Member states pledge more than $425 million at 2018 United Nations conference for development, humanitarian activities

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Some 19 countries pledged a total of $425.69 million at today’s 2018 United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities, reflecting an increase from the 2017 amount of $398.98 million.

In opening remarks, Zina Mounla, Chief of the Operational Activities Policy Branch in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, noted that total contributions to the United Nations development system totalled $29.5 billion in 2016. An increase of 8 per cent over 2015, she said this rise in pledges continues a longer–term trend that has seen contributions more than double over the past 15 years.

Also observing that core contributions increased by 5 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015, she said this ends two consecutive years of decline. At the same time, the share of core resources dropped to a mere 21.7 per cent of total funding, representing an all-time low, as non-core funding climbed to 78 per cent of the total development system funding.

Highlighting another trend, she said funding for humanitarian assistance has been increasing faster than funding for development-related activities. In the past five years, funding for humanitarian activities has increased by 65 per cent compared to a 10 per cent rise in funding for development.

Delegates elected by acclamation Rubén Armando Escalante Hasbún (El Salvador) as President of the 2018 Pledging Conference for Development Activities and 2018 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Pledging Conference for the World Food Programme (WFP). Elene Agladze (Georgia) from the Eastern European States and Ahmad Saif Al-Kuwar (Qatar) from the Asia-Pacific States were elected as Vice-Presidents.

Several Member States then made their pledges.

Concluding the Conference, Sumathi Jayaraman, Director of Strategy and Innovations at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said its primary aim is to support Member States in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. To reach this objective, she stressed that adequate and predictable resources are vital, especially in assisting the poorest and most vulnerable nations.

Khetsiwe Dlamini, Chief of Staff and Director of the Strategic Partnerships Division of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), noted that 107 Member States made contributions to it in 2017. Urging Member States to continue their assistance, she emphasized the importance of core resources, saying they must be prioritized to allow for the leveraging of funds.

Carla Haddad Mardini, Director of the Public Partnerships Division of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), emphasized that core funding is critical for programming, unexpected emergencies and work in undeveloped settings. Despite the overall trend of decreased core contributions, however, she noted that total contributions to UNICEF increased by 15 per cent to $5.9 billion in 2017.

Mira Ihalainen, representative of the Resource Mobilization Adviser of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said its 2018-2021 strategic plan aims to achieve the goals of zero unmet needs for family planning, zero unnecessary maternal deaths and zero violence against women and girls. UNFPA diverted 49 million unintended pregnancies and 17 million dangerous abortions worldwide from 2014 to 2017, yet 500 women and girls still die every day during pregnancy and childbirth.

Delegates also adopted the report of the 2018 Pledging Conference for Development Activities (document A/CONF.208/2018/L.1).

In addition, the Chair drew attention to the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of General Assembly resolution 71/23 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/73/63-E/2018/8); note on operational activities for development of the United Nations system (document A/CONF.208/2018/1); and note on contributions pledged or paid at the 2017 United Nations Pledging Conference for Development Activities for 2018, as at June 2018 (document A/CONF.208/2018/2).

Delegates then held the United Nations Pledging Conference for the World Food Programme.

Once countries had made their pledges, the Conference heard statements from FAO and WFP.

Leslie Elliot of the External Partnerships Office of the World Food Programme noted the current rise in hunger after a decade of decline, with 821 million suffering worldwide, more than half of them in conflict-affected countries. Adding that WFP is completely volunteer-funded, with its top 10 donors providing 88 per cent of its budget, she advocated for multilateral and multi-year contributions.

FAO New York Director Carla Mucavi emphasized the importance of WFP, pointing to the 124 million people experiencing severe hunger in 2017 and the increasing possibility of a famine in parts of Yemen. Underscoring the increasingly intense and protracted nature of food crises, she said this clearly shows that further efforts are needed to prevent and address these crises at their roots.

During the proceedings, the Conference adopted its report (document A/CONF.209/2018/L.1).