Monday, 30/3/2020 | 5:56 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

Statement: Briefing to French Parliament – Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly

I would like to thank the chair (Ms. Marielle de Sarnez) for hosting this meeting. I am pleased to be here in Paris and have opportunity to meet MPs, after previous bilateral exchanges in New-York.

Presentation of the 2030 Agenda

As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development agreed by world leaders in 2015 in NYC (a few months before the landmark COP21), the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out an ambitious vision for people, planet and prosperity over the next fifteen years.

This agenda is bringing a paradigm shift: it is universal, and Parliaments have a key role to play in supporting its implementation.
The SDGs aim to address the key development and peace challenges of our time, from poverty and inequalities to hunger and disease to violence and conflict to climate change and disaster risks. This global framework aims to leave no one behind and to transform the way we live, work, and do business, so that we can build sustainable, inclusive, and peaceful societies.

Need for sustained investments in multilateralism and development cooperation.
While considerable progress has been made across all areas of development, the pace of progress remains insufficient to deliver on these goals. And multilateralism is needed more than ever, as President Macron noted before the General Assembly last September.
The challenge today is to rebuild trust in multilateralism, and to explain that today, in the current state of the world, there is nothing more effective than multilateralism. Why?

Because so many of our challenges are global, multilateralism is key to deliver on global public goods and address vulnerabilities. Multilateral development cooperation provides neutral, norm-based support to countries and has a unique capacity to address transboundary challenges (such as climate change, migration, pandemics and rising extremism).

In today’s fractured world, the UN development system’s neutrality can also be instrumental in preventing conflict and sustaining peace, a task that no bilateral actor alone can achieve.
In terms of effectiveness – a topic that I know is at the center of many of your discussions – independent studies show that multilateral channels can ensure less fragmented & politicized assistance to countries, ensuring national ownership and more sustainable results over the long run. Our neutrality also enables us to operate in challenging, conflict-affected contexts where bilateral actors may not be authorized.

Through its unparalleled presence, the UNDS can support economies of scale, ensuring efficiency and value for money to partners. UNDP’s global reach and focus on least-developing countries also ensure no country is left behind in benefiting from the assistance of the international community.

Yet, in order to meet the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda, our goal must be a 21st century UN Development System that is more focused on people, less on process; more on results for the poor and marginalized, less on bureaucracy; more on providing integrated support across thematic silos, less on turf battles and competition.

To make the UN optimally equipped to support this ambitious agenda, the SG & Member States have recently approved a vast reform of the UN development system, that will, among others:

  • Provide better integrated, multi-sectoral support to countries to address complex challenges across the sustainable development spectrum.
  • Help to work seamlessly across its humanitarian, development & peacekeeping operations.

UNDP is fully supporting this series of interlinked reforms. Member States & the SG have asked UNDP to be “repositioned as the integrator platform at the heart of a new generation of UN Country Teams”. In this context, in addition to our own thematic areas of expertise, we are building up “country support platforms” to drive forward integration across many UN and other actors, with the aim to respond to wicked (complex and systematic) problems.

For UNDP, some of our own key priorities related to the implementation of SDGs include:

  • Fostering development practices and business models that eradicate poverty and include and empower the most marginalized and vulnerable;
  • Building more inclusive, responsive, agile and trusted public and political institutions;
  • Encouraging new approaches and behavior changes to prevent conflict and violence, mitigate climate change and achieve gender equality, while promoting innovation.

UNDP’s central role on SDGs

In many ways, the 2030 Agenda reflects what UNDP was created for. With expert staff working in nearly 170 countries and territories, UNDP has people, connections & access across the world, representing the most cost-effective and strategic complement to bilateral cooperation. Every day, our 17,500 workforce is at the frontline to tackle the world’s most critical challenges.

This near-universal presence means UNDP is also on the ground before, during and after crisis. We work with humanitarian actors at all stages of crises and emergencies.

As the world is experiencing large-scale shifts , in terms of technology (ICT but also use of big data, AI + machine learning, renewables), and business models (mobile money and so on), blurring lines between ‘development’ and others forms of cooperation, coupled with an explosion of new players and sources of financing , UNDP is also mainstreaming innovation in its day-to-day work to be able to provide the best policy expertise and implementation support to countries and to scale up successful development solutions.

UNDP activities are aligned with French key strategic priorities
But let me also stress that UNDP’s global mandate and country-level activities are fully aligned with the objectives and the focus areas of the French international development, which were recently updated in February 2018.

UNDP’s work and France’s priorities converge in many areas, especially in our shared ambition to promote stability and help countries recover from conflict or disasters, preventing the escalation of conflicts and the rise of violent extremism, promoting good governance and advancing inclusive and sustainable economic development, and of course, advance climate action.

As mentioned by the former Deputy-Secretary General, “there is no peace without development, there is no development without peace, and there is no lasting peace or sustainable development without respect of human rights and the rule of law. For the international system to work, and for even a nation to work, you have to have peace, development and respect for human rights and rule of law, and you have to deal with it at the same time.”

This type of integrated approach precisely constitutes one of the key comparative advantages of UNDP. For instance, to prevent the rise of violent extremism notably in Sub-Saharan Africa, security responses alone are not enough to tackle the root causes. When young people cannot find jobs, experience cycles of conflict and poverty, and see no hope for their future, they are still very susceptible to joining extremist groups as shown in our latest “Journey to Extremism” report.

By working with a wide range of actors, notably women and youth organisations, religious institutions and the international community, we can tackle the complementary issues of risk, response, and prevention of violent extremism, and better support countries in addressing this growing threat.

This work on prevention is also critical from an economic perspective. As per the recent UN-WB Pathways to Peace report that I have presented this morning, the average net savings of prevention range from $5bn (most pessimistic estimate) to $70bn (most optimistic) per year.

Protracted crises, such as those in the Sahel, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, also show that new responses from the international community are needed, not just for countries in crisis but also for neighboring countries. Humanitarian responses on their own are insufficient to respond to the scale of suffering. New joined up approaches between humanitarian, peace and development actors – as well as between the UN & the international community – are needed to address the underlying fragilities that give rise to these crises in the first place.
I praise the Government of France for putting this topic on top of the international agenda, notably with the creation of the Sahel Alliance, in which UNDP is a founding member.

Let me also share with you concrete examples of the France-UNDP partnership on the ground, notably in the area of stabilization.

  • In Iraq, the UNDP Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization benefit from regular contributions from France ($7.2m since 2015) to support the return of displaced people in areas liberated from Daesh. UNDP is pioneering a new approach to stabilization focusing on speed, functionality and scale. More than 95% of all stabilization projects are delivered through the local private sector, employing local labor, so enabling faster return of IDPs home.
  • Through this facility, UNDP has implemented over 2,000 projects in 28 cities, rehabilitating essential local public infrastructure, such as water systems and electric grids. The Facility also employs youth and vulnerable people to remove rubble, open transport routes and revitalize newly-liberated cities, whilst proving cash grants to businesses to reopen.
  • In Mosul, the largest stabilization project to date, more than 750 projects are under way, including rehabilitation of key water treatment plans (proving water to over 600,000 people), electrical substations, schools and health care facilities. French support focuses specifically on the rehabilitation of the Mosul university, in line with the priority you give to education.
  • Since the start of the conflict in 2014, over two million displaced Iraqis have been able to return to their homes in newly liberated areas.
  • In Libya, France has also been supporting our stabilization activities and more recently the electoral assistance process.
    In the context of Libyan political process, UNDP facilitated regular dialogues between Misrata and Tawergha communities to support transitional justice and safe return of peoples.
  • UNDP has also administered 28 grants to Libyan NGOs aimed at strengthening civil society. Under the Stabilization Facility for Libya, 1 million people are benefitting from rehabilitation of critical infrastructure/social services.
  • 500,000 people are benefitting from solar-powered back-up systems in 9 hospitals (guaranteeing continuity of power in emergency rooms as well as cooling systems needed for the reliable storage of medicine).

More broadly, UNDP’s governance work spans a wide range of institutions, from national parliaments, supreme courts, and national civil services through regional and local administrations, to some of the geographically remotest communities in the world, restoring core government functions in the aftermath of a crisis.

  • We also work with one out of every three parliaments on the planet, and assist in an election somewhere in the world on average every two weeks.
  • To ensure that women, youth and marginalized groups have a say in their future, we help countries expand spaces for people’s participation, and improve how their institutions work with citizens, so that all people can aspire to a sustainable future with prosperity, peace, justice and security.  

Climate action
When we talk of how to best prevent and respond to crisis, we need to highlight the critical need to accelerate action on climate change.
Climate-related disasters are inflicting tremendous costs on peoples and their economies. The latest data speaks for itself: in 2017 the hurricane season in the Caribbean was the costliest in decades; over 40 million people were affected by floods in South Asia ; and drought drove nearly 900,000 people from their homes in Somalia .
As climate change risks will continue to grow in 2018 and beyond, more ambitious climate action is urgently needed. Current national climate pledges presented during the COP21 have set the world on a path towards 3.2oC temperature rise, far above the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Secretary-General has recently warned that climate change is the most systematic threat to humankind and has urged international community to further cut emissions.

Looking ahead, it is clear that prospects for eradicating poverty, building inclusive and equitable societies, and ensuring sustainable development depend upon countries pursuing a zero-carbon and risk informed approach to development.

UNDP is the largest implementer of climate projects in the UN system, with more than 840 projects in 143 countries, representing a grant investment of $3.6bn and co-financing of $16 billion. With this unparalleled expertise, UNDP plays a key role in supporting efforts to accelerate climate action at country-level, assisting countries to build enabling environments, access transformational finance, align private sector investments, and scale up proven solutions, notably on energy.
Further support to multilateral action can enhance impacts of bilateral initiatives, such as the critical work in this area led by France and AFD. Through closer partnerships, we have the potential to make our support even more effective and beneficial to the countries we serve.

Development effectiveness and financing

Effective development cooperation goes indeed hand-in-hand with the question of resources. The financing needs to implement the 2030 Agenda are no doubt massive, estimated at $2.5 trillion per year. The challenge is not only to mobilise all sources of finance – domestic and international, public and private and harness the potential of innovative financing schemes – but also to align financing flows and policies with sustainable development priorities.

The good news is that the interest of the private sector in linking investments to sustainability objectives has been growing. Yet, many barriers still limit the further mobilization of these private sector resources for SDGs investments in developing countries including 1) high perception of risk in developing country markets; 2) a lack of investment-ready opportunities; 3) unpredictable and limiting regulatory environments. At UNDP, we believe that our role is not only to fund and implement thematic development programmes, but that the effectiveness of our work at the country level should also result in lowering these policy and institutional risks for long term private investment to help secure SDG outcomes.

Value for money

As members of Parliament, you play a key role in providing recommendations to the Government on how to ensure that taxpayers money have the maximum returns on investment. Undoubtedly, the success of development cooperation does not only rely on the quantity of aid, but also its quality and how it is spent at country-level.

Let me share with you that UNDP is a leading actor in the field. We notably support the activities of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, which brings together governments, bilateral and multilateral organisations, civil society and representatives from parliaments and the private sector, all committed to strengthening the effectiveness of their development cooperation. UNDP is proud to support this initiative, which is putting principles of partnership, transparency, results focus, and country ownership to work for the SDGs.

We also want to drive innovation into the heart of UNDP’s approach. Indeed, blockchain, artificial intelligence, 3-D printing, robotics, the Internet of Things and all things ‘smart’ and ‘digital’ hold great promise as new, potentially disruptive, technologies which are likely to have profound impact on development.

Yet, countries at are different levels of technological endowments. Paths to digital transformation need to be context- specific. Managing these transformations will be critical in ensuring that we do not see an amplification of inequalities, but rather a greater convergence to leave no one behind.

For instance, we are currently exploring how to better use digital technologies to promote access to public information and improving transparency of public institutions. To give you one example, SDG 16.9 calls for provision of legal identities for all, including birth registration. Proper, secure identification is a precondition for people to be citizens in their countries. Legal identity is the key to the exercise of political rights, such as the right to vote.

  • But some 1.1 billion people, nearly one in six individuals globally, usually the poorest and most marginalised members of society, more than one third of children under 18, are not registered as citizens.  Identification is the first and most fundamental prerequisite for government to be able to interact with, and provide services to, its citizens.
  • For the developing world, electronic identity schemes offer potential to overcome barriers to citizen registration, such as inadequate physical infrastructure, illiteracy, and corruption.

Yet, new technologies also present risks, notably related to privacy or impacts on jobs. At UNDP, we aim to support countries and their governments to be proactive rather than reactive in handling this rapidly changing environment, empowering them to take advantage of emerging opportunities and to become more resilient in the face of disruption.

Call for further support from France

To conclude, I hope to count on your support to ensure that the UN development system also benefits from the planned growth in French ODA budgets announced by President Macron. There is room for a much stronger financial and programmatic partnerships as we share so many common priorities.

When you invest in UNDP, you invest in the entire UN Development System–helping deliver better results for the most vulnerable. Support to “core” unearmarked funding enables us UNDP to:

  • Focus on the poorest: 86% of core resources are allocated to Low Income Countries.
  • Respond quickly and flexibly to crises such as earthquakes, hurricanes or conflicts.
  • Maintain the highest level of accountability, efficiency and transparency (UNDP is currently ranked as the most transparent organization in the world), and underpin all our programmes with policy expertise on human rights, gender equality, and to apply robust social and environmental standards to all our projects.

At UNDP we see a strong complementarity between France’s bilateral efforts and the multilateral norm-based support UNDP delivers – at the country-level for SDGs and climate action.  We look forward to continuing our fruitful collaboration to address complex issues like stabilization and displacement and to advance our shared commitment to peace and development for all.