U.N. reform puts Samoa in “heart” of agency decision making

United Nation’s top official, Valerie Cliff, visited Samoa for the first time this week to meet the Country Team, visit U.N project sites and meet Government partners.

Ms. Cliff, the U.N. Development Programme Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, said she was struck by the country’s hospitality and social cohesion.

She met Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, and Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti, and said both meetings were successful.

“What I wanted to do was really show our commitment to working with them, and show how appreciative we are of the close working relationship,” said Ms. Cliff.

“My main takeaway is more about the culture of Samoa. It’s been really welcoming, and really been quite extraordinary. In all the places I have been the social cohesion is really strong.”

She said Samoa’s U.N operations are complex and multifaceted, with several agencies based here either for local or regional work. So the U.N. Reform programme helps Samoa’s country team work reach the Secretariat, which means more access to decision makers in New York.

“The idea of the reform is to put the country team led by the resident coordinator right at the very heart of U.N decision making,” Ms Cliff said. 

“Simona [Marinescu, U.N. Resident Coordinator], reports directly to the deputy secretary general.

“It really brings the work the U.N. is doing at a country level much more visibility for decision makers in New York, much more strength between what we are doing at global level and at a country level.”

Previously, the Resident Coordinator role was also held by the U.N.D.P. Resident Representative. The roles have been divided, and Samoa is waiting for its new Resident Representative and Deputy to arrive.

“Our poor local staff are working as hard as they can but they have been a little bit left on their own for a period of time, not intentionally but because we haven’t had our leadership assigned yet,” Ms Cliff said.

“But very soon we will be well represented.”

The U.N. Reform was announced by Secretary General Antonio Guterres in 2017 at the beginning of his term in order to improve the 2030 development agenda, management across the Secretariat and its agencies and overall to prioritise peace and security.

According to U.N. material, the management reforms in particular should empower staff to deliver programs quicker, more coherently and more transparently.

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