Updates on UN Development System Reform

Published Date

The reform of the United Nations development system (UNDS) is mandated by the General Assembly of the United Nations in Resolution A/RES/72/279 of 31 May 2018, backed by strong senior leadership and unanimous support from Member States.

The reform aims to reshape the UNDS to better align capacities, skillsets and resources to the Sustainable Development Goals. A principal component of the reform is transforming the UNDS as a more integrated collective identity. In comparison to previous UN reforms, it is the most ambitious and comprehensive change-process of the UNDS since at least the 1960’s, affecting every department, office, regional commission and field operation engaged in development work. It seeks to address structural challenges in coordination mechanisms and mindsets, for a truly transformational impact. This is a crucial step in the face of current global challenges, from climate change to growing inequality and entrenched poverty, which requires global and integrated responses, and no single agency can fully and unilaterally address.

An important feature of the reform is a stronger focus on delivery on the ground, with clearer internal and external accountability for responding to national needs. The enormity and urgency of the needs are driving the nature and the timing of this reform, ushered by the Sustainable Development Goals. The reform is expected to bring the 2030 Agenda to the country level, better tailoring and harmonizing UN country level activities to meet urgent national priorities, and contributing to the aggregation and synthesis of the results of UN support regionally and globally.

Currently, a number of work streams are underway from the finalization of the Management and Accountability Framework, through the development of a system-wide strategic document and a redesigned United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), to the review of multi-country offices and the regional review that will ensure that regional assets can better synchronize with the needs on the ground.