ECOSOC and four UN agencies discuss ways to harmonize cooperation

3 July 2003

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), holding its annual session in Geneva, met today with four top officials of the world body’s agencies to examine ways of enhancing cooperation for international development.

The four panellists’ presentations focused largely on the renewed commitment to development evidenced by the internationally agreed outcomes of the UN Millennium Summit, and the related push to simplify and harmonize rules and procedures among UN development agencies.

Mark Malloch Brown, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said UN bodies should be ready to move with changed times. It is essential to lead the change, not merely to react to it, he stressed.

He noted that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) present an internationally agreed outcome-oriented set of targets for cooperation but a strong UN country presence is needed to help development partners realize these goals. Mr. Malloch Brown also envisioned a radical simplification of the world body’s collective country presence.

UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Carol Bellamy said the agency was engaged in an intensive and collective dialogue on how to simplify and harmonize rules and procedures of funds and programmes to allow country-level programmatic considerations to drive the process, as well as to allow governments and governmental priorities to set the context.

Ms. Bellamy said among the specific tools of interest would be the joint strategy meetings, which would replace four separate meetings with national counterparts and reduce workloads for all partners and ensure transparency.

Thoraya Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said the conversion of the Millennium Goals into a road map, both for national development and international cooperation, had created many new opportunities for working together in a coherent and harmonized way to achieve global peace, security and prosperity, through the eradication of poverty the world over. In that context, there was a major and vital role for the world body, she added.

UN World Food Programme (WFP) Deputy Executive Director Jean-Jacques Graisse said the transition from relief to development had been on the international community’s agenda often over the last decade. The UN Development Group (UNDG) is working with country teams to identify problems impacting their ability to respond effectively in situations of transition and to assess the lessons learned.


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