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UN Event – UNlocking knowledge to reform

Statement delivered by Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Event “UNlocking knowledge to reform” organised by the Permanent Mission of Italy with the UN Staff College di Torino and the Permanent Mission of Argentina. —

Thank you Dr. Javan.

Let me in the first place thank the Chef de Cabinet, Ms Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the USG for Operational Support Mr. Atul Khare, the ASG for Human Resources Ms Marta Helena Lopez, and the distinguished panelists for participating in this open event.

The United Nations and the whole United Nations system are living a time of profound change, adaptation and reform and to meet the legitimate expectations of the international community and of our citizens for an effective, efficient and nimble United Nations system.

We are now in the fourth year of implementation of Agenda 2030 and it has become clearer, by the day, how “knowledge” and “learning” are absolute priorities to make it successful. Progress towards sustainable development requires spreading awareness and understanding of the contents of Agenda 2030 throughout the UN system and beyond. Agenda 2030 is much more than the sum of its 17 parts. No single SDG can be considered the exclusive mandate of any particular UN entity and no SDG can be excluded from the strategic vision of any UN entity.

Since the historic summit of September 2015, we have added new levels of ambition to our common endeavors. They are somehow the reflection of the new “systemic approach” that was inaugurated by Agenda 2030.

I am thinking about the twin resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council which, starting in 2016, have opened new perspectives on peace and security throughout the “sustaining peace” agenda.

I am thinking, of course, also about the reform agenda of the United Nations, promoted by the Secretary General and that we strongly support, in particular through the management reform, the reform of the peace and security pillar and the repositioning of the United Nations Development System. While these reforms need to be successfully implemented, the General Assembly is currently examining new reform proposals which are intended to complete the pillars that have already been endorsed.

It is clear that, if it has to live to expectations, the United Nations system needs to shift to a holistic and integrated mode of running its operations.

Such holistic approach is today more necessary than ever, but it is also perhaps harder to pursue than in the past. This is because the UN system has grown in size and complexity to respond to the challenges of a more interconnected and complex world.

How can we ensure then that such a holistic approach is not only endorsed but actually implemented across all articulations of the United Nations thus enabling each entity to be fine-tuned with rest of the system?

The answer lies in enhancing “coherent and comprehensive thinking” and in building a common “organizational and management culture” across the staff of the United Nations system, aiming at an Organization that is “fit for purpose” and able to “deliver as one”.
This is precisely where an entity such as the United Nations System Staff College can play a fundamental role, thanks to its unique inter-agency and system-wide mandate. It was indeed the profound belief in the added value of this approach that made Italy a convinced sponsor and supporter of the Staff College since the beginning.

The College has managed to establish itself as centre of excellence within the UN system. Success is testified by the increasing number of UN staff taking advantage of its learning opportunities and by the ability of the College to establish partnerships and to attract resources from a variety of actors even outside the UN system.

The Staff College is a significant success story of how the UN system can be helped to better achieve its mandates. Further progress can be made in terms of fully leveraging on the potential of the Staff College and I am sure that the discussion that will follow will provide useful indications.

Thank you.