20 May 2021

Highlighting Regional Gains, Deputy Secretary-General Urges Partners to Shape Clear Vision for Pandemic Recovery at Economic and Social Council Dialogue

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the Economic and Social Council operational activities segment for Session 8:  “Unleashing the United Nations development system’s regional assets:  The path forward”, today:

As the Secretary-General said in his opening segment, since the adoption of ECOSOC resolution 2020/23 in July last year, the United Nations development system has made significant progress at the regional level.  Regional collaborative platforms have been established in all regions to coordinate regional assets, convened in tandem with the regional sustainable development fora.

Issue-based coalitions, the main vehicles of the substantive work of the regional collaborative platforms, have been agreed and will serve to rally United Nations system-wide expertise in response to changing regional and country priorities.

All regions have made good progress on the knowledge management hubs, bringing a wealth of products to Member States, resident coordinators and United Nations country teams, to foster evidence-based solutions to development challenges.  Work is also ongoing to consolidate capacities with regard to data and statistics as we move towards a one-stop-shop for accessing the regional Sustainable Development Goals data ecosystem.

In line with the Secretary-General’s commitment to enhance transparency and results, transitional reports were prepared in each region on the results achieved by the United Nations development system in 2020.  Regional operations management teams have been established in all regions to increase efficiencies in business operations.

These changes are yielding concrete benefits.  Over the course of March, I chaired the first annual meetings of the regional collaborative platforms.  Under the leadership of the regional collaborative platform Vice-Chairs, the executive secretaries of the regional commissions and the regional directors of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), I saw the potential of bringing together our collective expertise in support of country needs and priorities.

In Africa, regional United Nations development system entities worked collaboratively through the emergency regional action plan on COVID-19 to deliver essential support in areas such as procurement, to improve coordination amid limited global stock and weak supply chains.  In the Arab States, work is under way to make the Manara platform a one-stop shop for all knowledge and data from United Nations sources, Member States and other development actors.  In Asia-Pacific, through the issue-based coalition on human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) developed strategic and operational guidance for Governments and other partners in South-East Asia to address service gaps and ensure the continuity of sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health services during the pandemic.

In Europe, the data and statistics group created under the umbrella of the regional collaborative platforms connects the United Nations country team statistics focal point in the region, and in Asia Pacific, with the global statistics community.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, at the request of the Governments involved, the regional commission worked with 19 entities and the relevant resident coordinators to produce a comprehensive development plan that identifies sustainable development investment opportunities across El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and south-south-east Mexico.

I am greatly encouraged by what we have accomplished in little time, and I wish to thank our United Nations leadership at the regional level for their efforts.  With the foundations now in place, we must aim higher for the coming year.  The regional level will be essential to ensure all countries within their regions have equitable access to vaccines.  A clear vision for recovering better together will also be needed, one that addresses specific structural impediments to inclusive and sustainable development.

This will be the true test of whether we are willing to move beyond our old ways of doing business and come together effectively at the regional level.  In Africa, for example, this means providing debt relief and liquidity support for financial recovery guided by Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda.

In Europe and Central Asia, increasing fiscal space and supporting structural reforms to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and deliver on the 2030 Agenda will be essential.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, urgent support is required to address the barriers faced by middle-income countries and small island developing States to access financing, increase fiscal space for climate action, and accelerate joint work on social protection systems.

In Asia and the Pacific, an early assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on Sustainable Development Goals progress by eight United Nations entities is helping the regional collaborative platforms identify priorities, including on climate action, social protection and data.  In the Arab States, addressing the triple crises of climate change, biodiversity degradation and pollution, and their impact on water availability, agriculture and migration, is a priority.

All of this will require accelerated implementation of the five key areas of the regional review.  Issue-based coalitions will need to work in lock step with resident coordinators and United Nations country teams to support country needs and priorities.  We will need more effective pooling of expertise at the service of resident coordinators and United Nations country teams, and the consolidation of data and statistics and efficient business operations.  In doing so, we must pay greater attention to cross-border challenges and, where applicable, strengthening collaboration across peace, development and humanitarian operations.

We must ensure that the roll-out of the multi-country offices and regional reviews continue to intersect and proceed in tandem, with strong joint leadership through the regional collaborative platforms.  We look forward also to the first reports of the regional consultative platforms on collective achievements and joint system-wide impacts in 2022.

We are on the right path at the regional level, but we still have a great deal to do.  I look forward to your insights on how we can bring the full potential, know-how, assets and policy expertise of the regional United Nations development system behind United Nations country teams, in support of a better recovery and accelerated Sustainable Development Goals progress.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.