Background

Recalling that HLCP, the previous day, held a joint session with HLCM as a key step in the process of ensuring that the UN system was fit for purpose to support Member States in the transition to and implementation of a transformative post-2015 development agenda, the Chair noted the richness of the discussion, which demonstrated the commitment of the UN system to advance bold and ambitious actions to collectively rise to the challenge and become more strategic in its response in a post-2015 world.  The UN Secretary-General and CEB Executive Heads stood ready to seize the opportunity provided by the debate on the post-2015development agenda to ensure the UN system was capable of delivering on the new universal framework.  HLCM and HLCP were challenged to capture the spirit and outcome of the joint session and provide CEB with inputs to support the Board in its deliberations on the issue of fit-for-purpose at its upcoming session.

Noting the Committee’s discussion at its Greentree retreat in October 2012, the Chair observed that HLCP, in its role as the think tank of the UN system, had a critical role to play in supporting CEB in fostering coherence, cooperation and coordination on strategic issues and emerging challenges of concern to the entire UN system.  The Committee’s key asset was its ability to “think upwards” and be “forward-looking” by promoting a convergence of agendas and narratives to reach an understanding of sustainable development that adequately reflected the realities and challenges of the 21st century.  The joint session provided an important impetus for HLCP to refocus on its raison d’être and reinvigorate its work by focusing on a limited number of issues of strategic concern to the UN system.

In this context, the Chair observed that HLCP’s work could be divided into a three-tier structure, stressing the importance of ensuring efficiency and focus in its work which would require discipline. The first tier was occupied mainly by transactional items. He strongly encouraged that those items should be addressed through electronic consultations in advance of each session, as had been done prior to the current session. The second tier included items that were mandated by CEB and HLCP, or proposed by HLCP members. The Committee needed to become more selective with regard to such items, including with regard to establishing working groups and task teams. The third tier was comprised of strategic and emerging issues that needed to be addressed in depth from a system-wide perspective.  It was the third tier that fully utilized HLCP’s strength and added the greatest value for CEB.  The Committee needed to be very strategic in identifying a few priority third-tier issues that maximized its contributions to CEB.

Building on the previous day’s joint session with HLCM, the Chair proposed that HLCP identify two to three such strategic issues on which the Committee could focus over a 12-15 months period. Possible topics deserving the Committees priority attention included the post-2015 development agenda; the urban agenda; and youth employment. Regarding the urban agenda and the issue of youth employment, the Chair highlighted the opportunity for HLCP to use these issues as “prototypes” for advancing the fit-for-purpose efforts. In doing so, HLCP would apply some of the action recommendations which had emanated from the joint session, including the development of issue-based coalitions and partnerships to promote collective impact and sustainable development results, and operationalize the five key elements of the post-2015 agenda identified by CEB, such as universality and equality.

Discussion

In opening the discussion, the Chair invited HLCP members to reflect on the outcome of the joint session of the previous day from a strategic and policy perspective and to give thought to the Chair’s proposal for follow-up in the context of HLCP. HLCP members welcomed the Chair’s proposal to focus the Committee’s agenda on a select number of strategic issues to optimize HLCP’s support to CEB in addressing critical issues of system-wide concern.  In this context, it was noted that the UN system needed to be more selective in identifying areas for collective action and better define its role within the broader development architecture.  The Committee was also reminded of ongoing inter-governmental processes that needed to be taken into account as HLCP reflected on its contribution to the fit-for purpose debate.  The ultimate goal of UN system coherence and coordination was to support Member States more effectively in their efforts to improve the lives and livelihoods of their people.

HLCP members widely supported the proposal to focus on the issues of the post-2015 development agenda, urbanization and youth employment as immediate priority areas for action for the Committee. These issues were seen as having the potential of serving as platforms for drilling down on post-2015 issues and for showcasing fit-for-purpose efforts and substantive mobilization of UN capacities. Regarding the post-2015 development agenda, it was suggested that HLCP needed to reflect in greater detail on the five core elements of the agenda identified as universality; inequality, including by applying a gender and inter-generational perspective; human rights; the data revolution, including the development of a digital agenda for the UN system, and accountability.  Universality and inequality were highlighted, in particular, as critical issues in need of further reflections on their practical implications.

In addition, members proposed a number of additional topics warranting consideration by the Committee as possible issues for collective action, including forced migration and development; social protection; the linkages between normative and operational work; the integration of peace and security–humanitarian-development aspects of the work of the UN system; and funding, including ODA.  The role of the UN system in protecting and promoting Global Public Goods (GPGs) was also highlighted, as was the need for further clarifications on the practical application of such efforts.

Recalling CEB’s decision to issue, in the coming year, a joint statement as a clarion call to convey the unity of stance of the UN system on the fundamental elements of the post-2015 development agenda, HLCP discussed the appropriate timing for the issuance of such a joint statement. Some members preferred the clarion call to be issued shortly after the Secretary-General’s synthesis report has been made public as a means to support its key messages, while others expressed the view that CEB should review options for issuing a clarion call at its first regular session for 2015.  Upon consideration, the Committee recognized that circumstances had evolved since the issuance of a clarion call was first proposed and agreed to recommend CEB’s consideration of the issue at its first regular session for 2015.

In concluding the discussion on this item, the Chair proposed that the Committee applied a dual perspective in its treatment of the issues of urbanization and youth employment by combining substantive considerations of the topics with the application of the outcomes of the joint HLCM/HLCP session as a means of turning the fit-for-purpose agenda into practice.  Addressing urbanization and youth employment would also serve as a platform to practically apply the five key elements of the post-2015 development agenda – universality, integration, equality, human rights and the need for a data revolution, and mobilize and deploy collective capacity more deliberately, and with more agility.

Action

The Committee:

Decided to seek concurrence from CEB that in its role as a UN system "think tank" to focus its work on a limited number of strategic issues as a means to assist CEB in identifying and responding to emerging programmatic issues of concern to the entire UN system.  The issues of “Youth Employment” and the “Urban Agenda” were selected as two "prototype" platforms for practically applying the five key elements of the post-2015 agenda identified by CEB and supporting fit-for-purpose efforts by mobilizing UN system capacity and operationalizing the establishment of issue-based coalitions and partnerships.