Press Release

Op-ed: UN Priorities and Sustainable Development in Miconesia

23 October 2023

The author is the Resident Coordinator for United Nations in Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati. As the designated Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Micronesia, the UN Resident Coordinator guides UN’s engagement in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding activities in five Micronesian countries.

Today, 24 October 2023, we mark the 78th Anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being. There is no other global organization with the legitimacy, convening power and normative impact of the United Nations. No other global organization gives hope to so many people for a better world and can deliver the future we want. Today, the urgency for all countries to come together, to fulfil the promise of the nations united, has rarely been greater.

UN Day, celebrated every year, offers the opportunity to amplify our common agenda and reaffirm the purposes and principles of the UN Charter that have guided us for the past 78 years. A common agenda that until 2030 is guided by 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015. A 2030 Common Agenda that provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. An urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership. These 17 SDGs recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth - all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. The UN and its partners in Micronesia are working towards achieving these Sustainable Development Goals.

Following my appointment by the UN Secretary General on 1 October 2021 as the first Resident Coordinator of the new UN Multi Country Office (MCO) for the North Pacific, significant progress has been made in enhancing and diversifying the engagement of the UN in each of the five Micronesian countries. In Pohnpei/FSM, which is the hub of the new UN MCO Micronesia, the UN expanded its on-the-ground presence from 5 in 2021 to 13 UN Organisations in 2023 with more planning to join soon. A One UN Micronesia House concept has been designed, awaiting final allocation of land and resources. A House that will host at least 18 UN Organisations and more than 100 staff. A House that will be carbon neutral (or close to it) with a modern design that is infused with the history and culture of Micronesia.

To ensure a strategic and coordinated approach that is aligned with local and regional priorities, a UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for the Pacific covering 5 years from 2023 to 2027 has been rolled-out following extensive consultations. A Cooperation Framework that has been translated in two-year Country Implementation Plans for each of the 14 Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (PICTs) covered. A Cooperation Framework that aspires to contribute to a Pacific region where “All people, leaving no place behind, are equal and free to exercise their fundamental rights, enjoying gender equality and peace, resilient to the existential threats and living in harmony with the blue continent.” A Cooperation Framework that includes four pillars (planet, people, prosperity, peace) and two cross cutting themes (gender, human rights). A Cooperation Framework that requires effective partnerships with all key stakeholders in the Pacific.

However, we do not work in isolation and are part of larger UN family. A family that together with its member states and development partners has recently concluded a SDG Summit in New York. A summit that emphasized the importance of six major transitions in driving progress towards the SDGs by 2030. Key transitions that can have catalytic and multiplier effects across the SDGs. These include (1) food systems; (2) energy access and affordability; (3) digital connectivity; (4) education; (5) jobs and social protection; and (6) climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

The next big Summit will be the Summit of the Future in 2024. This summit will present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enhance cooperation on critical challenges and address gaps in global governance, reaffirm existing commitments including to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Charter, and move towards a reinvigorated multilateral system that is better positioned to positively impact people’s lives.

Last but not least, we are also celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, on 10 December 2023. This important occasion reminds us of the importance of fundamental human rights, which underpin international human rights law and provide a global standard for human rights. In Micronesia, we reaffirm our commitment to these principles and to our shared priorities in helping to build a better future for all.

Jaap van Hierden

Jaap van Hierden

Resident Coordinator Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Kiribati
Mr. van Hierden is the first UN Resident Coordinator (RC) for the North Pacific covering five Micronesian Countries. Among regular RC duties, Mr. van Hierden has been appointed to establish the new UN MCO Micronesia in order to enhance UN’s presence in the Micronesia region.

Mr. van Hierden has over 30 years of experience in international development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding. He has been deployed to countries in conflict and those rising from Least Developed to Upper Middle-Income status. He has also taken on corporate level responsibilities in New York and in Copenhagen, regional level responsibilities in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, and country level responsibilities in Sierra Leone, Cambodia and the Philippines. Mr. van Hierden graduated from Wageningen University in 1990 as Agricultural Economist.

The UN Resident Coordinator (RC) leads a UNCT to ensure the coordination, harmonization, and simplification of their support to achieve national development goals. Under the leadership of the RC, the UNCT consults with the governments to define and agree on the UN strategic responses to country development priorities.

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