Remarks at the UNDP Executive Board

Stefanie Amadeo
U.S. Deputy Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 30, 2017

AS DELIVERED

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Acting Administrator Gettu, for your statement and presentation of UNDP’s annual report and for your capable leadership during this interim period.

We also want to express our appreciation to all UNDP staff for the important work they do around the world, often in difficult and dangerous circumstances.

We look forward to welcoming on board Mr. Achim Steiner as the next Administrator and to working with him to open a new chapter in UNDP’s work.

This is a milestone year for UNDP, as we review the results achieved under the 2014-17 strategic plan and begin to formulate a new plan for the next four years.

We are pleased to see that UNDP adapted the strategic plan to the changing global development landscape, in particular to the international community’s adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The SDGs embody a set of priorities that address both traditional development needs and more fundamental issues that underpin development, such as peace, security, and stability. As the annual report notes, UNDP has made considerable progress in the areas of conflict prevention, peace-building, and prevention of violent extremism.

UNDP made considerable progress in working with the private sector – brokering public-private partnerships for development projects and for fundraising efforts in many countries. UNDP also received the first ever private sector contribution to its core budget.

We appreciate the fact the annual report contains a section on lessons learned and highlights the utility of results-based annual reporting as a tool to help identify certain factors that impede performance. We would like to hear more from the management about this methodology and what factors have been identified.

As we move to formulate the new strategic plan, we should be guided by lessons learned from the last period, as well as by the imperatives of meeting new challenges. We have been encouraged to see the collaborative work between your organization and other Funds and Programs on the Strategic Plans’ common chapter and common results indicators. We appreciate these initial steps taken towards implementing the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, the QCPR, and encourage you to keep up these collaborative efforts and translate them to a new way of working at the country-level, as well.

We have some suggestions: Regarding the Strategic Plan narrative, UNDP should continue to sharpen its focus on key areas of greatest impact for its work. We therefore support the 2+2 approach that you have proposed as the organizing principle of the new strategic plan, which we think is a good step in this direction. We encourage you to further develop this approach based on UNDP’s mandate and comparative advantages to address some of the key elements in the peace-security-development nexus, such as good governance, rule of law, poverty reduction, conflict prevention and recovery.

The integrated resource and results framework of the strategic plan remains a critical instrument for monitoring and reporting the results of the plan. Drawing from the lessons of the last period, we encourage you to develop a more rigorous framework with realistic indicators and targets. As the current framework is designed to aggregate country level results into a global level report, we strongly encourage you to continue to explore ways to better reflect country results in the new framework. We will remain closely engaged with you and the other Board members in this endeavor.

While UNDP has made notable progress to engage the private sector in its development work, it has not done nearly enough to make the development of local private sector an objective of its work. The local private sector is a very important part of the community in many program countries and contributes to their prosperity and stability. We strongly encourage UNDP to do more to foster the development of the private sector and to demonstrate; in particular, how UNDP’s good governance and rule of law program results are linked to private sector growth.

We also encourage UNDP to build on the success in the last strategic plan period to continue to expand its work with the global private sector. In our view, UNDP and, frankly much of the UN, stands to gain a great deal through pursuing more shared value partnerships with the private sector, in particular in the area of innovation.

In general, we would encourage UNDP to explore how it can better harness the power of technology and innovation in improving program delivery. We are aware of the good work you are doing in this regard, but would encourage you to foster closer relationships with UNCDF on digital finance and with UN Global Pulse, where appropriate.

We note also that UNDP management has improved the oversight and program effectiveness of the organization, and encourage further progress in several key areas, including: Greater transparency and accountability in management practices to demonstrate value for money through efficient operations and program implementation that produce good results; Improving coordination and collaboration with other UN entities through the UN Development Group and the Resident Coordinator system, and working with humanitarian agencies in all phases of humanitarian response work, including joint assessment, planning, and execution to maximize programs’ impact and sustainability to achieve long-term stability, security, and prosperity in the affected communities.

Evaluation serves a critical oversight and learning function in UNDP. Program evaluations conducted by country offices have been a weak link in UNDP’s evaluation system. Although the revised evaluation policy provides a good framework to address some of the weaknesses in the current practices at country-level, further improvement is still needed. We encourage you and the Independent Evaluation Office to explore ways to ensure the quantity and quality of country-level evaluations to consistently meet reliability standards.

UNDP management should continue to develop and improve accountability measures for managers at all levels to learn from evaluations to improve program performance over time. In this regard, we encourage the management also to follow up on the very good recommendations of the Institutional Effectiveness Assessment, in particular the need to encourage a “results culture.” Rather than just reporting results, we encourage UNDP management to promote a culture of continuous organizational self-learning from both success and failure.

The Office of Audit and Investigation and Ethics Office are also important parts of the oversight structure of UNDP. In recent years both offices, with the support of the management, have helped UNDP become a stronger institution. We commend OAI for its work last year, in particular its work with the management to improve the recovery of funds lost to fraudulent activities. The launch of a code of ethics earlier this year is a significant milestone in the work of the Ethics Office and reflects the management’s commitment to instill a culture of ethics in UNDP.

The work of the two offices also revealed a number of areas for improvement, including procurement and whistleblower protection, of which we will speak more in detail when the Board discusses their reports.

Mr. President, as I said at the start of my remarks, this is a pivotal year for UNDP: with new leadership there is an opportunity to forge new paths in key areas, using innovation and private sector partnership to drive efficiencies and impact. The United States is encouraged by the good work UNDP has done and looks forward to working with member states and the new UNDP leadership and management to put UNDP on a path to even greater achievement.

Thank you.

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