Enhancing the effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and impact of United Nations operational activities for development
Coherent implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of United Nations operational activities continued to be of highest priority to the United Nations Development Group. As called for in General Assembly resolution 67/226, the United Nations Development Group has systematically increased its focus on South-South and triangular cooperation. More than 80 per cent of United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks or equivalent frameworks include programming support to South-South and triangular cooperation. In addition, 90 per cent of UN entities responding to a survey carried out by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs stated that South-South cooperation had been integrated into their strategic plans.
In order to further promote a coordinated approach to United Nations system policy and programmatic work on South-South and triangular cooperation, the United Nations Development Group established a South-South and Triangular Cooperation Task Team, coordinated by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation. The Task Team will focus on mainstreaming South-South and triangular cooperation into UN system operational activities, using and building on the Secretary-General’s note on the framework of operational guidelines on United Nations support to South-South and triangular cooperation (SSC/17/3). The Task Team’s work will include further strengthening and aligning UN South-South policy instruments, collaborative frameworks and institutional arrangements to better equip UN Resident Coordinators and UN country teams and to support national counterparts in implementing the post-2015 development agenda.
The United Nations Development Group made significant progress with regard to ensuring that the second generation of “Delivering as one” has the intended impact on enhancing coherence, relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations development system. In response to General Assembly resolution 67/226, the United Nations Development Group developed and released an integrated package of support for UN country teams to implement the standard operating procedures that the United Nations Development Group had released in 2013. The standard operating procedures were designed to adapt to country contexts and will be updated and complemented on the basis of experience. By the end of 2014, 45 Governments had requested the UN development system to adopt a “Delivering as one” approach. The United Nations Development Group also developed a monitoring and evaluation framework, as requested by the General Assembly, which applies to these countries and is aimed at enhancing the operational effectiveness of the approach.
The United Nations Development Group also continued to focus on enhancing strategic planning and reporting on results of UN operations at the country level. In close cooperation with the High-level Committee on Management, the United Nations Development Group is currently piloting the Business Operations Strategy in 14 countries in order to inform the strategy and direction for the consolidation of support services at the country level as called for by the General Assembly in resolution 67/226. The Business Operations Strategy is a voluntary framework that seeks to enhance the cost-effectiveness and quality of operational support processes such as procurement, information technology, human resources, logistics, administration and finance in support of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.
Progress has also been made, in close cooperation with the High-level Committee on Management, in tackling bottlenecks that have prevented UN country teams from fully realizing the efficiency gains under the “Delivering as one” approach. By the end of 2014, out of the 55 measures set out in the Plan of Action for Headquarters, 30 had been completed and 12 agencies reported that they had launched initiatives to resolve challenges and bottlenecks, including by working with their governing bodies.
Focusing on common operations services at the country level, the United Nations Development Group and the High-Level Committee on Management are piloting an integrated service centre - the Joint Operations Facility – in Brazil. The service centre seeks to streamline key operational areas of participating agencies by consolidating support services. This consolidation is expected to reduce duplication of functions and lower administrative and transaction costs, while at the same time increasing the quality and effectiveness of these services.
The United Nations Development Group also increased the number of country co-locations of agencies in Common Premises, bringing the total number to 191 UN Common Premises and 61 officially designated UN Houses, out of 224 countries and territories. Common premises lead to cost reductions through the sharing of costs and services and facilitate collaborative programme efforts among agencies. The United Nations Development Group also developed a Common Premises Strategy which aims to further enhance the number of joint UN presences at the country level.
The United Nations Development Group has taken significant steps to further strengthen the Resident Coordinator system. The leadership role of the Resident Coordinator has been enhanced by updating the job description and incorporating the enhanced planning and coordination function called for in General Assembly resolution 67/226. The selection process of Resident Coordinators has been improved and a new assessment centre became operational in May 2014. By the end of 2014, there were 127 Resident Coordinators deployed, including 49 (39 per cent) women, 56 (44 per cent) from developing countries and 56 (44 per cent) from non-UNDP agencies. In support of the Resident Coordinator system, the United Nations Development Group also implemented a centralized global funding modality based on system-wide cost-sharing, as called for by decision 2014/14 of the Economic and Social Council and General Assembly resolution 67/226.