Interview with United Nations Resident Coordinator Christine Evans-Klock
In an interview with the UN Ghana Communications Group, Ms Evans-Klock shares some personal insights into her work as Resident Coordinator, how the UN system contributes to Ghana’s development, how the UN is supporting Ghana in implementing the SDGs, and the UN’s future role in Ghana. The interview is part of a series entitled "Inside the UN"; more interviews with Heads of Agencies and other representatives of the UN in Ghana will be published over the coming months.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what you did prior to your role as Resident Coordinator?
I arrived in Accra to take up the position as UN Resident Coordinator at the start of 2015. I remember that my first day in the new job was on my birthday. What an exciting challenge to start a new year! I am joined in Accra by my husband, John. Our twin sons are no longer of an age to follow their Mom around the world. One teaches high school chemistry in the US and the other just finished graduate school in Geneva, Switzerland.
Originally from the US, I have lived on five continents – as a student in Quito, Ecuador; with the UN’s International Labour Organisation at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, for many years (amongst others, as head of the Skills for Employment Department); as Director for the ILO's Sub-regional Office for East Asia in Bangkok, Thailand; and now as UN Resident Coordinator to Ghana.
I hold a PhD in economics from Boston University and have worked in the UN system for a total of 21 years.
What does your work as the UN RC entail?
The UN Resident Coordinator is appointed by the UN Secretary-General. Nominations are accepted from all UN Agencies, Programmes, and Organisations. In the 2-day assessment for UN Resident Coordinators that I attended, for example, applicants had been nominated by WHO, FAO, UNICEF, OCHA, UN-Habitat, IOM and UNDP.
In every country, the UN works to promote economic and social development, human rights, peace and security, and humanitarian disaster risk reduction and preparedness. In Ghana, nearly two dozen UN Agencies partner with many Government agencies and with Civil Society Organisations to carry out this broad responsibility as part of the UN Country Team. The UN Resident Coordinator leads that team with the aim of providing the most effective support possible to Ghana, as a UN Member State, towards the achievement of the country’s national development objectives and its commitment to global development initiatives.
The essence of UN teamwork is to achieve greater impact by joining forces and using our complementary mandates to tackle complex development challenges together.
How does the UN system contribute to Ghana’s development?
The UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) brings together the technical expertise and resources of all the UN agencies in support of national development priorities and global development aspirations.
Our current UNDAF is the fourth in the series of development framework agreements between the Government of Ghana and the UN since 1997. It focuses UN support on agricultural modernisation, food security, environmental sustainability, water and sanitation, expansion of effective public social services to reach the marginalised and most vulnerable, and institutional capacity for good governance. The UN will work with the Government this year to design the next strategic framework, for 2018-21.
UN support in Ghana takes many forms, from making available global expertise and adapting good practices to national circumstances and needs, to facilitating South-South exchanges, providing technical assistance, advocating and enabling compliance with international standards ratified by Ghana, undertaking research and applying it to policy issues, and building up capabilities in data collection and use, so as to inform policy decisions and monitor their implementation.
How is the UN supporting Ghana in implementing the SDGs in 2017?
The Sustainable Development Agenda is a Road Map for ending extreme poverty in all its forms, for overcoming uneven progress across regions and within countries, and for leaving no one behind. It is the People’s Agenda: It is the result of years of grassroots consultations across the globe and in Ghana. It is a plan to meet current needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is one unified transformative agenda for social, economic and environmental development.
The UN in Ghana is committed to working with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the line ministries, the Ghana Statistical Service and other government agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector to localise and implement the Sustainable Development Goals, and to achieve them through Ghana’s national development plans and regional strategies.
Just recently UN Secretary-General António Guterres appointed H.E. President Akufo-Addo co-chair of the SDG Advocates, continuing Ghana’s international leadership for the Sustainable Development Agenda. We will be eager to support the President’s role to promote this ambitious, transformative and integrated Agenda internationally and to show its impact here in Ghana.
What is the UN’s future role in Ghana?
Going forward, the UN’s work to facilitate cross-country learning will become more important.
It is not so much sharing what works somewhere else that has any value, but sharing why something worked somewhere, who was engaged, what it cost, what did it take to scale up and sustain a promising approach….
Sharing this kind of analysis is how the UN can help Ghana take well-informed decisions, and how, in turn, the UN can help other countries learn from Ghana’s experience.
This is especially important in showing how Ghana domesticates and implements the global Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, meets its human rights commitments, maintains its exemplary record of peaceful and transparent elections, and joins global efforts to adjust to climate change and prevent further environmental deterioration.
The interview was conducted by Juliane Reissig, Communication Specialist at the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office on behalf of the UN Communications Group (UNCG).