The European Union welcomes the opportunity to discuss the implementation of General Assembly resolution 62/208 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of United Nations operational activities for development.
This year our discussions are coloured by the unprecedented economic crisis that the world is currently facing. Poor people will suffer the most from this crisis and we must continue to act to mitigate its impact. The Millennium Development Goals was an ambitious agenda already before this crisis. The latest reports indicate that several of the eight globally agreed goals are unlikely to be met. This includes those related to hunger, child and maternal mortality, education, and progress in combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other major diseases. An additional 55 to 90 million people will be trapped in extreme poverty in 2009. It is estimated that an additional 200,000 to 400,000 babies will die this year because of the drop in growth. The number of chronically hungry people is expected to climb to over 1 billion.
The United Nations development system will not alone change this reality. However, the UN development system, working along with other development actors can together play a larger role. A strengthened multilateral response could magnify the advantages and temper the downside risks of the economic crisis. We, the member states, have the duty to ensure that the UN is fit for purpose, reinvigorated and strengthened to meet these challenges. The European Union therefore urges the United Nations to redouble its efforts to enhance the relevance and effectiveness of its operational development activities.
As a first step, the European Union would like to see a further focused support by the United Nations system to national development priorities. The United Nations system should focus on supporting national capacities to manage the development process, integrate the rights-based approach, support governments in fulfilling obligations and achieving internationally agreed standards, promote transparency and accountability, bring together social, economic, environmental and developmental concerns, advocate pro-poor policies, and support governments in experimental and pilot initiatives to inform policy development. The next generation of UNDAFs represent an opportunity to further focus the role of the UN development system in order to make necessary investments in these areas of support.
Second, for this to happen the UN will have to review its own capacity. The TCPR calls on the UN to ensure that the staff at the country level have the skills and capacity required. In this regards, the European Union calls on the UN agencies to conduct assessments of adequacy of human resources capacities in the UN country teams to respond to national priorities. The assessments carried out in the pilot countries show that while there is increasing demand for the UN to be focused on up-stream advisory support, the UN country teams continue to be heavy in programme administration. We note the upcoming demographic transition of UN system staff and emphasize the urgent need for strategic human resources planning.
Third, if support to countries to achieve the MDGs is what the UN system should do, Delivering as One is how it should be done. The stocktaking reports from the eight pilots provide convincing evidence of very positive overall results, and with strong support and leadership from involved national governments. We are pleased to see that the Delivering as One concept and methods of work has been replicated in a number of countries based on their request. However, the pilots have shown that we need urgent harmonization and simplification in country programming as well as in common reporting on results. System-wide changes in this regard are needed. The EU therefore looks forward to a timely conclusion of the independent evaluation by the United Nations Evaluations Group in order to allow us to move forward. As we have noted from the stock taking reports in the pilot countries, going back to business as usual is no longer considered to be an option.
The European Union welcomes the report by the Secretary General on results achieved and measures and processes implemented in follow-up to the General Assembly Resolution 62/208. The report itself is a major improvement from previous years in terms of enabling us to monitor progress against the various mandates in the resolution. It is clear from the report that considerable progress has been made. The conferences in 2008 on aid effectiveness in Accra and on financing for development in Doha reinforced this momentum for reform. The UN development system has taken important steps to increase effectiveness, relevance and coherence to better respond to the needs and priorities of development countries.
While welcoming improvements made, we need to further accelerate reforms as mandated by the General Assembly in the TCPR. This includes further empowering of the Resident Coordinator, improving the common programming and reporting instruments, as well as enhancing business practices reform.
The Resident Coordinator system is the backbone of UN development coordination efforts. The Secretary generals highlights in his report on the Resident Coordinator system achievements made to further improve the RC system. The European Union particularly welcomes the Management and Accountability System as an important internal management instrument to enhance the functioning of the RC system. This will allow the Resident Coordinator to hold members of the country team accountable to agreed goals, as well as the Resident Coordinator being accountable to the members of the UN Country Team. In the implementation of this agreed system there is a need to review country coordination functions and requirement for the RC to manage UN country team processes and to ensure effective dialogue with partners. On the basis of such an assessment a strategy for sustainable resources and capacity to the RC system needs to be developed. This should include contributions by the agencies of the UN system benefiting from support provided by the RC office. The EU also calls on the UN agencies to support efforts to strengthen the capability of the UN system to attract, develop and retain suitable candidates for RC positions.
The European Union welcomes that common operational programme documents are being developed and implemented in more and more countries, within the CCA/UNDAF framework. This approach contribute to further coherence, effectiveness and relevance of UN support and should become standardized in the next generation of UNDAFs. The UN common operational programme should be strategic, focused and results-based, and reflect the added value of the UN in the specific country context in responding to the national development priorities. Furthermore, the TCPR requests the Resident Coordinator to report on behalf of the UN system to national authorities on progress achieved in the implementation of the UNDAF. This is a first step towards a more harmonized approach to UN reporting at the country level. Joint reporting by the UN development system, as mandated by the TCPR, must be systematically implemented. While some bureaucratic challenges remain to this approach, including different decision-making and accountability processes of each individual agency, the EU calls for enhanced efforts to overcome such challenges that hampers the effectiveness of the UN system to deliver on needs of developing countries.
The European Union also welcomes the progress towards simplification and harmonization of business practices as presented in the report before us. However, there are urgent calls from within the UN system at the country level to accelerate the modernization and reform. This includes processes for resource planning, human resources, common services and system-wide evaluations. We also need harmonized human resources procedure across the UN system to provide opportunities for staff mobility. The EU stands ready to support when needed necessary decisions in different boards of the UN agencies in order to implement this important agenda.
In conclusion Mr. President,
Almost eighty years ago, as the world was sliding into the Great Depression, one of the great economists of our time John Maynard Keynes appealed to rise above bureaucratic small-mindedness and to see the bigger picture. As we join efforts and seize the opportunity from the economic crisis of today to enhance the relevance and effectiveness of the United Nations development system, we would do well to remember Keynes words If we can continue in a larger task, as we have begun in this limited task, there is hope for the world.
I thank you.