Roll out of the Regional Reform: State of Play, Bottlenecks, and Aspirations

“The UN system has an important role to play in brokering relationships across stakeholders and supporting Member States to realize the SDGs and 2030 Agenda. It is now time for the regional level to adopt a new, integrated way of work to catalyze the broader evolution of the United Nations Development System (UNDS). To this end, forging partnerships and harnessing all UNDS assets across regions and levels—global, regional, sub-regional, and national—is critical”. 

Javier Surasky

September 3, 2021

The United Nations Development System’s (UNDS) regional reform was initiated to help the UNDS collaborate more efficiently and effectively, and enhance its capacity to support Member States in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. In 2021, with the regional reform rollout underway and making progress, Cepei, with support of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, undertook to assess the UNDS’ progress on the regional reform roll-out. 

In addition to analyzing the available UN documents on the regional reform, Cepei conducted three (virtual) experts meetings, consulted the regional Agencies Funds and Programs (AFPs) offices, the Regional Commissions (RCs), and interviewed (virtual) UN Staff, states, civil society, academia, and think-tanks in the five regions. Every interview and meeting was conducted under Chatham House Rule.

Main findings

Neither a single government nor the UN system can deliver on the SDGs and 2030 Agenda independently. Now more than ever, the UN needs to leverage partnerships and build new, agile capabilities to align its regional capacities to the national level.

Interviewees emphasized that the regions should find a way to make knowledge produced in one region useful in another, either by consolidating the regional knowledge hubs on one platform with one access point, or by establishing cross regional communities of practice.

While it is certainly progress to have these materials and SDG statistical data consolidated on a single website, the knowledge hubs are not yet fulfilling their promise to create value for internal and external users. Some interviewees noted that these efforts were delayed because of the focus on the COVID-19 response.

About the author

Javier Surasky

Ph.D. in International Relations (La Plata National University, Argentina) Master in International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action (International University of Andalucia). He has taught international cooperation courses at different postgraduate careers in Latin America and European universities.