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February

Opening statement for the panel discussion: "Building a stronger UN development system for delivering on the 2030 Agenda"


Speech by Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn at the
UN Economic and Social Council, 28 February 2017 in New York

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Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The agreements reached in 2015 – on the universal and transformative 2030 Agenda and the Paris climate agreement – were important milestones.

The key question now is how we can achieve our global goals.

Business as usual won't be enough to organise transformational change. Global challenges require collective action – be it fighting hunger and poverty or responding to the impacts of climate change.

If we are to implement the 2030 Agenda, we need a strong United Nations.

I well remember the discussions we had right here two years ago: back then, we launched the ECOSOC dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN Development System. We knew that we wanted a system that was both more effective and more efficient.  Now we have had two years of intense discussion. An independent team of advisors, headed by Klaus Töpfer and Juan Somavia, came up with some very specific recommendations. Then, in the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review, the member states agreed on some binding steps and mandated the UN General Assembly to come up with further recommendations by the summer. That is an important milestone.

What are the main issues? We need

  1. Leadership with authority in the United Nations Development System, both at the level of the Resident Coordinators and at headquarters; For instance, the UN Development System has 1,432 country offices. To me, that figure illustrates the challenge we are facing.
  2. An overarching strategy for how the United Nations can help member states to achieve the SDGs and determined efforts by the UN System to press for the structural changes demanded by the 2030 Agenda;
  3. A definition of the functions the United Nations Development System must fulfil and a clear division of roles between the agencies;
  4. A thorough overhaul of the funding structure to harness synergies, tap into unused reserves within the system, create efficiency incentives, provide for appropriate cost reimbursement and reduce transaction costs and effort; and finally:
  5. Increased transparency, accountability and focus on results within the UN Development System, coupled with the necessary monitoring and management by the member states.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has taken on this challenge and tasked Amina Mohammed as Deputy Secretary-General with moving ahead the SDGs, including the reform of the UN Development System and the humanitarian-development nexus. But one thing is sure: the new leadership will need the right instruments to achieve better coordination of the system.

And we should not ignore our own failings. The experience of recent years has shown that appeals are not the way to fundamentally improve funding. Rather, it is a matter that needs to be debated and decided at top level. This, again, is where the Secretary-General comes into play.

But that does not absolve the member states of all responsibility. You get the system you fund – that is as true today as ever. And so we need to observe three basic principles:

  1. One of the main comparative advantages of the UN Development System is its implementation of universal norms and standards that have been adopted by the member states. 
  2. Incentive instruments, such as "pooled funds", are vital in encouraging all players to work together.
  3. To fund the Resident Coordinator System, all UN organisations need to contribute.

UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and UNOPS will draw up new strategic plans before the end of the year. We must play our part in ensuring that their plans make a coherent and coordinated contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

We also need to improve coordination between those engaged in the fields of development cooperation, humanitarian activities and peacebuilding.

And, not least, in the development field in particular we need the capacity and the instruments that will allow us to enter into partnerships with civil society and the private sector.

We will provide every possible support to the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General and will willingly join them and the entire UN team in tackling the current challenges so that we can ultimately reach our ambitious goals. Germany is prepared to make a major contribution. We have already done our homework by revising our own sustainability strategy and bringing it into line with the 2030 Agenda.

Sustainable development needs concerted efforts for a world in which a decent and fair life for everybody is possible. For people and planet in partnership. Let us keep continue this political momentum and working towards that together.

Thank you!

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