Remarks on the occasion of the High-Level Tripartite Conference on “Delivering as One: lessons learned and way forward”

14 Jun 2010

Speaker:  UN Development Group Chair, Helen Clark   
Date:        14 June 2010
Event:       High-Level Tripartite Conference on “Delivering as One: lessons learned and way forward”
Venue:      Melia Hotel, Hanoi

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Let me start by expressing my sincere appreciation to the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam for hosting this important meeting.

Viet Nam is a country I know well from my time as Prime Minister of New Zealand. I am delighted to be here once again and to witness the impressive development of Vietnam.

While they unfortunately cannot be here today, I also express my thanks to the two Co-chairs on System-Wide Coherence - Ambassador Tiina Intelmann of Estonia and Ambassador Ghazi Jomaa of Tunisia - for their leadership role in guiding the consultations on system-wide coherence in the General Assembly. I also thank their predecessors, one of whom I am very pleased is facilitating this Conference, Ambassador Mahiga from Tanzania.

The United Nations Development Group is fully committed to responding to calls from Member States for a more coherent, effective, and efficient UN development system. 

That system will better support national partners to reach their development aspirations, and help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals by their 2015 target date.
In the current resource-constrained environment, we all have to make the best use we can of the funding we have.
For the UN development system, that means drawing on our collective strengths to maximize the development impact of our support to governments.  

For some years now, across the UN’s funds, programmes, and specialized agencies, numerous measures have been implemented to improve co-ordination. The aim is to deliver better results in support of nationally-led development programmes.   

These measures are most advanced in the Delivering as One countries and those which have voluntary adopted this approach. It is important to me as Chair of the UN Development Group that we step up our co-ordination globally.

At the inter-governmental meeting on Delivering as One in Kigali last year, governments represented agreed that “…in the pilot countries there is no going back to doing business in the manner prior to the “Delivering as One” initiative.” 

This sent a very strong message to all that the governments associated with Delivering as One are convinced of the merits of the new approach.

Looking ahead, we need to learn the lessons from pilots and the voluntary adopters, and, consistent with our mandate, allow other countries to benefit from them too.

This conference presents participants with the opportunity for the first time to learn more about the Delivering as One approach through the findings of the country-led evaluations, to share experiences of what has worked and what has not, and to agree on a way forward.  

The UN Evaluation Group provided a framework for the terms of reference for the country-led evaluations, which was then adapted locally to specific country contexts. The UN Evaluation Group has also provided quality assurance advice and suggestions at different stages of these evaluations, to ensure consistency. 

I understand that draft reports of five of the seven pilots’ evaluations – from Albania, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uruguay, and Viet Nam - have been prepared and are at different stages of finalization.

Pakistan has chosen to develop a third stocktaking report for 2009 and Malawi, a voluntary adopter of the approach, at its own initiative, has undertaken its own country-led evaluation.

The key findings for the five pilots’ evaluations have just been shared for the first time with participants. They will be presented shortly in detail by the respective chairs of the country-level Evaluation Management Groups.

 Each government established these groups to oversee the evaluations.  

Allow me now to share with you some reflections about the advances and challenges of the Delivering as One experience which have emerged to date.

  • First, it is clear that the Delivering as One process has been driven by the national governments in question, and that their commitment has been critical to the pilots’ success. 

    The governments of the Delivering as One countries have stated clearly and unequivocally on numerous occasions that this reform of the UN development system in their country has supported enhanced national ownership and leadership of the development agenda.

    I thank each of the governments involved in the pilots, and the voluntary adopters, for the leadership, direction, and vision they have brought to Delivering as One.

    Without their support and advocacy, it would not have been possible for the UN development system to embark on this reform. Where the process goes from here will also owe much to their advocacy and on our joint ability to show results.

    I also thank the donor community for the important role it has played in support of Delivering as One. Their political backing, advocacy, and funding have given the UN development system the support and capacity it needs to translate the vision of UN reform into reality on the ground. 

    For Delivering as One to succeed, the support of all the UN Development Group agencies is fundamental. As chair, I have been supported by a committed advisory group of principals, and their leadership and interest has been vital.
     
  • Second, the evaluations affirm that implementation of the One Plan is making the UN country presence more responsive to and aligned with national development priorities and processes, as called for in the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Reviews.

    In Uruguay the UN Country Team has helped the government to streamline its public administrative procedures with a series of new Citizen Centers located in high-population-density areas which are far from public offices.  Government officials have said that Delivering as One by the city teams stimulated many of the government institutions to share their problems and also their resources to solve them.

    The One Plan is helping reduce both duplication and gaps in UN system support; improving the way we address cross-cutting issues like promoting gender equality; and resulting in greater access by countries to the advice and resources of a wider range of specialized and other non-resident UN agencies. 

    In Tanzania, the UN Country Team in response to the national priority and the MDG goal on maternal mortality, has responded with a collective effort which has already contributed to a decline in deaths in one of the three provinces where a joint programme operates.

    In Rwanda, the UN Country Team has put together a multi-faceted HIV/AIDS programme which supports the Government with its prevention and care efforts.

    In Albania, working as one, the UN Country Team supported increases in women’s political participation during an election which more than doubled the number of women in Parliament.

    Going forward it will be important for the One Plans to maintain a clear strategic focus, and to consolidate efforts to engage in upstream policy advice.

    In many countries where we operate, the UN development system is still too heavy on programme management and project implementation, and too light in its capacity for strategic and policy advice, technical assistance, and advocacy.  This has to change in order for us to support the development aspirations of programme countries more effectively.
     
  • Third, the One Budgetary Frameworks and the One Funds are helping the UN sharpen its strategic focus and respond more flexibly to national development needs. They are helping us improve our results reporting, the predictability of our long-term funding, and our transparency and accountability.

    In Cape Verde we saw a good example of flexible response when the UN mobilized expertise and resources to stop a dengue fever outbreak last year and put in place capacities to reduce the chance of recurrences. 

    Similarly in Pakistan the UN Country Team has had to switch gear to help the government respond to the humanitarian emergency the country has faced, particularly over the past eighteen months or so.

    In Viet Nam, I understand that the UN Country Team has worked ‘as one’ to help the government incorporate new social protection policies into its national development plans. The importance of social protection in achieving the MDGs and locking in the gains is a key feature of the international assessment on what it will take to achieve the MDGs which UNDP will release later this week. Many of our UN Development Group agencies have expertise in this area, and it is vital that we combine strengths to give well rounded advice to countries.

    We still see, however, in many of the pilots insufficient support for the core resources of agencies and the One Funds. Too much of the resource pool in the One Funds, for example, is being earmarked for specific projects or agencies, rather than being properly pooled to underpin strategic priorities.  

    A central message from the evaluations is that sufficient and predictable support for the One Funds is necessary for Delivering as One to be sustainable and to be attractive to other countries.

    UN agencies also need to ensure that their joint programming is based on realistic budgets and workplans, so that resources allocated are spent well and on time.
     
  • Fourth, the One Leader is central to the success of this reform. The enhanced role of the UN Resident Co-ordinator, and of a strengthened and more accountable UN Country Team, positions the UN to respond better to national development priorities.

    We need continuing support from all UN Development Group agencies for the Management and Accountability System. It outlines a concept of mutual accountability for the UN development system overall, and for the Resident Co-ordinator system more specifically, so that we can better fulfil our commitments to national partners.
     
  • Fifth, efficiency gains can be made from the pooling of common services.

    A number of the pilot countries have made progress in harmonizing and simplifying business practices in areas like procurement and information and communications technologies.

    In Mozambique, it has been estimated that by introducing harmonized procurement procedures and long-term agreements, it will reduce the costs of procurement per purchase by up to 89 percent, going from the current average of 687 USD to about 102 USD per purchase.

    More, however, needs to be done, including at the headquarters level, to ensure achieve greater harmonisation.

    To advance this agenda, the Chair of the UN’s High Level Committee on Management, Josette Sheeran, and I commissioned joint high-level missions to identify bottlenecks in business practices at the country level. The missions have visited three countries - Mozambique, Viet Nam, and Malawi, and have already presented their initial report to the UN Development Group. A visit to Albania is also planned. It is imperative now to make progress on implementing their recommendations.
     
  • Sixth, ensuring that the UN development system speaks with One Voice is also important. We need to speak with clarity about what we do and what difference our work makes.

From the outset Delivering as One has been guided by the principle that “one size does not fit all”.  As the evaluations illustrate, the experience of the pilots is varied, reflecting the very different country contexts and development needs. UN Country Teams in the Delivering as One countries do work hard to ensure that they provide support which is relevant to the needs of the country in which they work. 

The pilots are an important achievement for UN reform.  They have followed a bottom-up approach, driven and owned by the national    governments involved.

It is imperative that all of us here today, and those back in capitals and headquarters, support these efforts.

Around the world, UN Country Teams will benefit from the lessons and experiences of the pilots and of those which have voluntarily adopted this approach.

The rollout of some ninety new UN Development Assistance Frameworks from 2010 to 2012 is a good opportunity for the UN Development Group funds, programmes, and agencies to work more strategically in support of national development priorities.

The independent evaluation of the Delivering as One pilots as a group should begin soon. Its findings will inform inter-governmental discussions on the future course of UN support to programme countries, including the General Assembly’s comprehensive policy review in 2012.

The reports to this conference in Hanoi bring us all up to date with progress on Delivering as One.
They are important in our ongoing work to make the UN development system a highly relevant and effective partner to programme countries.