I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands and my own country, Norway.
We would like to thank the Executive Director for his comprehensive and detailed presentation. We know that the development of the draft Strategic Plan and the budget reform process have been challenging tasks, and we commend UNFPA and its staff for the tireless efforts that have been made and for the open and inclusive process.
Everyone is entitled to full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Investment in sexual and reproductive health and rights has a range of positive effects on women, men and their families. It is an essential part of efforts to eradicate poverty and to achieve sustainable development.
Despite major progress on the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development during the last 20 years, huge challenges remain. To keep up the momentum, universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls must be a crucial component of post-2015 agenda.
With this vision as a back-drop, I will start with conveying three main messages:
First, we think that the draft Strategic Plan presented by UNFPA provides a clear strategic direction for the entire organisation that will strengthen its unique role in contributing to accelerated progress on the ICPD-agenda as well as on MDG 5 on maternal mortality and reproductive health.
Second, we welcome the sharper focus in the draft Strategic Plan, including the intention to differentiate the engagement according to country contexts. Although recognizing the need for some flexibility in implementing the new business model, we consider it as a sensible way of making good use of limited resources and as a continuation of the concentration of efforts introduced after the mid-term review of the present Strategic Plan. Clearly, UNFPA does not have either the financial resources or the capacity to do everything everywhere.
The third main message is that the draft Strategic Plan and the Integrated Budget provide us with the confidence we need to continue our core contribution to UNFPA at a high level. We therefore look forward to the Executive Board’s approval of the Strategic Plan and the Integrated Budget at this session.
Let me now turn to some further observations on the Strategic Plan:
It is our view that the Strategic Plan and the annexes make up a coherent “package” that gives us a good understanding of how UNFPA will step up its efforts to deliver on the unfinished ICPD agenda and contribute to improvements in the lives of women, adolescents and youths in particular. In this regard, we welcome the new annex with outcome theories of change. We are confident that the “package” will provide good strategic guidance to the entire organisation in terms of priorities and programmatic strategies and also enhance a culture of results-based management throughout the organization.
It is also our view that the draft Strategic Plan and annexes provide a solid basis for results reporting. The annual report of the Executive Director for 2014 will be the first test to determine which further improvements need to be made during the mid-term review of the Strategic Plan.
In the implementation of the Strategic Plan, we would encourage UNFPA to further strengthen its focus on risk assessments, both in additional guidance documents and in programming. The planned further refinement of the theories of change could be an opportunity also to distinguish between risks that can be mitigated by UNFPA and those beyond the control of organisation. Clearly, achievements of results do not merely depend on UNFPA but even more important on member states.
We further think that effective implementation of the Strategic Plan and the proposed reforms may also require further improvements in UNFPA’s organizational culture and human resources policy.
Lastly, we believe that Global and Regional Initiatives are important for the implementation of the Strategic Plan. We welcome the additional information in the conference paper on future governance and use of funds and appreciate the efforts to align Global and Regional Initiatives with the organization-wide results framework. However, we believe that it is necessary to develop this approach further and look forward to consultations between UNFPA and the Executive Board in this regard.
We also have some comments on the draft Integrated Budget:
As a general comment, we consider the information value of the draft Integrated Budget to be quite good. We would, however, have liked to see an annual breakdown of the Integrated Resource Plan as this would have improved our understanding of how planned changes will be implemented.
We welcome the information that total incomes are expected to increase significantly in the 2014-2017 period but remain concerned about the declining trend in regular resources. As called for in the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review resolution, we take this opportunity to urge all member states supporting the ICPD agenda to consider providing or increasing their core contributions.
Turning to the expenditure side of the budget, we would like to share three comments:
First, we appreciate the information that the Institutional Budget, including recurring management costs, is expected to decrease as shares of total available resources and hence that more resources can be used for programme activities. We would like to understand better the reasons behind such savings, including to which extent the savings are caused by reform processes within the UN Development System.
Second, the Executive Board has a responsibility to ensure the independence and capacity of the corporate oversight functions. We therefore note with appreciation that UNFPA, in line with the new evaluation policy, has introduced a separate budget line for the Evaluation Office and that the number of posts will be increased. Likewise, we welcome the separate budget line for the Division of Oversight Services and that the proposed allocation seems to include one additional internal auditor.
Third, we appreciate UNFPA’s role in reaching an agreement among members of the UNDG on sharing costs for UN coordination and that UNFPA has included its share in the Integrated Budget.
We believe that the presentation of the integrated budgets of UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and UN Women is an opportunity to look into how far the joint budget reform has brought us and how we can proceed further. At this junction, we very much appreciate the progress made in terms of providing members of the Executive Board with better insight in how available resources are planned to be used, although the information value of the budget documents could be improved on certain points. Less progress has in our view been made in terms of strengthening the budget as an instrument to support implementation of the priorities in the strategic plan. We think the mid-term reviews of the integrated budgets should be used to look into remaining challenges to enhance results-based budgeting, along with an assessment of whether the present cost recovery methodology meets the QCPR expectations of full cost recovery as already decided.
We remain committed to UNFPA and the full implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, up to and beyond 2014.