Background

The Chair of the High-level Committee on Programmes introduced the report of the twenty-seventh session of the Committee held at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago on 17 and 18 March 2014.

He thanked the Executive Secretary of ECLAC for hosting the session and expressed his gratitude to the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Interregional Policy Cooperation (and former Chair of the Committee) for facilitating a highly productive joint seminar with the Executive Secretaries of the five regional commissions on the topic of “The contributions of interregional policy cooperation to United Nations system coherence and policy development ”, which had taken place in the margins of the session.

Discussion

That seminar had emphasized the interest shared by the members of the Committee and the Executive Secretaries in deepening their dialogue on issues that required a more systematic reflection and engagement with and through the regional commissions. The debate had highlighted the important role played by the regional commissions in bringing the universal normative agenda from the global to the country level, particularly in countries where country teams were absent. The Committee also noted the capacity of the regional commissions to generate analyses and data, their role as political conveners and by extension, their catalytic role in articulating emerging regional policy agendas and priorities.

Turning to the session of the Committee, the Chair briefly touched on the work of the Committee, to be further discussed at the retreat session of the Board to be held the following day, on the collective ability of the United Nations system to support Member States in the transition to a universal sustainable development agenda-both its articulation and eventual implementation. He commented on the high level of commitment of the members of the Committee in preparing issues papers and emphasized the high level of collaboration among the three pillars of CEB that, as reflected in the joint chapeau, had driven that work forward. To further deepen the work, the Committee had suggested that CEB set forth a time frame for a joint statement as a clarion call to convey the unity of stance of the system on the fundamental elements of the future development framework.

The Chair pointed out that climate change continued to be a high priority for the Committee. At its twenty-seventh session, the Committee had renewed for another two years the mandate of its Working Group on Climate Change. Over the biennium 2014-2015, the Group would aim to mobilize more effectively and communicate the collective climate-related knowledge and services offered by the United Nations system in order to generate momentum for an ambitious climate agreement and foster sustained climate action on the ground. As part of this effort, the Working Group was developing a joint United Nations system publication for the Climate Summit to be held in September 2014. The publication would seek to demonstrate how climate action could support sustainable development and deliver socio economic benefits, and how the United Nations system was supporting the efforts of Member States in this regard. The Committee would also focus on generating the political will for a climate agreement among a broad range of stakeholders and would explore, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Group, how to strengthen the ability of country teams to provide assistance to Member States.

Turning to another important and related focus of the United Nations system in 2014, the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held in Samoa in September, the Chair noted that the conference represented an opportunity for the system to commit to partnering more effectively with small island developing States to address their unique and urgent needs. The Committee would be presenting to the Board for its endorsement a joint statement from the United Nations system that signalled its strong commitment to the success of the conference and to a more coherent approach to working with small island developing States. He also noted that, as confirmed by the Board at its second regular session for 2013, the CEB secretariat was organizing a high-level side event at the conference on 1 September to demonstrate the commitment and joint contribution of the United Nations system to the sustainable development of small island developing States.

With strong system-wide interest and support, the Committee had also taken up a new item: a new urban agenda for the United Nations. It had agreed to establish an ad hoc, time-bound working group to deepen the understanding among the organizations of the system of the key drivers of a new urban agenda and strengthen system-wide coherence and coordination on sustainable urbanization. That initiative was linked to the preparation process for the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), to be held in 2016, and aimed to develop a coherent system-wide input to the conference in the form of a policy paper on the theme of “Urbanization and sustainable development: towards a new United Nations urban agenda”. The policy paper would be presented to the second regular session of CEB in 2015, with a first draft to be considered by the Board at its next session in November 2014.

Following up on the mandate given to it by CEB, the Committee had considered and was submitting for endorsement by the Board a synthesis report prepared by the Global Migration Group on follow-up action taken by the United Nations system in the implementation of the outcome of the high-level dialogue on international migration and development held on 3 and 4 October 2013 in New York.

The Chair concluded his presentation by briefly outlining additional work undertaken by the Committee on behalf of the Board, including work initiated by the Environment Management Group on a framework for social and environmental sustainability; progress in mainstreaming work on the Plan of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011 -2020; review of the work of UN-Water, UN-Energy and UN-Oceans; and the conclusion of an inter-agency process focused on the issue of a world of 7 billion people.

The Chair reiterated the commitment of the Committee to serving CEB in identifying and responding proactively to emerging policy and programmatic issues of concern to the entire United Nations system, with particular attention paid to the post-2015 process. The Committee stood ready to assist CEB in fostering system-wide coherence and addressing, in an integrated manner, the challenges and opportunities faced by the system in defining its own role and contribution within a changed development policy environment.

Action

The members of CEB thanked the Chair of the High -level Committee on Programmes for his briefing and endorsed the report of the Committee on its twenty-seventh session, including:

(a)    A joint statement by CEB to the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States ( CEB/2014/4, annex V);

(b)    A synthesis report on follow-up action taken by the United Nations system to the second high-level dialogue on international migration and development ( CEB/2014/4, annex VI).