Background

Mr. Achim Steiner, Chair of the High-Level Committee on Programmes, introduced the report of the Committee’s 28th session held in New York on 10 October 2014.

The Committee, building on the joint HLCM/HLCP session held the previous day, engaged in active and constructive discussions on its role in advancing the actions required to render the UN system fit for the purpose of contributing to the implementation of a post-2015 agenda.  With the joint session as an impetus to re-focus its raison d’être and reinvigorate its work, HLCP affirmed the eagerness to assume its core responsibility as “think tank” to assist CEB in responding coherently to key strategic issues of concern to the entire UN system. 

Discussion

The HLCP Chair underlined that the Committee had a particularly relevant role in advancing the UN’s “fit-for-purpose” efforts, especially the development of issue-based coalitions, one of the key action recommendations emanating from the joint session.  In this context, HLCP agreed to focus, over the coming 12-15 months, on youth employment and urbanization as a “prototype” for such coalitions. 

Youth employment was a multi-faceted strategic issue, to which the UN system had much to contribute.  A global challenge of great concern to all member states, it also corresponds to the universal nature of sustainable development goals, with a call for global action having been included in the Open Working Group’s proposal.  Similarly, the process of urbanization was among the most significant global trends, influencing political processes and socio-economic development.  The Committee felt that, in order to address the challenges and opportunities it posed, a coherent system-wide approach was needed, especially in the lead-up to the Habitat III conference in 2016.

The HLCP Chair stated that by forging effective multi-stakeholder coalitions around these two issues, the Committee aimed to operationalize the five key elements of the post-2015 agenda identified by CEB as universality, integration, equality, human rights and data.  On behalf of HLCP, Mr. Steiner sought CEB’s endorsement of this approach as a ‘prototype’ for implementing the change agenda and, in particular, enhancing policy coherence and coordination in the service of improved programme delivery. This approach would also offer opportunities to further deepen collaboration within and among organizations as well as between HLCP, UNDG and HLCM. In this context, he reported good progress already made in strengthening alignment between the efforts of the three Committees.   

The HLCP Chair, then, turned to the two proposed CEB statements submitted for the Board’s endorsement.  The first was for the occasion of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, to be held in March 2015 in Sendai, Japan, to highlight the UN system’s commitment to disaster risk reduction and the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience. The second statement was for the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, to be commemorated at the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on 9-20 March 2015.  This statement reaffirms the UN system’s shared commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.  Mr. Steiner expressed appreciation to UN-Women and UN-ISDR, respectively, which coordinated the preparation.

The HLCP Chair informed that the Committee had also taken up the issue of cyber-security and cybercrime and endorsed, for the Board’s approval, the UN System Internal Coordination Plan on Cyber-security and Cybercrime.  This was developed through an intense, at times challenging, process of consultation and represented a much welcomed joint approach between HLCP and HLCM.

Turning to climate change, the HLCP Chair informed that the Committee had approved the terms of reference of its Working Group on Climate Change.  The Group, which had made important contributions to strengthening system-wide support for a climate agreement and sustained climate action on the ground, was due to hold, for the first time, a joint “One UN” exhibit at the forthcoming meeting in Lima, Peru.  He expressed appreciation for the Secretary-General’s leadership over climate change and assured that the UN system was well aligned and ready to support him. 

In conclusion, the HLCP Chair reiterated that, under the guidance of CEB, HLCP stood ready to bring policy coherence, programmatic coordination and innovation agenda to a higher strategic level, by focusing on select number of priority issues.  In that regard, youth employment and urbanization offered good examples where all entities in the UN system could jointly work in the context of the fit-for-purpose efforts.  He emphasized the Committee’s full commitment to supporting CEB in the transition to a sustainable development agenda.  Finally, Mr. Steiner paid tribute to the excellent contribution of the Committee’s new Vice Chair, Ms. Jane Stewart, and thanked ILO for making her services available.

Action

  • CEB thanked the HLCP Chair for his briefing and endorsed the report of HLCP on its 28th session, including: the CEB statements to i) the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action; and ii) to the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR): as well as the Terms of Reference of the HLCP Working Group on Climate Change.
  • CEB also endorsed the UN System Internal Coordination Plan on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime, submitted jointly by both HLCM and HLCP.