unctad.org | 62nd session of the Trade and Development Board - Matters requiring action by the Board in the follow-up to the thirteenth session of the Conference [Item 12 of the agenda]
Statement by Mr. Joakim Reiter, Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD
62nd session of the Trade and Development Board - Matters requiring action by the Board in the follow-up to the thirteenth session of the Conference [Item 12 of the agenda]
22 Sep 2015


Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to address this session of the Board this afternoon. Today, I want to share with you the actions we have taken to ensure that UNCTAD is on track for delivering on sustainable development.

In the three years since UNCTAD XIII, much has changed in the development landscape. This has pushed institutions to revise their operations and adapt accordingly to meet the needs of our constituencies. This is the reality, and UNCTAD is no exception.

And the landscape is about to change even further.

The arrival of the sustainable development goals raises the bar of our development standards. And to respond to the challenges of the Post-2015 era, we all need to change. UNCTAD needs to change.

But change and continuous improvement are not new to us; it is in fact a journey that we started already two years ago.

In September 2013, UNCTAD welcomed a new Secretary-General, Dr. Kituyi, who pledged his full commitment to building a stronger UNCTAD, an institution that is fit to deliver on its goal: prosperity for all. And I joined the organization in April, earlier this year, to support the Secretary-General's efforts.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

You will have noted from the report prepared for this session that we are building a stronger UNCTAD on five different fronts:

  1. Mainstreaming a focus on results; including a an integrated results-based management framework and enhanced monitoring and evaluation capacity

  2. Fostering closer engagement with UNCTAD stakeholders; by enhancing outreach and communications, including with Geneva-based Missions

  3. Enhancing internal and external coordination of activities;

  4. Strengthening internal accountability; including, striving for equitable geographic and gender representation, as well as ensuring transparent and effective human resource management;

  5. Establishing a general trust fund and an effective fundraising strategy for technical cooperation activities.

Let me now speak briefly about what we do to strengthen each of these areas.

First, mainstreaming a focus on results.

The mainstreaming of results-based management or RBM into the work of UNCTAD is one of our key priorities.

We are committed to embracing RBM as a way of doing business.

And we are gradually weaving RBM into the culture of this organisation.

In the workplan endorsed by the Board, the secretariat reinforced its efforts on RBM through the preparation of a document outlining a better-integrated RBM framework. An RBM manual for technical cooperation with a focus on the design of UNCTAD projects and the use of extrabudgetary resources was also planned. In addition, the secretariat conducted training on the guidelines, and tasked the UNCTAD Project Review Committee to ensure that all new project documents comply with a results-based approach. These have all been implemented.

Beyond the measures listed in the workplan, we are recruiting a Programme Officer dedicated to RBM coordination, ensuring continuous training on RBM for staff, and establishing an RBM Coordination Group. On this last point, I can report that the RBM Coordination Group is in full motion. It has adopted an ambitious agenda, including the introduction of common workplan formats and guidelines for follow-up on the results of publications. The secretariat expects to introduce improvements to the formulations of the logical frameworks of subprogrammes within the plan on the basis of the work of the RBM Coordination Group.

Strong monitoring and evaluation are key components of an effective RBM approach. As part of the UN Secretariat and as a member of the United Nations Evaluation Group, UNCTAD is bound by established standards and best practices. Previous enhancements have already shown results. A review conducted this year by the Office of Internal Oversight Services identified that UNCTAD's score had improved from the previous biennium. Further work in this area is expected to replicate our early successes.

Looking ahead into 2016 and beyond on RBM: we envisage a more in-depth review of the results framework of each Division. We also want to leverage our new intranet to make more support available to the programme managers who are ultimately responsible delivering results. In this context, we foresee more training on self-assessment and support on how to "close the loop", meaning how to use lessons learned for the planning of future activities. As many organizations would attest, including within your own governments, this is a continuous and iterative process that probably never reaches a clear end. The main challenge is to make sure that RBM is not used as a "red marks vs. green marks" punitive system but as a learning and improvement tool to produce better results for Member States.

Let me now move to Action Line B on Fostering closer engagement with UNCTAD stakeholders.

The focus of our efforts in this area is on enhancing outreach and communications, including with Geneva-based missions.

Actions taken in this regard have included regular briefings, consultations with member States in Geneva, the Delegate's portal, and conducting closer dialogues with key stakeholders. In addition, we are increasing the use of digital communications and social media to extend the reach of our messaging. We are delivering tailored products to different audiences to improve the resonance of each product, and we are strengthening internal coordination and planning of communications efforts.

The Secretary-General also launched the Geneva Dialogues, which are aimed at engaging in informal a dialogue with member States, international organizations, the private sector, academia, and civil society. The Dialogues have harnessed the collective expertise in Geneva to sharpen the policy dialogue. The have also helped feed into the New York process on the post-2015 development agenda.

At the same time, and as all of you are aware, the Secretary-General and myself have continued deepening our engagement with Permanent Representatives and member States in Geneva through regular breakfasts and/or bilateral meetings. These meetings have allowed open and informal exchanges of views.

Outside of Geneva, the UNCTAD New York Office has been strengthened to promote our work. And the office has been very active in organizing briefings, side events and bilateral meetings with Member States and other stakeholders. As an essential bridge between Geneva and New York, the Office ensures coordination with United Nations bodies, organs and specialized agencies with a view to reflecting the priorities of UNCTAD member States. I can report that the refurbishment of the NY Office is planned for the coming months so that better services can be provided to member States in New York.

In short, progress has been made on several fronts. However, we recognise that there are areas of opportunity for us to improve the way we communicate. And this is a priority for SG Kituyi. In the forthcoming months, a general exercise to revamp communications will take place. And we hope that these efforts will broaden and deepen the reach and impact of our work.

I will move on to the issue of enhancing internal and external coordination of activities.

The secretariat noted in its workplan that it would utilise the various existing structures for coordination, and seek to enhance them as needed.

For instance, UNCTAD's senior management team meets regularly to ensure internal coordination. Likewise, there have been regular meetings of the Publications Committee, the Communications Group and the Project Review Committee. These meetings have sought to ensure coordination and coherence of UNCTAD's products, messages, and technical cooperation.

Moving forward, each of these Committees have been tasked with specific deliverables. For instancethe Publications Committee is following-up on some of the recommendations of the recent OIOS evaluation. The Committee will refine the quality assurance frameworks for our research and analysis products, and statistics products as recommended by OIOS. We aim to finalise the framework for research and analysis in 2016, while the framework for the statistics databases work will be finalized during 2017 in order to take into account on-going discussions on the United Nations data revolution.

We are also making progress in the area of external coordination. UNCTAD has continued to foster effective collaborations with United Nations system. For instance in December 2014 we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ILO to join forces on our work on decent employment. Moreover, the secretariat established for this biennium a target of 54 joint activities, and we are on track to meet this goal. . In the report you can find further details on these joint activities.

Moreover, by leading the United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity, we are ensuring non-duplication, efficiency and greater development impact.

UNCTAD is increasingly recognized at the country level as a reliable partner, bringing added value to joint programmes on policy issues in which trade has a significant role to play. In 2014, the Inter-Agency Cluster delivered 36 programmes worldwide, and UNCTAD's access to both multi-donor trust funds and specific partner contributions has increased from $97,000 in 2008 to just over $1 million in 2014.

We continue to explore ways of delivering better results, especially at the national and regional levels. For instance, we know that better linkages between research outputs, technical assistance, and consensus-building will enhance synergies among the three pillars. We will thus explore best practices of these within the secretariat and promote their adoption.

Let me talk now about how we are strengthening internal accountability, including transparent and effective human resources management.

As a programme within the United Nations Secretariat, UNCTAD is subject to its accountability framework, its rules, policies and procedures governing human resources, finance and programme management. UNCTAD is also subject to periodic reviews by oversight bodies, such as the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the Board of Auditors and the Joint Inspection Unit. And here we have also make progress and let me give you an example. There are currently a total of five recommendations from OIOS for implementation by the Secretariat, which contrast with the over 30 recommendation in 2010.

In addition, to foster transparency and accountability, Secretary-General Kituyi, introduced on a pilot bases compacts for the heads of all divisions. The compacts contain specific management objectives for a given year, with measurable deliverables and clear timelines. They include targets in the areas of interdivisional and inter-agency cooperation, responsible management of financial resources, and human resources management. They also include special objectives related to timely submission of documents, internal communications, and staff development. It is anticipated that the compacts will serve to promote a collaborative approach and allow clear accountability against reform objectives.

We have also actively undertaken several measures in recent years to improve human resources management and ensure better checks and balances, particularly in relation to selection processes. For instance, the secretariat has developed and conducted training for hiring managers that serves to strengthen the effectiveness of human resources management. Furthermore, the UNCTAD career web page was redesigned into a more functional and user-friendly tool to improve information sharing with member States, as requested during the fifty-ninth session of the Trade and Development Board. The role of the UNCTAD Focal Point for Women and Alternate was strengthened through better definition of responsibilities, and the incumbents actively participate in an advisory capacities. I can report that our performance against key human resource indicators shows some encouraging signs. These measures are steps in the right direction. For example, as at 31 August this year, 38.1% of staff at P5 level are female, up from 34.3% in 2012; and 44.7% of staff at P4 level are female, up from 37.3% in 2012.

On the other hand, there are also areas of opportunity. Gender balance remains an issue at the more senior level. At the D2 level, only 1 out of five directors is a woman. And at the D1 level, only five out of 12 incumbents are women.

We are mindful of this situation and working on it. Last week, UNCTAD reaffirmed its commitment to the empowerment of women by joining the Geneva Gender Champions network. In doing so, Dr. Kituyi publicly committed to foster gender equality in UNCTAD's recruitment and promotions.

We continue to monitor the situation closely, and will also continue to provide member States with these indicators annually to enhance transparency.

Finally, we come to the our last area: Establishment of a general trust fund and an effective fundraising strategy.

I can report that the two main deliverables in this area have been implemented.

First, in the workplan, the secretariat noted that the establishment of a general trust fund would be welcomed. It then drafted a proposal on the possibility of establishing such a trust fund. The proposal was shared with member States in July 2013. The UNCTAD secretariat received approval from the United Nations Controller for the operationalization of a trust fund, known as the "Trust fund for the support to the activities of UNCTAD", as of 1 September 2013.

The trust fund can receive both earmarked and non-earmarked contributions that may be managed as sub-accounts or projects, in accordance with agreements with donors. The flexible nature of the trust fund is an advantage in facilitating better responsiveness to emerging issues.

Second, the secretariat also noted in the workplan that an effective fundraising strategy was fully in line with the Secretary-General's efforts to strengthen UNCTAD.

The secretariat developed a draft fundraising strategy for consideration. The draft UNCTAD fundraising strategy for technical cooperation activities was circulated as a non-paper to member States on 22 March 2013. At its sixtieth session, held in September 2013, the Trade and Development Board took note of the draft UNCTAD fundraising strategy for technical cooperation. It also agreed on further improvements to ensure that fundraising efforts led to the necessary levels of resources to meet the increasing demand for technical cooperation. At the sixty-ninth session of the Working Party in December 2014, member States agreed to continue their consultations with a view to finalizing the strategy at the earliest possible date.

We are stepping up efforts to better disseminate our technical cooperation products. An example of this is the new the UNCTAD Toolbox, which succinctly explains what UNCTAD can offer, how what we offer is relevant, and the results our products achieve. We are also working on an interactive world map that will be available on our webpage that shows all technical assistance activities in each country.

Earlier this month at the 71st session of the Working Party, I highlighted that we face a gap of $32 million to meet all the technical assistance requests received. The forthcoming adoption of the post-2015 development agenda is likely to increase the requests for technical assistance, and we count on your support in mobilizing the funds needed.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,

Since 2012, several measures have been implemented to enhance the management and administration of UNCTAD. Those initial enhancements were amplified with the arrival of Dr Kituyi in in 2013, and I myself am committed to ensure that UNCTAD remains better fit for purpose. And as you may remember, in my management briefing to you, last July, I shared a check list of management facts and actions that actually go beyond the workplan approved by member States.

We have an action plan in place, and fully intend to continue building a stronger UNCTAD that is ready to help countries achieve the world we want by 2030. We look forward to the continuing support of you, our member States in working together towards this goal.

Thank you very much.


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