The United Nations needs a greater role in co-ordinating global economic decisions, with finance ministers attending a beefed-up body to ensure not just the largest economies set the agenda, Helen Clark says.
With organisations such the G20, comprising of the world's 20 biggest economies, dominating measures to shore up growth after the global financial crisis, many other states were at risk of being affected without having a voice, the UN Development Programme head said in a lecture in Wellington.
That could be eased by a stronger economic body at the UN, provided it could attract the world's finance ministers to help co-ordinate a global response.
"A reformed ECOSOC [economic and social council] which attracted finance ministers to its proceedings would also give the UN a more effective forum and voice on economic and financial issues," she said.
Ms Clark was speaking at Victoria University as part of a series on international governance in lecture lecture entitled Improving Global Governance: making global institutions fit for purpose in the 21st century.
When asked how global bodies could improve their ability to respond to shocks such as the global financial crisis, she said international entities are probably better prepared now than they had been, but ongoing reform is still needed.
She cited the inability of members to reach meaningful consensus on climate change as a major issue for her as the head of the UN's development programme, but noted an increasing role taken by non-state groups, such as non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
The issue of permanent membership to the UN Security Council, and the veto right held by those members, were sticking points for the organisation and Ms Clark said recent events in Syria may revive an impetus for change.