Remarks by Assistant Secretary Esther Brimmer at UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board Meeting
June 24, 2010, Geneva
(As Prepared For Delivery)
Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. President, as well as Administrator Helen Clark for her statement, and the UNDP Bureau members for their important contributions.
As the international community faces difficult global challenges, we are counting on UNDP to respond to 21st century problems, including poverty, hunger, disease, conflicts, environmental degradation, and gender inequality. With Helen Clark at the helm of UNDP and as the chair of the UN Development Group, UNDP is in a unique position to make positive changes. Towards that end, the United States strongly supports UNDP taking on a more strategic and focused role in the international arena.
The United States applauds UNDP for several critical achievements. We would like to highlight UNDP’s “Beyond the Midpoint” report and recently released UNDP-led International Assessment of the MDGs — they captured a wide range of successes and lessons learned, and serves as a good roadmap for the path forward to achieve the 2015 MDG goals. The United States has advocated that UNDP focus on the needs of the Least Developed Countries, and UNDP management has taken encouraging steps, for example, to address and enhance its Africa Bureau’s capacities. We are also pleased that UNDP’s management has made transparency and accountability one of its top priorities. We appreciate the efforts of the Directors and staff of the audit, evaluation, and ethics offices to strengthen the oversight functions.
Considerable progress has been made globally towards achieving the MDG’s over the past decade. As President Obama reiterated last September in his speech to the General Assembly, the United States is deeply committed to achieving the MDG’s by 2015. We favor an approach that leverages innovation, invests in sustainability, tracks development outcomes (not just spending), and enhances mutual accountability. UNDP’s country reviews are making a valuable contribution to meeting the MDGs, and we applaud the candor and insights they are providing.
The United States is eager to see UNDP and the UN Development Group improve its strategic, operational, and management focus. That starts with a thoughtful and thorough review of what UNDP already does well, what it needs to improve, and the challenges that the world will face in the coming years – which UNDP can uniquely address. UNDP, together with international partners, must make sure that the most important issues are being addressed in a way that produces real, visible results.
The kinds of questions that we all need to answer include: Does UNDP have the right mix of expertise and practitioners to address global challenges, such as climate change, resource shortages (such as water and food), or local rule of law? Are there opportunities to find operational synergy, such as growing partnerships with bilateral development programs? How do we work collectively to develop a cadre of senior UN leaders who can be effective Resident Coordinators? How can UNDP lead the UN in the transparency of its practices?
Progress and UNDP’s future will depend on frank and informed answers to these kinds of questions. The United States will continue to be part of that conversation.
There are a few items of particular concern that we hope are resolved in the near-term. First, UNDP spends over 60% of its core resources in the LDCs, which constitute nearly half of the countries in which UNDP works. We strongly urge UNDP to increase evaluations of governance and private sector development in these areas. Second, the Audit Advisory Committee recommended in its report to the Board that UNDP management conduct a gap analysis between UNDP’s Internal Control Framework (ICF) and internationally accepted standards. We request that the assessment be completed as soon as possible. Third, the Audit Advisory Committee pointed out that management should provide timely information on the implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Last year IPSAS implementation was unexpectedly delayed for two years, and we urge the Administrator to provide the necessary leadership to ensure that it stays on track.
Looking to the future, we anticipate that UNDP will encounter various challenges as it undertakes reform measures. We recognize that UNDP’s operations, management, and leadership will undergo dramatic transformations during the next five years. During this time, when UNDP could benefit from extra support, we hope to enhance our U.S.-UNDP Strategic Partnership, and we stand ready to assist.
As always, Administrator Clark and UNDP will find the United States an active and committed partner.