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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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Dominican Republic: 5 Steps to Develop a SDG Data Innovation Lab

BY Mildred Samboy | February 8, 2018

Have you ever wondered how much hazardous waste is generated in your community, city, or country? What is the proportion of women who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health? Or how many people have declared themselves victims of discrimination or harassment in the last 12 months? Imagine if you could have access to this data in a country of more than 10 million inhabitants in the center of the Caribbean. In the Dominican Republic, only 37 percent of the indicators that make up the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have data available for monitoring and 44 percent do not have information or sources for their measurement. This constitutes a challenge for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production is one of the biggest statistical challenges for the country. As established in the 2016 Rapid Integrated Assessment “there are significant biases in the integration of (SDG 12) indicators into the national development planning and their availability for an adequate monitoring and fulfillment of the fourth axis (sustainable development) of National Development” in the Dominican Republic [1]. All of this considered, how can we measure the SDG 12 indicator related to the generation and proportion of hazardous waste in the country? To figure this out, we joined forces with the National Statistics Office, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources to come up with a strategy. The result was a data innovation lab built in five steps: Step 1: Select key stakeholders Which institutions are fundamental in the development of an SDG data innovation lab? Multisectoriality is essential to guarantee the richness of this exercise. Two things were paramount for this step: To bring the institutions in charge of statistics and planning (the National Statistics Office and the Ministry of Economy) on board. These institutions are part of other coordination structures, such as the National Commission for Sustainable Development (SDGs Commission), which is the 2030 Agenda coordination and advisory structure (See Decrees 23-16 and 26-17). In this exercise, the UN System in the Dominican Republic worked with the Technical Secretariat of the SDGs Commission to identify a proposal of indicators and criteria for this initiative. To include as many stakeholders as possible in the discussion; from representatives of the public sector (hospitals, General Customs Directorate), to the private sector, to Academia, to environmental organizations, everyone related to the disposal of hazardous waste was invited to participate. This exercise demonstrates the importance of challenging these structures to enforce the fluidity and comprehensiveness of the statistical systems, and their responsibility in the process, guaranteeing an effective relationship that helps bridge existing gaps. Step 2: Select the indicators Which indicators should be selected and prioritized for the development of a Data Innovation Lab? Prioritizing indicators at a national level means choosing them according to the country’s statistical needs. The parameters for this lab were: (A) Lack of source or measurement methodology (B) Indicators within the SDGs identified for the Voluntary National Review (VNR) for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2018), in which the Dominican Republic will participate this year. Following these parameters, the Statistics Office presented a proposal with the following indicators: "Proportion of wastewater safely treated"; "Hazardous waste generated per capita and proportion of hazardous waste treated, disaggregated by type of treatment"; and "Number of companies that publish sustainability reports". Of these proposals, hazardous waste was prioritized, taking the Environmental Compliance Reports [2] as a starting point. Step 3: Build participatory and formative spaces How can sectors express and validate the challenges and opportunities for improvement related to the selected indicator? Following this initiative, two main consultation workshops were held with institutions related to the field. The results of the first consultation highlighted the challenges and bottlenecks that make it difficult for the indicator to be measured.  The second workshop aimed to find innovative solutions and improvement opportunities to the problems identified in the first workshop. In both workshops, over 20 young people from academia and civil society institutions volunteered, moderating and summarizing key findings and conclusions at each table discussion. Step 4: Check the possible sources of the indicator How to guarantee results and sustainability in the statistical development of the indicator? In addition to the consultations, a group of specialists were tasked with reviewing the Environmental Compliance Report. This source was important because it is an environmental Administrative Record (forms, reports, files, among others). This review led to a joint exercise by the Statistics Office and the Ministry of Environment to collect and analyze data regarding hazardous waste, together with the private sector, academia and hospitals. It also made it possible to generate technical, statistical and environmental capabilities linked to the indicator, and has created tools to formalize this practice within the institutional framework. Step 5: Systematize, develop and implement What can we do next? The final step is to follow up on the findings and conclusions of these exercises, by developing initiatives that could have a direct impact on the improvement, organization and visualization of the data related to the hazardous waste indicator. One of these initiatives would be a Hackathon to foster the creation of applications and software development for data collection and visualization. Another, which is already underway, is the elaboration of a technical data note (explaining the indicator metadata) by the Statistics Office. This note will be validated by several sectors that will have the opportunity to rethink together the statistical development structures of the indicator. At last, this team is also working with the culmination of the construction of the database of the Environmental Compliance Reports and its respective baseline. What we learned This experience shows that there is a link between the statistical development capacity of our countries and their needs, challenges, accomplishments and opportunities, which must consider the political and social dimensions. Implementing the 2030 Agenda in the field brought institutions from different sectors together to break existing barriers. While working together was as a challenge, it was also an opportunity to improve practices and actions. 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Silo Fighters Blog

Fusing datasets to track the impact of disasters in Indonesia and beyond… VAMPIRE is on it!

BY Anthea Webb, Derval Usher | January 25, 2018

When El Niño-induced drought placed huge pressure on communities across Southeast Asia, the UN in Indonesia quickly established an inter-agency focus group to monitor the impact. The World Food Programme, UN Global Pulse Lab Jakarta and the Food and Agriculture Organisation responded to the need for faster analysis with an integrated data tool called VAMPIRE! (The Vulnerability Analysis Monitoring Platform for Impact of Regional Events).  How’s that for an acronym! What VAMPIRE does: blend and visualize in near real time As climate affects food production and prices, it is a decisive factor in the health and welfare of millions of communities. The 2015 El Niño drought caused food prices to spike in Indonesia, stretching the budgets of poor families who already spend more than half their incomes on food. The situation was even more serious given 37 percent of Indonesian children are chronically malnourished. The project team had to move quickly to develop a data tool for the Government of Indonesia and partner agencies to decide where and how to allocate resources. The first iteration of VAMPIRE applied data science skills to automate the analysis of the extent of the drought and populations at risk. The tool is a multi-tier system that fuses several datasets. First, it visualizes the national socio-economic survey and WFP’s household food security surveys. This data provides information on the percentage and distribution of poor, agriculture-dependant populations, as well as food insecure communities. Second, it analyzes data on rainfall anomalies and the Indonesian Vegetation Health Index. Rainfall anomaly is a measure of the amount of rainfall in a period compared to the long-term average for that time of year, while the vegetation index is a proxy for drought. Based on the measure of economic vulnerability and exposure to drought, the tool identifies priority areas where people may require assistance. Government Uptake Collecting data on rainfall anomalies and food security is not a new or unique activity for governments. However, the platform adds value by dramatically reducing the time required to bring this information together and visualize it in high-resolution and in near real-time. VAMPIRE has been installed into the situation room of the Office of the President (Kantor Staf Presiden) of the Republic of Indonesia, its sustainable home. The Government of Indonesia has used the tool to measure drought impact and identify fire risks. It has developed it further to estimate the impact of past government programmes as part of their regular monitoring and oversight. These are encouraging user-innovations by the Government of Indonesia that we are trying to incorporate as the tool scales to other countries (more on this below). Under the Hood Building upon these initial successes, the tool has been upgraded to include new, more detailed analysis on drought. More granular estimation of affected areas has improved the tool’s ability to identify and prioritize risk. Additional indicators on meteorological drought, agricultural drought, population density and dependence on agriculture are improving the methodology. In addition to drought, we have developed flood impact analysis capabilities into the most recent iteration of the tool. We can now estimate floods six days in advance, including the risk to crops and populations. For both flood and drought, we now include extensive disaster history information and improved UX, enabling users to explore the insights at different administrative levels and generate reports on this basis. 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