12 July 2005
ECOSOC Holds Panel on Alternative Development Funding Options, Dialogue with Fund, Programme Heads
NEW YORK, 11 July (UN Headquarters) -- The comparative advantage of the United Nations over others involved in development was its convening power, its ability to organize an unparalleled force of actors to carry out activities, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was told today, as it continued its 2005 substantive session with a review of operational activities for development cooperation.
A morning panel focused on alternative funding options and modalities, and an afternoon dialogue centred on views of Fund and Programme executive heads, as part of the Council’s review of Executive Board reports. Moderating both the panel and the dialogue, the Under-secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo. They were chaired by ECOSOC Vice-President Jaime Moncayo (Ecuador).
Taking part in the main panel were Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, Minister of Economic Planning and National Development of Kenya; Anthony Akoto Osei, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Ghana; Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France; Lennarth Hjelmåker, Swedish Ambassador for HIV/AIDS; Andrew Rogerson, Research Fellow at the International Economic Development Group; Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations on the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFTAM); and Bruce Jenks, Associate Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
With regard to funding development activities, panellists stressed the need to admit current realities. The development environment had changed from the time when the United Nations had no equals in promoting development. Now the development field was crowded. The United Nations needed to present a unified image through all its operations in the field.
Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Development said the traditional pledging conference was yielding ever-dwindling results and the entire system of assessed contributions was unreliable. The multi-year funding framework (MYFF) was most promising for a sustainable funding strategy.
A research fellow for the International Economic Development Group said the core function of each agency should be defined and a clear leader designated within the United Nations for discussing the aid system. Funding options included a recalibration of core funding, a funding of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) as a whole at the country level and the creation of a single scaling-up fund.
Kenya’s Minister of Planning and Development said there seemed to be an emerging populist attitude that resources should be channelled to non-governmental organizations when governments were weak. However, the United Nations was a body of governments that must help build the capacity of governments to use resources accountably, effectively and productively.
Representatives of Jamaica and United Kingdom also participated in the discussion.
Taking part in the dialogue with Fund and Programme heads were Diabre Zephirin, Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Ann Venemann, Executive Director of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); and Jean-Jacques Graisse, Senior Deputy Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).
Speakers reported on changes instituted by their Funds and Programmes to meet the changing demands in the field and the questions of hierarchical authority and regional integration of development activities were also addressed.
The UNDP’s Associate Director said his group had broadened the process of assessments in selecting resident coordinators. Review was now more stringent and women were actively recruited. The result was an improved quality and diversity in resident coordinators. Steps were also being taken to mould the resident coordinator and resident representative offices into the lead for a coherent and focused United Nations Country Team.
UNICEF’s Executive Director described a new initiative introduced by the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). She said “DevInfo” was a user-friendly software package to organize, store and display Millennium Goal data in a uniform format to facilitate data sharing, aggregation and meaningful comparisons. It allowed nations to report on progress towards the Goals, strengthened the capacity of national partners and improved data quality.
Also taking part in the dialogue were the representatives of United Kingdom, Benin, Russian Federation, Jamaica and Japan.
The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 12 July, when it will continue the operational activities segment of its 2005 substantive session with a discussion of follow-up to policy recommendations and South-South cooperation for development.
The Economic and Social Council met today to continue the operational activities segment of its 2005 substantive session. With a focus on international development cooperation regarding policy recommendations, the Council will hold a panel discussion on alternative funding options and modalities for financing those activities. This afternoon, the Council will hold a dialogue with the executive heads of United Nations agencies as part of its consideration of reports of the agency Executive Boards. The dialogue will focus on strengthening the resident coordination system; programme alignment; the role of regional structures in supporting operational effectiveness; and sector programme and national capacity development. (For background on the Council’s current session, see Press Release ECOSOC/6154 issued on 23 June.)
JAIME MONCAYO (Ecuador), Council Vice-President and Chairman of the Panel, opened the discussion.
JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that increasing the volume of financial contributions and improving the ways in which those contributions were secured was essential to the United Nations system’s capacity to help Member States achieve their goals and objectives -- including the Millennium Development Goals -- that constitute the United Nations Development Agenda.
The United Nation’s development role focused not on financial aid, but on building national capacity. To maintain that capacity, three essential ingredients were necessary: strong unearmarked or “core-funding;” good management practices and corresponding reforms within the United Nations system. The latter two were driven, in part, by a concern for greater efficiency. That greater efficiency, in turn, was as crucial in the use of development aid as increasing aid levels.
P. ANYANG’ NYONG’O, Minister of Planning and National Development of Kenya, said the United Nations needed predicable and long-term core funding to ensure a 10-year plan of activities, so that Secretariat personnel and operations were not held at ransom or kept on edge. Such funding should not be viewed as a supply-side issue, but should be analysed to determine how available resources could best be used, and how available technical capacity from both sides of the development divide should be mobilized. Stressing that developing countries had substantial intellectual resources to contribute, he said universities and research institutes were there to be used by the Organization in following up, assessing, and monitoring and evaluating United Nations projects.
Once the United Nations was free of its heavy bureaucratic dinosaurs who revelled in reproducing rules and regulations, rather than generating innovative and developmental thinking, he said, it should generate firepower by galvanizing technical expertise at the national level, and mobilizing resources at the global level. It should not commit the same travesty as other internationals and bilaterals of sending “experts” from Headquarters to provide “instant cups of coffee” advice, and seeking information that could be obtained on the Internet. That kind of so-called technical assistance only led to a waste of resources, and deepened underdevelopment in developing countries.
He added that a good part of core, long-term funding should come from donor countries, but all Member States could make regular contributions to the Organization. When countries gave their services in kind, that should be monetized and accounted for appropriately. But, it must also be understood that Member States also contributed intellectual capital when they designed, evaluated and implemented United Nations programmes nationally and globally. When the Organization said it had provided intellectual leadership, he hoped that it did not mean that leadership came solely from Secretariat or agency personnel.
Resources should not be used to reproduce a bloated, reform deficient, and gerontocracy-loving bureaucracy, but to enable an efficient and performance-oriented system to produce ideas and galvanize capacity in eradicating poverty in developing countries, he said. There seemed to be an emerging populist attitude that resources should be channelled to non-governmental organizations, when governments were weak. That was quite often a ploy for “assistance providers” to put food on the table of northern non-governmental organizations, so that official development assistance (ODA) could be channelled back to the North in unforgivable proportions. The United Nations, as a body created by governments, must help build the capacity of governments to use resources accountably, effectively and productively in eradicating poverty.
ANTHONY AKOTO OSEI, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Ghana, said his country’s experience showed that funding of United Nations development activities should be holistic and flexible. Administrative and programme costs should be linked, since separate budgets for the two categories was not ideal. With funding modalities, the traditional pledging conference was yielding ever more modest results, not only because pledges were decreasing, but because increasingly fewer pledges were honoured. The entire system of assessed contributions was unreliable. The multi-year funding framework (MYFF) was most promising for a sustainable funding strategy.
The MYFF had a number of notable strengths, he continued. It established a clear link between resource requirements and results. It enhanced planning effectiveness and promoted accountability. Those advantages, however, did not guarantee results. Members States must not only indicate what they can give, but must actually deliver on promised resources in the agreed-upon time frame. In the short-term, other country-based approaches to funding should be considered, including cost-sharing arrangements between governments and agencies, or public-private partnerships.
Nevertheless, he stressed, the key problem did not lay with the current modalities, but with the way they were implemented. There was room for bilateral cooperation and other non-traditional modalities, but those should not compromise such modalities as multilateralism, neutrality, flexibility, national ownership and transparency. The financing proposals under discussion could work only if both developed and developing countries delivered on actions required of them. Developed countries must implement responsible economic and social agendas, as agreed upon with developed countries. Developed countries must complement those efforts by contributing morally and financially to the growth and poverty reduction agendas of developing countries.
JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIÈRE (France) stressed the need to improve the complex financing mechanisms for the specialized agencies of the United Nations, if the United Nations wanted to preserve its role in the international development arena.
The issue was becoming more crucial, as beneficiary countries wanted to have more predictable financial modalities, while donor nations placed greater emphasis on mid-term development frameworks to plan their development assistance, he said. And it is not yet clear if the United Nations was benefiting from the deep changes in the evolution of development assistance around the world. “We have to look at the lack of predictability and competition between different agencies”, he added.
LENNARTH HJELMÅKER, Ambassador for HIV/AIDS of Sweden, said the international financing for development system was a collection of disjointed entities that often lacked coherence and worked at cross-purposes. On the positive side, however, the United Nations had found renewed impetus in its search for reform, increased transparency, and more effective action. Contributing to that process were the Millennium Development Goals and their time-bound nature, which emphasized the vital need to reform development financing. However, although the international focus on development financing was greater than it had been for the past three decades, sustaining the increased momentum would require exceptional political will, leadership and enlightened vision. Moreover, development financing must be complemented by human capital, acceptable governance, intellectual leadership, a capacity to absorb shocks, links with domestic resource mobilization, adaptation and learning.
As for HIV/AIDS, it was encouraging that the international community had taken steps to deal with the pandemic, he said, and the Global Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was a promising step forward in using development financing. Established four years ago, was a new concept in international bodies, an independent entity that, nonetheless, needed the United Nations. It also represented a new type of governance, consisting of governments, the private sector and others involved with the disease.
The Fund operated on the basis of demand from concerned countries, requests from countries and mechanisms operating at the country level, using a performance-based business model, he said. Funding was for five years, but after the first two a review of performance was carried out to determine if assistance should continue. After a recent debate among the Fund’s Board on availability of resources, it had decided to establish a voluntary replenishment mechanism, which would be chaired by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It also decided to establish a global task team on improving coordination between donors and international agencies.
ANDREW ROGERSON, Research Fellow at the International Economic Development Group, said there was a big difference in perspective between the top-down and bottom-up views of the United Nations development pillar. First, the development field had grown crowded, with many more choices in approaches. The principles being promoted had expanded in all areas of endeavours from social betterment to human rights. The question to be asked for the United Nations in its funding of development activities was, what was the value added of the United Nations? The answer lay in public goods -- universal reach, political neutrality, and capability for setting standards. For those considering working with the United Nations or others, the consideration came down to weighing the cost against the gains.
He said the elements of the United Nations development pillar were poorly defined and the organization’s role in development needed to be clarified. Aspects to be considered included a better understanding of the global poor; whether fragile States were the core United Nations responsibility; and how to scale countries up with regard to income level. Was the UNDP a driver or a “niche programme” delivering limited and specific services? To resolve the discrepancy between the top-down and bottom-up views, focal point issues should be identified and considered, such as the proliferation of funding for non-core programmes and the boutique approach in-country, whereby donors picked areas of interest without considering the integration of activities.
He said the core function of each agency should be defined and a clear leader should be designated within the United Nations for discussing the aid system. Funding options included a recalibration of core funding, a funding of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) as a whole at the country level and the creation of a single scaling-up fund. The development pillar should be defined and the strong centrifugal incentives identified, including the shrinking role of the United Nations while the tide of need for its involvement was rising. That situation resulted from a lack of political will, rather than a lack of resources or techniques. Questions of responsibilities and of control were at issue.
CHRISTOPH BENN, Director of External Relations, The Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, said the Swiss foundation was working successfully to develop innovative financing mechanisms to raise funds for its fight against those three diseases. And as it develops innovative financing mechanisms, the foundation must also meet donors’ growing demands for greater transparency and accountability.
“Donors want to know where their money is going”, he said, adding that the agency produces periodic reports to satisfy the need for greater accountability.
BRUCE JENKS, Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships (BRSP) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that deep, underlying tensions within the current development financing system could not be easily resolved. Current discussions tended to focus on the politics of fragile States or on performing countries, which were supported by substantial budget allocations. Adding that the reality of potential increases in development funding was complicated, he pointed to the politics of constituency funding, and the debate every year on comparative advantages.
In looking at development financing, it was necessary to focus on “critical mass funding”, or simply what was needed to get the job done. Conflicts sometimes arose between development ownership and concerns about delivery and capacity, if new sums of funding arrived. The starting point was not a funding crisis in the United Nations system, but to assure that the critical mass of funding would do the job. It was fine to have broad discussions about reform and structures, but challenges often lay in particular countries, rather than in the general sense.
In terms of development finance, a large group of countries provided a certain amount of the total, a smaller group provided perhaps as much, but not at the same level in per capita terms, while a third group were not contributing either in volume or per capita terms. It was necessary to determine what was needed to increase the level of four or five countries, so that their contribution matched to rest of the group -- which would represent a different solution than some of the macroeconomic ideas discussed. Another potential solution was to expand the base of support for development finance to include emerging economies.
Mr. OCAMPO, the moderator, said the greatest added value of the United Nations was its convening power, its ability to organize an unparalleled force of actors to carry out activities. Conferences were part of that United Nations comparative advantage over others. In considering the pillar, the United Nations’ normative capacity must be kept in mind: the Millennium Development Goals were the norm being used by the multilateral development banks to determine their funding. The United Nations was not a lending institution, nor were any of its parts. It was also more dependent on contributions than the banks, since the banks made their money from lending. The relative weight of the two was a decision made by member countries. That was the reality that made the present day different from earlier years, when the United Nations had no competition in the development field.
The representatives of Jamaica and the United Kingdom raised aspects of the situation that the United Nations was losing ground to banks because countries preferred to fund development activities through banks. Under the guise of accountability, Member States pointed to poor track records and made unrealistic demands. Agencies could not carry out their work under conditions of conflicting messages. The development climate was now at a point where a change had to be made. Either core funds must be increased, or else the agencies must be given flexibility and not blamed for economizing on their services.
Mr. OSEI said that the funding discussion sounded a little pessimistic, but perhaps that was because the subject was funding.
Mr. NYONG said there was a concern that the United Nations was being bypassed for the availability of resources by multilateral institutions and by bilateral financing.
Mr. DE LA SABLIÈRE stressed that no one should forget the considerable contribution that the United Nations had made to international development, especially through the development of the Millennium Development Goals. “We would not have a development pillar without the United Nations. A great deal of progress has been made ... while we still need to increase awareness. This awareness exists, but has not yet been assimilated”, he said. “We need political will.”
Mr. HJELMÅKER of Sweden noted the gap that existed between what was agreed globally and what happened at the country level. In the Global Fund, he had noticed differences in how development partners behaved, and whether they were prepared to transform deeds into words. In resolving such a gap, he stressed the need for greater coherence on the part of Member States. Regarding the question on modalities, he said many were good, but that they must evolve. Political will would be needed in moving ahead on that.
Mr. ROGERSON, of the International Economic Development Group stressed the need for a long view. One could relabel the search for value added, relating it to strategic positioning, trust and dynamics at the country level.
Mr. BENN, of the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said the Fund was a good example of how the financing system worked and where the problems were. The Fund’s level of resources had risen, which had increased the United Nations financial burden with respect to the Fund, since it had a mandate to provide technical assistance. At the final replenishment meeting for the Fund in London, it had been recognized that the system must work as a whole. The modalities were in place, but must be utilized, and that issue was currently being addressed.
Mr. JENKS, of the UNDP, said it was clear that increased ODA for budget support would not go through the United Nations system, but that the Organization had an important role to play in assisting governments to manage those resources. The United Nations might become marginalized in terms of funding flows, but would create tighter relationships with national authorities. Regarding the national level, any discussion about funding that failed to deal with structural problems lost a sense of reality.
In his opening remarks, JAIME MONCAYO (Ecuador), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, said the afternoon session would focus on the resident coordination system, programme alignment, the role of regional structures in supporting operational effectiveness, as well as sector programme and national capacity development.
Mr. OCAMPO, who served as moderator of the afternoon dialogue, said the session would give the heads of the United Nations funds and programmes an opportunity to present their views on international development cooperation.
ANNE VENEMAN, Executive Director, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), noted that in more that 100 nations, United Nations country teams had worked with governments to create a single UNDAF outlining how the country team would support development. By the end of 2007, it was expected that all countries where the organization had a key focus on development would have completed a framework. In addition, UNICEF had launched a new, harmonized way of providing assistance to its partners, by which the four Executive Committee agencies would use the same procedures to transfer cash, monitor and account for its use. The approach relied on national capacities in partner countries, including accounting and auditing systems.
While the Development Assistance Framework process had been generally successful, the results had been uneven, she said. In some countries, the process had been overly time-consuming, ownership and commitment had been less than total, the product had been less “strategic” and more “pro forma”, but it was progressively improving. Members of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) were also stressing the need for increasing the coherence of United Nations country teams, the importance of even-handed and empowered resident coordinators, and a unified country presence. The UNDG Executive Committee agencies had taken steps to increase the number of joint programming initiatives, bringing together the efforts of United Nations agencies in supporting specific national development priorities.
Alignment of regional support structures and technical capacity would help strengthen strategic focus and reallocate resources to advance agreed priorities, which would also enhance country-based delivery and aid effectiveness, she said. United Nations agencies must sustain their dialogue and collaboration on poverty-reduction strategies or other national poverty-reduction plans. To that end, the United Nations country team would soon meet with the Government of Rwanda to identify ways of strengthening mutual accountability and transparency, and to enhance the Government’s leadership and ownership of aid coordination and harmonization.
She then described the UNDG’s “DevInfo”, which was a software package to organize, store and display Millennium Goal data in a uniform format to facilitate data sharing, aggregation and meaningful comparisons. It was a user-friendly tool for non-statisticians that allowed nations to report on progress towards the Goals, while strengthening the capacity of national partners and improving data quality. Since its global release in June 2004, more than 1,500 professionals had been trained on its use in over 120 countries. More than 70 countries worldwide were now using DevInfo as the United Nations’ common database or the national socio-economic database.
THORAYA AHMED OBAID, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said the agency’s primary energies had been placed in three areas: placing national development plans at the centre of United Nations country programming; strengthening national capacities; and increasing the use of national systems. She went on to describe a number of challenges ahead, as the UNFPA used its experience and responsibility to leverage national and international resources to help meet the internationally agreed-upon goals and targets and the priorities set by the international community.
One challenge, she continued, was setting performance measures as incentives for staff to make the necessary shifts, as the agency provides an environment that supports and motivates them. Another challenge was achieving the right mix of staff and skills at the country level, away from project-based to sector-level working. Yet another challenge is placing more attention on enhancing south-south cooperation and enhancing collaborative regional support for capacity development and technical assistance.
Further, she added, another was examining the financial implications, as core funding and financing for technical cooperation through the United Nations was under threat. Another challenge was examining the ways in which to simplify the way agencies work in development, as they maintain transparency and accountability. Agencies must work more effectively to demonstrate results in the new aid environment, when there were not the same visible projects, but instead shared outcomes.
Ms. Obaid also stressed that development was a human process that needed to stay focused on people. “Yes, development is about building capacity. But it is also about building trust, building relationships and building momentum to unleash energy and accelerated action”, she said.
DIABRE ZEPHIRIN, Associate Administrator, UNDP, said changes had been made in response to the request of the Economic and Social Council. The process of assessments for resident coordinators had been broadened, review had been made more stringent and women had been actively recruited. In addition to an improved quality and diversity in resident coordinators, steps had been taken to mould the resident coordinator and resident representative offices into the leader of a coherent and focused United Nations country team.
An interesting aspect of that work was the country director model that had been proposed in inter-agency meetings and had been adopted at the Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review. The model was based on a practice of appointing country directors where the resident coordinator/resident representative had insufficient time to look after the day-to-day operations of the Programme. The rationale was to increase the effectiveness of coordination. The resident coordinator should retain the resident representative functions, while retaining overall programming authority over resources. A resident coordinator without access to those resources would have weakened coordination ability and would not be able to provide the government support in its own coordination needs.
Questions to consider in that direction, he said, included those referring to authority. Agency priorities and mandates must be orchestrated in a coherent UNDAF responding to country priorities. The specific expertise of each agency must be respected and promoted. Accountability must be ensured and a dispute resolution mechanism developed. Finally, countries must be ensured that they can have access to the full level of United Nations expertise.
JEAN-JACQUES GRAISSE, Deputy Executive Director, World Food Programme (WFP), said an excellent example of United Nations reform could be found in southern Africa, where the greatest humanitarian challenges and threats to developmental investments were taking place. Emphasizing that the triple threat of HIV/AIDS, governance and food insecurity demanded a coherent and focused approach, he noted that the region was again facing a critical food shortage -– largely because of poor weather –- which was driving it into the acute phase of crisis.
He said the UNDG had risen to challenges in southern Africa by making its individual agency strengths and technical expertise more cohesive, and aiming for enhanced organizational efficiency and programme effectiveness to support national and regional policies. However, accessing anti-retroviral treatment was still difficult for millions of people, and the focus on treatment was leaving a crucial gap in HIV-prevention programmes, in some cases. The challenge of orphans and vulnerable children was almost overwhelming, and most regional governments were not doing enough to reach them. Disbursements of external funding had continued to be bottlenecked by a severe lack of government capacity.
The WFP and its UNDG partners must recognize that reform must be related to substantive outcomes and a contribution to achieving the Millennium Goals, he said. The UNDG could play an important role in supporting national capacities and development plans and priorities, sometimes most effectively by ensuring a regional mechanism to support country teams. The United Nations could use its expertise at a regional and country level to provide support to governments -– to access global funds, for example. The key to successful regional collaboration among United Nations agencies was to identify one or more substantive themes reflecting regional needs, as had been done in southern Africa.
Mr. OCAMPO, the moderator, reviewed the issues that had been touched upon, such as ownership. He said the coordination issues that had been raised went beyond the comprehensive policy review carried out last year. Of course, funding had been brought up, particularly the difference between funding of core activities versus programme plan funding. Multilateral development banks had again played a role.
During the ensuing discussion, representatives asked how the inter-agency task team would impact on the work of agencies. They expressed further interest in the advancement of women in development and wanted to know more about dispute resolution. What about dialogue between agencies? Also, were figures available on the reform process -- not just at the institutional level, but with regard to system performance criteria?
One delegate said the dialogue being held at present should be a key component of every Economic and Social Council operational segment. What about the resident coordinator’s role in regional activities? To what extent should agencies report to that official and how could expert potential in the field at the regional level be better exploited? One representative suggested an exploration of capacity-building as a tool, in a time when core-funding was dropping. Was there institutional resistance to making changes? One speaker asked for further information on approaches to disaster relief.
Ms. VENEMAN of UNICEF said that United Nations agencies were committed to making organizational reform work, but translating that to the field could be difficult, because they would need to change their way of doing business. Stressing, however, there were too many serious issues to confront in the field for agencies to be competitors, she said they must work in collaboration not only with other organs of the United Nations, but with host governments and non-governmental organizations.
Regarding the need to coordinate in disaster relief, she said that within that humanitarian response process, efforts must be made to more clearly define the roles that each agency should play, since they played vital functions in providing needed services. As for resident coordinators, she said UNICEF was working to identify appropriate resident coordinator candidates within its ranks, with a special focus on women.
Ms. OBAID of UNFPA noted the importance of leveraging resources through various global mandates. An important aspect of that was auditing and attribution, which could require a new environment. The United Nations Board of Auditors may have to rethink how to audit and attribute results. Observing also that mixed messages came from donor and programme countries, she questioned what agencies could do together to support national capacity.
Regarding reporting, she said dialogue would continue within the various Boards, and country officers would be consulted about conditions they faced in implementing policies. As for breaking through to simplification, she said efforts must be made to be consistent on what simplification actually meant.
On capacity and resources, she said funding would go straight to governments, if new funding mechanisms were geared towards budget support. Did that mean fewer resources would go towards core functions of the United Nations that supported governments? An effort was being made to make donors see that all funds could not be shifted to budgets, leaving none for capacity-building and governmental assistance.
As for regional coordinators, it was vital to ensure that the coordinator possessed the leadership needed to bring the United Nations country team together to work in unison. She added that financing of the resident coordinator system was currently being discussed.
Mr. ZEPHIRIN of UNDP said, even though the United Nations system could be perceived as being fragmented with the various agencies competing against one another, the system did have its advantages. “We are highly respected and politically neutral”, he said. “We bring the currency of ideas.”
He said that the United Nations system needed to increase its coordination at the country level, as it continued to support capacity-building and allowed local partners to assume more responsibility. He also acknowledged the Jamaica representative’s concern that institutional resistance to the many necessary changes might exist at lower levels of the system. “Institutional resistance may not exist at the Headquarters, but it takes a long time to go from top to down”, he added.
He added that the UNDP viewed the declining number of women as a serious issue that the agency was trying to rectify. But, at times, the agency did not have the critical mass of female candidates needed for leadership positions, as many women chose to remain at New York Headquarters for family reasons.
Mr. GRAISSE said the WFP was always working to refine and strengthen the tools it used to coordinate responses to situations at the country level. The agency tried to make use of regional commissions that could have important technical capacity. And during disasters, the approach to devising solutions was obviously different, because the agency did not have the luxury of time to plan a response. “But it works remarkably well. No actor can afford to work in a team in which all are not working well. Cooperation is a matter of life and death”, he said.
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