Remarks by Elizabeth Cousens, U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council, at the UNDP Executive Board

Ambassador Elizabeth Cousens
U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council 
New York, NY
January 27, 2014


Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the United States, let me first congratulate you, the Bureau, and new members of the Executive Board on your election. Let me also echo thanks to Ambassador Olhaye and last year’s Bureau for their service.

2014 will be an important year for UNDP as we embark on the first generation of strategic plans that are aligned across UN agencies, as we intensify efforts to accelerate the MDGs, and as we deepen our efforts to elaborate a post-2015 development agenda. We look forward to working closely with you and all Board members in the months ahead. Let me also express warm appreciation to Administrator Clark for her briefing and to the whole UNDP family for their diligence, dedication, and commitment to results. We see the promise of substantial advances in delivery in the organization’s drive for greater focus, tight links between the Strategic Plan and country and regional work, and a purpose-driven approach to institutional change.

We will be joining a number of statements, namely on gender equality, the new global programme, and audits, and will reserve our observations about UN coherence for the joint session next week, so I will just make a few, brief comments.

First, on gender, we are very pleased to see the Board focus on gender equality this session and appreciate very much UNDP’s plans for a gender equality strategy going forward. Particularly given UNDP’s renewed focus on poverty and exclusion, it will be vital to design activities that can deliver on women’s equality and empowerment, in particular. The manifold ways in which women and girls – despite impressive gains in many areas – remain substantially excluded from full and equal participation in economic, civic, and political life amounts to one of the most troubling and persistent impediments to human development globally. We are pleased to see UNDP’s recognition that, together with UN Women and a wide range of partners, this must be tackled with fierce and sustained determination.

Second, we are encouraged to see UNDP’s increasing emphasis in all its programs on a strong analytical and evidence-based foundation that makes explicit UNDP’s assumptions about its operating environment, the comparative roles of other actors, UNDP’s particular value added to specific outcomes, and the critical paths to success.

We would particularly flag the imperative of this commitment to evidence and analysis in the context of the post-2015 development agenda as we seek the strongest possible knowledge base for our efforts. As we intensify our discussions, we will face tough choices about priorities. It will be crucial to identity priorities that have the greatest and most self-sustaining impact on the issues we care about, and crucial no less that our judgments in this regard are underpinned by evidence about the investments and actions that will have the most enduring results.

Similarly, we welcome the new Global Programme’s strong emphasis on providing high-calibre policy support in a limited number of strategic areas where these can be a force multiplier for country and regional efforts.

We also welcome the commitment to enhancing program quality, as well as on monitoring and evaluation, which are so crucial to any knowledge-based organization in a dynamic environment. We want to convey our appreciation to the leadership of UNDP’s evaluation team, and we commend the quality of the medium-term Evaluation Plan for 2014-2017, which can provide powerful tools to shape strategy, program design, and implementation.

Finally, a quick word on the restructuring changes now underway. We appreciate when UNDP has been forthcoming about plans and implementation, and we believe that continued transparency with the Board, staff, and UN partners will make for the strongest possible foundation for expeditious change and ensure that UNDP is in a position to deliver on its vital work in the years ahead.

Many thanks, Mr. President.


PRN: 2014/008