UN reform and the COVID-19 pandemic – what role for the UN to better serve the world?

UN reform and the COVID-19 pandemic – what role for the UN to better serve the world?

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The Covid-19 pandemic not only threatens to undo development gains and reverse progress in achieving the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda. It also presents an early and serious test for the reform of the UN development system (UNDS), where major reform decisions were taken in 2018 to reposition the UNDS for improved, integrated and strategic support in line with the 2030 Agenda’s interlinked nature.

2019 was a transformational year for the UNDS, as reforms were implemented and began to take root. Therefore UN Secretary-General Guterres’ annual report on the UN development system was eagerly awaited. The report can be seen as a near midterm-review of the ongoing reform of the UNDS, written at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. While self-confident about the success in reform implementation achieved so far (such “positivity” is of course in the DNA of the UN), the report is also self-critical regarding shortcomings and hints at looming challenges.

Both member states and UN agencies are asked to support the reform

The reform is “on track”, says the Secretary-General. An UN DESA survey among UN Resident Coordinators and developing country governments demonstrates measurable improvements on the ground. In some areas, such as the reform of the Resident Coordinator system, progress is faster; others such as the efficiency agenda and the reform of the UN’s regional structures prove to be more difficult and require “ongoing leadership from all involved.”

This frankness about shortcomings is laudable. Reform enthusiasm of UN entities cannot be taken for granted, warranting continued coordinated support from member states. Nor are member states fully on track for meeting their commitments made in the UN Funding Compact (agreed in 2019). Increases in the share of core funding or softly earmarked resources are key enablers for a reformed UNDS. Yet funding for instruments such as Joint SDG Fund falls short of what the Funding Compact calls for.

Read the full article here.

This blog first appeared on the DIE site. 

Author: Silke Weinlich, Max-Otto Baumann, DIE. 

Image courtesy of John Gillespie via Flickr.

The views are those of the author and not necessarily those of ETTG.

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