Helgason: Governance of United Nations Development: Recharging multilateral cooperation for the post-2015 era

Executive Summary:

The universal post-2015 development agenda, to be adopted by the General Assembly in September 2015, will constitute a significantly different mission for United Nations Development than the current one driven by the Millennium Development Goals, both in terms of strong focus on the integration of the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development but also because of the increased emphasis on global challenges. The responsibility for achieving the MDGs, in comparison, was primarily located at the domestic level of developing countries with international support. At the outset of the post-2015 era, the distinction between country and global level development challenges has also become less-and-less obvious. The world has seen an increasing trend in recent years of environmental, health and financial disturbances in one geographical area being cascaded over national borders and amplified into systemic risks for everyone. Development cooperation is increasingly called upon to help developing countries to benefit from globalization, as well as to mitigate its negative impact by supporting the development of policies and institutions to build resilience.

As the functions of UN Development change in the post-2015 era, the organizational model and governance capacity of the Organization will need to be adapted to meet the new requirements. A shift from the present organizational model of specialization to one characterized by greater emphasis on integration in response to the demands of the post-2015 development agenda, for example, will require UN development to develop stronger capacity for horizontal governance and coordination at the intergovernmental and interagency levels. This poses several challenges with implications for governance:

Firstly, the post-2015 development agenda with significant focus on the integration of country and global development action will require innovations in the application of the principles of sovereignty and global responsibility in governance of UN Development;

Secondly, UN Development will increasingly have to work as one in an environment characterized by growing diversity of both national development experiences and sources of financing. This will require UN Development to develop strong governance capacity for internal and external coordination;

Thirdly, in the post-2015 era, UN Development will need to develop an organizational capability anchored in integrated approaches that reduce duplication and fragmentation and enable entities to exploit opportunities for synergy in programming and operations.


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