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The 2030 Agenda is universal, integrated, transformative and people-centred. It is grounded in human rights, and focused on the promise to reduce inequalities and leave no one behind. Aligned with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is applicable and relevant to all countries. As interdependent goals, the SDGs require coherent efforts at all levels by governments, the United Nations and all other stakeholders.

To effectively support national efforts to achieve the transformative ambitions of the 2030 Agenda, the UN system needs to take an integrated approach to programming that combines actions across sectors and involves all relevant stakeholders. This recognizes links among the SDGs and their normative foundations. Towards that end, the United Nations Development Group (UNDG) has identified four integrated programming principles for UNDAFs.

Leave no one behind is at the core, unifying programming and advocacy efforts across all UN agendas. It is underpinned by three other programming principles: human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment; sustainability and resilience; and accountability. These principles are grounded in the norms and standards that the United Nations is tasked to uphold and promote, and that inform all phases of UN programming at the country level.

They are the foundation for integrated programming in response to national priorities and plans. They hold true for all country contexts and are applied in an integrated manner. Knowing how to meet these norms and standards, consistently and effectively, in policy, advocacy, programming and engagement with national counterparts, is essential for the success of the United Nations on the ground. Companion guidance provides more detailed information and resources on integrated programming principles.

Leave no One Behind

Leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first is the central promise of the 2030 Agenda. It represents the unequivocal commitment of Member States to address the multidimensional causes of poverty, inequalities and discrimination, and reduce the vulnerabilities of the most marginalized people, including women, refugees, internally displaced persons, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, stateless persons, and populations affected by conflict and natural disasters.

As the overarching programming principle for UNDAFs in all country contexts, leaving no one behind requires that the UN system prioritize its programmatic interventions to address the situation of those most marginalized, discriminated against and excluded, and to empower them as active agents of development. Individuals and groups may be at risk of being left behind not only because of their personal vulnerabilities, but also because their distinct and specific entitlements and needs may not be visible, recognized or prioritized by their societies, resulting in their exclusion.

Because of its overarching and unifying nature, the principle of leaving no one behind is a cornerstone for coherence across the development, humanitarian, human rights and peacebuilding agendas. In crisis and conflict settings, it calls for a focus on the protection of people most at risk, including displaced populations and those most likely to be affected by climate change and natural disasters. The principle can be a key driver of peace, underscoring the importance of addressing inequalities and situations that fuel conflict and hinder return. UNDAFs can also consider the disproportionate impacts of humanitarian and other crises, shocks and changes on the most vulnerable people. Leave no one behind is elaborated through the other three integrated programming principles:

  • Eliminating inequalities and discrimination (human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment principle) This principle recognizes that UN programming is guided by international norms and standards that provide the normative basis to address the situation of individuals and groups which are, or at risk of, being left behind not only because of their vulnerabilities but also as a result of entrenched inequalities and discrimination that prevents them from accessing services and resources. The United Nations’ contribution to protecting and promoting human rights is both a normative duty, and an operational imperative for ensuring more equitable and sustainable development outcomes.
  • Addressing the root causes of multidimensional poverty and building capacities for resilience (sustainability and resilience principle): This principle recognizes the need for protecting ecosystems and biodiversity as the “GDPs of the poor,” as they provide the bases for livelihoods and employment for many of the poor and those left furthest behind. Sustainability and resilience are key to understanding and addressing the disproportionate impact of crises and disasters on the poor and other groups who are marginalized and discriminated against. Strengthening the capacities of national institutions and communities is the foundation of resilience, and of ensuring that gains are sustainable.
  • Strengthening national systems and processes of accountability to monitor progress and provide remedies (accountability principle): This principle entails improving the effectiveness of institutions and mechanisms to monitor and track progress in empowering those who are left behind or at risk of falling behind.

Promoting the principle of leaving no one behind can include advocacy and other programmatic interventions, which may be undertaken jointly by the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) or by individual agencies based on their specific mandates. For example, the principle can be expressed by programmatic interventions related to social protection, legal empowerment, economic opportunities, decent work, environmental health, and access to essential services for population groups who are furthest behind. These groups can be identified and engaged through all stages of the UNDAF process.

Human Rights, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

A central objective of the 2030 Agenda is to “realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.” As applied in UNDAFs, this principle has five elements:

  • Alignment with international standards: In supporting the alignment of national laws and policies with international standards, UNDAFs are guided by recommendations made to the country by international human rights mechanisms. Thus, UNDAF implementation is linked to reporting and review processes under the SDGs as well as human rights mechanisms.
  • A focus on addressing inequalities and discrimination towards leaving no one behind: UNDAFs identify existing inequalities and forms of discrimination, and other human rights violations. This process can include data disaggregation that goes beyond gender, geography and age to encompass other forms of discrimination prohibited under international law. UNDAFs demonstrate how they will contribute to achieving both formal and substantive equality. They can aim to address structural barriers; reverse unequal distributions of power, resources and opportunities; and/or challenge discriminatory laws, social norms and stereotypes that perpetuate inequalities and disparities.
  • Active and meaningful participation by all stakeholders: The UNDAF explains how the United Nations ensures the full participation of key stakeholders, especially national governments, civil society and the private sector, in its design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It can elaborate how it will contribute to establishing consistent space and resources for free, informed and empowered participation by civil society, particularly for the most marginalized groups, in national development processes that shape their lives, without fear of reprisal.
  • Due diligence, including provision of effective remedies: The UNDAF supports the establishment of national mechanisms to provide effective judicial and non-judicial remedies to individuals and groups, and offer assistance in accessing them. It can also ensure due diligence and full implementation of normative standards such as the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in public private partnerships.
  • Reduction of gender inequalities by empowering all women and girls: The CCA includes a rigorous gender analysis that goes beyond age- and sex-disaggregated data to explain immediate, underlying and root causes and differentiated impacts (including through an appreciation of social, legal, political, economic and cultural dynamics that underpin gender inequality). The UNDAF supports and links to the implementation of internationally agreed policy frameworks or conventions, including the Beijing Platform for Action and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The UNDAF can explain the ways in which the United Nations responds to gender inequalities, and the empowerment and advancement of women and girls, men and boys, depending on the particular situation in each country. Gender equality concerns are fully and consistently reflected in the programme rationale/strategy, and inequalities adequately addressed through clearly defined, gender-specific outcomes and outputs that contribute to relevant gender SDG indicators and targets, where appropriate.

Sustainability and Resilience

The 2030 Agenda has the objective of ensuring the lasting protection of the planet and its natural and cultural resources, supporting inclusive and sustained economic growth, ending poverty in all its dimensions and enhancing human well-being. It aims to: increase the resilience of societies and ecosystems to man-made and natural hazards, shocks and stresses; promote multisectoral, integrated approaches that harness the potential, assets and capacities of institutions and communities to enhance human well-being, and reduce risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural hazards, climate change, violence, conflict, political and social instability, or economic volatility; and manage the change and uncertainty of long-term trends.

Increasing the resilience of societies, economies and the natural environment can help countries, communities and the poor to withstand shocks, embrace uncertainty and manage risks. There are strong links as well between sustainability and resilience, and peace and security. Strengthening the capacities of national institutions and communities is the foundation of resilience, and of ensuring that gains are sustainable. UN support for strengthening national capacities takes place within the national development framework, building on existing capacities, assets and systems, and based on national capacity assessments and strategies.

UNDAFs integrate six elements of sustainability and resilience, which involve:

  • Reflecting interconnections and a balanced approach among the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development;
  • Integrating economic, environmental and social sustainability and risk management into programming, and strengthening national capacities to address these issues;
  • Applying social and environmental standards to prevent adverse impacts on people, including the poor, and the environment; managing risks when impacts cannot be avoided and building resilience;
  • Supporting the full integration of environmental issues and social protection in national policies that deal with key development sectors, and ensuring links with emergency, crisis and humanitarian systems;
  • Addressing the sustainability and resilience dimensions of development problems, and the interconnections among issues related to the environment, human rights, conflict and vulnerability;
  • Ensuring consistency between UNDAF outcomes and objectives in national development policies, budgets and plans.

The sustainability and resilience principle is integrated through each stage of the UNDAF process. All UNDAF interventions seek to reduce risks and build resilience through strengthening national capacities and policy support, and to mainstream sustainability and resilience across programmes. A broad vision of sustainability ensures a balance among social, economic and environmental considerations and resilience.

UNDAFs take into account how the legal, policy and institutional environment as well as economic and social patterns affect the resilience of communities, especially for vulnerable and excluded groups. They specify and support links to the implementation of internationally agreed policy frameworks or conventions ratified by the country with the potential to facilitate integrated implementation of the SDGs. These include the Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All. In practical implementation terms, UNDAFs, for example, encompass recognizing the value of ecosystem services, promoting the green/blue economy, fostering sustainable consumption and production patterns, investing in climate change adaptation, reducing disaster risks and extending sustainable energy.

Accountability

The 2030 Agenda includes commitments to greater accountability at global, regional and national levels, and to corresponding mechanisms for implementation and follow-up. The United Nations has committed itself to support these actions, and to help build “effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” (SDG 16). Based upon this, UNDAFs promote accountable societies, including through:

  • Alignment with national priorities and national accountability mechanisms, as well as the provision of priority support to the expansion or further development of those mechanisms to ensure that they include all population groups;
  • Strengthening national and local mechanisms, institutions and processes to monitor and report on the progress of SDG implementation for all parts of society, and linking these with international mechanisms, including UN human rights mechanisms;
  • Measures to build upon and extend greater transparency, and improved measurement and reporting on results, including through joint assessments with target populations;
  • Practising what the United Nations advocates by recognizing the UN system’s accountability to the general public of the countries in which it works;
  • Enabling active local community engagement and participation in decision-making—particularly of those who are left behind or are at risk of being left behind—whether more broadly in national policy development, implementation, or monitoring and evaluation, or specifically in the UNDAF process;
  • Supporting the development and use of transparent and robust data and information for policy formulation, programme design and implementation to manage risks and deliver results through more effective decision-making, both in national policy processes, and the work of the United Nations at the country level.

* For more guidance, see: UNDG Guidance Note on Human Rights for RCs and UNCTs(2015) and A Resource Book for Mainstreaming Gender in UN Common Country Programming at the Country Level (2014).

[7]These include all international conventions and instruments.

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Silo Fighters Blog

Crowdsourcing the campfire: how our data visualization contest opened doors

BY Abigail Taylor-Jones | November 14, 2018

“Visualizations act as a campfire around which we gather to tell stories.” - Al Shalloway, founder and CEO of Net Objectives. Telling our story well is key to ensuring we can influence policy and other key decision-making processes. In order to do so, it is important to get new insights from the evidence we generate from the data we collect. To give a sense of the scale, we collect data from 130 UN Country Teams, serving 165 countries. The types of data we collect ranges from operational data, socio-economic data, financial data, data on coordination and results. Sitting behind the walls of the UN can sometimes be lonely ploughing through all this data (other times it is quite daunting). So, we have to think of creative ways to gather new insights to tell a good and compelling story. The UN is known as an organization that brings people together globally to participate in various ways, for example working towards realizing the goals set for 2030 Agenda. For us, being open and inclusive about the UN’s work is always at the forefront of our minds, even when it comes to data. We started thinking about ways to include others from outside the UN in our analysis and data visualization process. As the Secretariat to the UN Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG) we have access to a wide range of data, so we thought, why not launch our first ever UNSDG data visualization contest and find out what others can see in our data? So, my colleague Kana Kudo and I did just that. In collaboration with Tableau, we launched the contest and invited data scientists and anyone interested in data visualization to use our data from the UNSDG portal, which pulls UN specific data, published by several agencies, using the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards to report how the UN is contributing to the global development agenda. Data is powerful but we don’t always know how to tell a story with it After launching the contest, we realized there were blind spots that we failed to see. For example, some of the submissions did make use of the IATI data sets, while others did not. The guidelines we provided were clear, however the research questions were a little unclear. We ended up receiving several stunning visualizations, but they were not exactly what we were looking for. We learned that when it comes to data, it’s best to be specific. Another learning was that data scientists wanted the option to work with other data visualization tools and not be limited to Tableau; so we had to broaden the scope of tools for the contest. We brought a selection panel together to assess the submissions, and we selected two winners. The first winner crafted “Visualizing Malaria: The Killer Disease Killing Africa,” an impactful visualization that analyses malaria deaths in the world, how they have changed, and how funding has evolved over the years, particularly in Africa. The contestant explained that she had been inspired by the experience of a dear friend who had been infected with malaria. We also liked this visualization on malaria because it focused on both the positive and negative aspects of the fight against this diseases. Whilst lives are been saved through the use of mosquito nets, there’s also a downward trend in other aspects, which means more still needs to be done. [caption id="attachment_10399" align="alignnone" width="542"] Visualization by Rosebud Anwuri[/caption] The second data visualization titled “Leave no one Behind”, included the UN’s spending on each Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) per country, looking at the financial distribution among the SDGs. The underlying calculations were just as impressive as the visualization itself! We liked this visual and we were interested in how the participant highlighted the leaving no one behind aspect, which is the central promise of the 2030 Agenda; and an overarching programming principle. Looking at how we are doing from a financial expenditure perspective is key to assessing the UN’s contribution to the SDGs. Behind the scenes, our team in Headquarters was tinkering with developing UN Info, a tool that integrates the UN contributions to the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. This is an important aspect because it keeps us accountable and helps UN Country Teams with programme management. From this contest, it was clear to us that data is obviously powerful but we don’t always know how to tell a story out of it. We were very impressed with the contestants’ interpretations and the visualizations. As a bonus, we also gained unexpected and useful insights that helped us refine our UN IATI data set.   [caption id="attachment_10400" align="alignnone" width="570"] Visualization by Pedro Fontoura[/caption] One of the things that we also discovered, is that data scientists like to get involved. Chloe Tseng, founder of Viz for Social Good contacted us to find out how she could collaborate with us. Although she didn’t participate in the contest, we were keen to work with Chloe and her team of volunteers just as she was to work with us. Goal 17 of the SDGs relates to partnerships and we know how important it is work with others to realize our goals. We gave Viz for Social Good a particular set of data related to the partnerships that the Country Teams have beyond the UN. If you haven’t read Viz for Social Good’s journey working with us, and the beautiful visualizations that came out of our partnership, check it out here. Our data was too fat! The contest was a great learning opportunity for us. From our collaboration with Chloe and the Viz For Social Good network of over 2000 data visualization experts, we learned that our data is good but we need to look at ways of improving the way data is parsed through our systems and ensure that it is formatted in a manageable and easy way for data scientists to work with it. Chloe also gave us feedback on moving from larger chunks of data to smaller chunks. We took these recommendations very seriously and have made significant changes in our data systems for optimum use by data scientists. We trimmed down our data in smaller chunks that requires little time for data cleaning which allows for quicker analysis. This experience was definitely an eye opener in terms of telling a more powerful and compelling story than we will ever be able to do if we stick to large sets of data in an excel format. The campfire is still with us Collaborating with Viz For Social Good and with the contest participants inspired our team to adapt our digital strategy work.  Seeing the way these artists take data and communicate with it opened our eyes. Our taste has changed and boy have our standards gotten higher. We are designing dashboards for future projects and seeing the artistry has upped our game for the long run.   Photo: Wenni Zhou

Silo Fighters Blog

Mining alternative data: What national health insurance data reveals about diabetes in the Maldives

BY Yuko Oaku | November 7, 2018

An island nation consisting of 1,190 small islands, the Maldives is clustered around 26 ring-like atolls spread across 90,000 square kilometers. For many centuries, the Maldivian economy was entirely based on fishing. Tuna is one of the essential ingredients in the traditional dishes of the archipelago. But between 1980 and 2013, the GDP per capita increased from $275 to $6,666 due to the success of the high-end tourism sector. With the rapid economic growth and a wave of globalization, there have also been changes in the dietary preferences and lifestyles of Maldivians. A staggering 30 percent of the Maldivians are overweight due to unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity, according to data from the Global Health Observatory.   Consuming sugary beverages is also a big problem among Maldivian youth and young adults. According to a study by the World Health Organization, in 2015, 4.7 million litres of energy drinks were imported to the Maldives, which is a very high volume for such a small population (around 410,000 people live in the Maldives). These unhealthy habits are drivers for the increase in non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and hypertensive disease.  These diseases are the main causes of death among Maldivians. According to the National Health Statistics from 2014, diabetes is ranked as the ninth overall cause of death in the Maldives. [caption id="attachment_10393" align="alignnone" width="450"] "Drinking energy drinks is not cool" Health Protection Agency Maldives[/caption] Analyzing the prevalence of Type II diabetes with Insurance Data All Maldivian nationals are covered under the Government’s universal health insurance plan called “Aasandha”. Since it began its services in 2012, the plan gives full coverage to all health services from most health care providers and up to a certain amount for some of the private health care providers. The plan also covers care in affiliated hospitals in neighboring India and Sri Lanka in case the treatment is not available in the Maldives. Aasandha data provides personal data records and insurance data for all Maldivians. Since the usual data source for non-communicable diseases is the Demographic and Health Surveys, which is carried out every 6 years (most recently in 2015 and before that in 2009), we thought we could get more up-to-date data on diabetes if we looked directly at the health insurance data. Our team assumed that analyzing this data would serve as proxy indicators for the SDG indicators 3.8.1: Coverage of essential health services. Initially, this indicator was labeled as Tier 3 indicator, meaning that no internationally established methodology or standards were yet available for the indicator. As of 11 May 2018, however, 3.8.1 has been upgraded to Tier 2 indicator, which means that the indicator is conceptually clear, has an internationally established methodology and standards are available, but data are not regularly produced by countries. Our idea was to have an anonymized look at the data from the universal health insurance plan to see what else we could learn about non-communicable diseases. We at the UN Country Team in the Maldives, UNDP and WHO, partnered with the Maldives National University (MNU) research team and with the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA), the custodian of Aasandha service in the Maldives. What we found out about Type II diabetes in the Maldives: We dug into the anonymized health care records for 2016, including information about: 1) what diseases the Aasandha coverage is used for 2) the cost 3) where the medical procedures take place Together with the research team, we decided to focus on Type II diabetes for the scope of this study. We found some interesting facts about the prevalence of Type II diabetes in the Maldives: More than 3 out of every 5 people who have diabetes are women. The mean age of patients with Type II diabetes is 57, while the youngest age is 13. Females get diagnosed with Type II diabetes at a younger age compared to men and there is a relationship with gestational diabetes. Of those seeking care, 79 percent of the people go to private health care providers, whereas only 21 percent seek services from public health care providers. We also discovered that the Aasandha data was also incomplete. For instance, there were missing records from some of the largest regional hospitals in most populated atolls in the country. This may suggest that data from government hospitals are not entered into the system because patients don’t need to make a claim for the payment, whereas in private hospitals, the data is needed to allow patients to make a claim for their payment. It could be that more people are using public health care providers, but since the data is not entered into the Aasandha system,this information is unavailable to us. [caption id="attachment_10395" align="alignnone" width="393"] WHO Maldives[/caption] Next frontiers in proof of concept for alternative data With this pilot study we found some interesting facts about the prevalence of Type II diabetes in the Maldives as well as some possible data gaps in the Aasandha insurance data. We will be sharing our findings and challenges of using Aasandha data with the members of the UN Country Team as well as relevant ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Health and the National Social Protection Agency. Reflecting on this pilot study, we will continue to support the country to explore alternative sources of data that will enable us to track more SDG indicators in the Maldives. According to an internal assessment done on data availability for all SDG indicators by the National Bureau of Statistics, there’s currently no mechanism for data generation for 56 indicators and for another 51 indicators, additional efforts will be required to make the data available. With all this data missing, we’ll need to tap into additional resources to make the data available because if we don’t know where the Maldives stands on Sustainable Development indicators, it’ll be hard to plan to achieve them. There is definitely a need for new data sources and having this data gap in mind, we have another pilot project in the works that’s going to use call detail records data to track population mobility to the urban centers of Male. Stay tuned for more in our work mining alternative data sources for the Maldives!