Opening remarks and talking points by Francoise Jacob, UN Serbia Resident Coordinator, on the occasion of the first UNSDCF Joint Steering Committee meeting.
Thank you Minister Joksimovic for co-chairing the Joint Steering Committee of the UN Cooperation Framework 2021-2025 alongside with UNRC. I appreciate your leadership and the commitment of your team to organise today’s kick start meeting of the JSC.
Thank you also to MFA Marina Ivanovic, Minister counselor and head of UN department for your support and engagement in the Joint Steering Committee.
The CF was developed in close consultation with the Government of Serbia, with many of the ministries represented here today, it was approved by the government in December 2021, and signed in February 2022 with MFA, in presence of MEI.
The Cooperation Framework represents the joint contribution of 20 UN Agencies in the country (Resident and Non-Resident) into three strategic priorities i) the green transformation, ii) Human capital (health, education, social protection/demographic resilience and iii) rule of law, human rights, gender and good governance. Its overall budget for 5 years is 350 million Euro, almost half of it secured till now, and with another half to be secured in next remaining years.
This Joint Steering Committee is the highest CF governance body to provide oversight and direction on the 5-year programme implementation, while creating links and synergies with other processes and mechanisms established by the Government on EU and SDGs. We have shared Terms of Reference for the Committee, and they are framed the concept of shared responsibility and mutual accountability on the implementation of this framework. While today is primarily an information sharing meeting, I hope that in the future, we can have a full engagement on annual workplans and achievements, adjustments required, and more.
From an operational side, the UN will continue to contribute to the donor coordination work of MEI, through the Sector Working Groups. We engage with all development stakeholders, including civil society, private sector, IFIs and development banks to add on the existing and potential financing flows and other development financing opportunities towards the realization of SDGs. We will hear from our UN colleagues- that are chairing priority groups more on what agencies are working on this year in each of the priority groups.
Let me say a few words on Agenda 2030. The CF provides ambitious guidance to achieve the SDGs in Serbia, while supporting the EU accession process. We have only 7 years. I believe that we have a great opportunity, in the months to come with the formation of a new government, to really push forward on critical reforms and transformation.
On the good news side, in a recent global sustainable development report, Serbia ranks 35 out of 163. Serbia is doing well on reducing poverty and to some extent, inequalities, on quality education, it has improved on gender equality, health and decent jobs. Much remains to be done on the Green Agenda: this goes beyond fighting Climate Change, Pollution, loss of biodiversity. It is about the transformation of the economy and society, about job creation, sustainable food systems, shaping the urban agenda, promoting healthy lifestyles, reaching out to the more vulnerable, and ensuring that both the youth and the elderly can actively shape a new future. UN will continue to support policy and legislative framework development strengthening as per the EU and international normative principles.
The UN keeps transparency and accountability at the heart of its actions. A report with main results achieved from UN Serbia in 2021, is included in the folders for all participants. On behalf of the UNCT, I express full commitment to deliver on the results as planned in the Cooperation framework.