Opening Remarks – Mr. Colin Bullock, Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica - UN MSDF Steering Committee Meeting (1 June 2016)
Opening Ceremony – Regional UN MSDF Steering Committee Meeting
Jamaica, 1-3 June 2016
Mr. Colin Bullock, Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica
Ambassador Sheila Sealy Monteith, Under-Secretary Multilateral Affairs Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Mr Bruno Pouezat, Resident Coordinator for the UN Country Team in Jamaica and UNDP Representative to Jamaica. Resident Coordinators and Representatives of UN Agencies from across the region, Government and other stakeholders, it is indeed a pleasure to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Regional Steering Committee for the UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF).
Let me start by congratulating the UN Agencies for taking this bold step to establish a framework to work together in a more harmonised and coordinated manner to deliver development outcomes. The PIOJ has long recognised the need for integrated planning to achieve development aspirations. Our Vision 2030, Jamaica’s long term development Plan bears testimony that sustainable and equitable development requires attention not only to the macro-economy, as important as that is, but also to critical social and environmental issues. The new model to be pursued by the UN under the MSDF - that of bringing the comparative advantages of respective agencies to bear on key development challenges in the region, holds the promise of more optimal use of limited resources, lower transaction costs, more effective collaboration and coordination, greater efficiency in the delivery of development assistance and, by extension, greater impact.
The MSDF responds to an issue that has been a challenge in Jamaica and perhaps the Caribbean – that is the difficulty working across sectors in a “joined up" manner. We understand that this is not easy – indeed within the Jamaican public sector we have been struggling for some time to achieve a more joined up Government. But as difficult as this imperative is, the Government recognises that we must respond or continue to squander scarce resources and delay the achievement of sought after goals.
We therefore welcome this attempt by the UN to strengthen collaboration. Some progress was made in this regard under the 2012-2016 United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), which was intended to be a collective response of the United Nations agencies to address agreed national development priorities. While UNDAF was a noteworthy effort to “bring things together”, we also note that in Jamaica the UNDAF strategy was not fully realised (based on a mid-term review), partly due to the fact that UN agencies did not seem to know how to relate to this concept of a coordinating framework. Hence, for some time there continued to be unnecessary duplications and overlaps.
Is there a difference with the MSDF? The MSDF represents a significant advance on the old approach not only in terms of what it is attempting to accomplish but also in how it plans to succeed. It seeks to address the multi-faceted development issues faced by countries which to a great extent should reduce gaps in the treatment of these issues. The priority areas are consistent, in a general sense with the priorities of the development agenda of the countries in the region:
· Inclusive, equitable and prosperous Caribbean
· A Healthy Caribbean
· A safe and Just Caribbean
· A sustainable and resilient Caribbean
The MSDF is an important springboard for the roll out of the Delivering as One mechanism which is a governing framework for UN agencies being adopted by Jamaica. It encompasses among other things, One Programme; a Common Budgetary Framework, and Operating as One. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) should contribute to the standardisation of approaches as well as the “One UN” concept. We envisage that this will force us as Government to also operate as one. On both sides, coordination will be a major issue and the successes desired will not be achieved outside an effective mechanism for both the UN and Jamaican stakeholders.
Our view is that through the MSDF preparatory process, a genuine attempt has been made in identifying priorities which are aligned to Jamaica’s medium and long term planning goals. For example, the targeting of youth and vulnerable groups as well as the cross cutting issues such as governance and data management, among other issues, are consistent with Jamaica’s approaches. However, it will only be through detailed planning that there will be clarity as to how the MSDF will be applied in each recipient country. We believe that UN agencies are likely to achieve much if they operate based on their comparative advantage within the system being defined now.
It is important to note that the multiple frameworks to which the MSDF will relate may pose some challenges, unless care is taken to ensure an iterative relationship between all these influencing elements which include:
· The Post 2015 agenda
· The Samoa Pathway
· The SDGs
· The 2030 agenda
There is a risk that the various operating frames could pose challenges for countries of the region. Jamaica has requested assistance from the UN in monitoring the implementation of the SDGs. The UN Agencies may wish to consider a regional project under the aegis of the MSDF to involve regional-level coordination and cooperation in the monitoring of the SDGs and other frameworks. This would help secure economies of scale in the mobilization of expertise and the organization of training.
The regional nature of the MSDF is also likely to affect the extent to which country level needs are responded to. Although, there are obvious similarities between Caribbean countries, there are also peculiarities and differing interpretation of development issues and therefore varying responses. Jamaica would want to be assured that in these areas, generalisations do not inform responses.
A key aspect of the planning and implementation process under the MSDF which will contribute to its success is a commitment on the part of UN agencies to involve the Governments in all their deliberations and decision making, concerning key aspects such as allocation of resources and the selection of projects. The MSDF must support our Governments in achieving corporate and development priorities. If it is not perceived by countries to be doing so, buy-in will be minimal.
We anticipate that the infrastructure being established such as the Regional and National Steering Committees and the Results Groups will prove to be key mechanisms for ensuring that the countries’ priorities are the basis of the collaboration with the UN system. We believe that the Delivery As One and the MSDF should contribute to greater success in achieving national priorities for Jamaica as well as our Caribbean partners. We also anticipate a very responsive and flexible attitude on the part of our UN partners which will go a far way to “iron out the kinks” that undoubtedly, will emerge particularly at the start of implementation of the MSDF.
The UN can be assured of the full commitment of the PIOJ to work with you to ensure that the new mechanism is successful and we convey our optimism that the MSDF will serve to strengthen our partnership and achieve our mutual development objectives.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish for the Regional Steering Committee a very productive and successful deliberations over the coming days.