Statement on behalf of the Chair United Nations Development Group

Harmonization, Alignment and Results

Paris, France
1 March 2005

Mr. President, Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to say a few words on behalf of the chair of United Nations Development Group.

This Forum could not have come at a more opportune time. Indeed, the international community is preparing for the five-year review of the progress made towards realizing the commitments in the Millennium Declaration. The Secretary-General views this Forum as a critical stepping-stone in that process. To achieve our goals, a significant increase in aid is required. Increased aid must be accompanied by rigorous efforts to harmonize and align development assistance, in order to achieve the commitments contained in the Millennium Development Goals.

During the first meeting in Rome two years ago, we pledged concrete action to harmonize and align development policies and procedures with national priorities and processes. Our progress has accelerated remarkably since Rome, and now we are implementing reforms that touch on every part of the programming cycle.

In the new aid architecture emerging from the Monterrey Consensus, the UN has five distinct roles:

  • to assist partner countries develop their capacities to manage aid from an increasing number of sources;
  • to be a strong advocate for the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs, and the integration of the MDGs in national development policies and strategies, such as poverty reduction strategies;
  • to spearhead initiatives to scale-up programmes to meet the MDGs, especially at the local level, and to support the provision of essential aid and services in post-conflict situations;
  • to offer state-of-the-art and evidence-based policy advice; and
  • to act as a bridge and neutral convener between all partners.

I see several tracks that we need to pursue if we are to play our role. Most prominent among those:

  • First, alignment of all development activities in a country around a broadly owned national development strategy that offers a convincing path to achieving the MDGs; Radical simplification of our own programme procedures and cycles in line with best development practices;
  • Focusing UN development activities where our comparative advantage lies;
  • Rationalizing our country presence – both in lightening and integrating it; and
  • Empowered and strengthened UN Country Teams, led by highly qualified UN Resident Coordinators and country team members.

Of particular interest is that we have recently agreed to amend any legislation, rules and procedures that inhibit UNDG agencies from participating in sector-wide and direct budget funding arrangements, and to increase our support towards the development of national capacities for the management of these aid modalities. We have also committed ourselves to make greater use of national systems for sector reporting, monitoring and evaluation, annual performance reviews, progress reports and procurement procedures, And, we will review staffing and skill mix at the country level.

Harmonization and alignment is particularly called for in post-crisis and other difficult situations. In the last two years, the UN has brought the humanitarian and development communities together by spearheading the development of some very innovative tools such as the “post-conflict needs assessment handbook”, developed jointly with the World Bank with support from GTZ, and the “Transitional Results Matrix”, a planning, coordination and management tool that national stakeholders and donors are already using, as in the Tusanim response planning.

Mr. President,

We are about to endorse the Paris Declaration on Harmonization, Alignment and Results. The UN is proud to be a co-host of this meeting and we will wholeheartedly support the commitments expressed in the Declaration, because we believe that this agenda is a critical element in the pursuit of the MDGs, which is ultimately about improving the quality of people’s lives. Let’s do all we can to make that a reality.

Thank you.