BY Diana Torres | 16 March 2017
In the world of development, UNDAF is one acronym you must know if you are interested in the UN’s work. The UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) provides a multi- year strategic plan for the UN’s work in a country. UNDAFs are critical for the UN at the country level to channel coherent support to governments and partners to achieve results for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the newness of Agenda 2030, the 2016 UNDAFs were one of a kind: they set the benchmark on new trends and practices to illustrate the role of the UN in supporting governments to achieve sustainable development goals. Last year, a small team in the UN Development Operations Coordination Office embarked on a review of 27 UNDAFs that will be implemented over the next 5 years to see what we could learn. What did our review reveal? 1. UNDAFs are slowly moving away from sectoral approaches towards more integrated and multidimensional results. One of the most significant paradigm shifts of the SDGs is the multifaceted and interdependent nature of the SDGs. Distinct from the sectoral approaches that marked the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs require complex and multidimensional thinking. Our study showed early progress in this direction: 55 percent of the UNDAFs reflect integrated approaches and outcomes to tackle national development issues. This is a critical area that needs rapid improvement if we want to meet the expectations of member states. The UNDAFs of good examples of integrated approaches, where gender, environment and human rights underpin the strategic results. These UNDAFs outline a collaborative approach: there are detailed roles and contributions of different UN agencies in achieving results, linking the shared roles and expertise of the UN across the areas relevant to these cross-sectoral challenges. 2. There is an increased focus on strengthening data capacities at the country level, with room for improvement. One of the main demands of member states from the UN is supporting data-related capacity in countries. We found significant progress compared to previous years, but not all UNDAFs articulate a coherent approach towards strengthening the quality of data and national statistics in countries. Only 60 percent of the 2016 UNDAFs included strategies to support national statistics organizations, particularly supporting data relevant to the SDGs. Some examples of UNDAFs that incorporated strengthening data capacity include Georgia, Indonesia, Turkey, and El Salvador. 3. There is some progress on joint humanitarian and development approaches The challenges the world faces today require a coherent approach, one that brings together the humanitarian, development and peace communities to ensure long-lasting results for countries. Our review found that some of the UNDAF (particularly those from Central Asia) show progress in this direction. For example, five UNDAFs (Armenia, Syria, FYR Macedonia, and Uzbekistan) make reference to humanitarian response, in the context of refugee migration. Nine countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kosovo*, Syria, Tajikistan, FYR Macedonia, Turkey and Zambia) include indicators tracking support to refugees and/or internally displaced people, and linking development and humanitarian responses. This is an area where we hope to see more progress in coming years - it is essential to reengineer how we work together and provide preventive, rapid and long-lasting responses to the humanitarian and development challenges many countries are facing today. 4. Revitalizing global partnerships through south-south cooperation is top on the agenda. Around 80 percent of the 2016 UNDAFs that we looked at are from middle-income and/or high-income countries, with the rest from low-income countries. This reflects the reality of our operations across the world. A significant number of UNDAFs have a specific focus on partnerships at the regional and global levels. Eight of the 27 UNDAFs have a specific outcome related to south-south cooperation. Examples include the UNDAFs of China, Kazakhstan, and Uruguay, among others. 5. UNDAFs are keeping track of UN contributions to the SDGs. Already in 2016, governments and UN country teams in most countries reflect a shared understanding of the linkages between the UNDAF results and support to partners on the SDGs. In our review, up to 78 percent of UNDAFs link outcomes to the SDGs. In Argentina, for example, SDGs and recommendations from international human rights mechanisms were fully linked to each of the UNDAF outcomes. However, there are challenges. Some UNDAFs identified only one or two SDGs per outcome, when there are likely multiple relationships to other goals. Tracking contribution to multi-sectoral goals like the SDGs will be a challenge in coming years. We hope that the findings and recommendations from this analysis are useful for countries starting a new UNDAF process this year. Kudos those country teams that have raised the bar during this period of transition from the millennium development goals to the SDGs. * (Administered by the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244)
National ownership The Government of Brazil has been a long-standing champion of sustainable development as the host of the 1992 Earth Summit and the 2012 Rio+20 Conference. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) has represented the Mercosur countries and Chile on the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Indicators and has been elected as the new Chair of the UN Statistical Commission, actively contributing to the task of developing the SDG indicators at the global level. Both IBGE and the Interministerial Working Group on the Post-2015 Development Agenda — encompassing 27 ministries and bodies of federal administration — have undertaken consultations with different stakeholders to reflect Brazil’s contribution to implementing the SDGs. Inclusive participation The UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) relaunched the Rio Dialogues space in 2015 with a focus on an interactive SDG space for Brazilian youth to learn about the SDGs and how to get involved. There have been several outreach and live events to help support the effort, which has attracted considerable interest from universities and other groups. In 2016, for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, there has been intense work to design a new institutional arrangement at the national level, with the aim of involving different stakeholders in implementing and following up the 2030 Agenda, including the SDGs. Institutional coordination The Task Force on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (whose name was later changed to Task Force on the 2030 Agenda) was established in December 2014 to facilitate cooperation between the Brazilian federal government and UN entities on the issues of the new agenda. The Task Force is co-chaired by the Brazilian federal government, represented by the Ministry of External Relations, and brings together a full complement of UN entities including UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNESCO, UNFPA, UN Women, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the PanAmerican Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO, UNODC, UNIDO, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), ILO, UN-Habitat, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR-CERRD), UNICEF, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNV, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG)/UNDP. In addition, the Brazilian Committee of the Global Compact Network is an observer member representing the private sector. Monitoring and reporting One of the main purposes of the Task Force is to contribute to identifying national social, economic and environmental indicators related to specific SDGs and their targets. In September 2015, the Task Force issued its publication ‘Following-up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Initial inputs from the United Nations System in Brazil on the identification of national indicators related to the Sustainable Development Goals’. Sixteen thematic groups covering SDGs 1–16 worked over nine months to produce the report, identifying around 570 indicators and highlighting data gaps regarding relevant information needed to follow up certain SDG targets. In 2016, the Task Force is planning to review its publication in light of the global indicator framework. This publication presented available national indicators as inputs for the follow-up process on the SDGs targets, which will be led by the Brazilian government. The Task Force will also launch a set of glossaries containing key terms and expressions used in the formulation of the SDGs and their targets.