Deputy Secretary-General Stresses Need for COVID Recovery That Avoids Lengthy Global Recession, in Remarks to Consultation on Resident Coordinator System

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Resident Coordinator System Review informal plenary consultation, today:

It is a pleasure to be with you today to begin an open and fruitful dialogue on the review of the resident coordinator system.  We are meeting at an extremely challenging time.

Across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to take thousands of lives on a daily basis, and a particularly heavy toll on vulnerable countries and communities.  The United Nations stands in solidarity and full support of Governments who are working tirelessly to protect lives and livelihoods in a constantly evolving situation.  And through our country teams, we will continue to lend the strongest support we can.

The COVID-19 crisis highlights our interdependence and both the strengths and fragilities of our common humanity.  It also underscores the urgent need for every country to do more to increase access to quality public services and strengthen social cohesion; to invest in preparedness and resilience; and to accelerate the green, blue and digital transitions required to protect people, our planet, and generate shared prosperity.  In short, it calls on us all to do much more to deliver on the promise of the 2030 Agenda.

The reform of the United Nations development system that we embarked on together in 2018 is rooted in this high ambition.  And its consolidation this year — through the review of the resident coordinator system — can help countries to maximize recovery efforts to accelerate SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] implementation.

Since the adoption of resolution 72/279 in 2018, we have established — together — an independent, empowered resident coordinator system.  We have seen the emergence of a new generation of country teams.  And we have taken a range of other measures to secure more integrated, transformative and efficient support to meet SDG needs and priorities of each country.

Today, in response to the same historic resolution, we are beginning consultations to inform the Secretary-General’s review of the functioning of the reinvigorated resident coordinator system, including its funding arrangements.  This review marks a critical milestone in our journey towards a more effective United Nations development system, centred on advancing the 2030 Agenda and grounded in context.  The main task ahead is to assess how the resident coordinator system is allowing us to meet this objective and to identify what further changes are needed to make certain that we can do even more.  Now more than ever, this is a priority.

The Secretary-General’s report in early June will provide an evidence-based diagnosis on the new resident coordinator system.  It will clearly outline areas of achievement, as well as areas where course-correction may be needed — including any new mandate that may be required.  In his recent letter to Member States, the Secretary-General set out four areas that the review will consider.

First, does the new resident coordinator system perform at the right level to ensure more cohesive and coherent support for the achievement of the SDGs?

Second, do the Development Coordination Office and Resident Coordinator Offices have the needed backstopping capacities to support them?  Did we get the design right to ensure a lean, yet effective critical infrastructure for development coordination?

Third, did we get the accountabilities and incentives right between resident coordinators and United Nations country team, and between the country, regional and global levels?

And fourth, do we have the right funding modalities in place to ensure the sustainability of the resident coordinator system?

To answer these questions, we will be conducting an open and transparent consultation process with Member States and the United Nations development system, supported by an internal team in my office — including two expert consultants, Ambassador Koki Muli and Mr. John Hendra — who are online with us today.

In the coming weeks, we will hold two further plenary meetings before the publication of the advance, unedited version of the Report of the Secretary-General in early June.  We will also be meeting with the regional groups and negotiating groups to make sure the review process benefits from your own assessments of the resident coordinator system, and priorities for the review.

And we will be drawing on and analysing available data and independent analysis from various sources.  At the end of last week, for instance, we released the report of the Secretary-General on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) and the report of the Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group on the Development Coordination Office — with a wealth of new data and reflections by the Secretary-General.

The data coming out of independent surveys is very encouraging.  But we want to hear your perspectives on the direction of travel and areas of concern.  These consultations will help us do just that.  While primarily focused on informing the important discussions at the upcoming ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment, these two reports also provide insights into the progress made since the establishment of the resident coordinator system and the areas where more work is needed.  We are determined to leave no stone unturned in this review process.

This review represents a unique opportunity to consolidate the work we began in 2017.  With strong leadership by Member States, we have achieved a great deal and we are now well advanced in our transformative journey.  With the same level of leadership and ambition we can — and we will — ensure that the present review helps fill any remaining gaps and firmly root the reforms.

We are pleased to also note the appointment by the President of the General Assembly of the Permanent Representatives of Algeria and Denmark, who will determine with Member States the timelines for the related intergovernmental process that will follow the submission of the report to the General Assembly for its consideration.

While we are not “in a hurry to fail”, we do share a sense of urgency.  We must strengthen the response to the present crisis and begin a recovery that avoids a lengthy global recession.  The clock is ticking on the SDGs and steps taken now on the recovery from COVID-19 will largely determine our ability to accelerate action towards 2030.

I count on your personal engagement throughout to ensure that the report and recommendations put forward by the Secretary-General and the subsequent consideration by the General Assembly keep with the ambitions we set in 2017.  Today, I would welcome your guidance and reflections.  We are here to listen — to better understand your expectations of the review process; and to receive your early insights and views on the functioning of the reinvigorated resident coordinator system.

The Secretary-General and I look forward to engaging closely with you as the review unfolds.


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