QCPR: Are stakeholders already left behind while the UN reforms itself?

By: Orsolya Bartha, Senior Advisor on Development and Human Rights,International Disability Alliance (IDA), Twitter: @OZBartha; Andrew Griffiths, Head of Advocacy – Sightsavers and member of Together 2030 Core Group, Twitter: @griffithsar; Naiara Costa, Director, International Secretariat, Together 2030; Twitter: @naiaracc

We want an open, transparent and inclusive UN system, that ensures effective and meaningful participation at all levels. We want that the development system makes it to its responsibility and obligation to engage civil society and other stakeholders, build a bridge between governments and people, foster dialogue and create common understanding and partnerships.

In advance of the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the UN system started a process within the context of the UN Development Group. These were the so called “Fit for Purpose” discussions, which assessed how to meet the challenges of the SDGs. In addition, there is an ongoing ECOSOC conversation on the “longer-term positioning of the UN development system” in the context of the 2030 Agenda. All these conversations, mainly held amongst UN member states, will serve as input to, at the end of this year, the General Assembly discussions on the QCPR, which will result in the QCPR resolution, expected to deliver the much needed transformation: a fit UN development system.

However in order for this to happen there are a number of prerequisites and challenges to be solved (just to mention a few):

  • The QCPR needs to define results beyond the interests of individual entities. The UN entities will have to integrate the 2030 Agenda in their work at country level and respond to all dimensions of sustainable development without distinguishing between developed and developing countries. Stakeholders will need to engage to define how UN agencies carry out their work on the ground – where the actual implementation of Agenda 2030 will happen and what are our local engagement opportunities.
  • The promise to leave no one behind means that the UN development system needs to respond to people’s needs. This will require the strengthening of policy coherence and synergies between the normative content and the operational support of national implementation of the SDGs. Stakeholders can contribute to establishing these synergies by bringing expert knowledge to the table and they can be instrumental by creating an understanding of the SDGs on the local level.
  • The UN is in a unique position to foster partnerships at the global, regional, and national levels. Delivering the new Agenda will result in the revitalization of traditional partnerships and on the recognition of the the importance of collective action.  The 2030 Agenda recognises civil society, stakeholders and the private sector as critical development actors and partners and we want to remain meaningful contributors in the implementation phase as well.
  • The concept of development changed with the 2030 Agenda. Human rights and humanitarian law, obligations under international law, the embracing of climate change have become interdependent concepts within development. These will need to be addressed in the future UN development system, in particular within the strategic frameworks of the UN entities.
  • National ownership and country leadership is the necessary political result of the 2030 Agenda. This also means that there is no one solution for all; only tailor-made solutions will be appropriate at country level that address national capacities, priorities, and obligations. The UN through its country-based entities has a critical role to play and a responsibility to bring together major development actors in a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach to support the realization of the SDGs. Stakeholders on the ground will have the best knowledge and expertise to support in tailoring solutions to specific development challenges.
  • Evidence-based decision making and reporting has been put at the heart of the SDGs implementation. Concept, methodologies needs to be developed so that UN agencies and entities contribute to this process. Stakeholders will not only be able to assist in this process, but they will also be important sources of data.

We are at a crossroads, which offers an historic opportunity for change. Stakeholders have driven the setting up of 2030 Agenda, now we need to continue the work and engage in the UN reform processes to ensure our continued participation at all levels. The UN must remain open to stakeholders and must ensure their participation through its development system.

Beyond the new funding architecture that is decided on in the next QCPR resolution, stakeholder participation must be also declared as a key principle. UN entities must work together and ensure that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is of the people, for the people and by the people in every country all around the world.

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