Skip to content

Wilton Park fulfils vital role supporting effective UN Development agencies


By dxw

Acclaimed BBC World Service programme on the environment and development issues ‘One Planet’, sent presenter Richard Hollingham along to visit Wilton Park for their 50 million listeners, this episode airs on 25 November.

Future of the UN development system

Thursday 18 – Sunday 21 November 2010 (WP1033)

Over 60 experts drawn from 22 nations attended this conference to look closely into the purpose and performance of the development system of the United Nations. The system comprises a loose family of some 30 different agencies and organisations, some of which have existed for more than 100 years, but which are now facing new and emerging global challenges.

We drew the many threads together with potential to reform the UN Development System, and would like to acknowledge the tireless support of Stephen Browne as a partner.

The conference began with clear challenges laid out by Henry Bellingham (Parliamentary Under–Secretary of State and Minister for Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London). Helen Clark (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Development Group, New York) also delivered a strong keynote speech asserting that:

“The findings emerging from the country-led evaluations of the pilots suggest that the hard work of the last three years is paying off.”

The conference highlighted the diffuse political realities of reforming a large and influential global institution. Richard Burge, who also chaired the event, states that:

“This is a system based on the global performance after WWII. The world has changed significantly but has the UN kept pace?”

It was acknowledged that there were now alternatives to the UN development system, which would need to continue an urgent process of reform if it was to remain relevant and effective. Participants indulged in an exercise of envisioning scenarios for the world in 2025 and the place of the UN development system within it. They diagnosed, in depth, the challenges facing the system, but also heard many proposals for renewal, including attempts to forge greater coherence at the country level in Africa and Latin America.

The conference concluded that a further meeting would be valuable, comprising more representatives from civil society in developing and developed countries, as a means of stimulating continuing reform which all agreed was needed.

We also welcomed the BBC along for interviews. ‘One Planet’ is the acclaimed World Service radio programme looking at the environment and development. At the start of the series in September they spoke to Kofi Annan about progress with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and he talked about the challenges facing the United Nations in terms of development.  One Planet used the conference at Wilton Park as an opportunity to return to this pressing issue. Presenter, Richard Hollingham, spoke to Andry Raharinomena (Director for Economic Cooperation and Aid Coordination, Ministry of Economy and Finance)about Madagascar and Harsha Singh (Deputy Director General, WTO, Geneva) about aid and the economic successes of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).

One Planet at Wilton Park will debut on Thursday 25 November. The show is repeated several times, with the last outing on Sunday 28 November. After rebroadcasting to 400 other stations, the estimated average audience is 50 million listeners.

WP1033 Above: (left to right) Dambisa Moyo, Stephen Browne and Richard Burge
Above: (left to right) Dambisa Moyo, Stephen Browne and Richard Burge 

The subject is complex, and the participants were very dynamic, so we chose to record two podcasts around the topic.

The first podcast episode features Henry Bellingham and Helen Clark in conversation with Richard Burge, and looks at the challenges and changing picture for the UN, and in particular the leadership on development.

The second episode, on problems caused by development aid, features Sir Richard Jolly, Saraswathi Menon and Andry Raharinomena


Further information

Conference on Future of the UN development system 

Helen Clark presentation is noted on the UNDP website

BBC World Service programme One Planet

 Listen to all of our podcasts via our RSS feed