Statement by Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Executive Board Meeting

Ambassador Rick Barton
U.S. Representative on the Economic and Social Council 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
January 31, 2011


Madame President, congratulations to you and the other members of the Bureau. The United States thanks Administrator Helen Clark for her thoughtful remarks and for her efforts to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of UNDP. We are confident that this will be a productive year for the Board and UNDP under your combined leadership.

The promise of an emerging global development partnership with new technologies, donors and innovations is before us. At last fall’s MDG Summit our leaders recognized these changes and specifically endorsed a five-year road map for achieving progress. UNDP made valuable contributions to the successful outcome with its analytical work on fundamental principles, lessons learned, best practices, and a way forward.

The United States recognizes the vital role of traditional donor assistance and the growing importance of private investment and philanthropy, remittances, South-South cooperation, and improved domestic resource mobilization. Following a long upward trend, new sources of development funding now eclipse traditional ODA levels. A recent UNCTAD report stated that 2010 was the first year that developing countries and economies in transition together attracted more foreign investment than developed countries. The expansion of new resources and relationships will require changes in the way that UNDP and other development institutions do business.

Our statement today will emphasize how UNDP can most help developing countries take advantage of the rapidly evolving situation, strengthen its own field leadership, and enhance the transparency and professionalism of UNDP operations. We welcome Administrator Clark’s “change agenda”.

UNDP should continue to help countries unlock their growth potential by addressing the challenges at the nexus of governance and private sector development. It should focus on LDCs, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty is stifling and the MDGs remain difficult to reach. Both UNDP’s Strategic Plan and the MDG Outcome Document recognize the special challenges that LDCs face and the need to address them. UNDP’s MDG Breakthrough Strategy and its MDG Acceleration Framework can help developing countries and LDCs in particular by emphasizing fundamentals -- generate strong political will, establish sound policies and good regulations, and develop credible and effective institutions.

Another area where UNDP can make meaningful contributions is through its role as UN Development Group chair and manager of the UN’s Resident Coordinator system. In dealing with the rapidly evolving world, UNDP needs to improve its own personnel’s skill development and deployment. Getting the Resident Coordinator skill mix right is crucial for the success of UN country missions. So is the evaluation function. Despite a well-functioning central evaluation office, many country office efforts remain a weak link in the learning chain. Sustained senior level attention is required to improve them. Management may find inspiration in the work that UNDP and its private sector partners have developed to measure the effectiveness of private-public sector initiatives in support of the MDGs.

In this new development landscape, UNDP and the other funds and programs need to update management practices to keep pace with emerging development institutions that are more nimble, transparent and accountable. Management and the Board have made real progress over the last three years with the adoption and implementation of the accountability policy, the establishment of the ethics office, and the continuing improvement of audit and evaluation functions. Further concrete actions, including greater access to audit information, would vault UNDP to the forefront of multilateral transparency and accountability. We wish to recognize the advances the organization continues to make towards integrated budgets and creating a results reporting framework and preparing its review of the implementation of the strategic plan.

Madame President, improvement will require all of our best efforts. As a leading traditional donor, the United States encourages others who are now able to provide support for UNDP’s important work. A broadened donor base would better reflect today’s development landscape.

The United States is eager to be an important part of the emerging development world.

Thank you for your good work.


PRN: 2011/016