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Based on evidence provided by the CCA, the UN system ensures the following elements are common to all UNDAF development processes.

  • Identification of a limited number of key UNDAF strategic priorities (sometimes called results, areas, pillars or clusters) that are issue-based and framed by the 2030 Agenda, rather than being sector-oriented, and in which the UN system has the capacity and comparative advantage to make an impact through results that can be taken to scale and achieve transformative change;
  • Development of an overall theory of change that identifies viable development pathways. The theory of change will be used to derive collective outcomes, outputs and indicators for measuring changes, and articulates the logic and assumptions behind the assertion that those will lead to results.

FORMULATING UNDAF STRATEGIC PRIORITIES AND THE RESULTS MATRIX

STRATEGIC PRIORITIZATION

The strategic priorities of the UNDAF should be primarily drawn from the CCA and the UN Vision 2030. Those selected are envisaged to generate the greatest impacts in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs, in line with national priorities and needs. The identification of strategic priorities and the theory of change associated with them (including UNDAF outcomes) occurs through a transparent and consultative process involving national stakeholders.

Strategic prioritization takes into account national priorities, and gaps in policies and legal frameworks as well as the capacities of state and non-state institutions. It also considers a possible geographic focus, and looks at what other bilateral and multilateral partners are doing, and how the United Nations will work with them to achieve national priorities. The strategic prioritization exercise should be based on a previously agreed and shared UN understanding of the priority areas in the country, including under humanitarian and peacekeeping agendas, where the UN system, based on its comparative advantage, will focus its contribution.

UNDAF Outcomes

In line with UNDG RBM Handbook, outcomes represent changes in the institutional and behavioural capacities for development. Outcomes should:

  • Make a substantive and measurable contribution to the achievement of the selected priorities of the national development framework and the 2030 Agenda;
  • Directly address key issues/development challenges identified by the country analysis;
  • Be specific, realistically achievable, sustainable and measurable, ensuring accountability and monitoring;
  • Include special measures to address gender inequalities and empower women based on the findings from the CCA; and
  • Reflect the contributions of one or more organizations, clearly highlighted in the UNDAF results matrix.

Outputs are changes in skills or the abilities and capacities of individuals or institutions, or the availability of new products and services that result from the completion of a development intervention. Outputs are reflected in annual, biennial or multiyear joint work plans. Results at output level are directly attributable to the UN system and contribute to outcomes. While outputs are not required for the UNDAF, the UN system may choose to develop outputs as part of the outcome theory of change, which underlies work plans.

PREPARING A THEORY OF CHANGE

UNDAFs are founded on a clearly articulated, evidence-based theory of change that describes everything that needs to happen for development change to occur. As such, the theory of change allows the UNCT to understand the ways in which the results of the UNDAF results framework relate to one another. It explains the causal relationship between different types and levels of results, and makes explicit both the risks and assumptions that define the relationship. By doing so, it allows the UNCT and its partners to interrogate those assumptions and risks when subsequently developing programmes and projects.

Developing a theory of change is crucial for shaping the strategy for change that underlies the UNDAF, and for making explicit the focus on groups left behind or at risk of being left behind. This exercise in collective thinking helps the UN system and its partners to devise programmes best suited to achieving the desired change based on evidence and learning. The theory of change enables: a better and more agile strategy; more effective communication of it; improved partnership decisions for delivering on the strategy; and broader, deeper and more substantial ownership of it.

UNDAFs have an overall theory of change that shows how it is assumed that UNDAF strategic priorities will support achievement of national priorities and the SDGs, as well as how the outcomes collectively support the achievement of chosen priorities while mutually reinforcing each other. UNCT Results Groups also prepare a theory of change for each UNDAF outcome.

An UNDAF theory of change:

  • Is based on analysis and data provided in the CCA;
  • Articulates the high-level change the UNCT intends to contribute to in the context of the 2030 Agenda;
  • Makes clear why the UNCT believes that lower level results will necessarily result in higher level results;
  • Lays out the risks and assumptions that define the relationships among different results;
  • Is developed through a consultative process, reflecting the understanding of all relevant stakeholders; and
  • Supports continuous learning and improvement from programme design to closure.

UNDAF RESULTS MATRIX

UNDAF strategic priorities and outcomes are articulated in the UNDAF results matrix (see Annex 3). The matrix includes indicators, baselines, targets, means of verification, a list of partners, the medium-term CBF, and, where relevant, links to other UN plans. It makes the division of labour clear within the UN system by identifying roles and responsibilities. To the extent possible, indicators, targets, baselines and means of verification are aligned with the relevant SDG indicators and targets, and are drawn from the data used in the CCA.

UNDAF outcomes can be adapted directly from SDG targets that are lagging behind in areas where the United Nations has a comparative advantage. They are tailored to the national context and drawn from national priorities. The results matrix becomes the basis for monitoring and evaluation of the UNDAF, serving as a key element for ensuring evaluability.

The multiyear CBF is discussed under financing the UNDAF.

REVIEW AND VALIDATION OF THE UNDAF

The UNDAF is prepared in a standard template (see Annex 4), which also contains a standard legal clause (Annex 5). Prior to finalization, the Resident Coordinator, on behalf of the UN system, shares a draft of the UNDAF, including the results matrix and CBF, with the regional Peer Support Group for review. The group has 15 working days to provide consolidated comments, assessing the UNDAF based on the quality criteria in Annex 1. For more details about quality assurance at the regional level, see Annex 6. The UNCT reviews and incorporates comments it considers appropriate into the final draft UNDAF, and provides an explanation to the Peer Support Group on those comments it chooses not to include. In countries with UN missions, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/ Resident Coordinator shares the draft UNDAF with the inter-agency taskforce to receive feedback within the same timeframe. After incorporating feedback, the UN system provides a new draft to the government, and seeks feedback on it from key stakeholders and other development partners.

SIGNATURE AND LAUNCH OF THE UNDAF

Once the UNDAF is agreed upon, it is signed by the government and all UN entities. Launching the UNDAF simultaneously with the national development plan, where feasible, can increase its visibility. The Resident Coordinator sends the signed UNDAF to all partners and to the Chair of the UNDG. Completed UNDAFs are posted on the UNDG website.

ALIGNMENT OF UN ORGANIZATION PROGRAMME DOCUMENTS

All UN organizations participating in the UNDAF align their programming processes to the UNDAF process to the extent possible. UNDAF strategic priorities, outcomes and joint work plans provide a basis for individual organizational planning instruments. While preparation of such plans will often begin before the final signature of the UNDAF, the final versions of these plans should align with the UNDAF, reflect its specific strategic priorities and outcomes, and make explicit their relationship with the UNDAF.

REGIONAL APPROACHES TO  PROGRAMMING

In certain sub-regional contexts, such as those involving small island developing states, the possibility of applying a regional approach to programming may be considered, including through multicountry UNDAFs to ensure coherent, coordinated and, where appropriate, integrated support that reduces duplication and increases impact. This has been done successfully for the Pacific Region (2013-2017 United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the Pacific Sub-region), covering 14 countries, and for the Caribbean (2017-2021 UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework in the Caribbean), covering 18 countries.

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Unlocking Solutions Through Positive Deviance in Palestine

BY Hadeel Abdo | February 6, 2019

To accelerate joint learning through experimenting innovative methods into our work, several UN agencies, funds and programmes working in Palestine opened the Palestine Innovation Lab spearheaded by UN Women in the spring of 2018. Change leaders and facilitators from the Welfare Improvement Network supported us with the initial setting and operation of the lab. Five UN agencies quickly adopted the Positive Deviance approach to discover successful behaviours that individuals (‘positive deviants’) practice in their own community, often against the grain of harmful norms. Adopting the positive deviance approach requires a paradigm shift: define the problem and therein lies the solution. Picture a half-filled glass: if the problem is the empty half, the solution is the full half. This approach is challenging us to reimagine how change can come from within the community itself. Positive deviants: a solution from within The first step before identifying positive deviants is to recognize that there is an existing problem. Defining the problem may seem simple but it is not. With the positive deviance approach, you have to push deeper to understand the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’ of a problem. Without defining a concrete problem, it is very difficult to unlock solutions. Experimenting with the positive deviance approach The Innovation Lab is currently applying positive deviance to existing projects from UN Women, UNDP, UNICEF, UN-Habitat and UNODC. This experiment is helping the organizations to unveil and implement sustainable solutions to complex problems in Palestine. Men championing gender equality In Palestine, UN Women is working with local community-based organizations to identify men who, contrary to common practice, support the right of women to inherit property, share household work and childcare with their wives. These men are both the solution to the problem and the solution provider, actively encouraging their peers to change their behaviour to advance gender equality. Their strategies are direct and personal: knocking on people’s doors, giving lectures, and drawing attention to  the importance of gender equality on social media. For example, Yousef Nassar, a radio-show host, is using his platform to talk about how men can promote gender equality at home and workplace. In the southern part of Gaza, an Imam from the local community uses the Friday prayers to encourage young people and their families to refrain from early marriage. As a result, a number of couples have decided to postpone marriage until the age of 18. UN Women is also raising awareness on women’s equal access to economic opportunities and decent work using the positive deviance approach – putting forward women entrepreneurs and business leaders. Fostering inclusive leaders As part of the ‘Al Fakhoora Dynamic Futures Programme’, UNDP identified 30 young post-secondary female and male students from underserved backgrounds as positive deviants. Through the initiative, the students will have a better chance to realize their full potential and overcome their socioeconomic, political and cultural limitations, while encouraging peers from their own community to adopt positive behaviours.     Together with PalVision, a local NGO with a focus on youth, UNICEF is working to reduce violence and harassment by male students at a local school in Bethany in East Jerusalem. In the town of Barta’a in Area C, West Bank, UN-Habitat is supporting the Palestinian local authorities to deliver planning functions to communities at risk of displacement in the Israeli Controlled Area C. UNODC is promoting youth crime prevention through sports, in partnership with the Higher Council for Youth and Sport, to identify sports coaches and teachers who demonstrated a strong sensitivity towards gender issues. The 'positive deviants', with the support of the community-based organizations, have begun to design strategies to amplify positive behaviours within their own community to promote gender equality. Our role in positive deviance approach To ensure that communities have a total ownership over the process, we should take on the role of observers, not as experts or implementers. That is the beauty, or challenge, of the positive deviance approach. We have to patiently wait for the positive deviants to bring the changes from within and themselves. What we learned through applying positive deviance in Palestine is that ‘positive deviants’ should be from the community itself. Listening to what neighbours have to say about changing certain behaviours resonates more than having outsiders say the same thing. This is the power of positive deviance. The “experts” or “outsiders” from international agencies and civil society organizations should simply be positioned observers of the process, and the community should take centre stage, becoming both the implementers and recipients of change. Have you used positive deviance approach to implement a project? If so, please share your experience with us!

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What we Learned About Testing a Platform-Based Business Model at the UN in Moldova

BY Dumitru Vasilescu | January 30, 2019

Earlier last year, we were on a quest to test whether a platform-based organizational model would fit the new generation of UN Country Teams. A platform-based business model creates value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups. To make these exchanges happen, platforms create large scalable networks of users and resources that can be accessed on demand. If you think about it, we at the UN in Moldova have all the ingredients to apply this approach in our work. We have 11 agencies with permanent presence in Moldova. We also have seven agencies without an office in the country which contribute to national development— remotely or on an ad-hoc basis. While these programmes, funds, and specialized agencies have their own mandate, leadership, and funding, they do have one thing in common: they are seeking to drive progress in multiple development areas. So we thought, why not combine the UN’s diverse presence in the country to address multiple barriers to sustainable and accelerated achievement of the country’s development goals such as poverty reduction, reproductive health, gender equality and food security at the same time to help ensure a multi-faceted approach to development? This is our story so far. Lesson 1: Our current system is too fragmented and requires re-thinking One thing is clear. The UN aspires to support every country’s effort to achieve the 2030 Agenda. In Moldova, we believe that it’s important to redesign and rethink the way that people, ideas and resources intersect and interact to maximize the effectiveness of development assistance. At the core of our work is our own effort to adopt the Delivering As One approach, where we focus on our internal human resources and their ability and skill to innovate, measure impact of the programmatic work and identify new areas for collaborative intervention. What we did notice is that we’re very fragmented on several levels, including non-coordinated interventions, competition for scarce funding, difficulties to coordinate work of non-residential agencies, unclear boundaries of the agencies’ mandates, and the list could go on. There are areas where we’ve successfully managed to work together as a UN Country Team. One example of this is the Gender Thematic Group. Through this group, agencies that work on women’s empowerment and gender equality meet regularly, learn about each other’s plans and programmes, and try to achieve more consistency and alignment through their interventions. The Youth Thematic Group is another good example because it’s meant for designing interventions that support youth and involve coordinated inter-agency work. Lesson 2: It’s imperative to do a detailed analysis of the current situation using a systematic approach With the guidance of the Resident Coordinator Office, UN agencies did a complex analysis of the current situation to scope out areas of cooperation between agencies. We also did a complex foresight exercise and an organizational network analysis to understand the current and future areas where our functions can intertwine and where a platform-based model would make sense. After we did the foresight exercise, we discovered that there are several areas where it makes more sense for UN agencies and the UN Country Team to act together. These areas include migration and children, coordination of non-residential and residential agencies, collaborative interventions (joint work programmes and projects), leveraging existing partnerships and harmonizing business practices. Through this exercise, we were also able to see that as the UN, we could take three possible and plausible scenarios of development into consideration to achieve the 2030 Agenda in the country and beyond. These scenarios are: The Future is Near (business-as-usual), Virtuous and Vicious and a scenario titled 'Transformers, as the third one. Source: UN, Foresight exercise Lesson 3: Not everything can work on a platform-based model Taking a collaborative approach around specific interventions, functions or internal business processes requires adopting a new modus operandi. To ensure that these collaborative efforts are sustainable from both an operational and financial standpoint, it’s important to build strong relationships with the teams that you are going to collaborate with, have a solid value proposition for local partners and have the ability to meet a need of a specific target group. It’s not all about the technology, but the people. We are new to the concept of the ‘UN-as-a-platform’ and there are no previous or current business cases using this approach throughout the organization to guide us. What exactly can we put in platforms in the future? Can we build a platform-like collaborative ecosystem based on trust, mutual benefits for the UN agencies and partners on the ground? How do we build a strong value proposition to last for much longer that a usual programmatic cycle? These are some of the questions that we are currently trying to find answers to. Are you working on applying a platform-based model in the UN? If so, talk to us.