A consistent focus of the work of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) over the years has been to capitalize on the unique legitimacy and combined strengths of the organizations of the United Nations system, in order to maximize the system’s responsiveness to the requirements of Member States and the international community. During 2006/07, renewed attention was given to enhancing the effectiveness of CEB itself, in addressing the major strategic challenges facing the United Nations system and in helping to ensure that all the analytical and operational capacities available in the system were brought to bear in a coherent way in meeting those challenges.

A number of factors were converging in creating, within the system, a new sense of urgency as well as of opportunity: a sense that the international community needed a strong, effective and united United Nations system; and a recognition that there were currently new, stronger foundations for advancing in that direction. A combination of circumstances currently existed that both compelled and facilitated a renewed effort on the part of CEB to maximize its contribution to that end.

The changing patterns of globalization and the opportunities for progress they offered and the risks they presented, including global challenges from climate change to international migration, all called for concerted, cross-sectoral responses. At the institutional level, the emergence on the international scene of new actors, including new issue-based organizations and global funds, was adding to the diversity of, and capacity for, responses by the international community, but was, at the same time, increasing the risk of duplication and fragmentation.

The breadth and scope of the policy foundations on which the system could currently rely to mount a renewed effort at enhancing coherence and impact were unprecedented. The Millennium Declaration, the internationally agreed development goals that had emerged from the United Nations conferences and summits, with the Millennium Development Goals prominent among them, and the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit, provided a solid keystone that supported and bound together the strategies and policies of the organizations of the system. They had played a crucial role in shaping the sense of common purpose that currently guided the system. The organizations of the system, acting together, had a key role to play in helping bridge the gap between commitment and action and in translating those international agreements into practical outcomes that had real impact in the lives of communities and peoples.

The priorities outlined by the new Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, Chair of CEB, in assuming office, the release of the report of the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence and the initiation of intergovernmental deliberations on its recommendations, and the renewed momentum for reform that prevailed within and outside the system, had all strengthened a conviction on the part of the membership of CEB to seize the opportunity for a renewed effort at fully exploring the potential CEB carried as a driving force for enhanced coherence and effectiveness system-wide.

As part of the review of its own functioning, CEB was endeavouring to instil in inter-agency work a new level of ambition that fully recognized and respected the individual mandates and different governance structures and constituencies of its member organizations and sought to maximize the value of that diversity as an asset in terms of the breadth and scope of the services provided to the membership.

The strong sense of common purpose that increasingly characterized the work of CEB enabled the Board to address more decisively the problems of overlap and duplication that the system was encountering. The new level of ambition that CEB was endeavouring to introduce in its work was being targeted equally at policy development and implementation; at enhancing the strategic contribution of CEB to addressing the global challenges that the international community was facing; and at bringing the collective authority of the executive heads to bear on the effectiveness and coherence of the system’s actions at the country level in response to country-defined strategies and priorities.