Background

The Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) updated the CEB on results achieved by the UN Development Group in the past six months, including the report of the UNDG meeting held on 11 July 2014, and key decisions taken at their last meeting on 14 November 2014.

The UNDG continues to place highest priority on ensuring that the QCPR is coherently implemented across the system. Since the first regular session of the CEB earlier this year, the UNDG has supported improvements in monitoring progress towards the objectives of the QCPR.  Data is being collected from UN Country Teams and others and analysed by UN DESA to inform the QCPR Monitoring and Reporting Framework. As a result, the forthcoming Secretary General’s report on the QCPR has an expanded quantitative and qualitative data section to assist our efforts in measuring progress.

Discussion

The Chair highlighted that since the last CEB meeting in May in Rome, the integrated package of support for the Standard Operating Procedures that will help the UN to deliver collaboratively at country level was developed and endorsed by the UNDG in July, with a foreword by the Secretary-General. The SOPs have very strong buy in from across the system. Of the 18 UNDG Principals who signed a joint letter on the implementation of this package, 16 have also disseminated the SOPs to their regional and country offices. The SOPs are being rolled-out by field teams. The package includes hands-on guidance for our operations on the ground, with an emphasis on joined up approaches in all operational areas to deliver better together for results. The UNDG Chair emphasized that the SOPs have to be adopted by all country teams and we should not wait for countries to formally ask the UN to adopt the approach (44 at the moment have requested the adoption of “Delivering as one”, and growing). The UN system now has to follow through on the implementation of the SOPs.

Implementation of the UNDG Plan of Action for Headquarters, developed alongside the SOPs, is well underway. So far 24 actions out of total of 55 are complete, some 10-12 actions need urgent attention. The UNDG Chair urged Principals to take this up within their agencies to give the UNDG Plan of Action another push towards full implementation.

The Chair reported that the UNDG reviewed and has suggested updated working mechanisms. The UNDG supported a first-time terms of reference for the UNDG that is now consistent with that of the HLCP and HLCM, and framed by CEB membership and definition of the UN development system. The UNDG updated working methods bring strengthened leadership, accountability, a focus on our results and support to the country level – all so we are better organized for the new Post 2015 development agenda ahead. The UNDG Chair requested UNDG Principals to ensure that agencies bring their ideas and expertise into the work of the new UNDG Sustainable Development Working Group to further deliberate on the means of implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

Putting the Resident Coordinator system on a predictable and secure funding basis through system-wide cost-sharing has been a major milestone of the UNDG. This quite historic agreement is now in its first year of implementation. UNDP shoulders the major cost and the system cost-shares approximately a quarter. With the UNDG membership reform, there was agreement in principle that only those providing their full contribution to the cost-sharing will be UNDG members. Not all agencies have contributed fully in the 2014-15 biennium, and strategic reserves and donor contribution have been mobilized to fill the gap, but are not available for the next biennium. The UNDG Chair stressed that all UNDG members are expected to pay in full for the 2016-17 biennium, with ample time to include the costs in their respective budgets. The UNDG Chair highlighted that the UN Secretariat first-time contribution will cover almost half of the amount that was the gap in the current biennium, pending budget approval in the Fifth Committee. The UNDG will inform UNDG members about the amount for the 2016-17 biennium.  As agreed, the UNDG will provide reporting on the cost-sharing as agreed.

The Chair emphasized that the UNDG, through its Human Rights Working Group, is fully engaged in support of the Human Rights Up Front Action Plan, with ongoing strong collaboration with the office of the Deputy Secretary-General. The DSG joined the full UNDG in their last meeting to discuss UNDG engagement in supporting the roll out of the Human Rights up Front Action Plan in the field. The UNDG at the global level received positive feedback from RCs on this collaboration. Since June this year, the Human Rights Working Group has deployed 9 in-country and 2 regional Human Rights Advisers to support the capacities of RCs, UNCTs and our Regional UNDG teams on human rights. We hope to share with all our Country Teams an updated Human Rights Guidance Note for RCs before year end, which will support them in taking forward their responsibilities in this area.

The Chair congratulated all who contributed to the post-2015 national dialogues for the success of the UNDG Side Event at the recent GA, “Moving to Implementation”. These dialogues were undertaken in more than 50 countries to maintain bottom up engagement in shaping the new agenda.  They have laid the groundwork for partnerships needed on the “softer means of implementation” of the new agenda.  Financing in this context is important, but to move the post-2015 development agenda forward the UN also has to do things differently. The UNDG Chair emphasized the importance of the role of local governments and effective institutions, participatory monitoring and accountability, the role of the private sector and as well as the recognition of culture and values in this context.

The Chair noted that the language around “fit for purpose” needs to be decoded. The UN should not re-invent the wheel, but rather start by implementing the Standard Operating Procedures, a set of good practices for collaborative work at the country level that simplify how we work together. The SOPs have firm buy-in from all 18 Principals of UNDG agencies on the ground, and the CEB should call on the full UN system to use the SOPs to implement together at the country level. The UNDG Chair noted that the UN should act like “a federation” at the country level, building on the unique strengths of individual agencies, but united and working together towards shared results. The SOPs are already available as a tool to become “fit for purpose” in this context. Building on the SOPs, the UNDG Chair stressed that we can and must also start to implement a number of the key issues coming out of the deliberations in HLCM, HLCP and UNDG on “fit for purpose”.

The Chair highlighted some key proposals from the UNDG process on “fit for purpose”. First, on greater multi-stakeholder engagement, the UN must reach out to key state and non-state actors and stakeholders to involve them more in our planning and monitoring, knowledge sharing and advocacy efforts, and in the design of the new round of UN country frameworks, that will respond to the Post 2015 agenda. The UN needs to be as participatory as we ask Government to be. Second, our development policies have to be more integrated, in support of governments and national stakeholders who are getting ready with their national plans and budgets to address a multi-dimensional post-2015 development agenda, building on the lessons learned from the MDGs. Third, to do so, the UN needs to create and facilitate issue-based platforms. And to make the UN system more “coalition-ready”, institutional bottlenecks must be identified and resolved, such as legal and regulatory frameworks that limit us from working easily and with agility to much capacities as needed. The UNDG Chair stressed that we can come up with a more partnership friendly business model to do this work together. There are good examples on the ground.

The Chair emphasized that the UN needs to also rethink its presence in the field, and move from a representational presence to a more substantive presence, with joined-up expertise for sustainable development on the ground. She also highlighted the need to go ahead and engage actively in shaping our new UN partnership and programme frameworks with countries. The UNDG Chair noted that the alignment of corporate Strategic Plans with the post-2015 agenda will actually be quite difficult to do before the deliberations of member states are completed, but to be done as soon as possible thereafter. The UNDG Chair underlined that pooled funding mechanisms that are based on issue or thematic platforms will work well for the post-2015 agenda. It would be important for funding partners to also rally behind a more coherent UN and support funding mechanisms that join us up, not divide. On “a one UN civil service”, the UNDG Chair noted that some experiences of funds, programmes and specialized agencies have shown that different agencies require different models and conditions of service. As discussed in the session on data, the UNDG Chair emphasized the importance of better data, and data that leaves no one behind and further brings out information and trends on inequalities.

The Chair stressed that the post-2015 development framework will be a much broader agenda then the current framework. In this agenda, the UN would be a smaller player in terms of financial contributions, but a key strategic and political partner for all countries. The Chair called on the members of the CEB to support the actions needed now going forward and to task the three committees on next steps.

Action

  • The UN Secretary-General noted that the group will discuss the actions proposed by the UNDG on the following day, and will incorporate the very useful thoughts on “fit for purpose” coming out of the HLCP, HLCM and UNDG discussions.
  • The Board took note of progress and endorsed the report of the UNDG meeting held on 11 July 2014.