High-Level National Workshop on Voluntary National Review
Remarks by Ms. Mikiko Tanaka, UN Resident Coordinator, at High-Level National Workshop on Voluntary National Review
Hon Carl Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs and his team
Hon Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance and his team
Representatives of line ministries and government departments, UN colleagues
Over three years has passed since the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015. The 2030 Agenda encourages Member States to "conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven”. 111 countries have carried out Voluntary National Reviews between 2016 and 2018. 51 countries are due to present in 2019.
On behalf of the UN Country Team in Guyana and the broader UN system, I would like to congratulate the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana for taking part in the Voluntary National Review this year. The VNR serves as an opportunity to take stock of the progress, results and lessons of development efforts in Guyana. It is a great opportunity for the UN system to examine the effectiveness of our work with the Government and national institutions and partners as it relates to progress and results towards SDGs in Guyana and to make adjustments and improvements where needed.
Since 2017, the UN Country Team has been working with the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana under the framework of the United Nations Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF) in the Caribbean. 18 other Caribbean countries and territories and 19 UN agencies are part of the five-year Caribbean UN development cooperation framework.
The UN MSDF is aligned to Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. The framework is composed of four pillars: An Inclusive, Equitable and Prosperous Guyana; A Safe, Cohesive and Just Guyana; A Healthy Guyana; and A Sustainable and Resilient Guyana.
In implementing the MSDF, the Government and the UN Country Team have together adopted the approach of Delivering as One. Delivering as One emphasizes a coordinated approach among the 13-plus UN development agencies that form the UN Country Team in Guyana to strengthen coherence, synergy and results-orientation in our development work. Delivering as One fosters stronger coordination of development work on the side of the Government. We have been fortunate here in Guyana to have strong coordination leadership from the Ministry of Finance with strong support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and HE President Granger.
Let me highlight three reasons why it is important for both the UN system and the national institutions to Deliver as One to achieve the SDGs.
Firstly, the 17 SDGs are not silos, they are very interconnected. Poverty, hunger, inequality, insecurity, unemployment, health issues and educational underperformance have complex and often common root causes. Climate change and environmental degradation can impact people’s lives in multiple ways. A governance of strong institutions is essential to all sectors. Resolving these issues requires well-coordinated multidimensional actions between line ministries and other institutions.
Secondly, achieving the SDGs means leaving no one behind. This requires a holistic understanding of circumstances and barriers facing people in accessing services, decent work opportunities or respectful acceptance in society. The solutions need to be coordinated and multi-faceted.
Thirdly, strong data systems are needed for evidence-based policy making, planning, monitoring and reporting. The 17 SDGs have 232 indicators, CARICOM has listed 125 core indicators of highest relevance to the region. Past VNRs highlight the need of disaggregated data to ensure inclusion.
Under the UN MSDF and Delivering as One in Guyana, Results Groups have been formed for each MSDF pillar, bringing together concerned national institutions and UN agencies. The role of the Results Groups includes quality assurance of the Country Implementation Plan, monitoring of implementation and reporting on results. The Results Groups help align the work of the UN to national priorities, ensure that systems and capacities of national institutions are strengthened, and bring focus on results rather than activities. Building a strong M&E system is an important objective for the Government and the focused effort of the Ministry of Finance in coordinating this has been commendable. The Results Groups focus on the UN MSDF but benefit from and contribute to the broader national system of planning, monitoring and reporting on results of the Government’s programme.
In the two years of MSDF implementation, we have observed challenges in data collection and monitoring and reporting of results. Participation and follow-through of required actions from Results Groups have not been consistent. Reports have mostly focused on activities rather than on intended results or changes in capacities, attitudes and behaviors congruent with MSDF outcomes and SDGs. Nonetheless, Annual Results Reports of MSDF implementation in 2017 and 2018 have been produced with available data. The first Biennial Regional Results Report for the UN MSDF in the Caribbean has just been drafted and shared with all Governments for review and comments. The challenge of results-based and evidence-based reporting was found to be common across the Caribbean.
The VNR is indeed an opportunity to reinforce data and M&E systems in Guyana.
Fortunately, the VNR can build on the extensive data compilation and analyses for the Green State Development Strategy, including the Rapid Integrated Assessment in 2017 that examined the alignment of existing national policies to SDGs. UN Environment’s technical assistance to the GSDS formulation with support from the wider UN Country Team has ensured that GSDS is aligned to the SDGs. A robust M&E system will need to be put in place to accompany the implementation of the GSDS.
The UN Country Team stands ready to accompany the Government in VNR preparations. This is part of a broader commitment to improve and strengthen the UN’s support to Guyana’s efforts towards the SDGs. The UN Reform under Secretary General Antonio Guterres is forging ahead. At the country level, the UN Resident Coordinator function has been delinked from the UNDP Resident Representative from January 2019 and reports to the Secretary General through the Deputy Secretary General for Sustainable Development. This enables the Resident Coordinator’s full-time attention to the coordination of the UN Country Team and collaboration with the wider UN System. For example, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is working with the Resident Coordinators in supporting countries for the VNR. This year, there will be a review of the regional institutions and capacities of the UN system which should enhance the coordination between the UN Development System and the Economic Commissions like ECLAC.
We look forward to Guyana’s VNR presentation at the ECOSOC High Level Political Forum in July. More importantly, we wish to learn from the VNR to improve our collective work in MSDF to help Guyana achieve the SDGs.