To implement the UNDAF, the UN system establishes and clarifies roles, responsibilities and necessary processes for oversight, coordination, management, partnership arrangements, planning, monitoring and evaluation. In line with the UN commitment to national ownership through strengthening national capacities, these arrangements maximize the use of national systems and available UN competencies and resources, and are grounded in the international norms and standards that the UN system upholds.

Effective implementation requires that all UN members operate in a manner that promotes coherence, ensuring that core programming principles and approaches are fully considered and applied under the unifying principle of leaving no one behind. To this end, the UN system commits adequate resources to UNDAF management arrangements. Organizations need to establish incentives for their staff to consistently contribute to inter-agency mechanisms for delivering on the UNDAF, such as by integrating this expectation in their performance plans.

Roles and Responsibilities

The UNDG Management and Accountability System (MAS), including the functional Resident Coordinator firewall, provides an overview of the responsibilities and accountabilities of key actors, including in the context of developing and implementing an UNDAF. Key roles are identified for the Resident Coordinator and members of the UNCT (UN Management and Accountability System).

The Resident Coordinator facilitates and oversees the CCA, and the design and implementation of the UNDAF. Where required, the Resident Coordinator may also propose amendments to the UNDAF and the joint work plans if some activities are no longer aligned with the broader strategy of the UNDS to respond to national needs and priorities.

Further details on specific roles, responsibilities and accountabilities are found in the integrated guidance for the SOPs. When feasible, UNDAF design and implementation arrangements align with existing broader national coordination mechanisms to avoid duplicating these mechanisms and to keep transaction costs to a minimum while ensuring national ownership and leadership. Figure 3 represents a typical implementation arrangement, although this may differ in countries with UN missions.

The Joint National/UN Steering Committee, co-chaired by the government coordinating entity and the Resident Coordinator, reviews and guides the strategic direction of the UNDAF and the joint work plans, providing high-level oversight and support. Its generic terms of reference (One-Programme Tools & Materials) reflect the spirit of national ownership, although final details are decided by the Resident Coordinator and UNCT depending on local context and in consultation with the government. The steering committee meets at least once per year during the UNDAF annual review to discuss data and evidence collected during monitoring for assessing progress against the indicators, horizon-scanning, updating risk analysis, and assessing performance in forming partnerships, resource mobilization and delivery.

UNDAF Results Groups[22] are an arrangement for the implementation of one or more UNDAF strategic priorities. They are typically internal UN working mechanisms that ensure a coherent UN approach. Results Groups should be aligned to existing nationally led coordination mechanisms whenever possible. Where such mechanisms do not exist, the UN system can promote their creation. Depending on country context, national and international stakeholders may be included in Results Groups (One-Programme Tools & Materials)

Joint work plans

Joint work plans are managed by Results Groups and define output-level results, activities and an annual CBF. They enable the UN system to advance coherence, coordinate work around the delivery of the UNDAF outcomes, and support transparency and accountability. Organization-specific work plans complement UNDAF joint work plans, where relevant. In formulating and carrying out joint work plans, Results Group do the following:

  • Identify outputs where two or more agencies can complete each other’s efforts, including through joint programming, and outline the roles of different members in achieving common results.
  • Coordinate and manage the implementation of interventions in a coherent manner, to achieve common results;
  • Identify joint communications and advocacy opportunities to achieve common results;
  • Ensure that outputs are costed, available resources identified, and the funding gap calculated and reported on;
  • Develop and sign joint work plans with relevant UN organizations and whenever possible with the government;
  • Periodically review and revise the joint work plans as necessary;
  • Prepare inputs for the annual One UN Country Results Report.

In countries with UN missions, implementation can be facilitated through joint work plans overseen by Results Groups with both UN mission and UN agency members. The work plans provide a transparent overview of the activities of UN actors working in the country and create a better division of labour. Activities can either be implemented by the mission alone or jointly with one or more UN entities. In countries with humanitarian operations, humanitarian actors can contribute to joint work plans, and efforts can be made to ensure coherence and complementarity between humanitarian and development actions. For more information, see the SOPs for countries adopting the “Delivering as One” approach, and the companion document One Programme Tools and Materials: Tips and Template for Joint Work Plans (One-Programme Tools & Materials).

Joint programming and joint programmes: Mutual reinforcement

Joint programming is the collective effort through which UN organizations and national partners work together to prepare, implement, monitor and evaluate activities aimed at effectively and efficiently achieving the SDGs and other international commitments, within the framework of the UNDAF and the joint work plans.

Within joint work plans, the United Nations may identify the need for increased joint delivery through the development of one or more joint programme(s). A joint programme is a set of activities contained in a joint work plan and related budgetary framework, involving two or more UN organizations, and intended to achieve results aligned with national priorities as reflected in the UNDAF. Joint programmes can be funded through pooled funds. While the joint programme arrangement is only between UN organizations, other stakeholders can be engaged as implementing partners. UN missions and humanitarian actors are also invited to engage in joint programmes, where appropriate, depending on the country context. Joint programmes can be attractive to funding partners, since the modality provides greater assurance of UN coherence in delivering results.


[22] The Results Groups contribute to specific UNDAF outcomes through coordinated and collaborative planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation.

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Silo Fighters Blog

Preparing for the Future(s): Foresight, citizens’ insights and serious games

BY Ana Dautovic, Marija Novkovic | October 20, 2015

Most people feel that the future is linear: if you perform well in school, you’ll get a job; if you work hard, you’ll be promoted; if you save, you’ll be able to live well through your retirement age, et cetera, et cetera. There is a great level of comfort in the IF → THEN causal link because there are fewer variables, fewer elements that could go off the rails. There is more certainty and we feel more in control. However, through Futures Studies there are alternative futures (possible, probable, plausible, and preferred); consequently, there are multiple development pathways. Professor Jim Dator, the pioneer of modern futures studies once said that “the future cannot be predicted because the future does not exist.” Indeed, the last few years brought forward unfathomable changes with deep, far-reaching ramifications. The global financial crisis, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, nuclear power plant disasters, the rise of extremism, and the ongoing global refugee crisis, to name just a few. The linear path from A (The Past) to B (The Now) to C (The Future) in these occurrences has been more challenging, if not impossible, to pin down. Because of the rapid pace of changes, development organizations are, in fact, asked to be more resilient and more agile so as to navigate uncertainties. We in the UN System in Montenegro were mindful of the fact that the realities of the present day and age require innovation at the highest point of impact – the five-year strategic plan of support to the country. We created a strategy that would infuse our long-term planning with foresight and civic engagement. It consists of three steps. 1. Serious games for empowering new voices in strategic planning Working in Montenegro over the last few years has brought us closer to the country's rising new voices -- a generation witnessing and creating unprecedented changes to the social fabric. Working across think-thanks, academia, statistical office and NGOs, they are disruptive innovators, digital champions and active youth. We engaged them through collaborative workshops, where they learned about foresight, and most importantly, created alternative futures for Montenegro. We are particularly proud to have used a serious game that was custom-made for Montenegro by John A. Sweeney, another member of the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies and deputy director of the Center for Postnormal Policy and Futures Studies. The game, beautifully designed to showcase elements of the national costume, served as an enhanced survey tool, prompting the players to ponder on values, challenges, opportunities, stakeholders and actions, which will likely shape the future of the country. 2. Digital engagement fit for the 21st century Civic engagement, particularly through social innovation and online platforms, has been high on UN Montenegro’s agenda. So far, we’ve engaged thousands of Montenegrins and garnered their insights through the massive post-2015 national consultations (12,000 people), the Youth Employment Solutions platform (10,700 people), and uncovered social change heroes through the Open Ideas and Be Responsible campaigns (over 7000 civic reports of informal economy leading to generating public revenue in excess of 1 million EUR). However, public consultations on the next five-year strategic plan of collaboration between the UN and the Government of Montenegro were the new peak we had to conquer. We turned to digital technologies, and moved our serious game into the online space, hoping for a wider outreach. We are both anxious and excited about receiving citizens’ insights into the future! 3. Innovating at the point of strategic prioritization While this summer seemed like one giant roller-coaster journey, we do have few more rides ahead of us! Moving away from traditional planning processes, we are bringing in foresight into strategic planning with the Government. Applying foresight should allow us to unlock a much broader scope of analysis.  We plan to use backcasting, i.e. a forward looking planning process where we start from future(s) scenarios to define programmes that will help make them a reality. This strategic meeting with the government will be as collaborative and hands-on as possible, to inspire everyone to engage more than they would by filling out a survey or validating pre-defined strategic priorities. It will enable considering new horizons of the five-year plan, the integrated nature of sustainable development and human rights, and creating a more resilient society. Thinking critically about preferred futures will lead the way towards creating a more fluid and agile structure so that when challenges arise, we can navigate them. This approach will ultimately promote proactive versus reactive attitudes. In our next blog post, we will share what we have learned so far. Stay tuned, check out the video feature, and join the ride!

Silo Fighters Blog

Now is the best time to embrace the futures: SDGs success depends on strategic foresight

BY Cat Tully | September 28, 2016

2016 is a unique, exciting time for the global development agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are now underway and UN country teams face the huge task of implementing them. So, who will get the best outcomes by 2030? My money is on countries that use strategic foresight. This blog will explain why, and how. Foresight Foresight is a form of strategic planning that enables us to think about futures*. We will never have hard data about what might happen in years to come, but in a volatile and rapidly changing world foresight can provide us with principles for understanding complexity, building resilience and setting direction. Foresight is essential to achieving development goals because it enables us to implement policies based on a thorough and informed approach, as opposed to a set of assumptions. Foresight and the UN As the SDG agenda fires up, we embark on an entirely new policymaking approach, and UN country teams have the exciting opportunity to become leaders in the field of emergent strategic planning. This positions the UN in a unique, if not daunting role: to support communities and countries globally to implement strategic foresight. So how do we begin? Foresight is not something that can be added on top of existing structures; it can’t be thrown in as a tick-box exercise. If we want robust development policies, the UN must embed foresight within UNDAF processes. This requires gradual, structural change in order to be successful. First and foremost, decision makers must make sure processes are emergent. This means that they are participative, with governments acting as facilitators of other actors, as opposed to top-down controllers. In general, there are five key principles of emergent strategic planning that stand any organisation in good stead: Examine the strategic context. Analyse trends and drivers of possible futures contexts, along different time horizons, e.g. one year, five years and 15 years, so it can inform but not be captured by budget and operational planning decisions. Openly engage with a wide set of views. Seek the opinions of the public, especially vulnerable and extremely poor citizens (i.e. the key “beneficiaries” of development policy design). Look at a set of issues with multiple lenses. Diversity and alternative perspectives are important for understanding and identifying weak signals, as well as developing common knowledge and ownership. Identify possible futures and trends. This includes trends that are desired or otherwise, that can be highlighted either through complete pictures of scenarios or snapshots. Build on policy implications. Reviewing what genuine strategic alternatives look like, and enabling resilience as well as pushing for desired outcomes. Being emergent is vital. In our uncertain world where we face big, long-term threats like climate change, traditional policymaking and government structures fall short. The role of government is shifting and in order to effectively plan for the future in a strategic way, governments must move from being commanding controllers to “system stewards”.** The UN plays a key role in making this happen. System stewards facilitate a network of multiple actors with different perspectives: they guide an emergent, inclusive policy-planning process, which effectively plans for and responds to opportunities and risks. System stewardship is the only sustainable alternative to the traditional command-and-control government structure that currently fails to deliver for citizens. The role of the UN in transforming government The SDGs actually mandate the UN to transform the role of government in this way: SDG 16 demands “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions”. This is effectively describing a system stewardship model, but as you can imagine, this won’t happen automatically. Governments must first build the capacity to use strategic foresight to take the longer-term into account, and the UN is in the perfect position to help make this happen. If implemented properly, SDG 16 has the exciting potential to transform the role of government for the long-term. System stewardship will enable governments to navigate an increasingly complex world, whilst keeping citizens at the centre of processes and long-term plans that genuinely work. Ultimately, the success of the SDGs depends on our ability to start using foresight as soon as possible. The UN must seize this intervention point to strengthen governments as stewards, and ensure wider participation is integrated into strategic planning processes. Foresight resources Everything in this blog comes from a recent guide on how the UN Development Assistance Frameworks process can make better use of foresight. It was informed by consultations with development professionals (both within and outside the UN) and provides tools for improving processes and introducing strategic foresight into UNDAF. The guide also includes examples of foresight and other public sector innovations to improve multi-year strategic planning, as well as case studies from UN in-country teams (Laos, Montenegro and Rwanda) who have begun to apply foresight to their UNDAF planning process. To discover how to apply foresight, and to access a list of practical resources, download the guide here. *We speak of “futures” in the plural, because there are many different alternatives for where the world might be in the next five, ten or 50 years. **See Tully, C. Stewardship of the Future. Using Strategic Foresight in 21st Century Governance.  2015.