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UN System Highlights Initiatives for SDG Implementation

ECOSOC17 December 2015: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) continued the second phase of its dialogue on the longer-term positioning of the UN development system in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Helen Clark, Chair of the UN Development Group (UNDG) and Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group, provided a briefing on how the 2030 Agenda will impact UN development cooperation, among other topics.

The ECOSOC dialogue process consists of both formal and informal sessions over an 18-month period, and the outcome is expected to be a key input to the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the UN system (QCPR), to be issued in August 2016. The first phase of the ECOSOC dialogue took place from December 2014 to May 2015, and included formal sessions, informal workshops, a civil society briefing, and a high-level retreat. The second phase began in November 2015.

At the briefing, held on 17 December 2015, in New York, US, Clark remarked that no single UN agency "working in isolation can make an optimal contribution to the 2030 Agenda.” She outlined a set of core principles agreed within UNDG to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including: following the imperative of national ownership, with UN actions firmly determined by country needs and national capacities; delivering integrated strategic analysis, policy advice, and where possible, programme support; striving for innovation at the global, regional and country levels including in the use of data, technologies and public engagement techniques; and serving the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized.

Clark also reported that the UNDG, in order to provide coherent and integrated support for the implementation of the SDGs, has developed: an approach on Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) that pays special attention to the cross-cutting elements of partnerships, data and accountability; and a common reference guide to support mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda, which is being piloted in 20 countries. The UNDG is also producing guidelines for UN Country Teams (UNCTs) to support the development of national SDG reports, she said, and looked forward to a "UN SDG Action Campaign" to help popularize the SDGs.

Wu highlighted steps that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and other members of the UN Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (ECESA) are taking to meet the requirements of the 2030 Agenda. He said: the UN regional commissions are planning to strengthen their support to the UN system in promoting the SDGs' integration into national development planning and in enhancing data and statistical capacities at the country level; the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (OHRLLS) is making plans to increase support to these countries in special situations; training institutions like the UN Research Institute for Sustainable Development (UNRISD) and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) are undertaking a review and redesigning their programmes to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda; and DESA is examining how to better align its main functions (supporting intergovernmental processes, providing analytical work and capacity building) with the Agenda.

Mohieldin remarked that finance, data and implementation are critical areas for the World Bank Group's contribution to the attainment of the SDGs. On finance, he said the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will continue to improve coordination and strengthen working relationships, in particular in providing financial and non-financial support at the regional, country and subnational levels. On data, he announced that the World Bank Group is working with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data to launch a US$100 million trust fund to support innovations in technology, as well as innovations to trigger lasting changes in data production, accessibility and use. On implementation, Mohieldin highlighted two financing facilities being developed in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank to mobilize support for refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and hosting communities, as well as support for reconstruction and recovery efforts. [Meeting Webpage] [QCPR Webpage] [Dialogue Roadmap] [IISD RS Story on Dialogue Phase 2] [IISD RS Sources]