Stefan Priesner: Introductory remarks by UN Resident Coordinator in Uzbekistan at the High-level meeting on further development of cooperation of the Government with the development community

Dec 19, 2014

Dear Ms. Saidova,

Distinguished guests, dear colleagues.

I’d like to convey my greetings on behalf of the UN system to all of you.

I am grateful to the Government for the organization of this high level meeting on a very important subject for all of us – aid coordination.

I think it is very timely to end the year with an event about cooperation, exchange perspectives on aid coordination, and discuss what we can be further improved in 2015.

This meeting is supported by a UN project on aid coordination, which was developed based on a high level request of the Government.

According to usual practice the project was developed in a participatory manner and we had consultations with the government and donor community.

Donors highlighted importance of three crucial elements of aid coordination:

1.      Alignment: The existence of Government strategies that are communicated to donors – to facilitate the alignment of donor assistance; the country had the welfare improvement strategies I and II. Such good practices as WIS formulation could provide comprehensive guidance to donors if linked to priority setting in all spheres, such as agriculture, judicial reforms and etc.

2.      Results orientation, i.e. a set of agreed results – this is because achieving results is crucial in terms of donors’ accountability vis-à-vis their parliaments or other oversight mechanisms. Aid is often seen as an investment and the best “business case” for aid are tangible changes in the well-being of people.

3.      Mutual accountability between countries and donors and its precondition: a favourable operative environment to approve and implement projects in an effective way.

These observations very much echo the established aid coordination principles of the Paris declaration.

One of the crucial mechanisms of moving forward in this agenda is through a donor coordination architecture, i.e. a dialogue mechanism both at Heads of agency level, such as this meeting – and this is why this meeting is so important, and at sector level where sectoral working groups bring together the Government and donors around the defined thematic areas of cooperation and common interest.

I am very pleased that the Government supported by the UN aid coordination project will set up 3 pilot sector working groups based on already working models, such as the Local Education Group (LEG), and we hope to replicate such sector groups in other sectors over time.

Experience of other MIC countries, such as Indonesia has shown that such a structured approach will improve the understanding between Government and donors about Government priorities and therefore enhance alignment of donor aid; will enhance results orientation and if correctly implemented, will therefore also likely to increase the aid flow to the country.

A good example of aid coordination is the present very thorough process of developing the UNDAF.  As you know UNDAF stands for the UN Development assistance framework which sets the UN cooperation priorities with the country for five year period.

Following some joint analytical work on MDGs and drawing on lessons from many joint projects, some 40 government partners and 15 UN agencies came together on 27th November in a Strategic Prioritization Retreat that aimed to develop joint strategic priorities for the cooperation period 2016-2020.

Since then, 6 joint working groups comprised of Government and UN representatives are in the process of developing a detailed results framework in agreed priority areas. Some 15 meetings have already taken place in the agreed upon areas – economic development with a focus on employment, health, education, social protection, environment and sustainable development as well as governance.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Government on behalf of the UN system for the progress achieved so far, for the sincerity of discussions, clearly communicating government priorities and ownership, while also being sensitive to our UN mandates and comparative advantages.

I express my hope that by end of February, the UNDAF will be ready for the approval process. In this regard, we appreciate the readiness of the Government to endorse the UNDAF by Cabinet of Ministers resolution, thus making the implementation and monitoring truly cross-sectoral and integrated.

The core rationale for developing a joint understanding for results to be achieved is to align UN interventions with state programmes, thus enhancing synergy and the potential to achieve the set results.

We hope that the UNDAF results framework will also be a useful tool for our donor partners – not only to see at one glimpse what the Government and the UN system are trying to achieve, but also to cooperate with joint or closely-aligned activities.

Many of us attended the recent conference on mitigating the Aral Sea crisis in Urgench and left with a heightened understanding about the Government’s sincerity to address the multifold issues in this regard.

I would like to mention the UNJP in Karakalpakstan as an example of donor coordination.

This was the first joint UN programme, where 5 UN agencies came together with their comparative expertise. We achieved some very good results in the livelihoods, health and environment areas, emanating from a good partnership with the Ministry of Economy and the Cabinet of Ministers of Karakalpakstan.

In the follow-up to the conference, we have been closely in touch with UN HQ to attract additional funding and have received the preliminary support of the Human Security Trust Fund for a second phase of the UN Joint Programme in Karakalpakstan. However, the prerequisite is upscaling to enhance results – therefore I think there may again be a case for alignment between Government resources, and UN and complementary donor contributions.

Ms. Helen Clark, UN Development Group Chair has recently written a letter to the Government to propose a joint needs assessment of the most affected areas that could lead to a fully coordinated and targeted intervention. Through such initiatives the UN JP could facilitate an effective platform to ensure coordinated assistance of the donor community in the Aral Sea region – setting a good example of territorial coordination.

In conclusion, these were two examples of multi-stakeholder aid coordination in action – the first a joint vision and framework, the second joint programmatic arrangements for a specific target region based on joint needs assessment.

Precondition of all this is dialogue - hence I think it is important to further systematize aid coordination at large through the set-up of Government-led sector-working groups, through the periodic meeting of Heads of agencies to exchange views and opinions on improving aid coordination at large. This I am sure will go a long way to realize our joint aim: to support the government to get the best results out of international technical assistance and aid flows.

 

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