As delivered by Carolyn Schwalger, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 30 January 2017.

Mr President

New Zealand joins others in congratulating the UNDP Administrator on her outstanding leadership of UNDP over the past year. It has been another significant year for UNDP, which:

  • Contributed to the success of the World Humanitarian Summit and to member states’ agreeing the outcomes of the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR);
  • Played a key role helping address pressing humanitarian needs, including in relation to the Syrian crisis, Iraq, Yemen and in response to natural disasters such as in Fiji and Haiti;
  • Celebrated its 50th anniversary; and
  • Fulfilled effectively its indispensable leadership and coordination role in the United Nations development system.

New Zealand is very pleased to be back as a member of the Executive Board in 2017, in what will be another crucial year for UNDP and for the Board. In particular, UNDP and the Board will be heavily engaged in the development of a new Strategic Plan to guide UNDP’s global work and organisational priorities for 2018 to 2021.

The Board will also be asked to approve a range of new country programme documents this year. We will be particularly interested in UNDP’s plans for the multi-country Pacific programme. New Zealand values the critical role played by UNDP in the Pacific region and in Small Island Developing States (SIDs) more broadly. We look forward to our forthcoming consultations with UNDP in Fiji to discuss UNDP’s future work in the region.

New Zealand will engage in the months ahead on the Strategic Plan, but I’d like to take this opportunity to make some early observations. Specifically, it will be important that the plan contain a tight thematic focus to reflect the current resource environment UNDP is working in, and to help maximise the impact of UNDP’s interventions. This should also be reflected in the direction given by the Plan to regional and country programmes. Responding effectively to the specific context, needs and priorities of individual programme countries is essential, but UNDP’s offer to individual countries will be most effective if it is tightly focused and clear about the strategic logic behind UNDP’s interventions and UNDP’s specific value-add. 

It will also be crucial for the Plan to demonstrate, including in the setting of performance targets, how UNDP intends to further improve its organisational performance, building on the good progress achieved under the current strategic plan. We would hope to see further progress in the active use of programme and project quality standards; joint programming and shared services; the quality of decentralised evaluation; and the use of evaluation findings to help inform future programming. 

We also consider the new Strategic Plan could emphasise the need to systematically address capability building and sustainability issues in all of UNDP’s programming.

Intensified momentum in these areas will help boost the effectiveness and impact of UNDP’s work, contribute to greater efficiency, and reduce transaction burdens on countries.    

The report on UNDP’s implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors and the evaluation which assessed UNDP’s work on combatting corruption will be discussed later in this session, but as New Zealand will not be speaking under these items, please permit me to make a few comments now.

We welcome the unqualified audit opinion received by UNDP for 2015 and the further strengthening of audit performance, including good progress in the timely implementation of audit recommendations, improved procurement planning and oversight and, enhanced financial management. We look forward to continued improvements.

The evaluation which assessed UNDP’s work on combatting corruption found that UNDP had made valuable contributions, including in strengthening transparency and accountability at the local level, and in influencing national government policies and programmes. However, it is clear that much needs to be done to increase the impact of UNDP’s work in this area. We would highlight the importance of anti-corruption work being undertaken as part of wider efforts to improve the quality of national governance institutions and systems, and also the importance of sustained national government commitment to such work. We welcome UNDP’s commitment to intensify partnerships with other parts of the UN system in this work, and urge UNDP to also collaborate closely with other relevant multilateral organisations, notably the World Bank and the other International Financial Institutions.

With the Administrator’s eight years at UNDP coming to an end in April, we take this opportunity to thank her for her hard work, dedication and commitment to UNDP over her two terms. We stand ready to work with, and support, the new Administrator to ensure the ongoing implementation of UNDP’s critical work.     

Thank you.