Two background papers on the ECOSOC Dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN Development System

“UNDS Reform: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
The glass is too big”
Sara Burke
FES New York – Meeting Report, June 2016

This report reflects upon an informal round table discussion held 19 May 2016, to which all UN Member States were invited, on “Governance and Partnerships in the Longer-term Positioning of the UN Development System”, organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung New York, hosted by the Mission of Indonesia to the UN and co-sponsored by the Mission of El Salvador to the UN. Virtually all UN Member States agree the UNDS has become fragmented and incoherent, leaving only three options: abandon the system, reform it, or go along with business as usual. The discussion focused primarily on key governance issues raised by both donor and recipient countries in the context of UNDS reform debates, and how to avoid business as usual. Recommendations: 1) A frank and open discussion of who wins and loses in proposed reforms is urgently needed ; 2) a pilot single board over UNDS, extending the model currently in place for UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS can be created without adding new or additional mechanisms; 3) UN Member States need to engage the upcoming Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) negotiations at the highest level of representation in order to lay the groundwork for a concise and strategic QCPR in the fall of 2016.

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“Partnerships and the 2030 Agenda: Time to reconsider their role in implementation”
Barbara Adams and Jens Martens of Global Policy Forum
FES New York – Background Note, May 2016

Adams and Martens argue that “Partnership” is a misleading term to cover every type of engagement between UN entities and non-State actors, in part because it promotes a false sense of equality. Lumping CSOs and corporate actors together according to their non-State status ignores the profound differences in their orientation, interests and accountability. Before considering ways to enhance the effectiveness of partnerships between UN entities and non-State actors and establishing a system-wide delivery support, more fundamental questions should be addressed. This paper poses necessary questions and offers perspectives both from the work of Global Policy Forum as well as from previous proposals on partnerships offered by some Member States.

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