Swedish support of UN Reform

Ms. Anna Jardfelt Ambassador of Sweden to Kenya and Mr. Siddharth Chatterjee UN Resident Coordinator to Kenya. Credit: UN Kenya

By Sweden Embassy Press Release
NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 2019 (IPS-Partners)

Swedish support of UN Reform and the UN Secretary General’s call for a reinvigorated Resident Coordinator function – Advancing coordination, innovation and results in UN’s contributions to Kenya’s development priorities.

    “Delivering as One – Going to the furthest first”.

Several members of the Development Partners Group in Kenya, including Sweden have at various occasions reiterated the importance of UN Reform and the UN Resident Coordinator Office, leading and coordinating the delivery of UN development results to Kenya.

Sweden is today pleased to acknowledge a new agreement, supporting the UN Resident Coordinator for a period of two years under the heading Reinvigorated UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, advancing the UN Reform Implementation Plan in Kenya.

“Sweden is a strong advocate for UN reform. This bridging support will enable the Resident Coordinator’s office in Kenya to spearhead the UN reform at country level, maintain current capacity and advance transformative and repositioning work, for greater impact and sustainable development results. This work will be done in line with UN reform and in support of Kenya’s national, regional and global development priorities and aspirations,” said the Ambassador of Sweden Ms. Anna Jardfelt when she announced the support.

The Resident Coordinators Office capability to spearhead UN reform in Kenya, continue lead and advance coordination, innovation and communication of results is essential for UN’s effective delivery of its total contribution to Kenya, the United Nation Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF, 2018-2022, signed by Government of Kenya and 23 UN Heads of Agencies, with an estimated budget close to USD 1.9 billion for the current 4-year period.

    About the UN in Kenya
    As stated in the UN SG implementation plan of the UN Reform, member States’ calls for a reinvigorated RC system, which ultimately rest in the transformation of the development landscape, as reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Its universal, integrated and people-centered nature, which integrates economic, social and environmental dimensions of development, requires a collaborative, coordinated and innovative response by the UN development system, at an unprecedented scale. This needs to be matched by equal ambition in the organization, operations, funding and overall mindset of the UN development system to ensure integrated action towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in a way that leaves no-one behind.

    The Resident Coordinator in Kenya is expected to lead impartially, accelerate and leverage initiated efforts. In June 2018, the UN Resident Coordinator, the Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury, Cabinet Secretary for Devolution and ASAL, and the entire UN country team of 23 UN Heads of Agencies, including the World Bank and the IMF, signed a new United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Kenya at a value of USD 1.9 billion. The new UNDAF 2018-2022 was widely consulted and has been identified by the Deputy Secretary General as one of three global best examples of new generations of One UN strategies at the country level.

    The Resident Coordinator’s Office leads, coordinate and incubate UN wide and joint actions on strategic policy, innovative approaches, expanded partnerships and diversification of investments, advancing the UN SG reform agenda and Kenya’s development strategies, at national and devolved levels, including a new partnership platform for expanding private sector and philanthropy in realizing SDGs and the Presidential Big 4 Agenda in Kenya. The platform under the Resident Coordinator coordinates efforts to diversify development financing tools, invest in SDG data development and nurture public, private partnerships, across the SDGs and UN agency mandates.

    The Cross-Border Programme between Kenya and Ethiopia, with ongoing discussions on expansion to the borders of Uganda and Somalia is another example of a Joint GoK/UN/partner flagship, advancing the reform agenda on transformative peace and socio-economic transformation. With improved coordination costs can be saved and impact increased, fragmented projects can be replaced by integrated approaches, resources can be further optimized by matching national, county, private and development partner’s value addition.

    Comprehensive responses to inequality and citizenship, empowering gender and human rights driven development, can re-focus strategies from short term emergency response towards prevention, resilience, socio-economic transformation – leaving no one behind. Only with concerted efforts can development efforts counter the threats of poverty driven radicalization, forced migration and cyclical conflicts and utilize untapped opportunities, release the creativity of young women and men to realize the Kenya Vision 2030 -shared prosperity.

Smart Cities hold Key to Sustainable Development

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
BANGKOK, Thailand, Apr 3 2019 – Asia and the Pacific’s phenomenal development has been a story of rapid urbanization. As centres of innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity, cities have drawn talent from across our region and driven economic growth which has transformed our societies.

In southeast Asia alone, cities generate 65 percent of the region’s GDP. Yet the ongoing scale of urbanization is a considerable challenge, one which puts huge pressure on essential public services, housing availability and the environment.

How we respond to this pressure, how we manage our urban centres and plan for their future expansion in Asia and the Pacific, is likely to decide whether recent development gains can be made sustainable.

It is of primordial importance to Malaysia as its economy powers towards high income status. In ASEAN countries, 90 million more persons are expected to move to cities by 2030.

Accommodating this influx sustainably will determine whether the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can be achieved, and the climate targets of the Paris Climate Agreement can be met.

An effective response calls for integrated planning across all levels of government. Greater consideration needs to be given to demographic and land use trends to anticipate their impacts and minimize environmental damage. These trends should inform our investments in infrastructure but also in water, energy and transport services.

Closing the infrastructure gap in the region will alone require an additional $200 billion of investment a year until 2030. We know local government revenues are mostly insufficient and fiscal decentralization inadequate to respond to this need.

Intelligent fiscal reforms to improve local revenues are likely to be necessary and we will need to consider how we can capture land value and use Public-Private Partnerships.

In the most disaster-prone region in the world, it is incumbent on us to reduce the risk of natural disasters to which millions of urban dwellers are exposed. By 2030, vulnerable populations living in extreme risk areas – along river banks, canals and slopes – are expected to have grown by fifty percent since 2015 in many of region’s major cities.

Some cities, including Melaka, are participating in initiatives such as the 100 Resilient Cities, focused on community-based disaster risk reduction. Yet this effort needs to be given even greater scale if we are to achieve risk resilient cities in our region. Accelerating our multilateral cooperation and best practice sharing could make a valuable contribution to doing so.

New technologies hold great promise for more effective urban solutions. From smart grids and district energy solutions, or real-time traffic management, to waste management and water systems, smart technologies will enable our future cities to operate more effectively.

They could also make them more inclusive and accessible for persons with disabilities. We have an opportunity to incorporate universal design standards and systems such as automated access to audio-based communications to improve accessibility to cities for persons with disabilities.

We must encourage smart city developers to use standards which would give persons with diverse disabilities full access to the physical infrastructure and information others enjoy.

As we look to overcome all these challenges, the ASEAN Smart Cities Network designed to mobilize smart solutions throughout southeast Asia, is a welcome development on which we must build.

The implementation of this network is something the organization I represent, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, has worked to support.

Combined with the ASEAN’s broader Sustainable Urbanization Strategy, it is helping provide much needed resource in the region to manage urbanization better. Twenty-six cities, including Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru are developing visions for their cities to apply technologies for smart and sustainable urban development.

The expertise being acquired is invaluable to the broader region’s effort. Malaysia has a leading role to play. At the 9th World Urban Forum Malaysia hosed last year, experts came from the world over to focus on cities for all and the New Urban Agenda.

In October 2019, the 7th Asia Pacific Urban Forum will be held in Penang. My hope is that this can focus minds and galvanize support for best practice to be shared and sustainable urban development to be prioritized in Asia and the Pacific.