Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks at the joint Economic and Social Council-Peacebuilding Commission meeting on “Promoting COVID-19 Recovery and Durable Peace and Sustainable Development”, in New York today:
It is a pleasure to join you today for this joint meeting of the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. I commend His Excellency Collen Vixen Kelapile, President of the Economic and Social Council, and His Excellency Osama Abdelkhalek, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, for their strong leadership in driving collaboration between the two bodies.
We gather today as our world, and we as the United Nations, are engulfed by compounding crises. The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, rising poverty and hunger and persistent conflicts are all threatening our ability to deliver on the promise of a better life for people and a healthy planet, as set out in [the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development].
Today’s theme reflects this multidimensional challenge, as well as the integrated response it requires. Our support to national efforts to build resilience, reduce vulnerabilities and accelerate out of crisis needs to be risk informed. We should draw fully on capacities, leadership, coordination and partnerships across the United Nations system, with the 2030 Agenda as our guide.
A sustainable recovery from the pandemic, and to go back on track for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, will remain elusive without a focus on prevention of crises and vulnerabilities and a joint commitment to a significantly different approach to transitions in crisis and post-crisis settings.
To change the current global trajectory, we must scale up development investments as the structural drivers of most crises around the globe — or our political and peace missions will simply fail. The development, humanitarian and political sides of the house have to work together at a whole new level, as we have seen most recently in Afghanistan.
Saving lives and saving livelihoods are two sides of the same coin. The Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission have a clear, interconnected role to play in promoting this coherence.
This year, you have shown the way, by jointly advocating for concerted efforts to stimulate COVID-19 recovery and global solidarity for vaccine equity for all. Our Common Agenda reinforces that the Sustainable Development Goals are our ultimate prevention tool, while looking into the future on key issues that require collective action.
It sheds a light on the need for a new agenda for peace. One that is forward-leaning and focused on root causes, on reducing strategic risks and strengthening international foresight to identify and adapt to new risks.
But, ultimately, what we will need is political resolve and renewed solidarity, to take responsibility for the effects of our policy decisions today on future generations and to take bold steps to change the game. This brings me to three points I want to highlight around today’s theme.
First, to ensure we recover effectively from the pandemic, we need to accelerate action around the 2030 Agenda — our road map for sustainable development and durable peace. They go hand in hand. Sustainable development provides a practical pathway to end crisis and instability, by addressing the root causes of conflict and accelerating transitions out of crisis.
Collaboration between the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission is critical to this work, by promoting a better understanding of the underlying risks that undermine development, exacerbate grievances and drive conflict.
Across the United Nations system, Resident Coordinator offices are supporting more, and more effective collaboration amongst humanitarian, development and peace activities. This has contributed to transformative, prevention-focused and conflict-sensitive responses in an increased number of United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks — our key instrument in countries in support of the 2030 Agenda.
We also aim to make every United Nations presence in the field a centre of prevention expertise — not only on conflict prevention but more broadly, for natural disasters, epidemics and other vulnerabilities. This can only be done if we work to reinforce national and local systems and building the capacity and resilience of national and local actors.
And once a crisis hits, all hands on deck are needed to generate the type of transition that, ultimately, will put countries back on track towards sustainable development. Transitions for peace. The transition out of COVID-19. Or the climate transition. These need to be approached as opportunities to chart a future of peace, prosperity and sustainability.
Second, financing. Today’s meeting is another demonstration of our collective commitment to break down the silos. To ensure an integrated response to the real challenges people face on the ground. But, we all know that the financing architecture for prevention and transitions is broken. Funding remains siloed, heavily earmarked, often times projectized and scattered across a myriad of small initiatives.
We need to shift to a funding architecture that incentivizes collaboration and impact at scale. We know that such investments pay for themselves many times over in the human and financial costs that are spared. Understanding and shaping the ecosystem of financing for development that embeds the peace dimension will be key to the design of sustainable financing solutions.
In terms of United Nations funding, this means taking pooled funding to a whole other level. I see three key instruments within the United Nations. First, the Peacebuilding Fund, which needs a “quantum leap” as the Secretary-General has consistently stated. Second, the Joint [Sustainable Development Goals] Fund, our primary funding mechanism for driving joint action by the United Nations development system to accelerate the transformation required by the 2030 Agenda. Third, the Central Emergency Response Fund, which is the main instrument for humanitarian funding.
Put together, these three funds offer a strong ecosystem to make the “nexus” a reality. If used strategically and synergically, they can make a real difference to our work. Our Resident Coordinators on the ground are well‑positioned to support Governments in mobilizing the right instruments, at the right time, for an integrated response in countries.
Third, make women’s participation and equality an absolutely priority. I have seen it in all my country visits, and it has been my lived experience: When women are at the table, peace has a chance.
As the United Nations, we must strengthen engagement with women peacebuilders and women leaders, amplifying their voices through mediation and mainstreaming gender considerations throughout our actions.
Women’s equal participation in all decision-making requires a reassessment of core assumptions, including how peace and security are defined, negotiated and sustained. Both the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission have made great strides in putting women at the heart of their work. I encourage you to build on this progress.
Our Common Agenda gives impetus to opportunities on many fronts. We have eight years to turbocharge implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In its emphasis on a new agenda for peace, the Agenda foresees an expanded role for the Commission in integrating peacebuilding into recovery efforts and in reshaping United Nations responses to multidimensional threats, development, peace and security.
It also places high expectations on the work of the Economic and Social Council as its leads on coordinating multilateral responses to sustainable development. As such, opportunities to strengthen collaboration between your two bodies will need to grow to meet the expectations of Member States and stakeholders on the front lines. This collaboration will also be essential to advancing a COVID-19 recovery that promotes sustainable development and durable peace — one that truly leaves no one behind.
Thank you all for lending your hands to this essential task. You can be assured of our total commitment to proceed with you in this journey of transformation.