Implementing Agenda 2030: Fresh impetus for reforming the UN Development System

14-02-2017

There is consensus that the United Nations Development System (UNDS) needs to function in a more integrated and coherent manner. Indeed, despite its universal legitimacy, and its recognition by the EU as the core of effective multilateralism, this network of more than 30 entities is hampered by fragmentation. Intra-system competition is aggravated by the increased use of earmarked funding which is transforming multilateral development actors into simple channels of bilateral aid. Since 2015, long overdue structural reform has gained new momentum with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The main options for reform include reinforcing system-wide governance and leadership, seriously revamping the UN's funding architecture and scaling up ongoing incremental changes to ensure greater coordination of UN activities at the country level. Recognised as key to implementing 'the comprehensive and interrelated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under Agenda 2030', the reform has been placed at the centre of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UNDS in the framework of the 2017-2020 quadrennial comprehensive policy review. However, institutional inertia within UNDS entities, coupled with divergence between member states on the direction and degree of the reform, may jeopardise the role of the UNDS.

There is consensus that the United Nations Development System (UNDS) needs to function in a more integrated and coherent manner. Indeed, despite its universal legitimacy, and its recognition by the EU as the core of effective multilateralism, this network of more than 30 entities is hampered by fragmentation. Intra-system competition is aggravated by the increased use of earmarked funding which is transforming multilateral development actors into simple channels of bilateral aid. Since 2015, long overdue structural reform has gained new momentum with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. The main options for reform include reinforcing system-wide governance and leadership, seriously revamping the UN's funding architecture and scaling up ongoing incremental changes to ensure greater coordination of UN activities at the country level. Recognised as key to implementing 'the comprehensive and interrelated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under Agenda 2030', the reform has been placed at the centre of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UNDS in the framework of the 2017-2020 quadrennial comprehensive policy review. However, institutional inertia within UNDS entities, coupled with divergence between member states on the direction and degree of the reform, may jeopardise the role of the UNDS.