In opening the discussion on accountability, the Secretary-General noted that, as deliberations towards a universal post-2015 agenda were advancing, increased attention was being paid to the need for a monitoring and accountability framework that was consummate with the ambitious goals of the future sustainable development agenda. Such a framework needed to be coherent, multi-layered and inclusive. He added that the UN system had an important contribution to make in supporting Members States in the establishment of a framework and as one of its key stakeholders. For the UN system to be effective in this regard, it needed to strengthen its own systems of accountability and become more results-oriented and transparent. He invited the Board to share its views on how the UN system could strengthen its ability to deliver measureable results and assume individual responsibility for collective outcomes.
Ms. Alicia Barcena, Coordinator of the Regional Commissions, served as moderator of the discussion. She invited the Board to focus today’s debate on the UN perspective of the future monitoring and review framework for the post-2015 agenda. In particular, she asked participants to concentrate their interventions on the role and contribution of the UN system to strengthening national ownership and capacity; facilitating broad participation; supporting local approaches; and empowering country teams. Before opening the floor for discussion, Ms. Barcena invited the Administrator of UNDP and the Under Secretary-General of DESA to speak on county-level and global dimension of accountability, respectively.
Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP, informed the Board that 2 million out of the 5 million respondents reached through the on-line survey on the post-2015 agenda reported “honest and responsive government” as a top priority. This indicated a high degree of engagement and heightened expectations regarding monitoring and accountability at the country level. She emphasized that inclusive monitoring and national target setting will be critically important for ensuring local ownership of the SDGs. Key in this regard was for the UN system to work actively with local communities. Successful examples of civil society holding local governments accountable could be found in Zambia and Malawi. In this context, Ms. Clark underscored that the UN system needed to hold itself to the highest standards of accountability. One way to clearly demonstrate commitment to accountability would be for the organizations of the UN system to fully adhere to the principles of the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
Speaking on the global perspective of accountability, Mr. WU Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, reflected on elements of the post-2015 monitoring and review framework. Owing to the universal and integrated nature of the post-2015 agenda, the monitoring framework would need to apply to all countries and include a broad range of stakeholders. It would need to be voluntary and identify common challenges and lessons learned. Building on existing reporting mechanisms, the framework was expected to bring together evidence from the national, regional and global levels in a multi-layered system of accountability. Establishing linkages with other inter-governmental bodies, including the General Assembly and the governing bodies of the specialized agencies, was also important. Equally critical was that the monitoring and review framework be underpinned by a solid indicator framework, a task to which the Statistical Commission had an important contribution to make.
Before opening the floor for discussion, Ms. Barcena added a few observations on the regional perspective of accountability, noting that consultations on the regional dimension of a post-2015 accountability framework had been held in each of the five regions over the past three months under the auspices of the Regional Commissions. A number of messages emerged from those consultations that highlighted the unique value of the regional dimension. Regional evaluations could serve as platforms for governments and civil society to share common experience and challenges and exchange best practices and lessons learned. Furthermore, the regional level played an important role in linking global commitments with national efforts and in facilitating inter-sectoral approaches to monitoring and evaluation. Key to the effective monitoring of progress towards the achievement of the future sustainable development goals at the regional level would be bringing in non-UN regional organizations such as the African Union, Mercosur, ASEAN etc.
In the ensuing discussion, CEB members noted the challenges of monitoring a universal and transformative development agenda which was expected to extend, inter alia, into areas of trade, taxation, and technology transfer. The UN system organizations needed to engage with their respective governing bodies to broaden awareness of the scope of the agenda and to promote the need for a holistic rather than sectoral approach. The Regional Commissions had an important role to play in this regard as bridge between the national and global levels and as conveners on multi-sectoral issues.
Multi-stakeholder ownership of the agenda was a key component of effective accountability. Accountability mechanisms needed to be inclusive and include all three branches of government as well as non-state actors. The importance of community driven accountability, including community generated data, was noted in this context. The UN system itself needed to be part of the post-2015 accountability framework and played an important role in upholding global norms and standards. CEB members pointed to a variety of initiatives that effectively integrated monitoring and accountability mechanisms, including the Education for All initiative and the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage.
In closing, Ms. Barcena thanked CEB members for their contributions to the discussion which demonstrated the UN system’s commitment to supporting Member States in the formulation and implementation of an effective post-2015 monitoring and review framework.