Permanent Mission to the United Nations, New York
UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board Annual Session
The Annual Session of the Executive Board (EB) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) considered the annual (2011) performance and audit/investigations reports; reviewed annual updates on funding and; considered a range of draft country programmes, including the UNFPA Pacific Multi-Country Programme (these programmes will be approved formally at the Second Regular Session in September). The EB also authorised UNDP to prepare a draft country programme for Myanmar for submission at the Second Regular Session. UNDP and UNFPA received strong endorsement across the board for a range of good results achieved and the improvements in results reporting. Key 2011 global achievements include UNDP work enabling 90 nations to strengthen institutions providing access to justice and 56 nations to increase access to energy by poor and vulnerable populations and; UNFPA contributions enabling 56 countries to improve access to modern contraceptive methods and 15 nations to reduce the prevalence of female genital mutilation. The critical relevance of both agencies in responding to national and global development and humanitarian needs was a feature of all interventions. Agencies also received positive feedback for the improvements in audit processes and implementation of audit findings. EB opening statements, summaries and formal decisions are listed on the UNDP and UNFPA websites.
For information. We would welcome any comments from relevant Pacific posts on the draft UNDP Pacific Multi-Country Programme (van der Vloodt –Leslie/Zwart email refers).
New York’s FM of 23 June (not to all) and van der Vloodt – Knight emails refer.
2 As part of our governance responsibilities in managing annual core funding to UNDP ($8 million in 2012 calendar year) and UNFPA ($6 million in 2012 calendar year), New Zealand participated in the Annual Session of the EB for UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS which was held in Geneva from 25 – 29 June. Key agenda items were the UNDP and UNFPA annual performance reports, the annual audit reports and updates on funding, and various draft country programmes covering UNDP and/or UNFPA country level work over a 3 to 5 year period. New Zealand delivered three interventions at the Session (national statements on the UNDP and UNFPA annual reports, and on the draft UNFPA Pacific Multi-Country Programme – this also on behalf of Australia).
3 UNDP Administrator, Helen Clark in her opening address traversed major global and agency developments such as Rio+20 (including reference to announcement of sustainable development centre in Brazil) and post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (targets need to be more ambitious). On the upcoming Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities in the UN Development System or QCPR, good outcomes from a UN perspective would include a stronger results focus, ensuring the Resident Coordinator (RC) system has necessary tools, more Common Country Programmes and a predictable resource base. The next UNDP Strategic Plan needs to contain a more robust results framework, assist better prioritisation, reflect UNDP’s RC role and added value, and be both ambitious and realistic.
4 In presenting UNDP’s performance report for 2011, the Administrator expressed concern over the decline in funding to UNDP while demand from programme (developing) countries for UNDP support remains high. She acknowledged the need for further improvements in results (and reporting), and ensuring consistent performance across country offices. Recent, largely positive, assessments of UNDP by various donors, including Australia were welcome both in terms of the feedback provided and in demonstrating UNDP’s comparative advantage. The Administrator referred to UNDP plans to increase transparency in a number of areas (audit, expenditure) and the opportunities presented by recent developments in Myanmar.
5 Members gave UNDP considerable praise for its performance and enhanced reporting across the board, while recognising this represented work in progress. Improved gender performance and UNDP’s work on Africa food security issues were among specific achievements commended by various delegations. Specific issues raised by some members included the need to strengthen further results reporting; strengthen efficiency including across wider UN system and; enhance reporting on issues and constraints. The need for more systematic gender mainstreaming, improved human resources management and RC leadership; weakness of some results claimed and a call for more South-South collaboration were highlighted by a number of Western and other donors. Russia criticised UNDP for alleged political commentary in reporting notably in relation to the Middle East; this was “unacceptable” and UNDP should provide technical assistance regardless of the political situation on the ground.
6 The New Zealand intervention (attached) commended UNDP on the quality of its report and the wide range of sound results achieved. We welcomed UNDP’s efforts, and the progress achieved so far, to tighten its strategic focus at country level, improve gender outcomes, and to achieve greater efficiency. We encouraged UNDP to continue this work and its efforts to strengthen the impact and longer term sustainability of its programmes. We stressed the need for all multilaterals to demonstrate robust outcomes and maximum efficiency and value for money and pointed to the potential for further improvements in these areas. Future reports needed to include more analysis regarding those development outcomes where only modest progress had occurred and provide more detail on steps to address constraints and issues. We expressed interest in reporting on UNDP’s partnerships and tangible results from South-South cooperation. We also raised country programme risk mitigation and management, and registered our keen interest in being engaged in developing the forthcoming Pacific Multi-Country programme.
7 The agreed EB decision commended the improvements in the report; encouraged UNDP to enhance its reporting in various areas including risks and lessons learnt and to work on improved country programme indicators and; endorsed efforts to streamline results reporting frameworks across UN funds and programmes.
8 UNDP noted the impact of the euro crisis on its financial contributions, its outreach to emerging donors and use of innovative funding sources. Australia announced a 4 year commitment to UNDP which translated to a A$57 million increase in core funding, vis a vis current levels, over this period. Sweden anticipated UNDP’s improved performance would influence donors to be less restrictive in earmarking. The EB decision noted the decline in overall funding to UNDP and notwithstanding the very modest increase in core funding in 2011, highlighted that this remained well below the strategic plan target. Regular (core) funding was endorsed as the “bedrock” of UNDP and members were encouraged to maintain, and if possible, to increase core support. The EB supported an in-depth discussion on earmarking (also pertinent to UNFPA) at the 2013 Annual Session.
9 The EB considered 13 draft country programmes. In presenting all of these, UNDP outlined the various steps undertaken to enhance relevance and quality, including a more focused approach, strong national planning linkages, and strengthened gender mainstreaming.
10 The EB also considered the situation in Myanmar, and adopted a decision (facilitated by Japan and Indonesia) which recognised “significant recent developments” in Myanmar and “expanded opportunities for the international community to support the ongoing reforms”, and requested UNDP, in “consultation with all partners”, to submit a draft country programme to the Second Regular Session in September. New Zealand joined an Australia led statement on Myanmar which interalia, urged UNDP to maximise the opportunity presented by the reform process to transition to work with government; asked UNDP to coordinate its work closely with other international actors; noted UNDP is well placed to support democratic governance in Myanmar; encouraged UNDP to base future work on sound planning and analysis and to pilot new approaches; and asked UNDP to consult closely on the draft country programme prior to submission to the EB.
11 The UNFPA Executive Director, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, in presenting UNFPA’s 2011 report, provided a comprehensive summary of UNFPA work, including its contributions to Rio+20 and UN Delivering as One, and work to strengthen UNFPA effectiveness and efficiency. This included the tighter focus of the new country programmes being developed, increasing Country Office accountability to partners, improvements in personnel performance management, significant increase in humanitarian response capacity, and streamlined processes.
12 Member comments highlighted the continued, critical, relevance of UNFPA’s work notably on reproductive health, and UNFPA was commended for improvements in its results and results reporting. Among the range of specific interventions, Australia advised it would increase core support, but urged improvements in several areas including the need for UNFPA to demonstrate impact at country level. Other areas where further improvements were sought by some members included UNFPA’s results framework, delivery on the ground and results reporting, evaluation, risk management, audit and on VFM.
13 The New Zealand intervention welcomed the range of good development and management results achieved in most areas; reiterated our commitment to UNFPA; but expressed concern over significant data gaps impeding UNFPA’s performance reporting and asked UNFPA to give this more attention in future reports. We stressed the need for all multilaterals to be able to demonstrate robust outcomes and maximum efficiency and VFM, and in this context, encouraged UNFPA to maintain efforts to ensure a tight strategic focus and to enhance its effectiveness, impact and efficiency. We encouraged UNFPA to enhance future reporting on outcomes and to be more consistent in reporting on UNFPA’s specific contributions to results and; to provide more detail on issues and UNFPA steps to deal with these (particularly relevant to the management results component of the report) and on multilateral partnerships.
14 This intervention was among the more critical of the WEOG statements; as outlined in van der Vloodt – Knight emails on 26 and 27 June, our statement along with that of a number of other WEOGs including that of Switzerland (who were critical of the significant number of strategic targets not met and related data gaps), caused a degree of UNFPA discomfort. However our subsequent exchange with UNFPA’s Deputy Executive Director (Kate Gilmore) indicated UNFPA were comfortable with, and appreciated, NZ’s comments, with the sole exception of those related to data integrity and gaps. UNFPA ED’s response indicated members’ messages, interalia, around the need for enhanced results and reporting, stronger evaluation, and VFM (whilst noting the strong focus on building national capacity) had resonated.
15 The EB, in considering UNFPA’s report on financial contributions, stressed that regular (core) funding is the “bedrock” of UNFPA and encouraged members to maintain, and if possible, to increase core support. The current trend of expanded programme country contributions to UNFPA were commended.
16 The EB considered 12 draft UNFPA country programmes, including the Pacific Countries and Territories Multi-Country Programme (2013 – 2017). In presenting all of the programmes, UNFPA indicated each are aligned with the revised Strategic Plan, are informed by past evaluation findings and internal peer review, and were prepared in “active consultation” with partner governments and international stakeholders. The New Zealand statement (also on behalf of Australia) was the only one on the Pacific programme (copy attached). The statement articulated strong support for UNFPA’s work in the region and the move to a more focused programme, and gave a set of suggestions, including on risk management and the need for a more robust results framework, to which UNFPA responded positively (further details in van der Vloodt email, not to all, of 10 July). Programme focus areas will be family planning and reproductive health services, including for young people, gender-based violence, and data availability/use.
17 New Zealand joined a UK led statement on the internal audit and oversight reports of the three agencies. With regard to UNDP, the statement welcomed a comprehensive work programme, but articulated concern over the high number of recommendations in such areas as procurement and project management. On UNFPA, the real improvements to date in National Execution audit processes were commended but concern was expressed over recurrent audit issues and the slow rate of progress in implementing Board of Auditors’ recommendations.
18 The agreed EB decision on this item picked up on most WEOG concerns eg it urged UNDP to “step up efforts” to improve performance on recurring audit issues and sought more detail in future UNDP audit reports on serious issues identified. UNFPA was asked to address outstanding audit recommendations within its control. Both agencies were encouraged to ensure adequate audit related resources. All internal audit reports would become publicly available, with appropriate safeguards, from December 2012.
19 Pursuant to the UNICEF ED’s comments at the recent UNICEF EB (refer our FM of 19 June) about the high cost of board meetings and a Canada led statement expressing willingness to work with UNICEF to identify further opportunities for savings, but without reducing the number of board meetings (currently three per year), Canada delivered a similar statement at the UNDP/UNFPA EB. This was on behalf of almost all WEOG members including New Zealand and several other members.
20 EB session reinforced both the pivotal international role of UNDP and UNFPA and continued improvements in agency performance and in strengthened audit and oversight systems and follow up. The very positive feedback on a diverse range of draft country programmes also reflected the efforts of both agencies to enhance quality and relevance. New Zealand made relevant, useful, contributions to a number of key items and it was pleasing to see NZ and (other likeminded) perspectives picked up in the Agreed Decisions on the UNDP Annual Report and on Audit/Oversight. UNFPA’s responsiveness (including that articulated privately) to our Pacific intervention and to most of our comments on the Annual Report were welcome. We are optimistic agency reporting next year will indicate further gains in results, in agencies’ ability to convey these, and in agencies’ audit related performance.
21 There was active engagement in the EB session by almost all WEOG members and by a broad range of other members including China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea and India. However there were no Pacific Islands or Caribbean (except Cuba) presence. Spain, whilst a major contributor, was not present for any of the UNDP or UNFPA segments (neither was Turkey).