Silo Fighters Blog

Taking pilots to standards: Marking 10 years of ‘Delivering as One’

BY Alexander Freese, Gerald Daly, Helene Remling | November 2, 2016

Alexander Freese, Gerald Daly, and Helene Remling We’ve all felt the touch of coordination. Whether for a hiking trip, a wedding or a picnic in the park: planning together who does what, working on more challenging treats in a team (that barbecue, photo book or treasure hunt!) leads to better results than anyone could have achieved alone –  and it is always more creative and fun too! When it comes to complexity, organizing the activities of 32 UN entities with development operations in 165 countries and territories and a total budget nearing 17 billion US Dollars can hardly be compared to a picnic in the park. But still, coordination in either scenario is essentially about common sense, pooling ideas and resources. Underlying is  the conviction, that one needs to go together instead of alone to achieve common goals. In November 2016, the UN has perhaps a less known anniversary to celebrate. Ten years ago a process was initiated that put the common sense of coordination for better development results on center stage for the UN development system: ‘Delivering as One’ was born.  Aimed at supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, this initiative was launched by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006 based on recommendations by Member States to strengthen coordination and management of the UN development operations. Test, evaluate and standardize But what does it take to bring to bear the full potential of a cooperative and collaborative UN on the ground? ‘Delivering as One’ equipped UN teams in 8 countries with flexibility and resources to experiment and find answers to this crucial question.  Some six years later,‘Delivering as One’ was formally recognized by Member States as a valuable business model for UN development activities. Building on five crucial pillars of the UN at the country level, namely one programme, a common budget, one leadership, and to communicate and operate as one, the UN set off to formalise the approach. Mandated by the UN General Assembly, senior UNDG leadership launched a unique interagency process  to come up with  Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for ‘Delivering as One’. These procedures were to codify the approach and bring together the lessons learned from the pilot countries for the benefit of all UN teams across the globe. If you would like to return to the travel analogy, the ultimate survival guide for a successful camping trip. In 2014 the UN Secretary General and 18 Heads of UN Agencies signed the SOPs, making the SOPs document the UN guidance document with the largest ever number of signatures by UN leaders. We’ve learned a number of valuable lessons in this two year journey of reviewing, drafting and negotiating a guidance document that would help unite UN efforts on the ground. With Ban Ki-moon’s term ending and a new resolution to guide the UN development system underway, the UNDG is at an important crossroads and  these lessons could inform future UN change processes:  1. Maintaining momentum: Reforming big institutions takes time. But with concrete yet strategic requests such as for the SOPs, change can happen fast. New resolutions and leadership create momentum for necessary change that should be harnessed. Sometimes this does not allow for in-depth preparatory research, but this time around much data has been collected on the functioning of the SOPs at the country level, paving the way for speedy progress in taking the SOPs to the next level. 2. Co-create change with those who will implement it: The UNDG set up a dedicated high level group to develop the vision of the SOPs, and a series of working groups to flesh out technicalities. Even though the high level group included colleagues from the regional and country levels, due to the very ambitious timeline, little time was left to consult and communicate intensively with important stakeholders such as country level agency staff who would be the eventual implementers of the SOPs. This might have caused delays in the behavioral change required by UN staff at the country level. 3.Keep the big picture in mind, even as you work out the detail: Developing the SOPs was a technical consolidation of experiences with ‘Delivering as One’ At the same time it was a political negotiation as to what extent agency procedures would later align to the the new standards. The UNDG focused on the technical aspects, and could have informed senior leadership and communicated to its governing bodies better about the strategic goal of the SOPs along the way: A UN system at country level ready to provide integrated policy support and solutions to multidimensional development challenges as versatile and complementary teams and has the internal procedures in place to fully support it (e.g. to allow for truly joined upfront analysis and planning). 4.The plan-monitor-adjust loop: The adoption of the SOPs falls in a period of change for many agencies, with shifting funding structures, calls for reform of governance mechanisms and the Agenda 2030 that requires taking policy integration and coherence to the next level. The SOPs embody a whole-of-UN approach that mirrors the whole-of-Government ethos that is called for to find the ideal balance between the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda breaks new ground. In the same way, the SOPs allow for continuous adjustment of technical details while maintaining their broader strategic intent. To this end, the UNDG has set up a system to track progress in the implementation of the 15 core elements of the SOPs to allow for the analysis of bottlenecks and accountability towards Member States. Challenges ahead: Changing the way we work In 2015 the UN turned 70, a year that will always be remembered as a year marked by major agreements signalling a paradigm shift in tackling global challenges. But while it was an opportunity to look back, it was also a chance to look ahead.  To help us deliver on the universal and transformative 2030 Agenda, the main challenge going forward is to enable UNCTs to provide equally integrated support to Governments through fully implemented SOPs. We need to gather more evidence on the value addition of the SOPs towards the UN’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda, and in continued reduction of transaction costs and duplication in the UN development system. On average, 16 resident and non-resident agencies in each of our 131 UN Country Teams make an incredible breadth and depth of expertise available to  Governments and societies. They provide pooled expertise, policy support and resources at country level. The SOPs allow us to harness the opportunities inherent in this vast offering by the UN system. As the recently published first Progress Report on the SOPs shows, much has been achieved in the short time span of two years since the launch of the SOPs: They have contributed greatly to improved inter-agency collaboration and enhanced the strategic positioning and relevance of the UN development system at the country level. A growing number of UNCTs are now organized around results groups and the most advanced ones focus their policy capacities around joint policy products and joint work plans. Around one third of UNCTs are implementing, or are in the process of preparing, common Business Operations Strategies in support of their United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF). Programme Country Governments that have formally requested the UN to ‘Deliver as One’ are responding much more positively to questions on the UN’s alignment with national priorities, its overall contribution to development, and its focus on the poorest and most vulnerable people. The SOPs were agreed upon, signed and rolled out. Nevertheless, more time and effort is needed to fully implement them across all UN Country Teams. To realise the full potential of the SOPs, we also need to bring the required actions at headquarter level to the governing bodies of UN entities. Member States should understand that this change does not come overnight. Persistent follow-up is required from all stakeholders. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. As John Hendra, Senior UN Coordinator “Fit for Purpose” for the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, put it we can build on the SOPs as the “floor” – for UN support to the 2030 Agenda at the country level. They are flexible and common sense principles of working together, transparently, efficiently and effectively. They also ensure government oversight and ownership, helping the UN to better align with national development needs and objective. In this sense, progress made in the past 10 years on ‘Delivering as One’ makes for a great campfire story perfecting a journey towards a UN that delivers better together. A story told jointly by so many UN colleagues from a diversity of organizations, based in countries across the globe, united by the UN values, vision and mission. This is an encouraging result from the 2012 quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR) resolution and positive signal going forward into the negotiations of the next resolution on the UN’s operational activities for development.

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Silo Fighters Blog

18 countries, 18 UN agencies and one goal: Sustainable development in the Caribbean

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.

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Silo Fighters Blog

Tanzania private sector: Open for business on the Sustainable Development Goals

BY Alvaro Rodriguez | June 17, 2016

We all know that the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals is an ambitious global plan, but if we are serious about it, building vibrant and systematic partnerships is a vital prerequisite for their successful implementation. At the UN in Tanzania, we are busy building partnerships to support the new global agenda. So far we have engaged the executive branch of the government, to include the SDGs in the next five-year national development plan. We’ve also reached out to youth groups, with whom we launched the SDG Champions initiative. And the media fraternity is joining us to spread the word about the goals in Kiswahili language; and most recently, the private sector.   Testing the waters Recently, the United Nations Tanzania partnered with the private sector to benchmark their readiness to support the implementation of the SDGs. We do this through the with the UN Global Compact, the Corporate Social Responsibility Group Africa Limited and the Africa Sustainable Business Magazine. Our first step was to get some information the private sector and their plans for engaging on Agenda 2030. We had a very group turnout - almost 280 of the 350 private sector companies  responded to our survey. This targeted research provided some interesting insights on the views of the SDGs by Tanzanian companies. The good news is that they are aware of the SDGs and interested in partnering with the UN to make them happen in Tanzania. According to the results, 60 percent of the people surveyed are aware of the SDGs, being the SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all - the one that resonated most among the participants.  SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere-, and SDG 3 -Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages - followed on the list of the most popular goals among this sector. The respondents also agreed that, potentially, they can have the biggest impact on SDG 8. Beyond just knowing about them, we are also encouraged  that the private sector is ready to partner with us to implement the SDGs, with 60 percent of the participants responding positively to a partnership opportunity to implement the Agenda 2030 in Tanzania. We shared the findings of this survey at the 1st Africa Sustainable Business Summit held in Dar Es Salaam, attended by the Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, who encouraged the private sector to actively raise awareness about the SDGs and to build partnerships to assist their implementation. At this stage private sector companies are interested mainly in raising awareness on the new global agenda: Sharing information with their employees, especially on health-related issues, and sharing information on behalf of the UN about the SDGs. Keeping it up According to a UNIDO-commissioned report on engaging with the private sector, “building vibrant and systematic partnerships with the private sector is a vital prerequisite for the successful implementation of a transformative agenda to accelerate poverty reduction and sustainable development in the post-2015 era.” In Tanzania, we will keep working in this direction, we believe the private sector should be taking a strong role in the development in Tanzania with the Global Goals being an integral part of their business proposition. We know that in terms of protecting the environment, preventing corruption and strengthening employment the private sector is absolutely key and their commitment is therefore essential at this stage of Tanzania’s development. The UN will be there to support this effort.  Anyone out there that can share their ideas and experiences?

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Silo Fighters Blog

Listening to people’s voices in Tanzania

BY Alvaro Rodriguez | September 8, 2015

Mobile and online surveys are inspiring a new focus on communications and advocacy for the United Nations in Tanzania, where listening to people’s voices is a priority in our efforts to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. Some 1,200 Tanzanian men and women replied to our survey asking, “What can we do better as the UN?” They received the mobile survey by SMS (text message) while attending the Sabasaba, an international trade fair and major promotional event organized by the government. We not only analyzed the results for use in our programming, but amplified the people’s voices through a UN exhibit at the fair. Recently, we received an award from the President of Tanzania for the UN’s outreach to the people. Showcasing the survey results at the Sabasaba fair Participating in the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair, known as ‘Sabasaba’, is a key activity related to the UN@70. In early July 2015, the event brought over 2,000 exhibitors from various countries in Africa and elsewhere representing government, entrepreneurs, the private sector and NGOs. Under Delivering as One, 23 agencies of One UN Tanzania participated. This was the fourth time we participated, but this time with a unique focus on peoples’ voices, including those gathered in the survey and from other sources. Gathering perceptions about the UN The UN in Tanzania has implemented a mobile survey platform aimed at hearing the people’s voices. The United Nations Country Team worked with the company GeoPoll, which administers surveys through SMS, voice or mobile web, to create a short list of key questions. Five questions were prepared that focused on the activities of the United Nations in Tanzania and what people think we could do better as the UN. Respondents could also propose means of receiving and sending information to and from the UN. The mobile survey was sent as a questionnaire in the Kiswahili language. It targeted the general public visiting the Sabasaba exhibition over a one-week period. Respondents came from across the mainland and Zanzibar, with each region, sex and age bracket represented. Interestingly, the findings were that people are keen to receive UN messages and information largely through SMS, WhatsApp, Email and Radio, in that order of preference. At the moment, we have been focusing on newsletters, social media, our website and print media as the means of communications with the people. The top three areas where people think we could do more as One UN are Education, Employment and Agriculture. The mobile survey was part of a series of Stakeholder Perception Surveys that reached diverse audiences in 2015. We also administered four other online surveys. They targeted government, civil society, development partners, the media as well as our own UN staff and personnel. What did the survey results tell us? Arguably, the most interesting data emerging from the mobile survey and other surveys was related to communications and outreach. In other words, if the UN wishes to maintain the interest of its stakeholders, it must work harder to expand audience reach and demonstrate relevance. This could include: Greatly augment ‘traditional’ forms of communication, i.e. email, events, meetings, website and newsletter; Much greater use of SMS (text messaging) and social media; More materials in Kiswahili language of; More ‘technical’ information on key development issues provided through popular versions with simplified language. The findings confirm the need for the UN to integrate the people’s voices into our plans since they help us improve our effectiveness and efficiency, especially on communications. We are also using the findings to help shape our next UNDAF. In addition to priorities in communications and outreach, other important insights emerged from the different surveys we have been administering: Demand on the UN in Tanzania is set to increase, and its relevance is widely acknowledged; The ‘added value’ the UN brings to the country is viewed in terms of ideas, not just financial resources; Poverty reduction remains a priority, and the UN has a key role in the three ‘poverty reduction’ clusters as defined by government: inclusive growth, social well-being and governance; Greater sensitization on the importance of mainstreaming human rights and gender equality is required. Development partners in the donor community recognize the importance of Delivering as One. However, the pace of change is not as fast as partners would like to see. UN staff require regular information-sharing, through a variety of channels, to ensure the spirit of Delivering as One in Tanzania is maintained. In Tanzania we are capitalizing on UN@70 to listen to the voices of the people! These lessons will be integrated in the content and modality of our programming, including our communication and advocacy strategy. An award for listening to UN stakeholders’ voices We have already started to overhaul our joint UN communications strategy, where mobile applications will now be a priority. And yes! We won an award – first prize on Information and Publishing. The award was given to UN Tanzania by the President of Tanzania, and received on behalf of the UN system by the Resident Coordinator. This shows that we are recognized as a development partner committed to reaching the people as well as to listening to them. It is all about ‘the voices, their voices, and our support’.

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Silo Fighters Blog

How we are ‘communicating as one’ in Iran

BY Gary Lewis | July 7, 2015

Public communications can be challenging in Iran, the country where I work. But we must be visible. Why? If we can show people that we are doing good work – and demonstrate that the United Nations is here to support Iran’s development and humanitarian agenda – Iranians will come to better appreciate the UN’s contribution inside Iran. So will those outside Iran. Partnerships will expand. And the political environment will become more conducive to funding more good work. Here are 10 ways we are communicating as one, using a communications plan approved by the UN Country Team in Iran: 1. Engage key audiences proactively Public communications efforts deliver messages designed to reach specific external audiences: the general public, the media, government, potential funding partners (including Iranian diaspora and local private sector), civil society and the general public. 2. Use UN agency Speakers’ Notes as a common script Opportunities for public speaking are actively pursued. (Check out a recent TEDx event where I discuss the linkages between the environment and human security.) Each of the 18 UN agencies in Iran prepare a set of talking points, outlining the key messages they want me to get across in any interview I have with the media on their issues. Furthermore, we have agreed scripts on cross-cutting issues like human rights, gender empowerment and youth. 3. Celebrate UN Days ― last year we celebrated around 30. We select those ‘International Days’ which connect with our ongoing development and humanitarian work. And we celebrate them. This allows us to hook onto a globally-celebrated day and then point to what the UN is doing on the ground in Iran. At the beginning of the year, the agencies plan to take the lead in organizing an activity for a specific day. 4. Give media interviews – frequently As the Resident Coordinator, I am often joined by agency heads who feel comfortable speaking with the press. We give frequent interviews with local and international media. Press releases and press briefing are structured media interactions that are used less frequently, e.g. when high-profile UN visitors come to Iran or when we have a report to launch. 5. Make the most of websites Almost every one of our 18 UN agencies runs their own website. Material from each of these sites is cross-linked to the UN Iran site. We average 70 stories each month on the UN Iran site. 6. Broadcast a regular E-Burst to friends worldwide At the end of each month we send out an e-mail with photos and links to stories to 1,500 recipients, including government officials, development partners, the private sector, media and civil society. Each issue begins with a brief overview of the preceding month’s events: one column in English; one column in Farsi. Readers can skim down the list of stories and open the links to the stories that interest them. 7. Use social media to greatly magnify messages If the UN is not visible through social media channels, no one will know about the great work we are doing. This will hurt our ability to share good practices, and it will hurt our ability to raise funds to expand the great work. The material that goes onto the website is also broadcast our other social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 8. Pay attention to quality control and speed Originally, I used to review all stories going up on the website before posting. But as time passed, others have assumed the quality control role with excellent results. As a rule we try to get up a story on any event within 24 hours. Speed is of the essence in conveying freshness and relevance. We have an enthusiastic and energetic UN communications team drawn from the UN agencies, which drives the process. 9. Try to use multiple languages In Iran, we try to run as many stories as possible in both English and Farsi. We are getting better at writing and Tweeting in both languages. 10. Monitor the results of public communications activities We are planning a Client Satisfaction Survey for our key audiences, using our 1,500 member E-Burst mailing list database. Proxy indicators can speak to scope and impact. The number of website hits is one example, along with data on the hit’s country of origin, length of time the visitor stayed, number of pages visited. We also track the number of stories we manage to place in the media. What do you think? How is Communicating as One being applied in your country?

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Country Stories

Tanzania private sector: Open for business on the Sustainable Development Goals

June 17, 2016

We all know that the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals is an ambitious global plan, but if we are serious about it, building vibrant and systematic partnerships is a vital prerequisite for their successful implementation. At the UN in Tanzania, we are busy building partnerships to support the new global agenda. So far we have engaged the executive branch of the government, to include the SDGs in the next five-year national development plan. We’ve also reached out to youth groups, with whom we launched the SDG Champions initiative. And the media fraternity is joining us to spread the word about the goals in Kiswahili language; and most recently, the private sector.   Testing the waters Recently, the United Nations Tanzania partnered with the private sector to benchmark their readiness to support the implementation of the SDGs. We do this through the with the UN Global Compact, the Corporate Social Responsibility Group Africa Limited and the Africa Sustainable Business Magazine. Our first step was to get some information the private sector and their plans for engaging on Agenda 2030. We had a very group turnout - almost 280 of the 350 private sector companies  responded to our survey. This targeted research provided some interesting insights on the views of the SDGs by Tanzanian companies. The good news is that they are aware of the SDGs and interested in partnering with the UN to make them happen in Tanzania. According to the results, 60 percent of the people surveyed are aware of the SDGs, being the SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all - the one that resonated most among the participants.  SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere-, and SDG 3 -Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages - followed on the list of the most popular goals among this sector. The respondents also agreed that, potentially, they can have the biggest impact on SDG 8. Beyond just knowing about them, we are also encouraged  that the private sector is ready to partner with us to implement the SDGs, with 60 percent of the participants responding positively to a partnership opportunity to implement the Agenda 2030 in Tanzania. We shared the findings of this survey at the 1st Africa Sustainable Business Summit held in Dar Es Salaam, attended by the Vice President of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu, who encouraged the private sector to actively raise awareness about the SDGs and to build partnerships to assist their implementation. At this stage private sector companies are interested mainly in raising awareness on the new global agenda: Sharing information with their employees, especially on health-related issues, and sharing information on behalf of the UN about the SDGs. Keeping it up According to a UNIDO-commissioned report on engaging with the private sector, “building vibrant and systematic partnerships with the private sector is a vital prerequisite for the successful implementation of a transformative agenda to accelerate poverty reduction and sustainable development in the post-2015 era.” In Tanzania, we will keep working in this direction, we believe the private sector should be taking a strong role in the development in Tanzania with the Global Goals being an integral part of their business proposition. We know that in terms of protecting the environment, preventing corruption and strengthening employment the private sector is absolutely key and their commitment is therefore essential at this stage of Tanzania’s development. The UN will be there to support this effort.  Anyone out there that can share their ideas and experiences?

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