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The United Nations Country Team

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) exists in 131 countries, covering all of the 165 countries where there are United Nations programmes. The UNCT encompasses all the entities of the UN system that carry out operational activities for development, emergency, recovery and transition in programme countries.

The UNCT ensures inter-agency coordination and decision-making at the country level. The main purpose of the country team is for individual agencies to plan and work together, as part of the Resident Coordinator system, to ensure the delivery of tangible results in support of the development agenda of the Government.

The UNCT membership, roles and responsibilities is laid out clearly within each UNCT. These will include accountability to each other and the Resident Coordinator, taking responsibility for elements of the Resident Coordinator/UNCT work plan, particularly in oversight of subsidiary groups, mobilization of resources for the UN Development Assistance Framework and UNCT plans, and taking part in mutual assessments. This will not prejudice their relationship with their own agency.

The UNCT is led by the UN Resident Coordinator, who is the designated representative of the UN Secretary-General. The Resident Coordinator reports to the UN Secretary-General through the Chair of the UN Development Group.

As international civil servants, all UNCT members are expected to comply with the UN Charter and the Standards of Conduct of the International Civil Service and indeed as leaders, UNCT members are expected to exemplify the highest degree of compliance possible. This includes an expected set of personal qualities (such as inclusiveness, integrity and ethics, respect and trust, respect for diversity, non-discrimination, freedom from harassment, promotion and protection of human rights, and creativity) and also business process standards (such as teamwork, transparency and accountability, participatory management, open communications, timely dissemination of information, quality performance and oversight, and results orientation) for the UNCT.

All UNCT members have direct-line accountability to their own organization, as well as collegial accountability to the Resident Coordinator and rest of the UNCT for producing results under the UN Development Assistance Framework, recognizing that a well-functioning UNCT allows each organization to be more effective than acting alone. The UNCT will assign various leadership roles to its members on programmatic and management issues.

UN Country Team Membership

According to the Administrative Committee on Coordination guidelines on the functioning of the Resident Coordination system,

“the UNCT is composed of representatives of the UN funds and programmes, specialized agencies and other UN entities accredited to a given country. It could also include representatives of the Bretton Woods institutions (see GA resolution 53/192, preamble 6).”

The UNCT will ensure full participation of all other UN entities active in a given country in the decision-making process concerning strategic and programmatic issues.

UN Country Team meetings will include all representatives of the UN funds and programmes, specialized agencies and other UN entities active in a given country. It should also include representatives of the Bretton Woods institutions. These representatives must be a UN staff member, be nominated by their agency to represent, and be empowered with decision-making authority.

Mechanisms should be established to ensure all agencies can fully participate in the UNCT consultations and decision making processes and are informed through regular communications and information sharing.

Roles and Responsibilities

UNCT members develop operational programmes to support the achievement of the UN Development Assistance Framework priorities. The UNCT will help develop proposals regarding pooling country level fund raising and joint financing, based on the agreed needs and priorities of the country.

The UNCT makes decisions through a consultative process and meets generally at least once a month.

Accountability

All UNCT members, including the Resident Coordinator, are accountable for their roles in the team, particularly those members that take on leadership roles (e.g. in Theme Groups). Resident Coordinators and UNCT members are appraised on their substantive performance in their contribution to the team by an interagency appraisal meeting of the Regional Directors Team/Regional Managers Team , which includes designated HQ officials.

Resident Coordinator System Support

A UNCT compact should set out the specific parameters for UNCT Coordination Support/Unit and workings of sub-groups (especially Theme Groups) of the UNCT. The following might be included:

  • Resident Coordinator Office

To coordinate the work of the UN system at the country level, each Resident Coordinator/UNCT should have a Resident Coordinator Office to support these roles and demands.

UNCT members will actively support the Resident Coordinator  within the context of the UNDAF results framework, including in technical support to achieve agreed UNCT results and in analysis, planning, tracking and reporting processes, information management, communication and advocacy.

This Office should have the minimum staffing and resources required to complete this important coordination function. Technical expertise on substantive issues should be provided by agency staff, rather than the Resident Coordinator Office, which should have a supportive/facilitative role.

  • Theme Groups and other subsidiary groups of the UNCT

As tasked by the UNCT, the UN Theme Groups carry out programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation for each of the UN Development Assistance Framework priorities.

The UNCT member leading the Theme Group assumes responsibility and is accountable for the agreed work plan results and follow-up on results. The Chair of the UN Theme Group should report to the UNCT on a regular basis to brief, discuss and agree on any proposed actions and follow up. Other groups networks of the UNCT might cover Monitoring and Evaluation, Communication or Common Services.

History

The concept of the UNCT originated in 1977, when the General Assembly established the concept of a single official (i.e. the Resident Coordinator) to coordinate operational activities within the UN system.

Over the years the concept has evolved, and the key role of the UNCT for the effective and efficient functioning of the UN system at the country level has been noted in all General Assembly Resolutions on the Comprehensive Policy Review since 1992 (GA Resolutions 47/199, 50/120, 56/201, 59/201 and 62/208).

Efforts to strengthen the UNCT were emphasized by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in his 1997 reform agenda. The 2005 World Summit also called for a strengthened UNCT in implementing the reforms at the country level.

The General Assembly’s 2004 and 2007 Comprehensive Policy Reviews set out further measures to strengthen the UNCT, including greater accountability towards host governments and the inter-governmental process as well as within the UN system. They also mandated the UN system to become more coherent, effective and relevant, and to simplify and harmonize business practices. In addition, they endorsed the UN Development Assistance Framework as the common planning tool for all the funds and programmes as a framework for the full UN system. The General Assembly also urged the UN system to use all opportunities to increase aid effectiveness.

The use of common instruments and tools has played an important role in UNCT efforts to improve country-level coherence. There are three major instruments in use: the common country assessment; the UN Development Assistance Framework and its results framework; and joint programming and joint programmes.

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Silo Fighters Blog

Dominican Republic: 5 Steps to Develop a SDG Data Innovation Lab

BY Mildred Samboy | February 8, 2018

Have you ever wondered how much hazardous waste is generated in your community, city, or country? What is the proportion of women who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health? Or how many people have declared themselves victims of discrimination or harassment in the last 12 months? Imagine if you could have access to this data in a country of more than 10 million inhabitants in the center of the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic, only 37 percent of the indicators that make up the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have data available for monitoring and 44 percent do not have information or sources for their measurement. This constitutes a challenge for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production is one of the biggest statistical challenges for the country. As established in the 2016 Rapid Integrated Assessment “there are significant biases in the integration of (SDG 12) indicators into the national development planning and their availability for an adequate monitoring and fulfillment of the fourth axis (sustainable development) of National Development” in the Dominican Republic [1]. All of this considered, how can we measure the SDG 12 indicator related to the generation and proportion of hazardous waste in the country? To figure this out, we joined forces with the National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to come up with a strategy. The result was a data innovation lab built in five steps: Step 1: Select key stakeholders Which institutions are fundamental in the development of an SDG data innovation lab? Multisectoriality is essential to guarantee the richness of this exercise. Two things were paramount for this step: To bring the institutions in charge of statistics and planning (the National Statistics Office and the Ministry of Economy) on board. These institutions are part of other coordination structures, such as the National Commission for Sustainable Development (SDGs Commission), which is the 2030 Agenda coordination and advisory structure (See Decrees 23-16 and 26-17). In this exercise, the UN System in the Dominican Republic worked with the Technical Secretariat of the SDGs Commission to identify a proposal of indicators and criteria for this initiative. To include as many stakeholders as possible in the discussion; from representatives of the public sector (hospitals, General Customs Directorate), to the private sector, to Academia, to environmental organizations, everyone related to the disposal of hazardous waste was invited to participate. This exercise demonstrates the importance of challenging these structures to enforce the fluidity and comprehensiveness of the statistical systems, and their responsibility in the process, guaranteeing an effective relationship that helps bridge existing gaps. Step 2: Select the indicators Which indicators should be selected and prioritized for the development of a Data Innovation Lab? Prioritizing indicators at a national level means choosing them according to the country’s statistical needs. The parameters for this lab were: (A) Lack of source or measurement methodology (B) Indicators within the SDGs identified for the Voluntary National Review (VNR) for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2018), in which the Dominican Republic will participate this year. Following these parameters, the Statistics Office presented a proposal with the following indicators: "Proportion of wastewater safely treated"; "Hazardous waste generated per capita and proportion of hazardous waste treated, disaggregated by type of treatment"; and "Number of companies that publish sustainability reports". Of these proposals, hazardous waste was prioritized, taking the Environmental Compliance Reports [2] as a starting point. Step 3: Build participatory and formative spaces How can sectors express and validate the challenges and opportunities for improvement related to the selected indicator? Following this initiative, two main consultation workshops were held with institutions related to the field. The results of the first consultation highlighted the challenges and bottlenecks that make it difficult for the indicator to be measured.  The second workshop aimed to find innovative solutions and improvement opportunities to the problems identified in the first workshop. In both workshops, over 20 young people from academia and civil society institutions volunteered, moderating and summarizing key findings and conclusions at each table discussion. Step 4: Check the possible sources of the indicator How to guarantee results and sustainability in the statistical development of the indicator? In addition to the consultations, a group of specialists were tasked with reviewing the Environmental Compliance Report. This source was important because it is an environmental Administrative Record (forms, reports, files, among others). This review led to a joint exercise by the Statistics Office and the Ministry of Environment to collect and analyze data regarding hazardous waste, together with the private sector, academia and hospitals. It also made it possible to generate technical, statistical and environmental capabilities linked to the indicator, and has created tools to formalize this practice within the institutional framework. Step 5: Systematize, develop and implement What can we do next? The final step is to follow up on the findings and conclusions of these exercises, by developing initiatives that could have a direct impact on the improvement, organization and visualization of the data related to the hazardous waste indicator. One of these initiatives would be a Hackathon to foster the creation of applications and software development for data collection and visualization. Another, which is already underway, is the elaboration of a technical data note (explaining the indicator metadata) by the Statistics Office. This note will be validated by several sectors that will have the opportunity to rethink together the statistical development structures of the indicator. At last, this team is also working with the culmination of the construction of the database of the Environmental Compliance Reports and its respective baseline. What we learned This experience shows that there is a link between the statistical development capacity of our countries and their needs, challenges, accomplishments and opportunities, which must consider the political and social dimensions. Implementing the 2030 Agenda in the field brought institutions from different sectors together to break existing barriers. While working together was as a challenge, it was also an opportunity to improve practices and actions. Strengthening the national statistical system will only be possible if the key sectors involved have the tools, the capacities and the will.     [1] The Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) Tool aims to support countries in mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into national and subnational planning, by helping assess their readiness for SDG implementation. Click here to access the Dominican Republic’s 2016 RIA elaborated by UNDP and MEPyD [2] The Environmental Compliance Report (ICA, its Spanish acronym) “is a technical report that explains the degree and quality of compliance of a facility, project, program or other activity by its operator or entity (company, NGO, government) with regards to environmental laws and regulations governing a certain place, resulting in a process of auto management.” (Dominican Republic Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Environment)

Country Stories

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?