What is a CCA?
The CCA is a required and essential element of every UNDAF process. It is the UN system’s independent and mandate-based articulation of the country context, opportunities and challenges, encompassing sustainable development, human rights, gender equality, peace and security, and humanitarian perspectives. It is underpinned by the promise of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind, and the other three programming principles.
The CCA is an objective, impartial assessment (a description of what is happening) and an analysis (a description of why it is happening) of the country situation. It strategically positions the UN system in the country and serves primarily as a programming tool. It also represents a powerful source of information to help the UN system engage with national stakeholders, including to advocate for policy changes and to support the drafting of the national development plan. The CCA provides the essential evidence base from which the UNDAF theory of change is drawn, and offers grounding and direction for a strategic UNDAF. It drives the identification of needed and achievable changes. While identifying sources for the indicators, targets and baselines of the UNDAF results framework, it also pinpoints gaps in data availability and national statistical capacity.
CCAs are forward looking. They define medium and longer term trends, based on a wide range of data sources, which provide the foundation of the UN Vision 2030 document. The UN Vision 2030 and the CCA are mutually reinforcing and should be developed in parallel. The longer term horizon of the UN Vision 2030 informs the orientation of the CCA, and the assessment and analysis of the CCA informs the trend analysis of the UN Vision 2030. Results Groups later use annual reviews to update the analysis related to their results areas so that joint work plans remain relevant for the planned implementation period.
CCAs help to identify areas for enhanced policy coherence, reflecting the interdependence of the SDGs and issues the country should address. Rather than addressing each issue in an individual way, within its own silo, CCAs combine multiple perspectives in a complementary and coherent manner. They identify national capacity gaps (e.g., analytical, institutional and/ or statistical) that can be addressed by coordinated UN support, towards enhanced policy coherence.
In developing the CCA, the UN system uses its convening power to consult and engage with the government and other stakeholders, including the most vulnerable and marginalized people and their organizations, in order to reflect different perspectives. This is considered to be objective UN analysis, and is not a document that requires formal endorsement. The purpose of the CCA is to add value to existing analyses, including that of the government. Preparation of the CCA is also an opportunity to build partnerships with key actors in a given country, which could include international financial institutions, civil society organisations and the private sector.
For countries with UN missions, UN system partners ensure that their assessment and analysis processes and tools employed are complementary, coherent and strategic. The Senior Leadership Forum at the country level is responsible for the coordination and identification of needed analyses.
Developing a CCA
CCAs include a review of existing assessments, evaluations and analyses by the government, the UN system and other stakeholders. Existing flagship publications, specific assessments and analytical tools, in particular those contributing to the global monitoring of progress on the SDGs, may be useful sources of information. An overview of possible tools and instruments is available in the CCA companion guidance.
Wherever possible, UNCTs develop CCAs in a manner that contributes to strengthening national capacity for assessment and analyses, including through better data generation. Data and analysis from global SDG indicators can be used where available. Data should be disaggregated to the extent possible to show differences in circumstance according to sex, income, age and other factors, as appropriate. Where official data are not available or not adequately disaggregated, the CCA may draw on other sources of information, such as ad hoc surveys, while maintaining data reliability and ensuring key issues are not overlooked, such as the situation of marginalized groups. Gaps in data availability or quality identified during CCA preparation can guide later UN assistance in developing national statistical capacities.
Data can be gathered in partnership with governmental and nongovernmental actors, ensuring soundness of methodology and reliability. Since the CCA is updated on a continuous basis, data from future assessments are considered when available. Where the United Nations collects its own data, it acts in a manner consistent with:
- National processes to collect baselines and targets to monitor progress against both nationally defined SDG targets and the global SDG monitoring framework;
- Efforts supporting the longer term capacity of national data systems;
- Use of a variety of data sources, including non-traditional ones such as big data, national surveys and participatory assessments;
- Identification of needs for and investment in disaggregation of data;
- Data protection policies;
- Free and open access to data and documentation across the UN system; and
- Consideration of what data already exist in the public domain, and what data should be publicly available to promote transparency and accountability.
Assessment and analysis
The assessment element of the CCA looks at all areas of the 2030 Agenda. It encompasses the material situation of people in a country, including non-nationals, and the political, policy and legislative environment for achieving the SDGs and other national commitments and obligations under international conventions ratified by the country. It assesses risks for different groups and geographic areas. It also identifies risks, challenges, opportunities, potential trade-offs, national capacities and capacity gaps, policy enablers and limitations, and considers these in the context of the UN system’s comparative advantage. Disaggregated data are fundamental to an assessment that presents an accurate picture of a national situation from the perspective of the principle of leaving no one behind. The assessment also examines the financial system in the country in terms of the achievement of the SDGs, focusing primarily on domestic finance.
The analysis element of the CCA identifies the immediate, underlying and root causes of multidimensional poverty, inequalities and discrimination, and the reasons why particular groups are left behind. It also examines gaps in the capacities of duty-bearers to fulfil their obligations and of rights-holders to make their claims. Special emphasis is paid to gender and geographical analysis at the macro-, meso- and micro- levels.  Where relevant, a conflict analysis should be undertaken, focusing on underlying and root causes, and identifying potential triggers as part of the early warning and conflict prevention roles of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front Initiative supports the United Nations in identifying these risks. The Conflict and Development Analysis Tool plus its companion piece UN Conflict Analysis Practice-Note can also be used for this purpose.
Within the CCA, comparative advantage analysis informs the strategic positioning of the UN system’s programmes in a country. It allows the identification of specific strengths that members of the UNCT bring individually and collectively in relation to other partners. The analysis considers capacity at the country, regional and headquarters levels.
Comparative advantage includes the mandate to act, the capacity to act and the positioning to act. Comparative advantage analysis does not articulate the status quo, but rather is a forward-looking projection of capacities and positioning at the country level. It is not necessarily based on those activities with which the UN system is most familiar and comfortable, focusing instead on those where the UN system can best add value. The main comparative advantages typically identified include:
- Strengthening national capacities at all levels;
- Supporting monitoring and implementation of international commitments, norms and standards, comprising the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, multilateral environmental agreements, international/regional human rights treaties and agreed international instruments;
- Assisting countries through normative support, as appropriate;
- Acting as a convener of a wide range of national and international partners;
- Providing high-quality technical expertise in specific areas;
- Objective monitoring and evaluation of the national development framework;
- Providing impartial policy advice, based on international experience, technical expertise and good practices; and/or
- Providing a neutral space within which sensitive political issues can be addressed and resolved, including support to mediation or peace negotiations.
The assessment of comparative advantage is sometimes informed by internal and external perception surveys, and other innovative tools. See detailed guidance on preparing the CCA.
 For a comparative summary of different gender analysis frameworks, see the UNDG Resource Book on Mainstreaming Gender in Common Programming at the Country Level (Table 1, p. 17).