Next steps on regional reform. A brief report for senior UN leadership

December 12, 2019

“Clearly, the SDGs (aligned closely with the climate challenge) should be at the heart of this vision. As the UN demands all stakeholders to transform their behavior in the face of these challenges, it should also be expeditious in transforming its own, at all levels and all entities. The reform analysis should not stop in collaboration, coordination, and meetings. It should use all possible strategies to act together to achieve concrete results on a universal agenda that is there to guide and to enhance the UN performance at all levels”.

This short report is intended as a topline input to senior UN staff responsible for implementing the UN regional reform with the intention of helping the UN leadership push forward their important reforms at the regional level.

In November and December 2019, the Cepei team revisited some of the offices they had visited earlier in the year, to assess progress against the SG’s five recommendations for regional reform. We were well received and again interviewed a range of senior regional leaders, including the five Executive Directors of the regional commissions, and regional heads of major UN agencies/funds/programs. We also met task team leads for the five recommendations.

Principales Hallazgos

The regional reform needs to go well beyond technical collaboration; it needs to shepherd in a new internal politics, where the UN entities truly work together at the regional level.

The most common understanding of the “why” is that the reform is essentially about effectiveness and efficiency: effectiveness, because working better together will mean achieving more impact for people and planet; and efficiency because working better together is likely to reduce costs in some areas.

Senior UN leaders, including the SG, should send a clear message indicating the importance and urgency of regional reform, both to member states and to the UN leadership.

Main Findings

The regional reform needs to go well beyond technical collaboration; it needs to shepherd in a new internal politics, where the UN entities truly work together at the regional level.

The most common understanding of the “why” is that the reform is essentially about effectiveness and efficiency: effectiveness, because working better together will mean achieving more impact for people and planet; and efficiency because working better together is likely to reduce costs in some areas.

Senior UN leaders, including the SG, should send a clear message indicating the importance and urgency of regional reform, both to member states and to the UN leadership.

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