Evaluation of the UNDP/DPKO-DFS/DPA Joint Project on UN transitions in Mission settings

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In response to increased requests from UN field presences for transition-related support, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) initiated a joint project in 2014 that seeks to ensure that UN transition processes are planned and managed in a proactive, gradual and integrated manner, thereby supporting the sustainability of peacebuilding achievements.

The project is not a standard ‘development’ project and one of very few joint projects between UNDP, DPA, and DPKO/DFS. In its spirit and function it is thus in line with the thinking of the new Secretary-General who is calling for more integrated responses across the political, security and development pillars.

There is empirical evidence that operational support to UN transitions in the field is relevant and effective. Learning from such support has been beneficial to those involved, particularly at country level. The project was timely and has helped raise awareness that support to transitions increase the likelihood that they run smoother, experience less resistance and increase sustained support to peacebuilding in country - laying the ground for future sustainable development.

Project implementation has been flexible and the project steering committee, in consultation with the project management team, has adapted the project to adjust to challenges and opportunities. The project management team has adequately fulfilled its tasks and has been flexible in responding to the demands from countries and Headquarters.

The evaluation includes recommendations for the next phase of the project.

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Title Evaluation of the UNDP/DPKO-DFS/DPA Joint Project on UN transitions in Mission settings
Atlas Project Number: 00059401
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2017, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support
Evaluation Type: Thematic
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2017
Planned End Date: 12/2017
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Crisis Prevention & Recovery
  • 2. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 5.5. Policy frameworks and institutional mechanisms enabled at the national and sub-national levels for the peaceful management of emerging and recurring conflicts and tensions
  • 2. Output 6.2. National and local authorities /institutions enabled to lead the community engagement, planning, coordination, delivery and monitoring of early recovery efforts
  • 3. Output 6.3. Innovative partnerships are used to inform national planning and identification of solutions for early recovery
Evaluation Budget(US $): 150,000
Source of Funding: SIDA
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 48,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: Yes
  • Joint with DPKO/DFS, DPA
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Jups Kluyskens Consultant info@kluyskensconsulting.com
Jups Kluyskens Consultant info@kluyskensconsulting.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: DPKO, DPA, COs
Lessons
1.

Continue support to countries if and where required. In Haiti, a new two-year mission has started and support for the duration of the new mission would allow the project to collect evidence on how operational support to a transition for the entire duration of a mission can consolidate planning processes and contribute to a smoother transition.


2.

Create a pool of staff/consultants that can support transitions, including through rapid short-term deployment. This would reduce the time of deployment, increase the expertise levels of those deployed, and ensure more types of skills are readily available. The project should consider TS to serve several countries at a time.


3.

Expand the tool box in support of UN leadership in transition countries and reserve time to conduct research, or contribute to research, on transitions including in response to new themes that emerge from the SG’s initiated reforms.


4.

Consider tailor-made trainings to a broader audience that contribute to UN transitions, including other entities that are working in country.


5.

Develop a proactive, coherent, and flexible advocacy and outreach strategy to disseminate results of the project and broaden the audience to target strategic offices in the UN, the UNCT, development partners and other interested parties. This could include UN transition notes for different audiences at different levels in the UN to increase the visibility of the project and contribute to strategic discussions. A communications strategy could help effective targeting.


6.

Given the above, UNDP needs to create a window of support to transition planning in the Strategic Policy Team in the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support by increasing staff time and agree with other project partners on the human and financial resources needed and develop a cost sharing model.


7.

Review the UN Transition Policy and consider incorporating all aspects of UN transitions, including start-ups and scaling up. Consider how the EOSG office can reflect this policy in Planning Directives and strategic decision making. Review the UNDP guidance document and consider how it can be made relevant for the wider UNCT.


8.

Lobby for the anchoring of dedicated transition capacity at the strategic, as well as the operational levels, and financed through regular budget mechanisms.


9.

Undertake research and seek support to introduce gender in the project outputs and in the substance of the work on UN Transitions.


10.

Initiate discussions with UN training institutes to enable a handover of the training in order to make the training sustainable and part of the institute’s curriculum. Consider how learning and support can be organized interactively among different staff and management.


11.

Explore the capturing, sharing, and use of knowledge on transitions through the development of a knowledge management strategy on transitions.


12.

Develop a communication strategy to provide UN transition information upstream to the UN EOSG, other UN strategic bodies, including those that are part of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.


Findings
1.

There is empirical evidence that operational support to UN transitions in the field is relevant and effective. Learning from such support has been beneficial to those involved, particularly at country level.


2.

The project was timely and has helped raise awareness that support to transitions increase the likelihood that they run smoother, experience less resistance and increase sustained support to peacebuilding in country - laying the ground for future sustainable development.


3.

In particular its support through Transition Specialists (TS), surge capacity and expert field visits has led to concrete results such as the elaboration of transition plans and other documents that support transitions. Such support has been catalytic in drawing attention to, and enabling the conversation on, transitions both from a planning and a programmatic perspective. Transition plans bring to the fore the critical peacebuilding gaps that result from mission drawdown or closure. 


4.

At times it has been challenging to find the right capacity to support countries and deploy TS in a timely manner, but the project team managed to find alternatives to ensure that support to the transition planning would not slow down. The actual placement of the TS in a country can pose a dilemma: Is the person best placed in UNDP, which given its mandate has the largest peacebuilding portfolio in country, or should this person by part of the Resident Coordinators Office who leads the UN Country Team? 


5.

Through its different activities the project has contributed to raising awareness and facilitating discussions on the need to start planning for transitions at an early stage and respond to or anticipate Security Council resolutions. Transition planning needs to be better aligned to, and positioned in, integrated planning processes both in terms of substance and in sequencing activities of the transition plan. This means that the TS needs to receive strategic support and buy-in from the UN leadership in country in order to succeed.


6.

The organization-wide UN policy on transitions (2013) and the UNDP guidance on transitions (2014) are relevant, but need to be updated to reflect results from this project.


7.

The project suffered from insufficient visibility within the three entities, including their leadership and the UN at large, including the Member States. The effectiveness of its information sharing with Member States needs to be improved.


8.

Lessons learned documents are useful, but the evaluation found limited evidence that they are effectively used or that they provide relevant information to its readers. This is partly due to an ineffective dissemination mechanism.


9.

Training courses and capacity building efforts have been relevant and useful to increase transition-related expertise in the organization. They created a first level of critical mass within the UN where staff and management acquire knowledge and skills, which they can apply to improving transition planning and tackle the challenges inherent in transition planning.


10.

Project implementation has been flexible and the project steering committee, in consultation with the project management team, has adapted the project to adjust to challenges and opportunities. The project management team has adequately fulfilled its tasks and has been flexible in responding to the demands from countries and Headquarters. Transition processes are, however, not limited to the three entities and the project’s strategic relevance will increase if representation of the Peacebuilding Architecture (PBSO, PBC, PBF) and the EOSG are more directly involved.


11.

The advisory role of project staff and TSs have raised awareness of the complexity of UN transitions as a process (political, operational and technical) and reduced the perception that UN transitions equal a ‘handover’ between mission and the UNCT. 


12.

Gender as a concept, including a methodology to apply it to transitions, has been absent from the work. There is little guidance or understanding how gender can be addressed.


Recommendations
1

Strategic:  Review the UN Transition Policy and consider incorporating all aspects of UN transitions, including start-ups and scaling up. Consider how the EOSG office can reflect this policy in Planning Directives and strategic decision making. Review the UNDP guidance document and consider how it can be made relevant for the wider UNCT.

2

Strategic:  Lobby for the anchoring of dedicated transition capacity at the strategic, as well as the operational levels, and financed through regular budget mechanisms.

3

Strategic:  Undertake research and seek support to introduce gender in the project outputs and in the substance of the work on UN Transitions.

4

Strategic:  Initiate discussions with UN training institutes to enable a handover of the training in order to make the training sustainable and part of the institute’s curriculum. Consider how learning and support can be organized interactively among different staff and management.

5

Strategic:  Explore the capturing, sharing, and use of knowledge on transitions through the development of a knowledge management strategy on transitions.

6

Strategic:  Develop a communication strategy to provide UN transition information upstream to the UN EOSG, other UN strategic bodies, including those that are part of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.

7

Operational: Continue support to countries if and where required. In Haiti, a new two-year mission has started and support for the duration of the new mission would allow the project to collect evidence on how operational support to a transition for the entire duration of a mission can consolidate planning processes and contribute to a smoother transition.

8

Operational: Create a pool of staff/consultants that can support transitions, including through rapid short-term deployment. This would reduce the time of deployment, increase the expertise levels of those deployed, and ensure more types of skills are readily available. The project should consider TS to serve several countries at a time.

9

Operational:  Expand the tool box in support of UN leadership in transition countries and reserve time to conduct research, or contribute to research, on transitions including in response to new themes that emerge from the SG’s initiated reforms.

10

Operational: Consider tailor-made trainings to a broader audience that contribute to UN transitions, including other entities that are working in country.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

11

Operational: Develop a proactive, coherent, and flexible advocacy and outreach strategy to disseminate results of the project and broaden the audience to target strategic offices in the UN, the UNCT, development partners and other interested parties. This could include UN transition notes for different audiences at different levels in the UN to increase the visibility of the project and contribute to strategic discussions. A communications strategy could help effective targeting.

12

Operational: Given the above, UNDP needs to create a window of support to transition planning in the Strategic Policy Team in the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support by increasing staff time and agree with other project partners on the human and financial resources needed and develop a cost sharing model.

1. Recommendation:

Strategic:  Review the UN Transition Policy and consider incorporating all aspects of UN transitions, including start-ups and scaling up. Consider how the EOSG office can reflect this policy in Planning Directives and strategic decision making. Review the UNDP guidance document and consider how it can be made relevant for the wider UNCT.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with the recommendation. The UN Transition policy should incorporate lessons learned regarding transitions. However, the Integrated Assessment and Planning Policy and the DPA Special Political Missions Start-up Guide (2012) already cover start-up and scaling up and this should not be duplicated in another policy but should be referred to. Agree that EOSG should reflect the UN Transition Policy in directives and strategic decision-making. Agree that the UNDP guidance should be reviewed and shared more broadly with other agencies in particular regarding the operational/administrative areas of the guidance.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 The PMT has initiated an inclusive review process under the auspices of the newly established UN Transition Planning Working Group chaired by the EOSG.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT (Project Focal points from UNDP, DPA, and DPKO/DFS as well as the project manager) 2018/09 Completed The Transition Working Group has drafted a SG directive on transition planning that reflects and complements existing transition guidance History
1.2 The PMT has been assigned to support the EOSG in all transition issues and settings.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2020/04 Initiated The PMT has been taking a leading role in preparing EC meetings and helping with the implementation of the decisions taken there (e.g. the SG directive) History
1.3 UNDP will initiate a review of the UNDP guidance and consult with other agencies, funds and programmes through the UN Transition Planning Group.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
UNDP Project Focal Point (SPU) 2019/12 Not Initiated
2. Recommendation:

Strategic:  Lobby for the anchoring of dedicated transition capacity at the strategic, as well as the operational levels, and financed through regular budget mechanisms.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with the recommendation. While the project is providing critical support to transitions, these issues should be addressed by institutionalized capacity.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 The project document for the second phase has both streamlined sustainability in all outputs and have adopted a revised fourth output focusing exclusively on sustainability which includes institutional capacity at the strategic and operational level.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT and Project Steering committee (i.e. UNDP, DPA, and DPKO/DFS) 2020/04 Not Initiated Advocacy for such capacity in the context of the UN reforms has yet to commence. History
3. Recommendation:

Strategic:  Undertake research and seek support to introduce gender in the project outputs and in the substance of the work on UN Transitions.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with the recommendation

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 Research on SDGs in fragile settings
[Added: 2018/09/18]
UNDP Project Focal Point (SPU) 2019/12 Initiated Initial research conducted. To be continued in 2019
3.2 Research on the political dimensions of transitions
[Added: 2018/09/18]
DPA Project Focal Point (GLU) 2018/09 Completed
3.3 Enhancing gender aspect in the project.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2020/04 Initiated Project supports joint initiative to enhance gender analysis in transition processes History
4. Recommendation:

Strategic:  Initiate discussions with UN training institutes to enable a handover of the training in order to make the training sustainable and part of the institute’s curriculum. Consider how learning and support can be organized interactively among different staff and management.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with the recommendations but may decide to anchor training within the project partners organization pending the outcome of the UN reforms.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Identifying and engaging key training institutions within the UN that could deliver transition trainings, once the project does no longer exist
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2019/12 Initiated Preliminary discussions with the UN Staff Colleges has begun and will continue as will consultations with other institutes.
5. Recommendation:

Strategic:  Explore the capturing, sharing, and use of knowledge on transitions through the development of a knowledge management strategy on transitions.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with the recommendation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Development of a knowledge management strategy .
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2019/12 Not Initiated The development of KM strategy has been incorporated in the project document. Implementation of the strategy will be ongoing throughout the project
6. Recommendation:

Strategic:  Develop a communication strategy to provide UN transition information upstream to the UN EOSG, other UN strategic bodies, including those that are part of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with the recommendation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 Development of a communication strategy
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2019/12 Not Initiated Has been incorporated in the new project document. Implementation of the strategy will be ongoing throughout.
6.2 Regular meetings with EOSG and the UN Transition Planning Group to enhance consistent messages on transitions across the organization
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2020/04 Initiated PMT is consistently engaged in TP WG History
7. Recommendation:

Operational: Continue support to countries if and where required. In Haiti, a new two-year mission has started and support for the duration of the new mission would allow the project to collect evidence on how operational support to a transition for the entire duration of a mission can consolidate planning processes and contribute to a smoother transition.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The Project Steering Committee (PSC) agrees with this recommendation. Transition processes need to be led by the field and primarily planned as well as managed in country. It is against this background that operational support to UN entities that are planning for or undergoing transition processes, remains the central feature of phase II of the project. Such support will be provided through a variety of means, including visits of subject matter experts and the hiring of dedicated Transition Specialists. Special emphasis will be placed in accompanying the UN entities in Haiti to ensure early transition planning and management.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 Hire three Transition Specialists so that they can provide expert technical and process support to UN transition processes in the field.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
All project partners will be involved in the selection of suitable candidates. UNDP will be responsible to hire the selected candidates. 2019/12 Initiated Discussions are advanced to deploy TS in Sudan and DRC. Placement of TS in Mali is not needed at this stage
8. Recommendation:

Operational: Create a pool of staff/consultants that can support transitions, including through rapid short-term deployment. This would reduce the time of deployment, increase the expertise levels of those deployed, and ensure more types of skills are readily available. The project should consider TS to serve several countries at a time.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with this recommendation. Transition processes are complex exercises that benefit greatly from expert support. Timeliness of such support is key given that transition process are often quite volatile with periods of little activity being followed by intense workloads. A key deliverable of phase II of the project therefore is the creation of a pool of transition specialists who can be deployed on short notice to provide surge capacity to support the development of key transition products or facilitate key steps in a transition process. 

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Engage with the Crisis Response Unit in UNDP to agree on the modalities of how staff/consultant with transition expertise can be added to their roster of specialists what can be deployed to countries on short notice in order to provide surge capacity.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
UNDP Project Focal Point (SPU) 2019/12 Not Initiated
8.2 Provide trainings and capacity building measures to broaden the pool of staff that have transition-related expertise.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2020/04 Initiated UNHQ training to take place in Nov 2018. Global training to take place in Q2 2019 History
8.3 The Transition Specialist that will be hired during phase II of the project will serve various countries at a time to ensure better cross-fertilization of lessons and good practices.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
UNDP Project Focal Point (SPU) 2020/04 Initiated Decision was taken to place TS firmly in one country but to include in their ToRs that the PMT can request that they support other transition processes for up to 3 months per year. History
9. Recommendation:

Operational:  Expand the tool box in support of UN leadership in transition countries and reserve time to conduct research, or contribute to research, on transitions including in response to new themes that emerge from the SG’s initiated reforms.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with this recommendation. Phase II will continue to have a dedicated output to the identification and capturing of lessons and good practices. These activities involve extensive research in order to enhance organizational practice on key transition related issues. Phase II of the project is designed in a way to allow the project management team and project steering committee to adjust the scope and focus of such research activities so that they respond to organizational needs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
9.1 Dedicated time to conduct research and add to the body or organizational knowledge through the identification and capturing of lessons and good practices.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
All project partners 2020/04 Initiated History
10. Recommendation:

Operational: Consider tailor-made trainings to a broader audience that contribute to UN transitions, including other entities that are working in country.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with this recommendation. Phase II of the project will put increased emphasis on delivering tailor-made and in-country trainings that will focus on (1) providing participants with knowledge and skills that are key for transitions, and (2) inititating the development of key products needed to plan and manage a transition process (e.g. integrated analysis, joint transition plan, capacity mapping, communication strategy, joint programmatic initiatives, and resource mobilization strategies). Whether host government representatives and representatives of other partners will be able to participate, will be explored in each individual context.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
10.1 Proactive outreach to UN leadership in countries were a transition is on the horizon or imminent to make them aware of the possibility that the project can deliver tailored trainings The trainings themselves will be delivered in an integrated manner and involve all project partners.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
DPKO to lead in peacekeeping context; DPA to lead in SPM contexts 2020/04 Initiated Training has taken place in Haiti in 2018. Possible training to take place in Sudan History
11. Recommendation:

Operational: Develop a proactive, coherent, and flexible advocacy and outreach strategy to disseminate results of the project and broaden the audience to target strategic offices in the UN, the UNCT, development partners and other interested parties. This could include UN transition notes for different audiences at different levels in the UN to increase the visibility of the project and contribute to strategic discussions. A communications strategy could help effective targeting.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC agrees with this recommendation. During Phase II of the project, the communication and outreach on UN transitions will be carried out in a more strategic and deliberate manner. This will be achieved through the articulation of an overarching communications strategy, which will identify key stakeholders and produce tailored messages. It will also include the development of short notes and infographics on key transition issues.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
11.1 Articulation of a joint and strategic communication strategy on transitions. Development of a set of discrete and tailored communication products, including thematic transition notes and infographics.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
PMT 2019/12 Initiated Transition infographics have been produced
12. Recommendation:

Operational: Given the above, UNDP needs to create a window of support to transition planning in the Strategic Policy Team in the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support by increasing staff time and agree with other project partners on the human and financial resources needed and develop a cost sharing model.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/09/18] [Last Updated: 2018/09/18]

The PSC partially agree with this recommendation. While dedicated capacity that can provide support to transitions needs to be anchored in the organization in the long term, such capacity should not just sit in UNDP but be created in each of the partner entities in order to ensure integrated efforts.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
12.1 UNDP has committed that the project focal point is working 50% of his time in support of the project implementation, thus signaling the commitment of UNDP to long-term engagement on transitions. DPA has signaled its willigness to have their focal point allocate 33-50% of their time to the project. DPKO's focal point is currently allocating 33% of time but that may need to be reassessed in the context of the Peace and Security reforms.
[Added: 2018/09/18]
All project partners 2020/04 Initiated History

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