Allow me first of all to thank the Administrator for her report on UNDP’s performance over the last five years, as well as her presentation of UNDP’s future direction. We welcome and endorse the Administrator’s ambitious plans for making UNDP a more focused and effective organisation.
Eradicating extreme poverty and ensuring equitable and sustainable human development is possible. The progress made in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the findings of UNDP’s Human Development Report 2013 The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World give reason for optimism with regard to the world’s development. The Human Development Index reveals that there has been broad-based progress since 1990, and particularly rapid progress has been made in 40 countries of the South. The question now is how we can sustain this positive momentum.
The Human Development Report 2013 demonstrates how the world is changing. The South is becoming wealthier and more diversified, global power relations are being reshaped, and the distinction between North and South is becoming increasingly blurred. There is now “a ‘south’ in the North, and a ‘north’ in the South”, as the report fittingly puts it, with increasingly global and connected elites benefiting the most from the enormous wealth generation over the past decade.
This growing inequality must necessarily affect the way we think about and practise development cooperation and assistance. In a world in which three-quarters of the increase in foreign exchange reserves between 2000 and 2011 has accumulated in the South and income inequalities within countries are rising, traditional development assistance needs to be revised. With the majority of the poor now living in middle income countries, development policies must look at inequality within states, and not only between states. The international community must assume its shared responsibility to ensure that everybody benefits from the positive developments that have taken place over the last decade.
A commitment to shouldering our shared responsibility should also infuse the multilateral development system. The fact that 85 % of UNDP’s regular resources are provided by only 10 Member States illustrates that we are not there yet. This is hardly a sustainable situation.
These limited resources must be targeted at those who need them most and who are least likely to benefit from the progress experienced in many developing countries, i.e., vulnerable and excluded groups of the population, including persons with disabilities, and fragile states prone to conflict and natural disasters. And the multilateral system should primarily do this by engaging in advocacy and policy dialogue and by contributing to the development of national polices and systems in line with international norms and standards that benefit all citizens. In this context, each multilateral organisation must concentrate its efforts in areas where it has a unique role to play and can demonstrate tangible results.
We appreciate and endorse the efforts made by UNDP to sharpen its strategic focus by defining seven overarching outcomes and three areas of work that specify how it will contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty and reduction of inequalities and exclusion. I believe, however, that we have to ask if the proposed outcomes are overly ambitious when compared with UNDP’s estimates of future funding. This is corroborated by the evaluation of the current strategic plan, which highlights unrealistic ambitions and insufficient funding as key obstacles to UNDP’s achievement of planned outcomes.
In other words, we would welcome further strategic concentration on core priorities, based on an analysis of funding prospects, UNDP’s unique roles and a division of labour with other development partners.
Having said this, we welcome the fact that the draft strategic plan pays increased attention to institutional change and sharper focus at country level, limiting the number of outcomes in the country programmes and proposing improvements in project design and monitoring.
To conclude, we highly appreciate the fact that UNDP has become a stronger organisation during the current strategic plan period, and that it has made important contributions across its focus areas. Allow me, nonetheless, to draw attention to the contrast between the very positive results reported in UNDP’s cumulative report for 2008–2012 and some rather critical findings in the external evaluation of UNDP’s performance during the same period. In our opinion, this illustrates the importance of developing a robust results framework for the next strategic plan, which would enable UNDP to improve its strategic direction and accountability with regard to expected results at all levels of the organisation and demonstrate in a credible manner the progress made in achieving results at an aggregate level. We welcome the fact that UNDP’s new draft results framework represents a considerable step in the right direction.
I would like to underline the importance of providing UNDP with the necessary guidance at this session in order to enable the organisation to finalise the strategic plan, the results framework and the integrated budget before the Board’s session in September. We encourage all Board Members to join a consensus on the proposed seven outcomes and three areas of work, which are the result of a long and inclusive consultation process.
Finally, we are pleased to see that the priorities proposed in the next strategic plan coincide perfectly with the transformative shifts identified by the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Agenda. This bodes well for UNDP’s potential to contribute actively and effectively to shaping equitable and sustainable development on our shared planet.