Economic and Social Council

(Session 4) ECOSOC operational activities for…

Dialogue on regional repositioning

Addressing complex, multisectoral challenges that transcend borders requires mapping and effectively utilizing United Nations development expertise across regions to respond to changing demands at the national level, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said today, as the Economic and Social Council continued its annual operational activities for development session.

A “perfect storm” of crises, including rising inequality and ongoing financial disruptions, are being felt across borders, said Ms. Mohammed, as she opened today’s formal session with a keynote address.  As no country can address these issues alone, regions have an essential role to play in mobilizing advocacy, targeted solutions and support to meet these challenges.  To this end, regional collaborative platforms are now fully established in all regions of the world and, in each of them, resident coordinators and United Nations country teams are benefiting from consistent support at the regional level.

She said that work remains to be done, however, as only slightly more than half of programme country Governments have indicated that expertise from the regional offices of United Nations development system entities was easy to access.  As such, every region must provide updated mapping of the expertise available at the regional level that can be accessed by resident coordinators in real-time.  Further, data challenges must be urgently addressed to allow for effective monitoring and reporting on progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

For too long, she emphasized, United Nations regional entities were left outside of reforms and efforts to enhance the coherence of the Organization’s development system.  Additionally, work at the regional level has been omitted from system-wide reporting, which has led to an accountability gap on the one hand and made success stories largely invisible on the other.  “We are in the process of changing this reality”, she said, adding that “our litmus test remains our ability to respond as a system, in real-time and efficiently, to changing demands from the country level”.

The Council then held an interactive session centred on the role of regional leadership in supporting countries.  During that discussion, officials described how regional mechanisms are working to address transboundary challenges in their regions, including Europe and Central Asia, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa.  They also detailed how regional collaborative platforms can coalesce regional expertise across the United Nations development system to provide increased support and capacity to both United Nations country teams and to national Governments.  Member States also asked questions about these regional mechanisms, inquiring about their cost, how lessons learned in one region can be shared across all and how to avoid duplication of effort when creating additional structures in the United Nations development system.

In the afternoon, the Council heard a keynote address by Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency of South Africa, who said that his Government is encouraged by United Nations efforts to “put to work” the Sustainable Development Goals.  The newly repositioned development system provides more integrated, efficient support to countries, while also moving away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to respect the principles of national leadership and ownership.  “This is not the time to be complacent as we try to build back better from COVID-19,” he said, calling for an “all hands on deck approach”.

The Council then held a second interactive session, during which delegates were able to make comments and pose questions to the executive heads of various United Nations development system entities, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).  Against the backdrop of the development system’s reform and strengthening, officials from those entities shared how their newly approved strategic plans respond to the 2020 quadrennial comprehensive policy review mandate, especially its call for more integrated support for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by all development system actors.  Member States then posed detailed questions on matters relating to funding, efficiency, accountability and competition between United Nations system entities.

The Council will reconvene in a formal session at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, 19 May, to conclude its operational activities for development segment.