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The development impact of the UNDAF will largely depend on the capacity of the UNCT to optimally finance it. It is highly recommended to prepare an UNDAF financing strategy because it ensures that: UN activities are appropriately costed and resourced; UN resources catalyse larger financial flows to implement the 2030 Agenda; and incentives embedded into UN financing mechanisms promote inter-agency collaboration and coherence. (see UNDAF companion guidance on Shifting from Funding to Financing).

COSTING AND RESOURCING UN ACTIVITIES: Substantial over- or under-budgeting of the UNDAF carries reputational risks. It can be construed as a reflection of poor UNCT planning capacity or limited commitment to transparency and accountability. Most likely, it will affect fund mobilization. Accurately budgeted activities will facilitate resource mobilization for activities to be directly implemented by the UN system.

LEVERAGING: UN resources are generally an extremely small proportion of the overall resources required and available for achieving the SDGs. They are used to leverage much larger public and private financial flows for sustainable development. This ambition demands a paradigm shift from funding to financing in the UNDAF. While the former is centred on resource mobilization to close the funding gap for activities directly implemented by UN agencies, the latter aims at leveraging all existing financial flows and instruments to finance the overall development results to which the UN system contributes. The effectiveness of UN resources in catalysing larger financial flows for sustainable development can be measured through leveraging ratios.

INCENTIVIZING COLLABORATION: Money can be either a unifier or a divider. Collective funding mechanisms tend to incentivize collective action, while ad hoc funding can foster competition. Incentives embedded in different financing strategies and mechanisms should be assessed and aligned with the UNDAF’s objective to foster UN coherence and collaboration for the 2030 Agenda at the country level.

STEP 1: Mapping the financial landscape, including international and national, private and public sources of finance

This first step draws on the assessment of existing development finance flows and mechanisms conducted in the CCA. It enables the UNCT to assess its financing comparative advantages, and identify where the UNDAF could play a strategic role to leverage broader financial flows.

STEP 2: Preparing the Common Budgetary Framework

The multiyear CBF is the consolidated financial framework that reflects agreed costed results of the UNDAF. It lays out the funding gap for the UNDAF and is part of the UNDAF results framework. It shows the best financial estimates for delivery of outputs, planned financial inputs and the funding gap for the entire UNDAF period. It can be operationalized through more detailed annual costed frameworks. The estimated resources column in the UNDAF results matrix consists of an estimation of financial resources, including human capacity, that each UN organization will contribute or mobilize from core (regular) and non-core (other) resources.

Costing budget requirements can be complex and methodologies can vary. To ensure that estimates are realistic, UNDAF funding gaps make reference to historical funding data. It is highly recommended to not budget an UNDAF at over 130 percent of the expenditure of the previous UNDAF unless this increase can be specifically justified. To the extent possible, harmonized methods of estimating available funds are used by different members of the UN system. Consistency needs to be ensured between the UNDAF financing gap and the figures used in respective organizational planning documents. International Aid Transparency Initiative and CEB data can be used to triangulate the information. Within joint work plans, outputs are costed and funding gaps identified based on resources available.

STEP 3: Developing a Financing Strategy to Address the UNDAF Funding Gap

In line with the UNDAF objectives, the third step assesses opportunities for the UN system to:

  • Access additional resources for activities directly implemented by the UN System. These non-core resources to be channeled through the UN system can be both traditional and non-traditional, including foundations, the private sector, emerging donors and innovative financing
  • Sequence/blend its core (regular) and non-core (other) funding with international/national concessional/non-concessional public finance (Multilateral Development Bank, National Development Banks, commercial banks, social impact investors, etc.)
  • Leverage larger resources, which include all public, private, national and international financial flows. Leveraging resources does not focus on bringing non-core resources into the UN or blending them with UN resources but on catalyzing larger public and private investment to achieve the UNDAF development goal.

STEP 4: Design the joint resource mobilization strategy

The new UNDAF guidelines require the implementation of joint work plans through Results Groups. Within each result groups, UNCTs should explore opportunities for joint resource mobilization. The joint resource mobilization strategy will provide a common narrative and allocate responsibilities for fund mobilization efforts. It aims to promote synergies, and avoid duplication of efforts, counter-productive competition among organizations and funding gaps. Regular review enables adjustments to take advantage of new or emerging resource mobilization opportunities. Wherever possible, coordination and periodic reviews should take place through existing mechanisms.

It will also consider pooled financing mechanisms to incentivize collective action and system-wide coherence. The United Nations employs collective finance mechanisms (pooled funds) such as joint programmes, trust funds or thematic funding to reduce aid fragmentation, increase the quality (predictability, timeliness and flexibility) of non-core resources, and incentivize advocacy, policy coherence, capacity development and operational coherence. In 2014, the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office estimated that pooled funding mechanisms only need to mobilize between 15 percent and 20 percent of the overall non-core funding portfolio to leverage these comparative advantages. For guidance on pooled funding instruments, please visit http://mptf.undp.org/document/templates.

 

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Why we’re turning to solar energy at the UN in Namibia

BY Caroline M Nkuziwalela, Saidu Kamara | August 2, 2017

On Saturday, 25 March 2017, UN Namibia took part in the global Earth Hour movement. We joined millions of people from every corner of the world to show support for climate action.  Our participation in this movement proves critical in that, saving electricity today, we establish better energy saving habits which lead to a brighter, better future. It’s easier said than done though. Did you know that in Namibia, between 40 to 80 percent of energy is imported from South Africa, which is facing shortages and has regular energy cuts? To tackle this, following the United Nations Partnership Framework agreement, we will assist the Government strategically to develop its own energy sources, prioritizing solar energy, for energy security and secure commitment towards a low carbon development pathway. Turn on the lights, sustainably What if we told you that the UN House in Windhoek is going to turn into a self-sustaining, energy efficient building? The UN House is comprised of 12 UN agencies, all of whom participate in the conversion to a solar photovoltaic PV system. A photovoltaic system, or solar power system, is designed to supply usable solar power by means of photovoltaics and is being widely scaled as a primary source of renewable energy in many facilities across Africa. Imagine how much energy we could save if the lights at the office automatically switch off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Simple habits can make a difference in the way we use electricity.   For this reason, we launched last week a grid-interactive solar photovoltaic (PV) system at UN House. The facility will make up for a portion of electrical energy consumption and it will also help us save money. As Namibia receives a high amount of sunlight, this move towards renewable energy promotes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 7 ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ and is in line with the UN’s mission of Greening the Blue. The recommended system size of 90 kWp will offset 19 percent annual energy use, with a 20 percent reduction in electricity costs annually. That’s a lot! The expected internal rate of return when this project is cash financed is 21.5 percent. This means we expect to break-even after five years. The solar panel system is not a backup solution but rather an energy subsidy system. When the solar panels produce more energy than is consumed, the difference is fed back into the national electric grid, increasing the availability of power distribution across the city of Windhoek.  Investing in Namibia’s Renewable Energy Plans Due to poor insulation, inefficient lights, appliances, and heating and cooling equipment, we pay more for energy costs than we should. This is money we could save by investing in energy efficiency. In partnership with the Namibia Energy Institute, we plan to update the existing energy audit for the UN.  We will also carry out a cost-benefit analysis to improve increasing energy efficiency by switching to energy-saving devices. Moreover, by installing a solar energy system, we can focus on renewable energy, particularly solar, without having to increase the price of our electricity. With the help of renewable energy experts, we are supporting the government of the Republic of Namibia on a large-scale feasibility plan for Namibia’s first concentrated power plant. A concentrated power plant uses mirrors to focus the sun's light energy and convert it into heat to create steam to drive a turbine that generates electrical power. In addition, we are also researching how to transfer this technology to the country, i.e. exploring the potential for manufacturing solar panels locally, PV parts/equipment, and building capacities and skills for the renewable energies industry. Given the size of the sector in Namibia, we also supported a project tasked with experimenting different approaches to generating bio-energy through the use of agricultural waste. Our main goal is to learn from the previous work and engage the Namibia Energy Institute in technical advisory and support capacity. We’re excited about the possibilities that solar energy can bring to our work and Namibia. We will keep you posted on our journey there!

Silo Fighters Blog

Using Machine Learning to Accelerate Sustainable Development Solutions in Uganda

September 14, 2017

A year and a half after it was prototyped, the radio content analysis tool developed by Pulse Lab Kampala and partners has become fully operational. The findings and lessons learned during the process were compiled in a report entitled: “Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda - Opportunities for Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Action.” The recent Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Good Global Summit has brought together partners to define a roadmap for governments, industry, academia, media, and civil society to develop AI in a safe, responsible and ethical manner benefiting all segments of society. At the summit, the radio content analysis tool was showcased as one of the applications of AI currently in use at the UN. The tool was designed to leverage public radio content as a source of information to inform on issues relevant to sustainable development. The most complex part in the development of the prototype is capturing the transcription of spoken words into written text. This technology, called speech recognition, is used in applications ranging from simple voice dialing (e.g. "Call home") to fully automatic speech-to-text processing where every word is being converted into text (e.g. dictation to a document or email). The world’s largest IT companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and IBM, invest significant resources in speech recognition for their products. There are also companies that specialise in speech recognition as Nuance Communications (Apple’s supplier) or HTK. This type of companies offer automatic speech-to-text dictation in about 50 languages, but languages and dialects from the African continent are not available among them. The radio content analysis tool was developed as part of a project conducted by Pulse Lab Kampala in collaboration with the Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The tool works by converting public discussions that take place on radio in various African languages into text. Once converted, the text can be searched for topics of interest. The tool is now fully functional in the Northern and Central regions of Uganda and available for three languages: Luganda, Acholi and English (as spoken in the country). The report outlines the methodology and processes of the radio content analysis tool, distills the technology behind its creation and presents the lessons learned along the way. It also details the results of several pilot studies that were conducted together with partners from the Government, UN agencies and academia to understand the validity and value of unfiltered public radio discussions for development. The hope is that the processes and lessons detailed in the report can serve as examples and inspiration for using radio talk and data analytics to inform decision-making processes in development and humanitarian scenarios, in contexts where other sources of data may be missing or insufficient. Using Machine Learning to Analyse Radio Content in Uganda from Global Pulse Uganda’s population is the youngest in the world, with 77% of its population being under 30 years of age. The country is now gaining international recognition for the development of Artificial Intelligence products by its youth.Listen to insights from the young Ugandans working at Pulse Lab Kampala on the development of the radio content analysis tool.   Cross-posted from the United Nations Global Pulse Blog.

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