29 Jan 2015
• I thank Board members for their participation in Monday’s session, and for the many positive and constructive comments about UNDP and our work.
• Let me begin by expressing my sincere condolences to the Swedish delegation on the passing of H.E. Marten Grunditz, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations here in New York. UNDP worked very closely with Marten when he was President of this Executive Board in 2012. Throughout his tenure in NY he was always engaged in our affairs and supportive of our work.
Strong focus on poverty reduction
• In Board Members’ statements on Monday, there was a strong focus on the importance of poverty reduction in UNDP’s work.
• Poverty eradication remains at the heart of all we do and at the very heart of UNDP’s strategic plan. We welcome the emphasis which a number of statements placed on the need to tackle the structural causes of poverty and inequality.
• In addressing those causes, UNDP supports countries to build the capacities needed to generate livelihoods and jobs; to put in place social protection systems which enable families and communities to withstand shocks and bounce-back strongly; and to harness resources sustainably.
• Several delegates noted the importance of the QCPR in guiding implementation of UNDP’s Strategic Plan. UNDP has played its full part in implementing the QCPR resolution, working with other members of the UNDG and with UNDESA, and we have contributed to the report of the Secretary-General which will be presented at the ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment
• Within UNDP, we have institutionalized a system of follow-up to the QCPR as part of our regular work and implementation of the Strategic Plan. QCPR-related indicators are featured in the Integrated Results and Resources Framework (IRRF), and are used to track progress towards Strategic Plan outcomes. UNDP’s QCPR implementation plan is reviewed and updated regularly, and any bottlenecks are lifted to the level of senior management for review.
• I thank Board Members for their many positive comments on UNDP’s role in supporting the post-2015 process. This year we will continue our consultations and outreach on how the new goals can be implemented, and contribute through the UN Technical Support Team at the request of Member States.
DRR and Climate Change
• We also welcome the strong emphasis placed by Board members on UNDP’s role in disaster risk reduction, and in supporting countries to address climate change.
• As I said in my statement, it is important to find synergies across the post-2015 agenda, the financing for development conference outcome, the new global framework for DRR, and the global agreement on climate change. UNDP is engaged across these major global processes.
• On DRR, a major emphasis of our work is to support countries to strengthen their risk governance arrangements. We are also piloting targets and indicators for DRR for the SDGs in five pilot countries to ascertain their feasibility in different country contexts. This exercise is being done in tandem with UNISDR which is also testing indicators for the successor to the Hyogo Framework in the same countries.
UNDP’s role in crisis, including post-conflict
• As a number of Board members highlighted, UNDP’s role before, during and after crisis is a critical part of our work and our mandate.
• We fully agree on the need for an integrated approach to peacebuilding, aimed at strengthening the foundations for longer-term development. UNDP’s new organizational structures are in line with this approach: we have brought together our expertise on governance, rule of law, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding under one single division. We are also committed to working with UN partners to promote coherent UN-wide approaches to peacebuilding and strengthening resilience, including to ensure that the gap between humanitarian and development action is bridged.
• I will be addressing you in more detail on UNDP’s role in Ebola response and recovery at our briefing for member states this afternoon.
• In response to the many remarks on UNDP’s role in this process, let me underline that we take our role as designated lead for the UN System’s work on Ebola recovery very seriously. We will work actively with all partners to ensure that the epicenter countries can recover as quickly as possible from this crisis.
• UNDP fully recognizes the need to pay attention to the specific circumstances of SIDS – an issue highlighted by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of CARICOM on Monday – and we are stepping up our work on SIDS issues in response to the SAMOA Pathway.
• On debt sustainability, UNDP is working with the OECD and SIDS regional organizations to identify innovative solutions. On environment and on climate change adaptation and mitigation, we are the largest implementer of Global Environment Facility funding which is a very important funding mechanism for SIDS. With support from Australia and the European Commission, we will continue to support the work of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
South-South and Triangular Co-operation
• A number of Board members stressed the critical importance of South-South and Triangular Co-operation in achieving sustainable development.
• As I highlighted in my statement, UNDP is incorporating these modalities across its work.
• An important part of this is our commitment to hosting and supporting the UN Office for South-South Co-operation.
• We have also taken significant measures to integrate South-South and Triangular Co-operation in our global, regional, and country programmes, and are in the process of developing a comprehensive corporate strategy on SSC.
Financial stability, core/non-core balance, decline in core and critical mass
• A number of Board Members underlined the importance of financial stability for UNDP and expressed concern at the imbalance between core and non-core resources, and the decline in core resources. I share those concerns. The resource mobilization strategy to be presented to the Board tomorrow is intended to address these points, including by seeking to broaden our donor base.
• Our approach to Critical Mass Plus reflects the principle of universality endorsed by the EB, and the principle of progressivity.
• A larger, more stable base of core resources enables us to deliver more effectively on the Strategic Plan.
• Minimally earmarked non-core resources also enable us to work strategically, and to respond to crises and emerging issues quickly.
UNDP restructuring and human resources
• I thank the many Board Members who acknowledged the important organizational improvements we have been making.
• In realigning the organization, there have been staffing changes affecting headquarters units, including regional service centers.
• The processes established have been transparent and fair. Job fair panels were balanced and included representation from the Staff Council.
• As of December 2014, the overall balance of staff from developed and developing countries in positions filled has shifted in favor of staff from the South: in percentage terms, the balance of North-South has gone from 48 North to 52 South in September 2013 to 46 North to 54 South now.
• For UNDP as a whole, across all staff levels, over eighty per cent of UNDP’s staff are from the South, with slightly under twenty per cent from the North. Among the international professional staffing category, around 51.5 per cent of staff are from the South, with a corresponding 48.5 per cent from the North.
• UNDP knows that its staff are its greatest asset. We seek to improve staff recruitment, development, and performance management continually. I am looking for faster progress on this this year.
Direct Budget Support
• UNDP’s involvement in Direct Budget Support only takes the form of Sector-wide Budget Support and has been limited to date in volume, scope, and geographical coverage. We provide financial support to specific national institutions, earmarked to select sectors and coupled with capacity development, based on project documents which incorporate all necessary safeguards.
• A desk review of our pilot in Burkina Faso was conducted by the Office of Audit and Investigations and publicly released in May 2014. It found the related governance, risk management and administrative control processes to be “satisfactory”, and recommended streamlining of processes. No specific independent evaluation was included in the Medium Term Evaluation Plan endorsed by the Executive Board in January 2014, but UNDP will commission an evaluation in due course and present the results to the Board.
• I understand very productive consultations took place in the informal meeting of the Board yesterday. Member States will also have the opportunity to analyze the effectiveness of this funding instrument in the lead up to the Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference. We therefore, at this time, ask the Executive Board to allow our Direct Budget Support pilot to continue.
• Board Members made a range of comments on our Evaluation Policy. UNDP stands ready to work with the Board on a clearly defined roadmap, through a thorough consultative process, on revision of the policy. We look forward to receiving first drafts in order to be able to express informed views.
• As I said on Monday, UNDP is fully committed to robust and independent evaluations which can help us improve performance and manage for results. Our evaluation function should be organized consistent with best practice across development organisations.
• The Board is the governance body for UNDP and oversees our performance. Management is responsible for administration and results. The Independent Evaluation Office is tasked with helping UNDP improve on its results. Equivalent delineation of functions and duties can be found across the UN system, and it would not be desirable to depart from these demarcations of responsibilities.
• To harness a culture of evidence-based reporting, UNDP has redesigned its reporting tools – ROAR and the Integrated Results and Resources Framework – requesting that results be accompanied by evidence. As well, in order to safeguard the independence of evaluators, UNDP will be decoupling the payment of consultants from the management of decentralized evaluations, establishing a hotline for reporting of any misconduct with respect to the treatment of evaluators, and creating a repository for the zero drafts to be compared with the final versions of the evaluation reports to ensure that changes are both visible and justified.
• In recent years, the Evaluation Office budget has been sheltered from the cuts which applied to most other offices in UNDP. We will continue to protect its resources, consistent with maintaining the necessary fiscal discipline and the integrity of the organisation’s budget.
• We must have a strong results management culture, including through good reporting capacity in country offices, and through evaluations which inform strategic management decisions. That is why for country programmes exceeding USD$50million, Country Offices will each have two Monitoring and Evaluation experts starting this year. For country programmes between USD$10million and USD$50 million, Country Offices will have one full-time M&E expert. For country programmes below USD$10million, M&E capacity will be provided by the relevant Regional Service Center.
• It was observed on Monday that there will be limits on the amount of independent verification of our work which is possible. We agree with those who have encouraged us to look at the large number of evaluations being done each year and to opt for a more focused, higher quality, programme of evaluations.
• A strong evaluation function is a critical instrument for improving performance and strengthening stakeholders’ confidence. So is independently assessed transparency. Our top ranking for aid transparency last year was welcome recognition of the institutional culture of accountability which we have developed. In the recently finalized UN Joint Inspection Unit review of the evaluation function across the UN system, UNDP was rated as the top evaluation performer among 26 UN Agencies, and top performer in terms of Relevance, Enabling Environment, Independence and Reliability/Credibility of Evaluation. The only parameter ranking one level lower than the top was the current utility of the evaluations we receive. This is an aspect on which we will seek the Board’s guidance, in order to improve utility and quality.
• To conclude on this matter, external reviews are also valued as useful measures of our effectiveness. UNDP is under permanent public scrutiny and continuous independent evaluation by a range of external bodies. We welcome this scrutiny. As an example, just this week, the International Development Committee of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom completed its inquiry into DFID’s promotion of parliamentary strengthening. This was not only an analysis of DFID’s work, but also an important assessment of DFID’s partners of choice – who are chiefly the EU and UNDP in this area. A senior UNDP staffer gave evidence to the Committee at its invitation. The appropriateness of DFID’s partnership with UNDP in a range of situations is affirmed in the report, and UNDP’s role as the largest global implementer of parliamentary strengthening work is acknowledged. The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) and the House of Commons Committee have particularly valued UNDP’s range and reach, our presence in countries where we are the sole active development actor, and our widely acknowledged lack of partiality and our political neutrality which gives us wide access.
• UNDP is committed to building a culture of evidence-based monitoring and reporting of results. Our new Results Oriented Annual Report (ROAR) requests that evidence is provided for all results claimed. Continuous support is being provided by our outposted experts in the regional service centers to strengthen Country Offices’ results-based management capacities, and to improve the quality of our programming, monitoring and reporting.
• A specific issue was raised regarding the Board of Auditor’s observation that there was a “lack of performance indicators and targets for certain projects reviewed”. UNDP has already taken steps to address this.
• All UNDP’s project outputs are now linked to the Integrated Results and Resources Framework (IRRF) in the corporate system. This allows us to use IRRF output indicators to measure progress of projects which may not have a strong results framework.
• An informal on the IRRF has been scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, at 3pm. This meeting will provide an opportunity for all Board Members to get any further clarifications they need regarding the IRRF and its indicators
Biannual location of the Annual Session in Geneva
• I took note of the comments by Ambassador Seger of Switzerland on the issue of alternating the venue of Executive Board meetings between New York and Geneva.
• I recognise the opportunity that meeting in Geneva provides for collaboration and exchange with other constituencies. I also appreciate the concerns some Board Members have expressed over costs and practical challenges of meeting in Geneva – which have been significantly mitigated by the generosity of the Swiss government.
• In the end this is a matter for the Executive Board to decide, through its Rules of Procedure.
Appreciation for contributions to UNDP
• Timely and predictable core contributions remain vital for UNDP to operate effectively in this critical year for international development. We appreciate partners’ sustained support through core funding. I would like to thank those Member States who have confirmed their contributions for 2015, and encourage others to indicate their plans as soon as possible.
• Let me also encourage all Member States to consider the opportunity to contribute to our new thematic funding windows which we will describe tomorrow – the best vehicle for the minimally-earmarked resources we need.
• And I repeat our appreciation for the other ways in which many Member States contribute to UNDP’s work, through for example, South-South and Triangular Co-operation, Government Cost-Sharing, GLOC, hosting Global Policy Centres, paying rent for premises, or providing JPOs. We are committed to finding ways to communicate and acknowledge clearly all these essential contributions.
• My thanks go once again to all Board Members for their positive and constructive comments related to the work that UNDP is doing around the world. We continue to value all our partnerships with you, and can assure you of our commitment to continue to work with you in support of national and international development goals and priorities.
• I wish you all a positive and constructive outcome for the remaining work of this Executive Board session.