Mid Term Review of UNOSSC Strategic Framework (2018-21)

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UNOSSC has commissioned this independent external mid-term review in order to take stock of progress made towards delivering results and resources, collate and analyse lessons learned, challenges faced, and best practices obtained during implementation of the Strategic Framework (2018-2021) since its adoption in 2018. This review is intended to inform both the second phase of implementation of the Framework (June 2020 - December 2021) and provide an early strategic way forward toward the next UNOSSC Strategic Framework.  It is also intended that this assessment would inform the Member States, UN agencies and other entities, as well as other stakeholders, on the progress and results achieved in the application of the Framework in its first two years of implementation.


Title Mid Term Review of UNOSSC Strategic Framework (2018-21)
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021, UN Office for South-South Cooperation
Evaluation Type: Outcome
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 09/2020
Planned End Date: 07/2020
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 30,000
Source of Funding: Regular resources
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 28,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Maria Onestini Consultant rponesti@criba.edu.ar ARGENTINA
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: GLOBAL

Recommendation 1.

Integrated planning. Improve delivery and engendering of high-quality results within the Strategic Framework 2018 – 2020 being reviewed here (as well in future strategies).  Development of work plans to be solidly affixed upon integrated planning and results-based management and using standard tools and methodologies for work planning.

For that, there are several specific configurations that the Office could strengthen and / or implement.

  • Plan for full life – cycles of initiatives.  Planning should begin at design, follow through with implementation planning and should contain sustainability factors in place that take into account the replication and upscaling capacity of different initiatives.
  • Planned activities, processes, projects and products should be anchored on secured financial resources needed to implement them. 
  • An effort should be made to streamline commitments (such as MOUs, large scale events, etc.) so that they are followed through, operationalized and implemented.  When this is not possible with the resources available or with internal capacity available, there should be a candid reorganising with partners of these commitments.
  • In addition to pursuing activities and products with solid capacity and financial backing in the Office, there should be other aspects taken into account in order to instil a results – based culture and capacity, including: (a) improve design of work programmes to include technical and conceptual backing; (b) follow through with implementation and monitoring aiding the reporting process and transparency; (c) plan activities and processes with results or effects in mind and not only the product, reliably re-thinking which events/processes/projects leave results and have impacts and streamline accordingly; (d) link results – based management principles to monitoring and evaluation within UNOSSC.
  • Follow through with implementation and monitoring so that it aids the reporting process and transparency.

Recommendation 2.

Strengthen substantive work of the Office. Promote knowledge creation, generation and dissemination on best practices in SS and TrC, and information on field experience and practice in this type of cooperation as well as foment more action – oriented discussions and even toolkits for implementation of SS and TrC. Generate not only policy analysis but also knowledge based on practicing SS and Triangular Cooperation, in order to promote specific technical cooperation for development.


Recommendation 3.

Results – based monitoring and evaluation. Results – based monitoring and evaluation practices Office – wide should be based on results-based management approach.  There is a need to build a results-based evaluation and monitoring system within the Office comprehending all of UNOSSC’s activities, processes, outputs, etc. 

  • The Office needs to develop further its new monitoring and evaluation schemes to be realistic and forward looking and with the understanding that institutional changes take time to develop and assimilate while taking into account the particularities of South – South and of Triangular Cooperation. 
  • The plan generated for M&E should be properly resourced, not only with adequate financial assignment for carrying out assessments (which should be financed from the very beginning or design of a process) but also with suitable allocation of capacity and staff – time within the Office to unfold the plan and oversee evaluations and monitoring and periodic reporting based on this and current strategies the Office develops.
  • Results-based monitoring and evaluation should include tools and metrics that capture developmental change (such as SMART[1] outcome indicators or GeNDER indicators[2]). 
  • Reporting should be bolstered based on results-based monitoring and assessment practices.
  • The plans, arrangements and particular monitoring structures should be put in place with several aims and objectives, being clear that monitoring and evaluation is not an end in and of itself or a perfunctory activity, but a vehicle to promote learning and adaptive management, replication, upscaling and dissemination of best practices and effective response that highlight the positive aspects of South-South and Triangular Cooperation and that helps in decision - making.  
  • Further to this, it should be an explicit clear objective that the Office’s plan for evaluation and monitoring based on results is a vehicle for transparent and continuous reporting to different parties, including nourishing and strengthening communication efforts at large [both internal and external].
  • The plan and practices should be put in place without adding inordinate burden to the different processes and activities and taking into account the dimensions and complexity of the processes being evaluated, and clients’ expectations.  They should be fitting with the scale of the projects and initiatives being evaluated. 
  • Efforts should be placed in order to promote a monitoring and evaluation culture, incorporating a culture of planning/evaluation and monitoring within the workings of the Office as well as for its staff. 


[1]Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

[2] Gap-minded, Encompassing, Disaggregated, Enduring, Rights observing.


Recommendation 4.

Organizational recommendations.  Although organizational, the following recommendations have as an aim to improve effectiveness and efficiency for the achievements and outcomes the Office aims at obtaining.  In general, they pertain to implementing the several plans and proposals that have been generated in order to increase and strengthen capacity within UNOSSC.   Strengthen and increase capacity in areas that need it within the Office at all levels of engagement.  Strengthening of individual and institutional capacity should be placed in administration, managerial, communication, partnerships, technical and policy – related areas as well as in trust fund management. 

  • Strengthen and increase capacity in areas that need it within the Office at all levels of engagement.  Strengthening of individual and institutional capacity should be placed in administration, managerial, communication, partnerships, technical and policy – related areas as well as in trust fund management. 
  • Individual capacity should not only be increased but be made more enduring, relying less on individual or temporary contracts and more on long term hiring based on candid budgetary resources or restrains.
  • Integrate and synergize the different areas of the Office, operationally and conceptually with shared visions and approaches, working as one.
  • Improve intra – office communication by generating and promoting an open communication culture and dialogue.  This internal dialogue enhancement should be engendered not only to advance internal communications but also to present integrated and open messages in the outreach, projects and policies the Office propositions, generates and / or supports.  This would include taking into account the Office’s communication strategy and standard operation procedures, outreach, advocacy and communications strategies and plans developed.  For this, the Office should emphasize consistent, cohesive and coherent messaging, and reflect integration across different teams within an Office-wide collaborative communications culture, as expressed in plans developed for this.
  • Implement an Office-wide communication and outreach approach that reflects integration across different teams and move forward to new or improved knowledge creation and management mechanisms.
  • Improve communication of achievements, processes, products to a wider audience, being proactive and not passive about the information generated.
  • Implement periodic information and communication mechanisms for partners.
  • Implement user friendly tools for communication and knowledge management.
  • Integrate the workings of the Office by different specific mechanisms to engender intra – office information sharing, consultation, dialogue and participatory planning between and among the different areas in order to impel a less hierarchical more horizontal institution that acts as one.
  • Generate cooperation frameworks with UN system – wide entities in order to create synergies and mutually benefit in achieving outcomes.   Cooperation in substantive / technical issues as well as management and programmatic activities should be explored.
  • Develop contingency plans to address issues that foreseeably may arise out of re – organization.
  • A review of regional offices should take place in order to better understand if the way they function now is appropriate to deliver competent and sustainable outreach and results or if re – organization should take place.  If the system of regional bureaus is deemed to be valid still, then these regional offices should be having a clearly defined role across the different ones, avoid duplication with other entities and with headquarters, strengthen their operations, as well as create the planned Latin America and the Caribbean Office.

Recommendation 5.

Resource mobilization plans. Implement a robust resource mobilization plan for contribution to the different activities that UNOSSC carries out and plans to carry – out attempting to attract more contributions as well better resource mobilization (based on resource mobilization strategies that the Office has drawn).  This plan should be complemented by approaching different or new partners to explore further resource mobilization, enhance flexible programming at the different levels of operation that the Office has.


Recommendation 6.

Update concepts and Office agenda in order to include Triangular Cooperation fully.  One of the achievements of BAPA + 40 was bridging the divide between SS and Triangular Cooperation discourse in order to acknowledge that triangular cooperation complements and adds value to South-South cooperation.  Yet, the products and outputs generated by the Office still need to incorporate this discourse and further promote knowledge about triangular cooperation as a complement to SSC.  The Office ought to move forward in the implementation of the BAPA + 40 outcome recommendations on triangular cooperation in close collaboration with all stakeholders.


Recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its current and possible future impacts, there is a  series of recommendations that can be made regarding the pandemic  itself vis – a – vis the work of the UNOSSC and its current Strategic Framework.  Although at this point all recommendations for future work in the development field will unquestionably be tinged by the pandemic, there is a particular set of recommendations that directly relate to South-South and triangular cooperation regarding COVID-19 and its effects on the global south:

  • In order to monitor UNOSSC’s capacity to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as prepare for possible future emergencies, the Office should begin to methodically and analytically document its initiatives being carried-out at this point regarding response to the pandemic.  Furthermore, these should include documenting methodically the current as well as future responses regarding recovering from the health emergency and its accompanying political, social and economic crises that are showcased in the events and processes supported or conducted by UNOSSC.
  • Continue to take part in UN system – wide and agencies’ initiatives that provide understanding on the pandemic, UN responses and handling of the crisis by inputting knowledge and information as it relates to SSC and TrC.
  • Within the workings of the Office, review and accordingly adjust frameworks and planning so that they take into account COVID-19 related support. Implementation of several key areas of the SF as well as UNOSSC restructuring should be reviewed and adjusted given the delays and postponements occurring.
  • Plan for the possibility of diminishing resources due to the pandemic that could arise out of shifting priorities by Member States, donors, agencies, funds, etc., moving towards more efficient use of resources while focusing on efficiency of delivery of planned and unplanned outcomes and results.
  • Focus on how South-South and Triangular Cooperation can help upon building capacities of the South to use IT tools for mutual connectivity, engagement and cooperation, acknowledging the digital divide that can hinder the Global South insertion into these new modalities of engagement and of upsurge in a digitally – based modality due to the pandemic.
  • Upgrade the Office’s outreach to the Global South through online platforms, using this as an opportunity to rationalize the use of resources as well as broaden and make more agile outreach scope.
  • Engage in the ensuing global as well as UN debates and generate inputs as they pertain to the global south for changes in multilateralism and regionalism due to the pandemic and its associated effects.  Foster analysis how this affects political and socio-economic systems in general as well as how it affects SSC and triangular cooperation.
  • Analyse initiatives paying attention to trends and issues that arise out the COVID-19 emergency and how it affects SSC.  Trends such as (but not limited to) the following (within the context of South-South and triangular cooperation) have been identified thus far:
    • Comparative responses from the global south to the health emergency itself.
    • Socio-economic impact of the pandemic, globally as well as within each different country or regional contexts.
    • Digital divide between developed and developing countries and how this impacts post-pandemic recovery and post-pandemic socio-economic systems.
    • Gender issues associated to the pandemic as well as post pandemic recovery.
    • Impact upon poorest and the most vulnerable which are being affected and will continue to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic as well as by the post – pandemic situations.
    • The role of South-South and triangular cooperation within the modality of “reconstructing better” after the current emergency that the pandemic has ushered.

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