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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

Powering up data collection systems in Palestine

BY Subhra Bhattacharjee | July 11, 2018

In 2016 we prepared a Common Country Analysis (CCA) for Palestine. A CCA is UN speak for a detailed analysis of a country in preparation for a multi-year action plan of the UN. It identifies key development challenges and where the UN needs to focus its development investments. For our analysis this time, we decided to look at people. In hindsight it appears to be the obvious thing to do, but we were not the first to think of this. The Nepal UN Country Team did it before us. For our CCA we asked ourselves two questions: Who are the most vulnerable groups in Palestine? What are the structural drivers of their vulnerability? We thought if we could identify the most vulnerable groups and analyze the structural drivers of their chronic vulnerability, we will have a good sense of what it will take to ensure that our sustainable development investments leave no one behind. The first call for ideas brought out 61 proposed groups, each backed by passionate arguments as to why they are the most vulnerable. We merged some groups, reduced duplications, clarified categories, tinkered with definitions, and after extensive discussions, honed our focus to 20 vulnerable groups. This gave us a window to the factors that keep some groups in Palestine systematically at a disadvantage. Next, we did a deep-dive to understand why development was leaving some groups behind. For some groups, including out-of-school children and children in the labour market, the lack of adequate data makes it difficult for government to formulate specific policies and programmes for these groups. Alternative data collection methods for groups that are small compared to the population After a comprehensive exercise to account for the data, especially looking at Sustainable Development Goals indicators, we noted that relevant data on smaller groups couldn’t be collected only through existing surveys. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) uses representative samples for each geographical area of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), and even though it produces high quality data consistent with international standards, there is a lack of up-to-date and periodic disaggregated data on several smaller groups. Take for example, the fishermen of Gaza. There are some 4,000 registered fishermen in Gaza, accounting for 0.2 percent of Gaza’s population of two million. If PCBS samples 1,000 people from Gaza for one of its quarterly labour force surveys, it will have at most two fishermen in its sample. We cannot draw any reliable conclusions about the socio-economic conditions of fishermen in Gaza from a sample of two people. And if PCBS included more fishermen in their sample, the percentage of fishermen in the sample will be larger than the percentage of fishermen in Gaza’s population. To create a large enough sub-sample for fisherfolk, PCBS will need to do a new level of sub-sampling by profession or sector on top of the two layers it is already subsampling. This would significantly increase its cost of surveys. Are you still tracking with us? Keep reading.   Flash surveys to the rescue So, for the smaller groups, we at the UN looked for an approach to gather data that would not cost too much, would not create too much additional work and most importantly, that is able to produce good quality data. The first thing we tried is a series of flash surveys – with small samples, and short questionnaires. These flash surveys had several benefits over the more traditional surveys with bigger samples and longer questionnaires: They allowed us to test our systems for collecting primary data and iterate quickly and cheaply if necessary to work out the flaws in the system. They enabled our enumerators to get hands-on training at a relatively low cost to us. They are also particularly suitable for understanding the smaller groups that don’t get adequately represented in the bigger surveys. We chose four vulnerable groups: adolescent girls, children in labour, the elderly and persons with disabilities as pilot cases. UNFPA took the lead in this. They engaged the Sharek Youth Forum, a non-profit, and one of UNFPA’s implementing partners to conduct the surveys. OHCHR, FAO, UNRWA, helped with the quality control. 37 university students (28 from the West Bank and 9 from Gaza) were recruited from Sharek’s network and trained as enumerators by an expert. The survey questionnaires in Arabic were uploaded on KoBoToolbox, a free and open source suite of tools for collecting data. Many of the young enumerators owned smartphones so they downloaded the app on their phones and entered the data for each person they surveyed into their smartphones. Sharek provided the others with tablets. A village, a town and a refugee camp were selected in each governorate. Sharek’s enumerators visited schools to survey adolescent girls, reached out to the elderly in their local communities, and found persons with disabilities through support groups. ILO provided information on the areas with high concentration of child labour. The enumerators collected the data over a period of two weeks, and, in some cases, they used paper forms to collect the data and documented problems as they arose. The enumerators collected data on a small number of key demographic variables for each group. For the data on the four groups produced by Viz for Social Good, click here, here, here, and here. Before even looking at the data, we noted a few things. First, we now have 37 trained enumerators who can be deployed again at short notice to conduct other flash surveys. The investment in training and the hands-on experience they got has started the process of creating systems to collect data on vulnerable groups. Second, we need to finesse our sample selection if we want to use the surveys to provide baseline indicators and monitor progress. Third, we need to think through how to combine the data from smartphones and paper surveys. Fourth, we need to figure out how to identify our target groups based on more rigorous definitions. For instance, not all work done by children should be classified as child labour. According to ILO, child labour refers to work that “deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”. Fifth, flash surveys need more quality control if they are to serve the same purpose as traditional surveys. This is because with smaller samples of flash surveys, the choice of location will need extra attention to ensure that the sample is indeed representative. This year, we will work through these wrinkles. Engaging people in their own data analysis In data circles, we often hear the idea of engaging communities to collect and use their own data. But the instances of it being done in a meaningful, low cost, sustainable way to generate usable data are few and far between. Could we pull it off? We decided to experiment with combining data collection and empowerment for one of the most vulnerable groups in the oPt, namely, Area C communities. Area C accounts for 60 percent of the West Bank. It has some of the most fertile agricultural land and almost the entirety of Palestine’s natural resources. An estimated 300,000 Palestinians live in Area C and a greater number depend on its resources for their livelihoods. Area C is controlled by the Israeli military,  which has exclusive control over land, planning and construction. Significant portions of Area C land are allocated for Israeli settlements and declared as Israeli state land. Only about 30 percent of Area C is available for Palestinian construction, but so far Palestinians have been issued permits to build on less than one percent of the land. Since construction permits in Area C are closely tied to Israeli spatial plans, spatial plans driven by Palestinian communities have been used in recent times to empower communities, and to rally the Israeli Civil Administration to issue permits to Palestinians for construction. In addition to Israeli military orders, land ownership in Area C is governed by a complex legal framework resulting in insecurity of land tenure and confusion about ownership and user rights of private land. Consequently, land registration has been a long-time priority of local and international development actors in the oPt. As the next activity of our project, we integrated a community-driven process to map land ownership and user rights. UN-Habitat took the lead in developing a system called the Social Tenure Domain Model. This participatory tool is a pro-poor, gender responsive system based on free and open source software, which means that all the data collected and stored is available to the communities and owned by the users. The system is based on information and evidence shared by local communities making them a part of the decision-making process. The system records and analyzes the social tenure relationship of people and land, and the social services/amenities that available to the inhabitants of a location. It fits the oPt’s highly complex tenure system, because it supports a continuum of land rights ranging from formal to informal. An Arabic interface was created for the system so it can easily be deployed in other Arabic-speaking countries. UN-Habitat also provided training for the Palestinian Land and Water Settlement Commission staff. This system for community mapping of land rights with a special focus on women and youth will help us empower the community, build social cohesion, and generate data on land rights. The resulting database will serve as a shadow land register, support land valuation, raise awareness about land governance in Area C, and inform advocacy efforts to defend land rights of Palestinian communities. These efforts are supported by the ‘Road Map for Reforming Palestinian Land Sector’ of 2017. Right now, the background work is still ongoing. The model will be piloted in 2019. Will this actually work? We don’t know. For now, we know that we now have the systems in place to replicate or update the data collection of smaller groups through flash surveys, we can engage communities participate in collecting and analysing their own data and integrate a community-driven process to identify land ownership and user rights, at a lower cost than in the first run. And we will use whatever we learn from these initiatives to finesse our methods in our next set of data collection initiatives in 2018.

Silo Fighters Blog

Making money move: New financing to achieve the SDGs

BY Richard Bailey | July 3, 2018

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.” Regardless of where you grew up, we all learn about the importance of securing every penny, rand, real, euro, yen, ruble, or rupee. And the saying is particularly relevant today since development organizations like the United Nations (UN) must mobilize more than US$3.0 trillion every year if we hope to achieve the ambitious goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Official development assistance (ODA) is still an important finance mechanism but only $140 billion are secured each year. If we, the UN, intend to accelerate progress so no one is left behind, ODA needs to be used more strategically, and other sources of finance must be secured. There also needs to be an organizational shift from strictly funding programmes and initiatives to an approach that involves “funding and financing” to tap into international, national, private and public financial flows. Perspective shift: from funding to financing A growing number of blended finance sources have helped advance development aims in recent years.[1] Private sector guarantees, syndicated loans, and shares in collective investment vehicles mobilized $36.4 billion,[2] while socially responsible investing exceeded $6 trillion between 2012 and 2014. Impact investors and development finance institutions created a new investing asset class that is projected to grow to $400 billion by 2025. When it comes to financing, the rules are changing, and the UN is looking at new ways of aligning financial flows and attracting new investors. UN Country Teams (UNCTs) in Kenya, Indonesia and Armenia explored ways of helping national governments and local partners secure broad, non-traditional funds for development purposes. They mapped out challenges, unlocked new types of financing and used resources in a timely and innovative manner. The three most successful tools adopted were impact investing, Islamic financing, and sector-specific fund modalities. Impact investing in Armenia In the last few years, Armenia has turned into a thriving tech start-up hub and financing initiatives have followed two major trends: venture philanthropy and impact investing. To capitalize on these new forms of funding, the UNCT set up a country platform for SDG implementation that is aligned with national reform and SDG efforts. The collaborative space allows the UN, development partners and civil society to strengthen relationships and develop new ones with international financial institutions, donors and philanthropists. Other innovations: SDG Innovation Lab, the Kolba Social Innovation Lab, ImpactAim Venture Accelerator. Islamic financing in Indonesia Home to the world’s largest Muslim population and the tenth largest economy, the Government of Indonesia recently turned to inclusive and ‘green’ financing to accelerate the SDGs. The UNCT saw the potential and embraced new forms of finance to support sustainable development initiatives. Good practices include employing blended finance instruments and Islamic financing (Baznas).[3] In 2017, UNDP channelled zakat (charitable funds) for a micro-hydro energy project to improve access to water, renewable energy and livelihoods in some of the most remote parts of Indonesia. Other innovations: Financing Lab, “Bring Water for Life” and #TimeforTigers crowdfunding campaigns. Primary health care financing in Kenya One million people in Kenya fall into poverty every year because of a fractured health care system,[4] which is why the national government prioritized rolling out Universal Health Care in the “Big 4 Action Plan.” The UNCT supports the government by working with private sector partners on the Private Sector Health Partnership Kenya initiative and SDG Philanthropy Platform. Bringing together the private and public sectors together has opened doors to new cross-sectoral opportunities in the health, tech, early childhood development, nutrition, and technical and vocational training sectors. Make it rain: harnessing the potential of innovative financing The cost of solving the world’s most critical problems currently runs into the trillions, forcing development financing into a new era. There are no other options if traditional development aid no longer makes the grade. The UN has to pivot and embrace the changes taking place or risk becoming redundant and irrelevant. Luckily there are many opportunities to seize, and the UN has plenty of comparative advantages to bring to the table. The organization has a long, successful history of bringing together partners, training and recruiting experts, scaling up projects, and imparting technical knowledge. UN staff are skilled in advising, brokering knowledge, innovating, analysing data, and measuring impact. As we have seen in Kenya, Armenia and Indonesia, capital can be mobilized through impact investing, attracting early investors, or securing funds for larger investments in sectors identified by the central government. Embracing the latest tech innovations (e.g. e-health or mobile diagnostics) can turn unattractive investment areas into “bankable propositions.” Perhaps the most important takeaway is to not “let perfection be the enemy of the good.” Change may take time but UNCTs can’t wait for everything to be in place before embarking on new initiatives or adopting innovative types of financing. Steps to secure the right kind of capital have to be taken because time is running and “business as usual” no longer works—the numbers tell the whole story. Societal progress involves taking calculated risks, and achieving the SDGs is no exception. Unlocking new sources of funding is one way the UN can make sustainable gains and help governments make returns on the 2030 Agenda. ---- [1] Discussed in detail in “Financing the UN Development System. Pathways to Reposition for Agenda 2030” (September 2017), Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation in collaboration with the MPTF Office, http://www.daghammarskjold.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Financing-Report-2017_Interactive.pdf. [2] Amounts Mobilised from the Private Sector by Official Development Finance Interventions: Guarantees, syndicated loans and shares in collective investment vehicles’, OECD working paper, 2016. [3] Baznas was established by the government based on Presidential Decree 8/2011. The agency is responsible for collecting and distributing zakat at the national level. [4] Thomson Reuters Foundation, February 2018, http://news.trust.org/item/20180209112650-s1njv/.