UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS Executive Board, Joint statement on cost-efficiency
Thank you Mr. President,
I am pleased to deliver this statement on behalf of Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand, Denmark, USA, Estonia, Israel, Netherlands, Italy, Australia, France, United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Belarus and my own country, Canada.
We would like to congratulate the Administrator of the UNDP, the Executive Directors of UNFPA and UNOPS, staff and management, the Secretariat, the Bureau, and all the interpreters, for a successful and efficient annual session of the Executive Board 2012.
We are pleased with the constructive spirit of the discussions during this session. We believe that the session has benefitted from a good preparatory process, as well as constructive exchanges between the UN agencies and the members of Executive Board and among Board members.
We would like to express our appreciation for the ongoing efforts of the Funds and Programs to achieve cost efficiencies and for their commitment towards more efficient functioning of the Executive Board. During the UNICEF Board earlier this month, the Executive Director, Mr. Lake, provided information on costs related to the management of the documentation. We understand that UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS face the same challenge. We also recognize the substantial potential for savings that could be realized by further improving the planning, management, and conduct of meetings, including informal meetings and other practices and working methods. However, this needs to be balanced with the recognition that the Executive Board is a vital means of allowing Member States oversight over the activities of the Funds and Programs. It is important therefore to ensure that in implementing cost control and efficiency measures, the Executive Board still has the means to exercise sufficient oversight over the activities of the organizations.
We are very much aware of the impact of last year’s proposal by the Secretary-General to transfer the cost of official meetings, previously covered by the UN Secretariat, to individual Funds and Programs. This proposal and the decision adopted by the General Assembly related to the budget for conference services impose an additional burden on the institutional budgets of the Funds and Programs, and puts pressure on the ratio between administrative and programming expenditures. We understand the new urgency to contain conference costs effectively. We therefore encourage UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS to address this issue in a diligent and systematic manner, while respecting the rules of the Executive Board relating to the working and official languages, and the availability of translated documents in a timely manner.
We believe that all Funds and Programs should carefully review the situation. In doing so, a thorough examination of potential savings, not only regarding documentation, but also all other related costs related to administration, and working methods, would be extremely beneficial. In this regard, we encourage UNDP, UNFPA, UNOPS, together with UNICEF and the Secretariat to work closely with the relevant UN bodies, Departments and Offices, with a view to examine options to limit costs and raise efficiencies without losing oversight over the activities of the organizations. We urge the UN Department of General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM) to work in the most transparent and collaborative manner with Funds and Programs to come up with the most cost-effective alternatives. The same message was delivered to UNICEF in early June.
As donors and program countries are increasingly demanding effectiveness, it is important for the funds and programs to demonstrate that they are also exercising good stewardship of public funds. They need to show, particularly during hard economic times, that they are reducing administrative costs as many governments around the world are doing, and using funds as much as possible for development programs.
We take cost efficiency and effectiveness very seriously as they are an important part of the governance responsibilities of this Board and can affect the scope and depth of our exchanges. Many member states view participation and interactive debate in the work of the Board, as a key part of their oversight function. This is also closely related to their ability to leverage funding, and to their contribution to improve development results. From this perspective, we would like to consider options and solutions for cost savings in the context of enhancing the quality of the interaction and dialogue, the sharing of knowledge, and the transparency in decision making.
Let me conclude by stating that we consider that this challenge can be turned into an opportunity: an opportunity to work better and more efficiently. All would benefit from it: the Board, our constituencies, and all programming countries in their efforts to achieve the MDGs.
We stand ready to engage further, and constructively, on this issue.