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Board of Trustees

Fifty-sixth Session UNITAR/BT/56/2

19 - 20 November 2015

19 January 2016 Geneva, Switzerland



1. The Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) convened in Geneva from 19 to 20 November 2015 for its Fifty-sixth Session. A list of the session’s main conclusions and recommendations, as orally adopted at the conclusion of the session, is attached as Annex I.

2. The following members of the Board were present or represented at the session:

Mr. Alexey Borodavkin …….…………………………

Also represented by Ms. Natalia Oreshenkova Ms. Kathleen Cravero-Kristeroffersson.........……………………………...… ……....….(NGO) Ms. Sarah Cook …………………………………………………..…………………..…….…(UN) Mr. Alexandre Fasel …………………………………………………..……….……(Switzerland) Ms. Taous Feroukhi (Chair) ………………………………………………………...…...(Algeria) Mr. Thomas Fitschen …………………………………………………….………….…(Germany) Ms. Martà Maura Perez………………………………………………..……………….…..(Chile) Ms. U. Joy Ogwu….……….…..……………….………………………… …….…........(Nigeria) Mr. Alfonso Quiñonez (Finance Committee Chair)

Mr. Carsten Staur ….....………………………………………………….………….…(Denmark) Mr. Alfredo Valladão.……………………………….………………………………….…..(Brazil) 1 Mr. Hailong Wu …………………………………………………….………..............……(China)

Ex Officio:

Mr. Nikhil Seth, Executive Director, UNITAR


Mr. Brook Boyer, UNITAR Observers Mr. Max Bond, United Nations University Mr. Paul Ladd, Director, United Nations Research Institute on Social Development Ms. Claire Messina, Deputy Director, United Nations System Staff College Mr. Jarmo Sareva, Director, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research United Nations Institute for Training and Research Mr. Armands Cakss, Finance and Budget Officer Ms. Marina I. Dinca Vasilescu, Chief, Operations Unit Mr. Rabih El-Haddad, Manager, Multilateral Diplomacy Programme Mr. Francesco Pisano, Director, Research Department

3. The Chair welcomed trustees to the session and extended a particularly warm welcome to the trustees who were recently appointed by the Secretary-General and to the incoming Executive Director, Mr. Nikhil Seth. The Chair announced that the Board had constituted quorum, with 12 of 14 members present or represented. In accordance with the rules of procedure, the Chairman extended full powers to the designated representatives of the members who had notified the secretariat. The Chair also extended a warm welcome to the representatives of the other United Nations research and training institutes.

4. The Executive Director thanked the Chair and other trustees for their participation in the session and expressed his honour to lead the Institute at this juncture, with the recent adoption of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the need to move from the conceptualization of the 2030 Agenda to implementation. In observing the satisfactory reports that would be discussed at the session, the Executive Director emphasized that it was his hope that UNITAR would move from a period of stability to one of growth and diversification in programming. He looked forward to receiving guidance from the Board on how to promote growth at UNITAR and broadening and deepening partnerships with governments, UN system entities, academia and the business sector. The Executive Director concluded his remarks by emphasizing that he hoped that UNITAR would be able to demonstrate concrete achievements in terms of ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘reaching the furthest first.’ The Board acknowledged the leadership exercised by the outgoing Acting Head and Executive Director, Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles; welcomed the incoming Executive Director, Mr. Nikhil Seth; and took note of the observations and comments under this item.

5. Under item 2, Adoption of the agenda, the Chair introduced the provisional agenda and proposed that the Board consider item 8, Programming and Performance, after item 5, Followup from the Fifty-fifth Session, to enable the Board to discuss research and other components of programming and reporting in sequence. The Board agreed and adopted the agenda as revised.

6. Under item 3, Organization of work, the Chair proposed that the Board conduct its business according to the schedule in the item’s annotation. The Board agreed and adopted the organization of work.


7. Under item 4, Membership matters, the Chair announced that the Secretary-General had appointed six new trustees in 2015 as announced in the session’s opening remarks. She also announced that Ms. Shirin Ebadi, Ms. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Ms. Radha Kumar, Ambassador Henri Lopes, the Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller and Ms. Anne Kristin Sydnes had completed their respective terms on 31 December 2014 and expressed her deep appreciation for their commitment and contribution to the Board. The Board welcomed the new trustees and expressed its deep appreciation to the members who had completed their terms on 31 December 2014.

8. Under item 5, Follow-up from the Fifty-fifth Session, the Chair referred to the annotations of the two sub-items. Under sub-item 5a, Update on opportunities for collaborative initiatives with outside partners, the Chair recalled that Management regularly reports to the Board on various partnership initiatives and that the Board expressed its support for Management to further develop opportunities for collaborative initiatives that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of UNITAR programming and requested Management to report at the Fifty-sixth Session.

9. The Executive Director noted that the Institute had many different partnerships and highlighted recent initiatives undertaken since the Fifty-fifth Session, including UNITAR observer membership in the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) and in the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG), in addition to ongoing partnership initiatives with other research and training entities of the United Nations, including the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). With respect to UNDG, he highlighted the importance of the partnership taking into consideration work that the Institute is undertaking to support the implementation of Agenda 2030 with training modules to be delivered at the country level as well as with the development of other trainingrelated activities. With regard to UNEG, the Executive Director indicated that partnership with this inter-agency network aimed to help UNITAR further professionalize its own evaluation capacities and also eventually contribute to efforts to strengthen national evaluation capacities in countries where there is particular need. In addition to partnership activities with UNSSC and UNIDIR, the Executive Director noted two new partnerships under development, including UNAIDS with regard to working to promote social inclusion and reduce stigma related to HIV/AIDS and with United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to support road safety actions aimed at reducing casualties and injuries from traffic accidents. He underscored that UNITAR would focus on supporting countries in special situations, including the LDCs particularly in Africa, the small island developing states (SIDS) and the landlocked developing countries (LLDCs).

10. The Board took note of its observations on coordination with other bodies and praised Management for these developments. On the subject of road safety, it was suggested that Management seek cooperation with the UN Special Envoy on Road Safety as well as with other UN entities, including the World Health Organization (WHO). On the Executive Director’s remarks on moving from stability to growth, it was noted that a partnership strategy should begin with Member States. Trustees put forward several questions, including how initiatives of this nature are linked to research, how partnerships are prioritized and used, and how a particular thematic area (e.g. road safety) is prioritized over other areas. It was suggested that some sort of strategic horizon scanning may be needed so that the results of the Institute’s initiatives lead to a high impact for development, and that it would also be important to take into consideration elements of flexibility and speed when engaging in particular areas to respond to training needs and availability of funding.

11. The Executive Director acknowledged that it would be important to reflect on where the Institute is heading with partnerships and programming as the implementation process of Agenda 2030 moves forward and that, as a priority, it would be important to help countries ensure that Agenda 2030 becomes part of national planning and policies. He also emphasized the issue of supporting the creation of national mechanisms of engagement for diverse sectors of society, including government, business, civil society and academia, to help promote the integration process. Recognizing the challenges for UNITAR related to taking action on the conceptual breakthroughs of Agenda 2030, the Executive Director asked the Board for its support and guidance for the Institute’s contribution to the Agenda’s implementation. On road safety, the Executive Director made reference to the high number of casualties and felt that the Institute had a clear role to play, based on consultations with UNECE, WHO and the UN Special Envoy on Road Safety. The Board took note of its observations and commended 3 Management for the development of recent partnerships further to the Board’s recommendation at the Fifty-fifth Session.

12. Under item 5b, Enhancing partnerships with research entities, the Chair recalled the Board’s recommendation for Management to enhance partnerships with research entities, including non-governmental sectors, and recognized the importance to focus on research where UNITAR has a comparative advantage. The Executive Director briefed the Board on the broad areas in which the Institute is undertaking research, including research on training methodologies, research on geospatial technologies and satellite imagery analysis and research related to mass communication through crowd sourcing. The Executive Director then invited the Director of Research, Mr. Francesco Pisano, to provide further details on the Institute’s research activities.

13. Mr. Pisano briefed the Board on the Institute’s research objectives, which were to add value through the testing of applications, the development of solutions and knowledge sharing; and to broker change by keeping the UN system exposed to and involved in technology and innovation. He then presented several initiatives under the Knowledge Systems Innovation Section and the UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), in addition to several programme areas managed under the department, including building capacities for Agenda 2030, resilience and risk reduction, and citizen cyber science in cooperation with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the University of Geneva.

14. The Directors of UNRISD and UNIDIR provided an overview of their work and welcomed possibilities for strengthened partnership with UNITAR. The Director of UNRISD indicated that the recent adoption of Agenda 2030 presented new opportunities for collaboration, particularly given the UNITAR’s focus on supporting the implementation of the SDGs and UNRISD’s research programme on the social dimensions of sustainable development and the need for both institutes to work closely with UNDG at the country level.

15. The importance of identifying possible collaborative initiatives in the early stages of planning and budgeting was mentioned, and trustees commended Management for having invited the representatives from the other research and training institutes. Several suggestions were made, including engaging in some sort of collective initiative, better articulating research in the strategic framework and planning documents, enhancing cooperation with the regional commissions, and designing cooperation around research issues. Other observations included recognizing the commonality of the institutes in terms of considering examining how knowledge is applied and that cooperation with the research and training institutes could extend beyond UNITAR’s programming dimensions.

16. The Executive Director emphasized the fundamental link between research and training, and noted that training works only if it is demand driven. He also recognized the small size of UNITAR and stated that it was not possible for UNTIAR to be the repository of all required expertise given the wealth of issues on national and international agendas. It was important, in his view, that UNITAR could convert knowledge and expertise into effective training with sound methodology. The Board took note of the presentation on research and the observations made, welcomed the engagement at the session with the other research and training institutes and recommended that such engagement and exchanges continue at future sessions.

17. Under item 6, Proposed revision to the 2014-2017 Strategic Framework, the Chair recalled that the Board approved the 2014-2017 Strategic Framework at its Fifty-fourth Session, and that the framework covers two budget cycles and includes a set of five high-level programme and functional objectives. The Executive Director recalled discussions that Agenda 2030 should be the organizing work for UNITAR and mentioned that in the immediate term, Management proposed to add a sixth high-level programme objective area to the framework, although he felt that further work would need to be undertaken for a more comprehensive alignment between the Institute’s strategy and Agenda 2030, perhaps by the next session.

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