Remarks at a UN Development Program Executive Board Meeting

Ambassador Kelley Currie
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
January 22, 2018


Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the United States, I would like to congratulate you on your election to the presidency of the Executive Board. We look forward to working with you on this Board and throughout your tenure.

I would like to thank Administrator Steiner at the outset for his leadership, and UNDP staff for their hard work to formulate the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan. Our thanks also to the Board members for their leadership and spirit of cooperation. In this regard, I would like to give a special thanks to the outgoing Board president Ambassador Petersen of Denmark, who played an instrumental role in the process. And finally, I would like to thank UNDP for their partnership over the last few months working with us in ensuring that help was reaching persecuted religious minorities in Iraq.

As the implementation of the Strategic Plan begins, we should remind ourselves of several salient elements in the plan and ask the organization to continue to use them as guideposts for its work.

First, tackling multifaceted poverty should remain at the center of UNDP’s work. Empowering individuals to lift themselves from poverty helps foster peace, security, and prosperity around the world. Along those lines – good governance, rule of law, and economic freedom and empowerment are essential to poverty eradication. Strengthening these factors contributes to the long-term success of development efforts by addressing the root causes that give rise to instability, radicalization, and conflict. UNDP also has shown value in the areas of conflict prevention, post-conflict stabilization and re-construction, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Second, we all agree UNDP must demonstrate results and learn lessons to improve the organization’s performance. Rigorous and independent evaluations play a critical role to help UNDP achieve these two objectives. We encourage UNDP to continue to improve the quality of country-level evaluations and to make greater use of evaluative information in reporting program performance through the Strategic Plan’s integrated resource and results framework. We welcome the emphasis Administrator Steiner is placing on building a culture of evaluation in UNDP, and his support for the Independent Evaluation Office. We note the resource allocation to the office is now 0.2 percent of the programming volume, in line with UNDP’s evaluation policy and relevant Board decisions.

Third, as the lead UN agency in many countries, UNDP plays an important coordination role in the UN country teams’ work, but it can be more effective. UNDP should take further actions to reduce management costs, harmonize partnership agreements, provide transparent and comparable cost structures, and strengthen accountability measures. The Secretary-General has made several ambitious proposals to change the UN coordination mechanisms with far-reaching implications not only for collaboration among agencies but also for individual agencies’ operations.

As the reform process unfolds, we encourage UNDP management to regularly inform, educate, and consult Board members on the potential impact of these reforms on the organization’s work and help us consider how to best meet the Secretary-General’s overarching goals of cohesion and collaboration across agencies. We look forward to sharing further thoughts on the Secretary-General’s report with Member States at this afternoon’s rollout event.

Mr. President, the United States looks forward to working with you, Member States, and UNDP management to make this a productive Board session.

Thank you.