Learning your ABCs on the QCPR

February 2012, New York, USA - What is the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) and how does it relate to the funding of UN operational activities? In light of the ECOSOC Operational Activities Segment dealing with the QCPR in July 2012, and the General Assembly review in October 2012 of its resolution 62/208 of 2007, UNITAR addressed these timely and complex questions in a briefing on Funding for UN operational activities for development: key trends and issues on 1 February 2012. The workshop was the first installment of a six-part series on the QCPR, aimed to inform delegates about the QCPR process and its implications for UN operational activities. The series is jointly organized by UNITAR and the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), with support from the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations.

His Excellency Ambassador Paul Seger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations, opened the workshop, highlighting that the QCPR “generates a lot of interest, since everyone in the UN is interested in making the system work better.” Related to both the relevancy and the effectiveness of UN operational activities is the issue of funding. Ms. Afshan Khan, Director of UNICEF’s Public Alliances and Resources Mobilization Office, focused on the role of core and non-core funding for UNICEF’s operational activities. She highlighted the risks for UNICEF’s essential functions if its share of core funding would keep declining. Mr. Romesh Muttukumaru, UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator, stressed similar risks for UNDP, saying that “82% of UNDP’s budget consists of non-core funds, a situation which is unsustainable.” Both these concerns were reflected in the presentation of Mr. Kristinn Helgason of UN DESA. UNICEF’s and UNDP’s observations are indeed part of a larger trend of a significant decline of the share of core funding of UN operational activities, including humanitarian activities. Both speakers and participants agreed that this trend significantly complicates predictability of funding for UN operational activities, which, in turn, reduces the UN’s effectiveness in programme countries.

Therefore, the key goals of the QCPR – efficiency, effectiveness and harmonization- are especially important in a time of worldwide budget scarcities. At the end of the briefing, delegates had a clearer picture of ensuring an effective an integrated UN system for operational activities for development.

Learning your ABCs on the QCPR The QCPR “is telling the [UN] system what member states believe the system should be doing, and how it should be doing it,” stressed Ms. Nadia Isler, First Secretary at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland. The QCPR aims to secure the relevance of UN operational activities for development and achieve the best possible effectiveness of UN operational activities in support of developing countries. It includes a review of the traditional role of UN development activities and an analysis of additional emerging issues. To enhance UN operational activities’ effectiveness, it also includes an evaluation of the UN Resident Coordinator system, the UN Development Assistant Framework, and a simplification of UN rules and procedure.