Assessment of UNDP’s Contribution to Development Results in AlbaniaFeb 26, 2016
Speech by Brian J.Williams, UNDP Resident Representative
Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister,
Colleagues and friends,
Before I start with the purpose of today’s event, allow me to say a word or two to mark the celebration of UNDP’s 50th birthday.
There is much to celebrate. Today’s world is wealthier than it ever has been. Years of efforts by the United Nations family and countries around the world, capped during the last 15 years by the Millennium Development Goals, have led to:
- unprecedented reductions in poverty and improvements in education and health care;
- expanded exercise of political rights, including more recognition for the role of civil society; and,
- despite the daily headlines, global cooperation has in many ways increased: to cite just two examples from last year, the approval of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and a breakthrough agreement on climate change in Paris in December.
As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said just two days ago in New York, in front of 80 Foreign Ministers including your own: “For 50 years, UNDP has been working on the frontlines of development, has partnered with countries and organizations to reduce poverty, empower women, create jobs, protect the environment and narrow the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.”
And here in Albania, UNDP will celebrate this coming August a somewhat younger birthday: 25 years in-country. Our support over the years here has ranged from strengthening democratic governance and rule of law, advancing gender equality, and social inclusion, protecting environment and tackling climate change, fight against corruption and strengthening human security.
So.. Happy Birthday to UNDP which is, as the United Nations family, somehow a birthday wish to all of us.
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Turning to today’s event.
Globally, UNDP has a rigorous, independent evaluation system in place to periodically undertake a thorough Assessment of Development Results. This is the first time it has been done since UNDP opened its doors in Albania in 1991, and the evaluation itself is looking at the last 10 years of work.
Today’s workshop is the final phase in the exercise that has taken nearly a year. Many of you have already participated through interviews, reports and discussions. I thank you for your commitment, your time and your valuable insights.
We have two parts to this morning’s discussion.
First, the independent evaluators will present their findings and recommendations, and we will open the floor for a discussion to validate the report. We would like to hear about concerns or omissions you may have, but also about critical points that you feel deserve more emphasis or our particular attention. After today’s meeting, we will be open to receive comments for another 10 days or so, and then finalize and publish the report.
The second part of the morning, building on the assessment’s recommendations, will be to discuss the future.
Our UNDP Country Director will share with you our proposed directions for the new UNDP country program with Albania.
In the discussion we seek your advice – you our partners from government, academia, civil society, and international organizations - on how UNDP can add the most value for the coming period, 2017-2021.
We all recognize that in these coming years, accompanying Albania in its European integration will be paramount. We seek your wisdom on how UNDP can best assist to make critical reforms successful and Albanian institutions strong, leading – hopefully - to an accelerated accession and rapid achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. As Foreign Minister Bushati highlighted at the UNDP Ministerial meeting Wednesday in NY, “successful implementation of [the Sustainable Development] Agenda means that Albania will be a consolidated country of the European Union”.
As we think about the future for UNDP, the Assessment for Development Results provides helpful recommendations. UNDP has built solid foundations that will enable continued support in the areas of empowering women, protecting the environment, and promoting the rights and inclusion of Roma, the LGBT community and people with disabilities. A solid track record has equally been demonstrated in public administration reform, citizen-centric programming and anti-corruption promotion [coordination]. UNDP is providing support to engage youth, including through vocational training, helping to prepare Albania for a fully European future.
UNDP’s efforts to support a government-led, pooled funding approach to support territorial reform has been recognized, and UNDP seeks now to help Albania move from the initial reform to the critical stage of implementation. Though it may be hard to believe, when UNDP began this work in territorial reform several years ago, UNDP considered it a rather risky undertaking; but that risk has paid off. In the future, perhaps there are other sectors where this pooled funding approach can be useful.
UNDP is ready to take risks – but we want to take smart ones. I hope that during our discussions this morning, we will be able to hear your critical advice on many of these core areas of UNDP Albania’s support, so that we can plan, smartly, for the future.
Allow me, however, to draw your attention to two particular issues that have been raised in the Assessment.
The first is the question of regional development and the expansion of service delivery at the local level. We have as a vision – both as a UN family in Albania and as UNDP – that during the coming years we help the Government take to national scale local service delivery. Such local service delivery will necessarily be built upon the 61 new municipalities. But it will also depend upon the effectiveness of regional development efforts. Allow me in particular to ask for your advice as to how UNDP can better position itself to assist with regional development, and the evolving policies and structures of Government and its partners.
The second issue that I want to highlight – somewhat regrettably -- is that of financing. It is a tragic fact that despite the unprecedented wealth of the world, core financing of many multilateral institutions, UNDP included, is stretched and reducing. UNDP Albania is no longer – if it ever was – a “donor”.
Going forward for the next decade, UNDP in Albania needs to think about how it can increasingly enter into innovative partnerships, especially with Government but also with other development actors including civil society, in ways that allow it to deploy its expertise -- technical and managerial – to enhance the speed, effectiveness, transparency and credibility [visible results] of Albanian-led programmes. We have no magic answers on how to do this. Again, we seek your advice.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very proud to stand here today as UNDP’s Resident Representative to open this important exercise in accountability. UNDP needs to hold itself to the very highest standards of public management, and evaluation exercises such as this one play a critical role. I am very grateful for the time and energy that many actors have put into this – especially of national partners but also of UNDP’s global Evaluation Office and our regional office in Istanbul. We are very grateful to those partners who have had faith in UNDP as an institution, have invested their time and resources into our programmes, and most importantly who share our global aspirations for an inclusive world full of equal opportunity.
A special thanks goes to senior Ministers here today, as well as the Prime Minister’s Department for Development, Financing and Foreign Aid of the Prime Minister's Office. I greatly appreciate also the strong turnout of civil society today. We look forward to working with all of you for years to come.