CS73: Senior Officials Segment - Agenda item 5: Management Issues

Delivered during deliberation of Agenda item 5 of the Senior Officials Segment of the 73rd Commission Session in Bangkok, Thailand.

Madam Chair,
Distinguished Delegates,

Documents Before the Commission

Under Agenda Item 5 the following documents are placed before the Commission for consideration:

- E/ESCAP/73/33, proposed programme of work for the biennium 2018-2019.
- E/ESCAP/73/34, programme changes for the biennium 2016-2017.
- E/ESCAP/73/35, overview of partnerships, extrabudgetary contributions and capacity development.

(a) Proposed programme of work for the biennium 2018-2019

Document E/ESCAP/73/33 is based on the strategic framework for 2018-2019, which was endorsed by the Commission and the Committee for Programme and Coordination, and subsequently approved by the General Assembly last year.

The proposed programme of work incorporates feedback from the Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives and from member States. The Department of Management has further reviewed it to ensure coherence with the work conducted by other offices of the Secretariat and other regional commissions. The General Assembly, through resolution 71/6, also mandated a new expected accomplishment to further realize efficiencies in travel costs for the Organization, and this has been added under executive direction and management.

In line with the strategic framework for 2018-2019, the proposed programme emphasizes:

  • Supporting the follow-up and review to assess progress on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda. This will benefit from our work in thematic areas, enhancement of data and statistical capacities and regional support to promote policy consistency and coherence;
  • Convening of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development;
  • Continued policy work and building capacities for statistical development, financing for development and harnessing science, technology and innovation for sustainable development;
  • Promoting regional economic cooperation and integration through improved connectivity in energy, transport, trade, and information and communications technologies, thereby addressing transboundary elements of the SDGs;
  • Assessing the social dimensions of sustainable development, including inequalities, demographic challenges, gender equality, social integration and social protection; and, finally;
  • Focusing on environmental sustainability and resilience in the region, including through addressing issues of natural resources management, climate change action and resilience, sustainable agriculture as well as urban and rural development.

To coherently deliver its programme of work, ESCAP will continue to undertake analytical work to better integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development and harness the cross-sectoral nexus approach.

Subregional work will be strengthened by leveraging synergies between substantive divisions, subregional offices and regional institutions. In 2016 and 2017, the subregional offices developed subregional reports on RECI and the SDGs. The work of two of our regional institutions, the Centre for Alleviation of Poverty through Sustainable Agriculture and the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization, will henceforth be reflected under Environment and Development Division in line with the approved strategic framework.

The proposed programme of work will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), considered by the Fifth Committee, and based on their recommendations, adopted by the General Assembly in late 2017. We seek your endorsement of the programme of work for 2018-2019 and count on your governments’ support as the programme of work and the budget goes through the approvals of the ACABQ and the Fifth Committee.

(b) Proposed Programme Changes for the Biennium 2016-2017

I would now like to introduce Agenda Item 5(b), proposed programme changes for the biennium 2016-2017.

The only proposed change in the current programme of work is the deletion of the 2017 issue of the Regional Trends Report on Energy for Sustainable Development. Regional trends were highlighted during the first Committee on Energy this year and in our other energy reports, including the theme study for this session of the Commission.

I seek your endorsement of this modification to the 2016-2017 programme of work.

(c) Overview of Partnerships, Extrabudgetary Contributions and Capacity Development

Under member State guidance, ESCAP has worked to align its analytical, inter-governmental and technical cooperation functions to set the ground for effectively supporting member States in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

ESCAP’s capacity development and partnerships strategies have been revised to focus on: (i) the 2030 Agenda, and (ii) Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration, or RECI. RECI will promote inter-connectedness through sustainable infrastructure development particularly in the countries with special needs, which includes the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

Document E/ESCAP/73/35 reflects ESCAP’s efforts in this regard and provides an overview of the extrabudgetary contributions we received in 2016.

In 2016, ESCAP through its leadership of the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), spearheaded the strengthening of the RCM to enhance regional United Nations coherence on normative and policy issues and cooperation in addressing regional development issues. In 2016, the RCM’s structure was realigned to better support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

To make the RCM fit for purpose, new thematic working groups were established in seven areas, each corresponding to relevant SDG clusters. These thematic working groups have already yielded concrete outcomes. For example, in preparation for the sixty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women, the Thematic Working Group on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women organized the Asia-Pacific Policy Dialogue on Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work and delivered an analytical knowledge product on this topic. ESCAP is also leading the Group’s current research report on "Financing for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Asia and the Pacific".

The thematic working groups on Sustainable Societies and on Statistics held regional workshops on strengthening the collection and use of international migration data.

ESCAP is working with the Resident Coordinators and the UN country teams to respond to member States’ requests for implementation of the SDGs. This is being done through capacity building and technical cooperation; timely sharing of information and knowledge products on SDGs; and implementing regional frameworks and agreements at the country level. ESCAP has sent an advisory letter to all UN Resident Coordinators in the region to both offer perspectives and seek their views on how the Commission can support them in their endeavors.

ESCAP has continued to work closely with regional and subregional organizations to seek common solutions to transboundary problems and to provide a regional platform for sharing development knowledge and good practices across the Asia-Pacific and its subregions. ESCAP has worked with the regional UN development system to formulate the joint ASEAN-United Nations Plan of Action for 2016-2020 under the economic, sociocultural and the cross-cutting pillars of the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership. The Plan of Action was adopted at the seventh ASEAN-United Nations Summit in September 2016 in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and will now be jointly operationalized. We are also assisting ASEAN in developing complementarities between the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda.

Together with the Asian Development Bank, we conducted baseline studies for the establishment of trade facilitation monitoring mechanisms in three South Asian Least Developed Countries.

With the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, we are supporting the implementation of the Intergovernmental Agreement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on Facilitation of International Road Transport in Asia-Pacific. To this end, we have offered capacity development to harmonize legal frameworks for the road sector and simplify transport processes among China, the Russian Federation and the Central Asian countries to implement this agreement.

To operationalize the ongoing MOU between ESCAP and the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) we have jointly agreed to collaborate on trade and investment, banking and finance, transport and logistics, industry and agriculture, statistics, information technologies, energy policy, labor migration, and intellectual property. The draft program of cooperation between the EEC and ESCAP for 2017-2019 reflects these priorities.

In 2016, the secretariat adopted the ESCAP Capacity Development Strategy 2016-2019. It provides an integrated coherent strategy for ESCAP’s capacity development work which will increase its effectiveness and impact, while maximizing partnerships with a wide array of stakeholders. The successful implementation of this strategy is underpinned by (i) a results-based management approach to capacity development projects, including effective monitoring and evaluation systems; and (ii) the mobilization of extrabudgetary resources.

In this context, ESCAP has revitalized its result-based management trainings for staff. Bangkok-based staff trainings took place earlier this year, and will be rolled out to ESCAP offices outside Bangkok later this year.

Monitoring and evaluation has been strengthened to ensure that the lessons learned from our work lead to improved processes and results. Since the last Commission, ESCAP conducted five project level evaluations and three strategic evaluations to assess the effectiveness and impact of our work, including:

  • an external evaluation of ESCAP's statistical work as part of the OIOS thematic evaluation of the United Nations Regional Commissions;
  • an independent evaluation of the Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development subprogramme; and,
  • an independent evaluation of the Regional Action Programme for Transport Development in Asia and the Pacific, Phase II (2012-2016).

Recommendations from these evaluations will support enhancement of ESCAP's work and maximize our impact in supporting member States to address the development challenges facing our region.

To strengthen ESCAP's evaluation function, new procedures aimed at ensuring that ESCAP evaluations are credible, independent and in line with the norms and standards for evaluation set by the United Nations Evaluation Group have been introduced. These procedures are now incorporated in the updated and soon-to-be launched ESCAP Monitoring and Evaluation Policy and Guidelines.

I visited several countries last year, including China, the Republic of Korea, and the Russian Federation, to expand and strengthen our partnerships. To widen our donor base, ESCAP also conducted donor relations missions in Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. These efforts helped ESCAP to secure $17.5 million during 2016 in total cash contributions for capacity development projects and activities, representing 58.1 per cent of the total financial contributions. Bilateral donor country contributions amounted to $10.2 million. China, the Republic of Korea, India, and the Russian Federation were responsible for the largest bilateral donor contributions. I would like to express my appreciation to all our member States and other donors for their generous contributions.

I thank you.