CEB continues to lead the efforts towards the simplification and harmonization of business practices. The endorsement in the third quarter of 2007 of the High-level Committee on Management plan of action for the harmonization of business practices in the United Nations system, and the launch in October 2008 of a campaign to raise funds to implement the Plan marked a significant shift from ad hoc to systematic pursuit of coherent working modalities in the United Nations system. The plan of action reflects broad-based consensus on key bottlenecks, encompassing areas with great potential for adopting harmonized management practices of the highest global standards. The overarching objective of the plan of action is to increase the ability of the organizations of the United Nations system to deliver better programmatic results through increased coherence in their working modalities.

In its resolution 2009/1 on “Progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 62/208 on the triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system”, adopted on 22 July 2009, the Economic and Social Council acknowledged that progress was being achieved, but that many procedures required further harmonization.

The Plan of Action was expected to be financed largely through extrabudgetary funding, as there are limited resources available from the regular budget for system-wide activities. Once the feasibility studies and pilot work are completed, follow-up action would be mainstreamed into the work of the United Nations system organizations. Member States have committed growing financial support for the plan of action. The original funding proposal was submitted to 54 potential donors, soliciting contributions in support of project implementation. Following an initial contribution from New Zealand in 2008, in late 2009 and early 2010 additional contributions from Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland were received, taking the Plan from the planning to the implementation stage. On 11 February 2010, the High-level Committee on Management Steering Committee for Harmonization of Business Practices approved fund allocations of $3.2 million to six priority projects.  Lead agencies for the projects currently include the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Additional allocations will be decided on over the next few months. Most projects will be executed over the next two years, with meaningful milestones already by end of 2010.

The Economic and Social Council discussed the simplification and harmonization of business practices at its operational activities segment in July 2009. In its resolution 2009/1, the Council acknowledged that progress was being achieved and noted that many procedures would require further harmonization, as identified in the plan of action.

More recently, in its resolution 63/311 on system-wide coherence, the General Assembly called on the Secretary-General, in cooperation with members of CEB, to continue progress in the simplification and harmonization of business practices within the United Nations development system, and requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with CEB, to regularly inform the Economic and Social Council about progress being made and challenges encountered in this regard and to refer any matter requiring an intergovernmental decision to the relevant intergovernmental bodies.

In response to the continuing calls from Member States for further simplification and harmonization of business practices, both in the context of the triennial comprehensive policy review and the General Assembly discussions and resolutions on system-wide coherence, a joint High-level Committee on Management-United Nations Development Group high-level mission to identify and address remaining country-level bottlenecks in business practices was undertaken to Malawi, Mozambique and Viet Nam in March and April 2010, with a visit to Albania to be conducted later this year. The mission built on the continuing efforts of the United Nations Development Group and the High-level Committee on Management to collaborate on bringing to scale at the country level the solutions and innovations that make a tangible difference for harmonized business operations at the country level. Adoption and implementation of the recommendations from this mission are expected to lead to more effective business operations at the country level.

In cooperation with the High-level Committee on Management, the United Nations Development Group developed generic guidance on common procurement for global use and a global application on how to plan for and develop a common information and communications technology infrastructure across agencies at the country level.

CEB Management Themes