I would like to sincerely thank the UNDP Evaluation Office for its report on UNDP contribution to poverty reduction, and its report on UNDP support to conflict-affected countries. I also would like to thank the management for its comprehensive presentation and responses.
The information contained in these reports is critical for guiding UNDP's short and long term activities. These evaluations allow UNDP to draw lessons from its own experience, leading to better management for real development results. They are especially important as we prepare to draft the next strategic plan, which will serve as the overarching framework for UNDP operations over the next 4 years.
We strongly commend the evaluation office for providing a valuable and independent analysis. Their work allows us today to engage in a meaningful and productive discussion.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer some specific comments on the reports before us.
First, regarding UNDP's contribution to poverty reduction. Poverty reduction lies at the core of UNDP’s mission – and its importance was reaffirmed by the QCPR, adopted by the General Assembly last fall.
Poverty is one of the most intricate problems facing the world today. There are no instant answers. There are no easy solutions.
The report suggests that economic growth lacking a pro-poor focus does not always benefit the neediest in society. While Israel believes that a multi-dimensional and integrated approach to poverty reduction is important, we believe that UNDP's development strategies should be designed with more of an explicit pro-poor bias.
Poverty may exist across the globe – but its attributes often vary depending on its context. As the report states, there is no single solution or set of social policies that will result in poverty reduction. UNDP must take the varying circumstances of poverty into account when crafting interventions that apply a pro-poor bias. Developing guidelines and a practical tool kit, as mentioned in the management response, is important – but they must be tailored to the specific needs of different populations.
In the words of Leo Tolstoy: "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Israel is pleased that the report emphasizes the potential for democratic governance to alleviate poverty. Democratic governance is a major component in the fight against poverty. It is crucial for creating an enabling environment for policymaking that is responsive to the needs of the poor and the most vulnerable. Israel is interested to hear more from the panel about ways to connect democratic governance and poverty reduction - and we encourage UNDP to find creative ways to utilize this connection.
Israel greatly appreciates UNDP’s work – and we firmly believe that UNDP will always be on the forefront of the global fight against poverty.
Nevertheless, we are concerned that UNDP performance in poverty reduction is "mixed and often unclear," as recognized in finding 7.
UNDP is a knowledge-based organization. Knowledge gained from monitoring, assessments, and evaluation should lie at the core of UNDP's work. If this knowledge is vague or imprecise, it can compromise UNDP’s ability to plan strategically and make effective decisions. It is therefore encouraging to learn from the management response that UNDP is committed to sharpening its evidence-based approach to programming, monitoring and assessment. We encourage the management be vigilant in this regard.
Rapid Field Assessments based on a short term presence are of a lower cost, and may also be useful in this effort.
UNDP's current strategic plan recognizes the inherent connection between empowering women and poverty reduction. Israel strongly believes that empowered women are a key driving force in poverty reduction. The World Economic Forum reaffirmed the strong link between closing the gender gap and improving economic competitiveness during its annual meeting last week in Davos.
Israel was disappointed to see that the report does not address this connection. We cannot realize the full range of our development objectives until we empower women worldwide.
Israel would also like to emphasize recommendation 1 in the report, which encourages UNDP to forge stronger links with national stakeholders, especially civil society and academia. This is crucial to ensure that UNDP remains relevant and able to influence national policy agendas. We are pleased that the management responded positively to this recommendation.
Now, I would like to move on to the report on conflict-affected countries in the context of UN peacekeeping operations.
Israel welcomes the report’s findings, conclusions and recommendations, and greatly appreciates the detailed and comprehensive plan of implementation included in the management response.
More specifically, we are pleased with UNDP’s contribution to building national capacities and peace building efforts, and its electoral support to conflict-affected countries.
We were also encouraged by UNDP’s efforts to expand national capacities for conflict-prevention. The report raises the concern, however, that UNDP’s role may be overly broad, sometimes encroaching on the relief and recovery work of the specialized United Nations agencies. In light of this, Israel encourages UNDP to re-focus its activities. It should build on its comparative advantage, enhance cooperation, coordination and division of labour with other key players, and invest more in peace-building efforts - even if their impact is not immediate.
Israel is encouraged by UNDP's progress in supporting opportunities for women to participate more fully in the emerging political and legal landscape in post-conflict countries, as mentioned in finding 8. We encourage UNDP, in cooperation with UN-WOMEN, to remain steadfast in its efforts not only to mainstream gender issues within its own programmes, but also in influencing government policy.
Finally, we are pleased to learn from the report that UN volunteers are taking an important role in UNDP-integrated missions. We encourage UNDP to give greater recognition to volunteers in peace and development missions.
An old Yiddish proverb says, "You cannot control the wind, but you can adjust the sails." UNDP’s evaluations allow us to do just that — to re-adjust our thinking and our policies so that we can maximize our impact. And despite the complex nature of the challenges UNDP faces, Israel strongly believes that, with the help of these reliable and independent evaluations, UNDP will be well-equipped to reach the full range of its development goals.
Thank you, Mr. President.