Thursday, June 16, 2011

UK challenges the United Nations Development Programme to become more effective


14 June 2011

Statement by Ambassador Philip Parham, UK Mission to the United Nations, to the UNDP Executive Board in response to the Administrator

Thank you very much and a warm thank you to the Administrator for her opening statement.

Madam President,

In March this year the UK published the results of its Multilateral Aid Review, which assessed the value for money of our investments in 43 different multilateral organisations, including UNDP. This review looked at a range of criteria for organisational impact and effectiveness, and the relevance of the organisation to the UK’s international development goals.

The review assessed UNDP as a good investment for UK development assistance. It recognised UNDP as a critical partner in the international development architecture, especially in fragile and conflict-affected states. And it highlighted UNDP’s important role in leading the UN development family as a whole. In this regard, we would like to encourage the Administrator, in her role as chair of the UN Development Group, to deepen her leadership of reform efforts across the UN development system. This leadership will enable the system to become more transparent, more efficient, and more effective. It will also help promote coherence within and between the development agencies and the other relevant parts of the UN. A joined-up approach between development, security and political parts of the UN family is absolutely critical, if we are genuinely to help countries successfully emerge from conflict.

Madam President,

The UK Multilateral Aid Review also identified a number of areas where the UK believes UNDP can become more effective. I would like to highlight three of these.

First, UNDP’s delivery at the country level is variable. UNDP could do more to strengthen its country teams and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators, particularly those operating in fragile countries. UNDP needs to be able to deploy the right people, with the right skills, at the right time. Filling vacancies in difficult posts with high quality staff is a challenge we fully recognise. But this must be a priority if we are to see results on the ground. We welcome the commitment to simplify project management and procurement procedures. We hope to see these changes implemented quickly.

Second, the review found that UNDP would benefit from greater focus. My government believes that UNDP’s greatest added value lies in its work on crisis prevention, democratic governance - especially at regional and local levels - and supporting countries recover from conflict or crisis. We would welcome the Administrator’s views on the potential for UNDP to focus more on these areas.

Third, the review found that there is room for improvement in UNDP’s reporting of results, and in driving forward organisational change. In this regard, we welcome the Administrator’s Agenda for Organisational Change. We look forward to updates on progress in implementing this agenda.

Madam President,

As a result of the Multilateral Aid Review, the UK will maintain its core funding for UNDP at £55 million per year for the next two years. We will take stock of UNDP’s progress against the reforms identified in the Review in two years’ time, and adjust our funding accordingly.

Finally, I would like to comment briefly on two items that will be discussed at the Executive Board.

First, the board will discuss UNDP’s Mid-term Review of its Strategic Plan. This is a crucial step in identifying the direction of travel towards the next Strategic Plan in 2014. Following the Administrator’s statement this morning, we do acknowledge the significant analysis that has been undertaken for the MTR report. Nevertheless, in our view it’s difficult to distil from this Report UNDP’s key contributions to development. Also, the MTR report could have set out results more systematically. On the changes to the Development Results Frameworks, the UK believes that this has been a missed opportunity to specify clearly the results that UNDP will deliver. I will shortly deliver a joint statement with a number of other board members which will highlight our thoughts on this in more detail.

Second, the board is already discussing how to broaden access to UNDP internal audit reports. The UK believes this is an important opportunity for the Board to enhance UNDP’s transparency. We must ensure that both member states and institutional donors have the same level of access to audit reports, while respecting the confidential nature of these documents.

Madam President,

The UK remains strongly committed to working with the Administrator and UNDP to improve its effectiveness and impact for the benefit of programme countries. The Administrator has set out an important change management agenda. It is essential that the board collectively supports these efforts to ensure the world’s poor and vulnerable can rely on a strong and effective UNDP.

Thank you.

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