BY Bruno Pouezat, Christian Salazar Volkmann, Khadija Musa, Richard Blewitt, Stephen O’Malley | July 28, 2016
Saying you work for the UN in the Caribbean is an excellent way to induce envy and jealousy! Yet beneath the image of sun, sand and artistic creativity is the reality of small island developing states trying to shape their futures while buffeted by climate change, natural disasters, and the swings of the global economy. There is an incredible diversity across the 18 countries of the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean. Almost all of the countries are classified as middle income, a status that masks the significant social and economic challenges they face, including the persistence of inequality and intergenerational poverty. The populations range from just under 6,000 people in Montserrat to more than 2.8 million in Jamaica. And while 12 of the countries are UN member states, three are UK overseas territories and three are Dutch overseas territories. A unique approach to a unique region The UN has long been a trusted partner for the countries of the region, for the regional organizations, and for civil society. However, the UN’s physical presence brings its own challenges. The UN covers the region through five UN country teams - Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago – and one UN Subregional Team – Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. While some UN agency offices cover just one country, there are also multi-country offices – for example, UN Women covers 22 countries from its office in Barbados! Planning, executing and reporting have been challenging, and it has been very difficult to accurately disaggregate regional results to the country level, or to aggregate country level results into a coherent regional picture. All UN resident coordinators for the Caribbean realized that the six existing UNDAFs would end in 2016, and that there was considerable overlap in the areas of work. We saw this as an opportunity to work more closely together and strengthen our focus on results across the region. Further, the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway in September 2014 and impeding adoption of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals gave added impetus to the need to change. The idea of merging together six separate UN country strategic plans into a single UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework, 2017-2021 was born. Testing the Caribbean waters Early on, we identified that a multi- country sustainable development plan could bring a number of benefits: Strengthen the focus on results at both a regional and national level Lighten the coordination burden on national Governments Enable the region to maximize its use of limited resources Prompt a more coherent response from the UN to regional and national needs/priorities Maximize access to the full range of UN system-wide expertise on issues relevant to Agenda 2030 work for the region Serve as a resource mobilization framework, particularly for regional resources The first step was to see if the concept would fly. By the end of May 2015, national governments were consulted and gave their assent, and the UN agencies from across the region had met in Barbados and agreed to go ahead. Since then, we’ve drafted a multi-country assessment which was used for 15 separate national consultations (three countries came on board later), then brought the results of these consultations into a strategic prioritization workshop with governments, regional organizations and civil society. At the workshop, we identified four priority areas: An inclusive, equitable, and prosperous Caribbean A healthy Caribbean A cohesive, safe, and just Caribbean A sustainable and resilient Caribbean The governments are currently doing their final review of the document, and we’re aiming for signing ceremonies by the end of July 2016. Where we stand and what we learned Of course there were and are concerns. The countries were worried that their national needs could be lost in a regional approach, and the UN agencies wanted to be sure that we could strengthen our focus on results without creating an ornate regional coordination architecture. We’re addressing the former through country implementation plans that translate the regional strategic plan into actions on the ground, and the latter through vigorous discussions in our Regional Steering Committee, which was just expanded from the five Resident Coordinators to include eight UN country team members. We’ve also learned a few lessons that might be useful to others traveling down this road. First, there is a big time commitment from the UN Resident Coordinators to work with their teams and with each other, and from the technical experts from agencies to develop the results matrix. Dedicated assistance helps, as noted above, but the work-load is higher in the formulation stage; Second, although the Executive Boards of UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA will consider the Country Programme Documents (CPD) in September 2016, there is still more that can be done to harmonize the CPD development process After a year of working to bring this idea to fruition, we are confident that we are on the right course. We need to implement new integrated approaches for a rapidly changing world, and the UN multi-country sustainable development framework is our comprehensive offer to support the countries of this beautiful region in their journey to achieve the Agenda 2030. We will be signing it this month, so stay tuned for future updates.
February 4, 2017
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.
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