UNITAR organizes workshop to support UN system-wide coherence efforts

10 November 2011, New York, United States of America. On 4 November 2011, the New York Office of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations held the second workshop of the series on United Nations Reform. This workshop focused on: “System-wide Coherence in United Nations Development Activities,” which aimed at familiarizing delegates and UN staff on system-wide coherence architecture, current initiatives to improve coherence mechanisms and main challenges for coherence and coordination initiatives. The workshop series highlights various aspects of the ongoing UN reform process such as revitalization of the General Assembly, Security Council reform, management reform and preventive diplomacy.

Mr. Pio Wennubst, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations highlighted four main reasons for working towards system-wide coherence in the United Nations development machinery: to ensure relevance of the UN operational activities; to achieve the best possible effectiveness of UN development activities; to maximize impacts and results; and, to adequately respond to the challenges emerging from current realities. Mr. Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-agency Affairs, underlined these imperatives and stressed the ultimate motivation behind efforts to improve system-wide coherence: to maximize the UN’s impact on the ground and, as a result, to improve the lives of people in need. Mr. Navid Hanif, Director of the ECOSOC Support and Coordination Office, complemented these insights with a comprehensive presentation on the historical roots of today’s challenges to UN system-wide coherence. Ms. Deborah Landey, Director of the Development Operations Coordination Office, underscored the importance of effective leadership for driving system-wide coherence.

H.E. Mr. Robert Guba Aisi, Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations gave an account of his country’s experience in the “Delivering as One” initiative. He pointed out that development success hinges not only on a coherent UN approach; but, also on a government committed to the UN’s support. Mr. Joseph Foumbi, former UNICEF representative from Rwanda confirmed these observations and added that the UN must always take into account the often limited capacities a host country’s government and adapt its efforts accordingly to maximize impact. Mr. Christopher Davids, UN Coherence stressed the significance of a coherent communication policy to create a single UN voice in a host country.

Mr. Soon Hong-Choi, Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Information and Communications Technology underlined that successful ICT strategies form the basis of efficient and effective change management and the broader issue of system-wide coherence. Subsequently, Mr. Kristinn Helgason, Deputy Chief of the Development Cooperation Branch of UN DESA briefed participants about the considerable impact of increasingly fragmented funding. Mr. Navid Hanif closed the session with update on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) process and its timetable.