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Within UNDAFs, the United Nations employs six mutually reinforcing programming approaches to deliver on the unifying principle of leaving no one behind and the other four integrated programming principles. These programming approaches, described on the following pages, apply to UNDAFs in all country contexts.

Results Focused Programming

The SDGs and their translation at country level constitute the frame of reference for the formulation of UNDAF strategic priorities, outcomes, the theory of change, and related indicators and targets. Using results-based management, the UN system ensures that resources are directed towards improving conditions for identified populations, particularly those left behind. Results-focused programming is an approach where the allocation of energies and resources is based on clearly articulated and measurable intended results, rather than on planned activities.

A results-focused approach also requires the identification of critical assumptions about the programming environment, and a consideration of relevant risks and management measures. Indicators to monitor progress and measure the achievement of outcomes are identified, with attention given to data, evidence generation, and support for national statistical and information systems. Accountabilities are clearly defined and backed by strong reporting mechanisms.
In line with the UNDG RBM Handbook, UNDAF outcomes represent changes in institutional and behavioural capacities for development. A results-focused programme is oriented by the CCA, which outlines changes required in a country context, and articulated based on the theory of change and the UNDAF results framework (see Part 2). The focus on results should be maintained throughout the entire UNDAF process, including during monitoring and evaluation.

Capacity Development

The UNDG defines capacity as the ability of people, organizations and society as a whole to manage their affairs successfully. Capacity development is the process of unleashing, strengthening, creating, adapting and maintaining capacity over time. It is a core function of the UNDS and is critical to implement the 2030 Agenda and sustain progress. The 2030 Agenda and the unifying principle of leaving no one behind demands an enhanced approach to capacity development of government and relevant stakeholders, including civil society and nongovernmental organizations.

Capacity development support by the United Nations seeks to maximize national ownership and leadership and address capacity at the levels of individuals, organizations and the enabling environment. Individual capacity support focuses on improving individual skills, knowledge and performance through training, experiences, motivation and incentives. Organizational capacity support aims at improving organizational performance through strategies, plans, rules and regulations, partnerships, leadership, organizational politics and power structures. Capacity support for an enabling environment seeks to strengthen policies while ensuring policy coherence to address economic, environmental and social factors such as labour markets, the policy and legislative environment, class structure and cultural aspects.

The CCA includes an assessment and analysis of the capacities of government and relevant stakeholders. It articulates the root causes of the lack of capacity, and explores broad approaches to developing capacities such as through South-South and triangular cooperation. The UNDAF strategic prioritization process enables the United Nations to identify those areas of capacity development where it can have a maximum impact in supporting the achievement of the SDGs. The paths to capacity development (that is, the explanations of why certain results and activities are believed to lead to increased capacity) are articulated in the theory of change, while the goals of capacity development actions (that is, measurable changes in capacity) are laid out in the UNDAF results framework (see Part 2). The companion guidance on capacity development provides more information on the application of this principle.

Risk-informed Programming

Investing in risk-informed programming entails effective management of risk at every step of the UNDAF process. Risk is viewed from a common UN system-wide perspective, rather than an organization-specific one. Importantly, risk-informed development takes into account “risks to” programming as well as “risks from” programming. While assessing risks to programming, the focus is on those that might impact or facilitate the achievement of the development objectives. The “do no harm” principle addresses risks from programming.

Risk-informed development programming entails a multidimensional approach to managing disaster risks and climate impacts, and to protecting development gains. While applying the principle of “do no harm,” it seeks to secure wider social, economic and environmental co-benefits. It recognizes that the achievement of the SDGs will be contingent on nations’ and communities’ abilities to build resilience to risks of multiple threats, including those related to natural hazards, climate change, conflict, food and water crises, pandemics, displacement, migration and economic shocks, among others. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement provide an impetus for countries to reverse current risk trends and emission levels, and graduate towards low-carbon, risk-informed development.

Conflict analysis is particularly significant for risk-informed programming in countries prone to natural disasters, experiencing complex emergencies or in conflict or post-conflict situations. This analysis supports responses that address development, humanitarian and peacebuilding challenges. It provides a platform to engage with donors and other development, humanitarian and peacebuilding actors, and can help promote the United Nations as a valued collaborator.
The sustainability of public and private investment depends on sound risk management. UNDAFs should aim to fully embed risk management into development, and systematically encourage public and private investments to be underpinned by an adequate understanding of risks and the connections among them. The application of risk indices (for example, INFORM) can help identify risks and vulnerabilities in humanitarian and disaster settings, and promote resilience building (see: www.inform-index.org).

CCAs reflect the multiple risks that countries face, such as market shocks, natural hazards, social unrest, climate change, epidemics and pandemics, and the risk of conflict or serious human rights violations. Such risks are challenges in themselves, but can also trigger further risks, such as economic loss and political tensions, undermining and reversing progress towards the SDGs. Risk-informed programming also feeds into the consideration of long-term risks in the UN Vision 2030 exercise. It facilitates the determination of an UNDAF’s strategic priorities, the development of the theory of change, the definition of outcomes and the creation of joint work plans. UNDAFs should seek to manage risks by avoiding harm, building resilience, and improving national and local preparedness, and position the United Nations to respond when risks materialize.

Development, Humanitarian and Peacebuilding Linkages*

The 2030 Agenda, the pursuit of the SDGs, the commitment to leave no one behind, and the need to support recovery and durable solutions in situations of conflict or fragility require that UNDAFs demonstrate coherence across development, humanitarian and peacebuilding agendas, underpinned by human rights as the common purpose of the United Nations Charter. CCAs, UNDAFs and related processes should be more connected to humanitarian action and when appropriate to UN peacekeeping operations or special political missions, collectively contributing to longer term development gains.[9]

The United Nations General Assembly and Security Council resolutions in 2016 on sustaining peace [10] emphasized the importance of joint analysis and effective strategic planning across the UN system. These resolutions seek to increase the focus of the UN system on preventing conflicts, so that not only the symptoms, but also the root causes of conflicts are addressed. They call on the United Nations to do more context specific joint multidimensional conflict and risk analysis. In line with this, the CCA considers multi hazard risks, human rights, and humanitarian and peacebuilding dimensions in a holistic way. It should examine existing coping and response capacities, and resilience systems. The UNDG-endorsed Conflict and Development Analysis tool should assist with analyses in conflict-affected countries. The Humanitarian Needs Overview should also be considered a source of information on people’s vulnerability for the CCA in crisis contexts.

A coherent response across the development, humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts in crisis and post-crisis settings requires a shared vision and articulation of collective outcomes by a wide range of partners, including UN and non-UN actors, based on their comparative advantages and over multiple years. Coherent planning and programming is context specific. UN entities strategically plan together activities, interventions and programmes, and who does what, where, how and when, within their mandates and with their comparatives advantages, with the process directly aimed at contributing to reduced needs, vulnerability and risk, thus contributing to achieving sustainable development, including sustainable peace.

At the country level, the United Nations should explore different coherence arrangements based on a range of options depending on the country context, with joint analysis and planning reflected in a common planning framework on one end of the spectrum, and separate planning instruments when operationally necessary on the other end of the spectrum. While humanitarian action may contribute to sustainable development and sustainable peace, the main purpose of humanitarian action will remain to address life-saving needs and alleviate suffering in accordance with humanitarian principles. Analysis and planning should include humanitarian inputs to ensure coherence and complementarity.

In some protracted crises, while respecting the continued need for the neutrality, impartiality and independence of humanitarian action, the United Nations may bring together development and humanitarian support in the UNDAF through the articulation of collective outcomes based on joint analysis and multiyear planning. This approach should also be applied in situations where a humanitarian response is drawing down, and the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and other humanitarian programmes are being or have been phased out, with residual humanitarian needs addressed in the UNDAF. In situations of protracted displacement, the needs of displaced people will usually be a core element of the planning process in order to support durable solutions.

There are various scenarios where UNDAFs and HRPs will exist side-by-side. For example, in high-intensity conflict situations, where there is a need to guarantee a separate humanitarian space, humanitarian support should not be part of the UNDAF, and the HRP and/or Refugee Response Plan (RRP) should remain separate, albeit well aligned. In these contexts, direct links between the UNDAF and HRP/RRP should be made to ensure complementarity, sequencing of development and humanitarian activities, and compatibility of results frameworks. This can enable, when appropriate, the targeting of the same geographical areas and people affected by crisis and fragility, with a vision and plan for integration over the longer term. It builds on the strength of the UNDAF to achieve long-term results with a view to reducing and mitigating risks; addressing the structural and underlying drivers of inequality, deprivation and fragility, including in areas affected by humanitarian crises; and helping vulnerable and crisis-affected people become self-reliant and resilient.

In settings where there is an integrated UN presence, whether it is a peacekeeping operation or a special political mission, the mission and the UNCT are required to develop an Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF). This promotes collaboration by reflecting shared objectives and means through which the United Nations will promote peace consolidation. UNDAFs can be designed to serve as the ISF or vice versa. Having both an ISF and UNDAF is not required if one framework can meet the minimum requirements of both. As per the United Nations Policy on Integrated Assessment and Planning, this decision is made by senior UN leadership at the country level. Implementation is facilitated through joint work plans that detail the division of labour between the mission and UN agencies.

Coherent Policy Support

The 2030 Agenda demands policy coherence and more integrated approaches, where different actors work together across sectors to deliver sustainable development.[14]

The United Nations combines its diverse and complimentary mandates, expertise and technical contributions so that the policy support it provides to national partners is comprehensible, comprehensive and coherent.[15] As identified in the principles of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination(CEB), it is the UN system’s ambition to “work in unity while preserving diversity.” The system’s diversity and vast range of specialized expertise is a source of great strength and an invaluable asset when leveraged in a coordinated, coherent manner.

Policy coherence ensures consistency across national policy and programmatic frameworks, the legal obligations of States under international law, and their alignment in support of development efforts. It is about making sure that what is done in one area makes sense alongside what is done in other areas. Policy coherence is crucial for achievement of the SDGs, given their interlinked nature and the constituent elements involved: social, economic and environmental, together with peace, security, human rights and equality. In order to achieve policy coherence across the work of the United Nations at country level, UNDAFs:

● Align to national priorities and plans, national SDG strategies and targets, and internationally agreed policy frameworks defining integrated approaches to sustainable development as well as norms and standards. This provides “vertical policy coherence” between frameworks at different levels, including at national and subnational levels. It requires constant assessment of the national development and policy landscape, and regular engagement with stakeholders and development partners, including the World Bank and other international financial institutions.

● Enhance synergies between intervention areas (horizontal coherence) and their alignment with national development goals. “Horizontal coherence” is promoted through approaches that include Results Groups, joint work plans and pooled funding instruments. These approaches enhance collaboration towards collective outcomes. UNDAFs leverage both specialized sectoral technical assistance and cross sectoral work.

● Strengthen coherence among development, humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts and human rights mechanisms for the realization and sustainability of peace and development gains.

Partnerships

The 2030 Agenda underlines the importance of partnerships for results. Inclusive, strategic and mutually beneficial partnerships at global, regional, national and local levels are a prerequisite to achieving the SDGs. The transformative ambitions of the 2030 Agenda imply a shift in roles and responsibilities, and a corresponding shift in the way partnership is understood, facilitated and developed.

The achievement of the SDGs requires the broad engagement of all development and humanitarian actors, including people at large in a given country and other stakeholders. The UNDAF process and its implementation provide a platform for the UN system to leverage its global comparative strengths to convene a wide range of stakeholders. UNDAFs can also lay out ways in which the United Nations can develop innovative approaches to multistakeholder partnerships, and foster new collaborations in line with UN principles, norms and standards. In brokering South-South and triangular cooperation and public-private partnerships, the focus should be on promoting the leadership and full participation of these actors in attaining national goals informed by the SDGs.

Multistakeholder partnerships bring diverse views, rich experiences, and a broad range of capacities and resources to bear, including in conflict-affected states and states in protracted crisis, as well as among displaced populations. Through convening and leveraging different partners throughout the UNDAF process, the United Nations can promote leadership of initiatives by the best-placed partner(s). Advocacy and normative work can advance new and innovative partnerships to leverage resources from a wide range of partners.

Partnerships with non-governmental actors are essential to an efficient and effective UN response, based on the principles of equality, transparency, a results-oriented approach, responsibility and complementarity. This approach to partnership offers tailored solutions that address actual needs rather than “one-size-fits-all” approaches. The United Nations is committed to making and encouraging greater efforts to support and enable national and local actors to provide expertise and good practices, and add capacity and capability. This includes emergency preparedness and response, as referenced, inter alia, by the World Humanitarian Summit.

At the same time, the United Nations approaches partnerships with due care and diligence to uphold and protect its values. A new and expanded approach to partnerships requires a risk informed approach. Working with partners who do not uphold the values of the United Nations presents reputational, fiduciary and other risks. UN partnership strategies should include risk management measures, including safeguards and due diligence processes.[16]


[*] The term nexus and linkage are used interchangeably.
[9] See: General Assembly resolution 71/243, paragraph 24(a)
[10] See: General Assembly resolution 70/262 and Security Council resolution 2282 (2016)
[11] See: General Assembly resolution 46/182.
[12] See: the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s “Introduction to Humanitarian Action: A brief guide for Resident Coordinators,” 2015, available at: http://reliefweb.int/report/world/introduction-humanitarian-action-brief-guide-resident-coordinators; and UNHCR’s “Note on the Mandate of the High Commissioner for Refugees and His Office,” 2013, available at: www.unhcr.org/526a22cb6.html.
[13] An UN Integrated Presence means that there is a multidimensional peacekeeping operation or field-based special political mission deployed alongside an UNCT.
[14] See: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review.
[15] See: the UNDG repository of tools for upstream policy support by the SDGs and their targets.
[16] For risk analysis involving the United Nations working with security forces, see the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy on United Nations Support to non United Nations Security Forces (A/67/775-S/2013/110).

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