Pacific escapes worst cuts at UNDP but poverty work suffers | Pacific Beat

Pacific escapes worst cuts at UNDP but poverty work suffers

Pacific escapes worst cuts at UNDP but poverty work suffers

Updated 4 February 2013, 18:24 AEDT

The head of the United Nations Development program, Helen Clark, says funding shortfalls at the crucial UN development body are a serious concern.

In the wake of the global financial crisis funding dropped in 2011 and in 2012.

In an address to the UN Development Programs Executive Board last week Ms Clark said UNDP's core income is expected to fall further in 2013.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speakers: Helen Clark, United Nations Development Program Administrator.

Knut Ostby: UNDP Pacific Resident Co-ordinator

GARRETT: The United Nations Development Program is the flagship of all the UN agencies working to reduce poverty and improve the lives of people in developing countries.

It has a funding target of 1 billion US dollars a year. In 2011, it fell $25 million short

In New York last week, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, told her Executive Board, that since then things have got much worse.

CLARK: In 2012 we saw a further and rather pronounced decrease of $129 million. And let me underline that that brought the total core contributions to UNDP to their lowest level since 2004. The current indications that we have are that core funding will fall further this year and, obviously, that trend is a serious concern to us. However, wishing that things were better does not deposit funds in our bank account and so we are taking all necessary measures to keep spending within the new resource planning envelope that we have.

GARRETT: UNDP has a new 5 year plan and it is working hard to streamline its activities, to work more closely with other UN agencies and with other donors.

But that is not making up for the shortfall in its core funding.

UNDP's Suva-based Pacific Resident Co-ordinator, Knut Ostby, has responsibility for 10 countries.

He says, while the Pacific may be insulated from the worst of the cuts it is still feeling the impact of reduced core funding.

OSTBY: This year we are not necessarily experiencing funding cuts. We expect this will trickle down over the next few years. I was just looking at our comparison between our last 5 year cycle and this five year cycle and the way it looks at the moment is that we will have probably more funding altogether for the next 5 year cycle but that is probably caused by the various funds for the environment and climate change and the special initiatives in disasters and in gender equality as well.

GARRETT: Why is it that the South Pacific has been spared?

OSTBY: It is not only the South Pacific, as I said our core funding is shrinking but at the moment globally, the ad hoc funding, is such a large part of our funding, and one of the things that Helen Clark spelled out in her speech is that this core funding untied funding given at the centre gives UNDP a better opportunity to strategically plan its resources, to work in a coherence and to work in partnership with other UN agencies, and to work more directly to national priorities, whereas the additional ad hoc resources, they give less flexilbility, they give less opportunity to work with others and they give less opportunity to listen to the whole country.

GARRETT: So does this mean we are seeing donors calling the tune rather than the developing country itself deciding on its own priorities?

OSTBY: That would be the consequence. When we reduce from our core funding to have more ad hoc funding you will go more to the agenda set by the external funding sources. It is not only individual donors. It is also the global funds, such as the Global Environment Facility. There are other climate funds coming up. There are special funds for trade, for HIV/AIDS etc and those funds, they set up a certain agenda, and so we co-operate with them and we have to work according to that agenda.

GARRETT:So what sort of areas are missing out in the Pacific as a result of this move to ad hoc funding?

OSTBY: I can speak more from a personal experience there. We have special funds for HIV/AIDS, and for environment, and for gender, but the general work against poverty tends to have less special funds available. It seems to be less easy to raise special funds for that very fundamental work.

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