Knut Ostby: Statement at the Pacific Regional Workshop on Aid Effectiveness

21 Jun 2010

Deputy Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Mr Feleti Teo
Excellencies
Asian Development Bank Pacific Sub Regional Office Director, Mr Keith Leonard
Ladies and Gentlemen

A very good morning to you all. It gives me great pleasure to address the Opening of this Pacific Regional Workshop on Aid Effectiveness.

UNDP has for some time worked with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank to assist countries make aid delivery more effective in the Pacific. Through collaboration between our regional and country programmes and with the other UN agencies, UNDP has been an active partner in the implementation of a number of initiatives under the four pillars of the Pacific Plan and we will continue to do so. I understand that further work is to be done on the performance framework for the Pacific Plan, as a key part of improving aid effectiveness, and the UN stands ready to support the Forum and other CROP agencies progress this work.

Most of you will recall that the Cairns Compact was approved by Pacific Leaders in August last year, with one of its main goals to strengthen aid effectiveness.  The UN has been pleased to be able to support implementation of the Cairns Compact both at regional and country level.  Specifically, the Cairns Compact goals have been described as follows:Improving governance and service delivery;

  • Ensuring greater investment in infrastructure to underpin greater economic development;
  • Promoting stronger country leadership,
    Ensuring mutual accountability and responsibility between Countries and their development partners;
  • Focusing attention on the need to draw on international best-practice as expressed in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, Pacific Principles of Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action; and
  • Revitalising commitment for MDG achievement  in the Pacific

Most of us think of the origin of Aid Effectiveness as the Rome and Paris Declarations, and the Accra Agenda for Action, but in fact the  UN efforts to reform and improve UN aid effectiveness began as long ago as 1997, six years before the Paris Declaration.We still have some way to go, but when fully implemented, the reforms agreed at Paris and Accra will  ensure stronger national leadership and focus on national development priorities, improved coordination and reduced transaction costs.

I see you have a full Agenda for the next three days and while I am not able to remain with you until Wednesday, UNDP is well represented  with Mr Garry Wiseman, Manager of the Regional Pacific Centre, Mr Thomas Beloe, Aid Effectiveness Specialist from UNDP’s Asia Pacific Regional Centre in Bangkok, Mrs Mereseini Bower, Team Leader for the Poverty Unit in the Fiji Office, Mr. Shariful Islam, Manager of our Aid Coordination Capacity Building project in Solomon Islands, and Mrs Litia Mawi, Aid Management Specialist in Tuvalu. Later today, Mrs Bower will speak to you about opportunities to establish a facilitated knowledge sharing service around development effectiveness that is dedicated to the Pacific for both national and regional needs but on a regional platform.  Tomorrow, Mr Beloe will speak to you about the CDDE (yes another acronym) or the Capacity Development for Development Effectivness mechanism as well as well as introduce the discussion on the Fourth High Level Forum Summit, that is to be held in Seoul, South Korea in 2011.  This is an important item on the Agenda as it will provide an opportunity for the Pacific to consider how as a group you might prepare yourselves for the Summit.

UNDP recognises that implementation of decisions reached at these workshops and real change happens at the national level. More importantly, there are greater chances of success when there is strong national leadership and ownership. Therefore over the years, UNDP has attempted to provide support at the country level. UNDP currently provides aid management and coordination support in Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Marshall Islands, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Tuvalu.

UNDP sees its support in aid management and coordination as closely linked to the work it does with countries in efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. UNDP currently assists Fiji, FSM, Marshall Islands, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Samoa,  with capacity building for MDG monitoring and reporting, and some directly with their national MDG reports.

In September this year the world will have another chance to agree on strategies for the last five years of working towards the MDGs. World leaders will assemble in a summit organized by the UN. I hope the Pacific will make its mark at this summit, and that we will be able to present new approaches for achieving the MDGs and at an accelerated pace.

In 2000, when the world leaders signed the Millennium Declaration, climate change, rising food and fuel prices and the recent financial and economic crises had not hit us or were outside the main radar of many leaders and development strategists.  We now know how important such issues are and the impact they are having or will have on our development choices moving forward. In the Pacific, the UN played a support role to the Government of Vanuatu in convening the Pacific Conference on the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis held in Port Vila in February this year. Again, this was an event where UNDP and UN agencies closely partnered with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the University of the South Pacific, the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, and the Asian Development Bank.

The conference made clear that the emerging challenges as a result of the economic crisis have created the need for better safety nets, sound enabling environments, expansion in accessibility and quality of social services, improved public accountability, greater trade liberalization reforms and removal of barriers to human mobility.  To support countries achieve these ends means that every aid dollar counts.

In some countries, aid is a major component of government revenue for the implementation of national plans. In all cases, aid funds aligned to national planning and budgetary mechanisms that complement domestic resources to meet national development priorities are absolutely essential. All of this will only work if Governments in the region are able to find ways to strengthen their systems so that they are more transparent and accountable, maximises participation in decision making with ethical leadership and overall ensure good governance. (Note: Keith Leonard from ADB may give some attention to Public Financial Management Systems and the need for these to be strengthened).

I assure you that UNDP and all UN partners are here to support your efforts to bring about more effective development for all people living in the Pacific.  The UN also wishes to strengthen partnerships with host countries and with other development partners to this end, and I hope this conference will turn out to be one of the opportunities to do so.  I wish you all a very productive three days.

Thank you.