Background

HLCP, at its 31st session in March 2016, approved, and the CEB subsequently endorsed, a  Statement of Commitment on bringing the UN system together to support conflict prevention and peacebuilding within the broader 2030 Agenda. In endorsing the statement, CEB requested HLCP to undertake additional analytical work on how the efforts of different pillars are linked and can be effectively integrated across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As a follow-up, HLCP, at its 32nd session in September 2016, considered a think-piece presented by UNU which examined the current state of evidence-based knowledge and conceptual understanding of cross-pillar linkages across SDGs, analyzed through the lens of the goal to promote peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.  The Committee agreed with the paper’s overarching recommendation that more needed to be done to enhance the UN system’s knowledge, thinking, and data capacity in order to build a deeper, more dynamic and shared understanding of the linkages across the goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The Committee considered that further analysis of concrete operational experiences in promoting coherence across sectors and pillars could draw important practical lessons for the UN system.  As one such example, HLCP at its 33rd session, considered the institutional experience of UNRWA on the basis of an analytical paper prepared by the UNRWA

Discussion

 For almost 70 years, UNRWA has delivered a combination of humanitarian and development services to generations of Palestinian refugees living in five distinct geographic areas (Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria). Three factors facilitated coherence across UNRWA’s multidimensional activities: 1. the role of leadership and institutional culture (rather than structure) in overcoming the humanitarian-development divide; 2. an innovative partnership and governance model by which specialized expertise was provided by technical UN agencies (i.e., UNESCO for education and WHO for health), under the overall leadership of UNRWA; and 3. an approach to integrated planning and implementation that focused on collective outcomes and included all funding regardless of source (e.g., delivery of human development outcomes in crisis situations such as education in emergency settings). Expressing appreciation to UNRWA for presenting a valuable “reality-check” for HLCP’s continuing work, the Committee noted that this field-based analysis validated the key enablers of cross-pillar coherence identified through HLCP’s analytical work on the topic so far – i.e., leadership, shared vision/collective outcomes, integrated planning and systems thinking, innovative partnerships and collaboration, and flexible funding.

Action

 In conclusion, the Chair observed that HLCP’s so-far conceptual examination of cross-pillar coherence seemed to have passed a test of field validation. She noted the Committee’s broad support for the need for greater conceptual clarity across numerous integration-related approaches, i.e. a conceptual framework that could illuminate interlinkages and complementarities, as well as pillar-specific requirements and sensitivities that might require clarification.  The risk and resilience approach discussed earlier could usefully be applied to underpin such analytical work.