Remarks to the UNDP Executive Board

Nerissa Cook
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of International Organization Affairs
New York City
January 30, 2017



Thank you, Mr. President. We thank Administrator Clark for her presentation and would like to express our gratitude to her for her leadership and to all UNDP staff around the world for their dedication and hard work.

As we enter 2017, with a new Secretary-General at the helm of the United Nations and both 16 months into implementation of the 2030 Development Agenda and 8 months after the Grand Bargain commitments, it is also an important year for UNDP as we begin to formulate the strategic plan for 2018-2021. I would like to take a moment to review the work we have done together, which should help guide our future efforts.

To begin, I would like to commend UNDP for the work you are doing in some of the most challenging environments around the world. For example, working with the Government of Iraq and the international community, UNDP has assisted in the stabilization of liberated Iraqi territories, previously under ISIL control. UNDP has administered the Fund Facility for Immediate Stabilization, FFIS, and worked to rehabilitate public infrastructure and services, such as electricity grids, health care facilities, schools, and police stations, all of which directly benefit hundreds of thousands of people.

In Syria, UNDP helps the poor and displaced populations with basic livelihood and employment programs. In Syria’s neighboring countries, working together with other UN agencies, UNDP helps local communities provide basic social services and employment programs to those in need.

UNDP understands that peace and security are the critical first steps toward development and economic growth, and thus central to the international development agenda. Your work to promote good governance helps communities address the injustice and deprivation that lead to instability and insecurity.

In this regard, I would like to applaud UNDP’s work on anti-corruption and preventing violent extremism. We are pleased that UNDP has been actively assisting many countries’ anti-corruption efforts, including by providing support to anti-corruption agencies in the areas of policies, data management, and risk assessment. We also appreciate UNDP’s support for implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption. A recent evaluation of UNDP anti-corruption work in 65 countries over eight years confirmed this good work, and also made recommendations for improving and integrating UNDP’s anti-corruption work into overall development programming. We will be discussing these recommendations in more detail later this week when the Board reviews the evaluation report.

On preventing violent extremism, PVE, we appreciate UNDP’s engagement with countries in East Africa in their development of regional PVE strategies. UNDP has also worked with the international community to help strengthen community policing partnerships in high-risk communities. UNDP’s global project on “Development Solutions for the Prevention of Violent Extremism” and the establishment of a global PVE advisor and coordinator are encouraging developments. We look forward to learning more about their contributions to UNDP’s regional and country-level development programs and PVE initiatives, including how these programs could be incorporated into the UN’s Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF. These are important measures to prevent conflict and help implement the recommendations of the UN’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism in support of Pillar I of the UN Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. They can also serve as a foundation for the international community to initiate capacity-building assistance projects where they are needed.

Mr. President, on the management front UNDP has made considerable progress over the past several years toward greater transparency and accountability. Posting country offices’ project information online and public disclosure of internal audit reports are two significant achievements.

Evaluation serves a critical oversight and learning function in UNDP, and it has been one of the greatest challenges facing the organization. Following almost two years of difficult discussions in the Board and within the management, the Board approved the new evaluation policy late last year to make program evaluations more credible and reliable. We look forward to the full implementation of the new evaluation policy, including management implementation of evaluation recommendations, improving program performance through learning from evaluations, and improving the independence and quality of country-based evaluations.

In recent years, UNDP management has taken steps to rationalize its organizational structure – pushing more resources into the field to better support regional and country-level operations, reduce the headquarters footprint, and save money. We look forward to management’s formal response at the next Board session to findings and recommendations of the recently completed joint assessment of UNDP institutional effectiveness.

Better coordination among agencies to eliminate wasteful duplications and focus on agencies’ core mandates and missions are some of the key messages of the recent Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review Resolution. In this regard, we would welcome additional information from UNDP management on efforts in the new strategic plan to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, and on UNDP efforts to implement the Grand Bargain commitments.

In closing, Mr. President, I would like to thank Administrator Clark again for her eight years of leadership and service at UNDP and for her strong collaboration with the United States. We wish her the best in her future endeavors. We look forward to continuing our work with the UNDP management team and dedicated staff to achieve our shared goal of making the world a safer and more prosperous place for all people.