Statement by Robert R. Downes, Director of the Office of Economic Development Assistance, International Organizations Bureau, U.S. Department of State, UNDP Executive Board Annual Session

U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
May 26, 2009


Thank you, Mr. President.
I'd like to warmly welcome Ms. Helen Clark to the United States and to New York City. Ms. Clark, congratulations on your new post and welcome to UNDP: you bring a wealth of experience to the UNDP Administrator's post, and we look forward to a close partnership with you. We also wish to convey our deep appreciation and warmest best wishes to your predecessor, Mr. Kemal Dervis, Mr. Dervis led the organization through some difficult times with an acuity and dedication that helped put UNDP on a sounder footing to deliver in its core mission. Under your leadership, I am confident UNDP will continue in its path to become an even more effective organization that is responsive to the world's poor and most vulnerable and that makes a real difference in people’s lives.

This is a challenging historical moment, as we all know, and in ways that are testing the strength and resilience of institutions at every level to adapt to problems of an unprecedented scale and complexity. As you take up the helm at UNDP and develop your own vision for the organization, we, with other members of the Board, will look forward to working closely with you and supporting your endeavors. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to share some of our own early thinking about a few critical issues on our common agenda.

First, in partnership with others on this Board, we will continue to encourage UNDP to devote more attention and resources to African and Least Developed Countries, particularly those which face the greatest challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. We are pleased to see that the UNDP management has begun to gather and report LDCs specific information to the Board in its annual report. This is a good step. We encourage the management to continue this work, and we would like to work with you to develop a concrete strategy to meet LDCs' needs and to help those falling behind on the Millennium Development Goals to get back on track.

Second, we think it important to continue to develop mechanisms that enhance effectiveness while showing clear and demonstrable results. UNDP’s Strategic Plan's results matrices provide a good platform for the organization to gather and report aggregate results. Improvements in the quantity and quality of end-of-cycle and individual project evaluations are also critical to UNDP's ability to produce, measure, and report results.

Another important area of reform is transparency and accountability. When President Obama served as a U.S. Senator he co-sponsored legislation that became known as the U.S. Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. This law began a trend to bring greater transparency to U.S. government spending. In one of his first official acts as President of the United States, President Obama ordered all federal government agencies to become more open and transparent as a way of promoting accountability and helping citizens become better informed about what their Government is doing.

UNDP's adoption of a transparency and accountability policy last September was a significant milestone. The United States would like to thank the Board and UNDP management for their constructive work that made the adoption of this policy possible. This cooperative working relationship is essential for us to act as effective steward for the organization. The Board decision that approved this policy highlighted the importance of pre-appointment vetting of key oversight personnel for conflicts of interest with the senior management to ensure these offices independence. We consider this provision a critical element of a credible and effective oversight system. We will be closely following the implementation of the transparency and accountability policy.

Finally, I understand this Board will later discuss an item on funding for UNDP, and I'd like to close with a few words here about the continuing commitment of the United States to UNDP. President Obama has spoken often of the urgency of international development. He has underscored the strength of America’s commitment to combating poverty, disease, and all the ills that attend underdevelopment . Our ambassador at the UN, Susan Rice, is also a passionate advocate for development. UNDP will remain a crucial partner for the United States toward these shared goals. Ms. Clark, on behalf of the United States and President Obama, we again warmly welcome you, and I look forward to working with you closely in the months ahead to achieve our mutual objectives. Thank you.

And thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2009/108