Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Program
Management Debate

Statement by the Government of Canada

Delivered by Ms. Christina Buchan Director International Humanitarian Assistance Division DFATD to the 65th SESSION of the EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

Geneva, 29 September – 3 October 2014



Mr. Chairperson,

The last year has seen a dramatic increase in the scale of global humanitarian requirements and the Agency has been faced with the highest level of displaced persons on record. Canada recognizes the strain this has placed on all humanitarian partners. We commend UNHCR and its dedicated staff for rising to the challenge of addressing the increased scale and complexity of the current humanitarian context.

The increase in persons of concern has been reflected in the significant growth UNHCR has seen in recent years – a doubling of its annual budgets and expenditures – though this growth has necessarily been tightly managed and accompanied by appropriate efficiency measures including reductions in headquarters and staffing costs.

We note the importance of strong management and administration for the Agency to effectively and efficiently fulfill its mandate. Today we would like to highlight to the Executive Committee three aspects of UNHCR’s management and administration that are of particular interest to the Government of Canada: effective partnerships; innovation and efficiency, and results-based management.

Mr. Chairperson,

Models of effective partnership require continued attention, particularly at the field level.

We welcome the new agreement this year between UNHCR and OCHA for the stream-lining of coordination in situations where assistance is being provided by the UN to both refugees and IDPs. This commitment to improving coordination is indicative of UNHCR’s broader support for the Transformative Agenda, and we call on UNHCR to continue its strong engagement to ensure that the UN and its partners provide those in need with protection and assistance in the most effective and efficient way possible.

It is worth highlighting that the 2014 UNHCR-NGO survey results indicate that 76% of NGO and UNHCR respondents reported good to excellent partner relations. Nonetheless, taking note of 2013’s record high of $1.15 billion in funding implemented through partners in 2013, we ask UNHCR to continue to refine and improve its framework for working with implementing partners. This includes ensuring that all components of the partnership framework are effectively rolled out at the field level and with timely communication to partners about any changes; that there is transparency in partner selection; and management of expectations with partners.

Increased reliance on implementing partners can also lead to increased risk; in such circumstances, UNHCR’s attention to risk management, as well as plans to shift to a risk-based audit approach in 2015 based on partner performance, internal controls, procurement processes and the operating environment is a sound approach.

Mr. Chairperson,

Innovation – whether in technology, funding or partnerships – is an important way forward.

Transformation through innovation is one of the pillars of the World Humanitarian Summit, as is Humanitarian Effectiveness. Together, these pillars encourage humanitarian actors to reflect on new ways of delivering assistance, and given the evolving context of emergencies, to seek approaches that are more efficient, appropriate and timely.

Noting the contrast of increasing requirements and the growing gap with resourcing  – a challenge faced by many stakeholders alongside UNHCR – we support the range of actions taken by the Agency, from UNHCRIdeas.org to the Innovation Fund to seek innovative solutions, and encourage UNHCR to continue to seek the most effective and efficient options to deliver its mandate.

In programming, the use of innovative technologies, such as solar street lights, lanterns and fuel-efficient stoves through the Light Years Ahead initiative, bring safer and more sustainable resources to beneficiaries in refugee camps in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Canada is pleased to be a contributing donor to this initiative.

We encourage UNHCR to continue to test and scale-up energy efficient technologies across its operations, which will ensure that affected communities receive the protection and environmental benefits, and also increase the efficiency of its operations.

Ongoing attention to these initiatives, and further integration of this approach into the Agency’s operations overall, will be a long-term advantage.

Mr. Chairperson

We are convinced that UNHCR has a compelling results story – our colleagues in the field see what is being accomplished - but it is important to also be able to tell this story at the organizational level.

We welcome the ongoing improvements to the Global Report, which demonstrates positive movement towards results-based reporting including a good assessment of overall performance against the Global Strategic Priorities. However, deeper analysis of the data available on these Priorities, stronger linkages between the country level and global results, and reporting on limitations and challenges at the global and country levels will help to communicate how individual accomplishments lead to broader change.

We would like to emphasize the added importance of performance management in the context of Solutions programming, and recognize that UNHCR is making concerted efforts to build corporate tools and staff capacity in this regard. Ensuring that robust RBM systems are in place to plan, monitor and evaluate solutions programming – such as the ‘Seeds for Solutions’ initiative – will help to maximize the effectiveness of limited resources.

Thank you.