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UN development system better positioned for the 2030 Agenda with “visible change”

21 May 2019 - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Member States that the UN development system was becoming more cohesive, accountable, and transparent, with a new generation of UN country teams supporting countries to scale up efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Secretary-General made his remarks while presenting a key progress report to Member States that highlights the measures that have been put into place to reposition the UN development system to deliver on the 2030 Agenda — a commitment made by 193 countries to boost gains in the economic, social and environmental dimensions, ensuring that no one is left behind, by 2030. “On 1 January, we pivoted to a new era for the UN development system – and as my report observes, we are well advanced on this transformative journey,” said Secretary-General Guterres, delivering his report during the Operational Activities Segment hosted by the Economic and Social Council on 21-23 May. 2019 marked the launch of a reinvigorated, independent and empowered Resident Coordinator System, including the Development Coordination Office (DCO), a new UN Secretariat entity coordinating the work of 129 UN resident coordinators. With full gender parity, they are the designated representatives of the SG for development matters in countries, leading UN teams to more effectively support governments for the 2030 Agenda.  “We are moving ahead in establishing a new generation of UN Country Teams - more integrated, responsive and accountable as they respond to country priorities and needs with updated guidance, instruments and tools,” the Secretary-General said. He added, however, that “the world is not moving fast enough to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to leave no one behind--and we are also losing the race against climate change.” The Deputy Secretary-General continued the open and frank discussions with Member States on 22 May, including on her report on the newly established DCO, which is the Secretariat for the UN Sustainable Development Group, with 40 agencies, funds and programmes working on development at the global regional and country levels.   Tangible benefits Resident coordinators said that “changes are visible” and reforms are leading to a more cohesive UN system, during an interactive session led by the Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations. Deirdre Boyd, Resident Coordinator in Thailand, said she sees a more cohesive relationship within the UN country team. “Resident coordinator office staffing is now more structured and UN country team members know what to expect from the resident coordinator office with a clear increase in our trust level,” she said, stressing that more can be done on financial transparency and data for development. Philippe Lazzarini, Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Lebanon, said reform requires a shift in the way the UN does business, including how it engages with partners. “We need to have a more strategic engagement with our partners through the resident coordinator office,” he said, adding that his office is currently looking into setting up a group of partners to work with his UN country team. The Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovinia, Sezin Sinanoglu, shared many immediate benefits from the reform, including 20 percent savings by gathering several UN agencies, funds and programmes to work the same house, where they also pool cars and information and technology support. She also highlighted the important role of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which previously ran the RC System and, in spite of losing the bulk of its key leadership on the ground, fully supported a smooth transition to the UN Secretariat. To download the full set of documents click here

SILOFIGHTERS: THE UNSDG BLOG

Beyond hard data, your opinion matters

BY Mirko Ebelshäuser, Asel Abdurahmanova | 17 July 2019

Lesotho taps into collective intelligence for people’s perceptions of the 2030 Agenda. Reality is relative. After all, we all perceive the world through our own eyes and unique experiences, which taps into our background and understanding of our surroundings.  With this in mind, UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA Lesotho rolled out two initiatives to better understand people’s perceptions of social, economic and environmental gains through the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The initiative, led the Government of Lesotho, with support of the UN team centered around using collective intelligence to model new forms of data collection, through perception surveys and a social media analysis, to build feedback mechanisms that could improve decision-making and citizen reporting in Lesotho.  The Government of Lesotho used perception analysis to complement its Voluntary National Review, an assessment of how countries are progressing towards the SDGs. Lesotho is presenting its review during the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at UN headquarters 9-18 July. Leveraging technology to Leave No One Behind  With support from the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO) through the Delivering Together Facility, we used a real-time monitoring module powered by UNICEF’s RapidPro technology that allowed us to engage with citizens in our efforts to understand their sentiments and perceptions of the 2030 Agenda through Twitter, Facebook and  SMS. We used nationally agreed SDG indicators and the MY World Scientific Question Library, developed by SDG Action Campaign, to build the survey which, in turn, helped us to learn more about people’s experiences in various areas of their lives. You can check out some of the questions that we asked via Facebook: We also used SMS because we knew that we could reach more people, including those who don’t have access to smartphones or internet connectivity. The best thing of all is that anyone that received the survey could participate for free!   Within a week, we reached a total of 649 citizens triggering 11,560 responses.  Here is who we surveyed and what we found out:  73 percent of the respondents were aged 21-40. 59 percent of the respondents completed their secondary education.  More women (54 percent) responded to the survey in comparison to men (43 percent).  46 percent of the participants come from an urban background. 47 percent of the respondents are currently unemployed. Most respondents feel that they live in an unfair society (56 percent). 63 percent stated that the pay between men and women is equal.  Even though people are not expected to make payments under the hood to benefit from public or government services, the ones that did pay public employees, received better and quicker services 48 percent.  To complement the perception surveys, we also conducted a social media network analysis with Pulse Lab Kampala to understand how the SDGs are perceived and reflected across social media users in Lesotho. We used predefined keywords and selected a total of 45,262 social media posts from the last 12 months. The insights, sentiments and trending topics from this mining exercise helped us to inform the analysis of the voluntary national review by referencing the status-quo of the public discourse on SDGs.  Lesotho is one of the 47 countries to conduct a voluntary national review at the High-level Political Forum this year. In a nutshell, Lesotho has the opportunity to share its experience, including successes, challenges and lessons learned as they make the 2030 Agenda operational. From this analysis, we identified a generally positive discourse for SDG 4 (Quality Education), but negative ones for SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), as a possible reflection of the situation in Lesotho. Graph 1: SDG media network analysis: total share of each related SDG keyword of the total relevant conversations by day  Filling in the data gaps with citizen-generated data For us, using new forms of data collection, be it citizen-generated data, perception data or new types of (big) data mined through social media, gives us the opportunity to fill in existing data gaps. It also allows us to engage citizens through tech and include them in our decision-making processes to understand the ‘situation on the ground’.  We are aware that citizen-generated data is seen as proxy data and will not replace official monitoring and evaluation but we think it’s important to make use of our tools at hand to successfully implement the SDGs. Engaging citizens on their perceptions goes beyond understanding their opinions, it’s also about challenging our own ideas of reality in the context where we operate.  We think that perception surveys could be a game-changer and would significantly bring us closer to citizens. Would you like to learn more about perception data surveys? Leave us a comment below or email our colleagues at dcocommunications@un.org 

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