The CEB session in Bern, Switzerland, on 28-29 April 2008 marked the first Board meeting with the United Nations Development Group formally reporting as part of the CEB structure. The Board acknowledged with appreciation the progress that had been made in operationalizing the integration of the Group as a third pillar of the CEB framework.

The United Nations Development Group mechanism had been significantly streamlined. The Group, further, consulted regularly with the two other CEB pillars — the High-Level Committee on Management and the High-Level Committee on Programmes — to ensure a clear division of labour. A secondment from the United Nations Development Group Office to the CEB secretariat had also been realized to facilitate cooperation between the three pillars and the integration of the Group into the Chief Executives Board. The Office will be known in the future as the Development Operations Coordination Office to better reflect its dual function, serving as technical support unit to the Group as well as supporting country-level coordination through the Resident Coordinator system.

Another important component of the restructuring of the United Nations Development Group was the establishment of an advisory group on country operations, which would be a broadly representative group. The leadership of the Group would, furthermore, include a Vice-Chair, at the Assistant Secretary-General or Assistant Director-General level, from one of the United Nations specialized agencies.

CEB also took note of the United Nations Development Group’s ongoing work. With almost 18 months having passed since the launch of the delivering as one pilots, initial results and remaining challenges had now been extensively documented in government reports to the Deputy Secretary-General and in United Nations country team stocktaking reports.  A critical lesson from those efforts was that government leadership and involvement is key to ensuring that the United Nations system is aligned with national priorities. An encouraging outcome was the greater engagement of non-resident agencies, both in the programming process and in the resulting programmes. The issue of joint programming was another key gain emerging from the pilots. United Nations country teams were actively exploring how the system could respond to national priorities through joint analysis, joint thinking and joint prioritization and planning.

As for the way forward, the United Nations Development Group would focus on facilitating the application of the lessons learned from the pilots to other countries as relevant, but especially in countries where Governments are requesting more coherent and aligned United Nations programming, and in countries beginning a new United Nations Development Assistance Framework programme. The work of the Group would continue along the framework of the triennial comprehensive policy review, which provides a solid intergovernmental mandate for the work to be carried out at the country level.