda, and represented a key area for collective system-wide action by the three CEB pillars, to ensure coherence and alignment of vision at global, regional and country levels, as well as strengthened coherence around common programmes and common operations.

The HLCM Vice-Chair explained that the draft document CEB/2014/HLCM/10 was developed around the value of HLCM’s work towards building a modern workforce (the international civil service of the future), designing new business models (which include the second generation of Delivering as One, coherent and efficient approaches to service delivery, etc.) and strengthening the collective accountability of the UN system through modernized risk management and oversight approaches, as well as comprehensive provision and visualization of UN system-wide data on resource utilization, results and impact.

These could preliminary be identified as the three broad areas where HLCM could make a difference and deliver a distinctive contribution to the CEB. And, the Vice-Chair underlined that decisions and actions on the UN System’s operational fit were almost entirely in the hands of senior managers, and did not require action by member states.

In the discussion that followed, the HLCM Chair reflected on some areas of transformational change where HLCM could have some direct impact:

a.    A review of the UN system’s  “rules of engagement” with the non-governmental world, especially the private sector;
b.    New methods of communication; and
c.    Reconsidering the concept of development within a universal agenda.

Participants underlined that the Committee should set ambitious goals ahead of itself and propose bold transformational actions that would contribute to strengthen the collective ability to drive impact on the objectives that the Post 2015 agenda will set for the UN system. In the words of many, the starting point should be “what we need to deliver”. In the responses of many Executive Heads to the letter of the Secretary-General, this coincided with a global sustainability agenda focused on the people and inspired by the principle of universality.

Many comments echoed the words of the HLCM Chair on the importance of a new vision towards partnerships and coalitions, on the related aspect of new funding modalities, as well as on embracing modern methods of communication focused on results and effective impact.

The Committee underlined the need for a complementary contribution by HLCM with those of HLCP and UNDG, to enhance programme delivery through strengthened and coordinated operational models and instruments.

There was also broad agreement on the need to integrate the concept of sustainability in the business models and operational solutions of organizations – the UN system should be a “good” consumer.
 
A global and diverse workforce, able to cater for the broad set of knowledge-intensive skills and profiles needed by organizations to deliver on their respective mandates, was underlined by many as the most fundamental asset of the UN system, the preservation and strengthening of which should be a central priority of HLCM’s efforts to assess and adjust the organizations’ fit for the new agenda.

The HLCM Vice-Chair concluded the discussion acknowledging the variety and richness of the views expressed, and the general consensus towards a vision for a more efficient, coherent and effective UN system as a whole, strengthening the linkages and the complementarity of its parts and its accountability for results.

HLCM would emphasise such vision in the elaboration of three main components of its contribution – workforce and skills; effective and efficient operations, including through partnerships and new funding modalities; and, communication and accountability - highlighting transitional measures to be put in place before 1 January 2016, as well as more transformational actions to aim for after that date. The scaling up and mainstreaming of the work already undertaken and in line with such vision would also be reflected in the HLCM’s paper.

Action

The Committee:

  • Agreed to allow HLCM members for some more time to contribute their written input to the draft HLCM’s contribution to the CEB – Fit for Purpose strategy.
  • Requested the CEB Secretariat to finalize the paper based on the discussion at this session, on the discussion at the joint HLCM-HLCP session of 9 October, and on the written input that would be forthcoming from HLCM members.