Success message
error message
warn message
Evaluation of UNDP Contribution at the Regional Level to Development and Corporate Results
Commissioning Unit: Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Plan: 2009-2013
Evaluation Type: Thematic
Completion Date: 12/2010
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Bureau for Policy and Programme Support
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

Recommendation 1: UNDP should establish regionality criteria for regional programming in consultation with governments, building on existing good practice, to determine when a regional approach is appropriate.

Regionality criteria would flow from an assessment of what works and what does not, when using a regional or subregional approach; the identification of when such an approach adds value; and an analysis of why and how countries cooperate. Discussion concerning the development of these criteria should be broad and involve partner governments in programme and donor countries. A clear understanding of when the regional approach should or should not be used could be key to UNDP positioning in resource-constrained situations.

Management Response: [Added: 2011/01/12] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation and recognizes the need to establish clear corporate criteria for when to use regional programming as the appropriate modality to address development issues. As stated in the evaluation report, some regional bureaux, such as the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, have already introduced such criteria. Criteria are also applied in other regions based on the value-added of regional programming. This is validated through consultation with UNDP key partners in the region, including governments, regional and subregional organizations, other United Nations agencies and civil society actors during the formulation of regional programmes. In reflecting on the evaluation findings and conclusions, UNDP has already identified three key elements that would justify a regional approach. These are: (a) managing externalities; (b) dealing with economies of scale; (c) promoting regional public goods that cannot be addressed at the national level. In addition, the regional programme should add value to country programmes. UNDP will reflect on past and current approaches to distinguish between regional and UNDAF/country programming. This will include reflecting on approaches used by other United Nations agencies to establish these criteria. This will be done in consultation with country offices and with government partners in programme and donor countries. The agreed criteria will be applied to the formulation of the new regional programme documents. UNDP will also seek to further clarify the overall concept of the regional programmes, including their role, scope and function, and will review the current programme guidelines as they apply to regional programmes, including the programme modalities, consultation process, regionality criteria, management arrangements and review processes.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1. Establish a set of corporate regionality criteria to determine what constitutes a regional approach as compared to a nationally based approach
[Added: 2011/03/29] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Management Group 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. Regionality criteria will be defined in the new regional programme documents which will be submitted to the EB in January 2014, after the approval of the Strategic Plan 2014-2017.
1.2. Review the programme/project appraisal process and update programming guidelines incorporating new regionality criteria
[Added: 2011/03/29] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Bureau for Development Policy (BDP), Operations Support Group 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. In Dec 2012, the OPG approved draft quality assurance criteria that apply throughout the programming cycle including programme and project appraisal. This work is to be piloted in 2013. Final guidance will be developed for global rollout after incorporating the lessons learned.
1.3. Strengthen coordination and synergies between regional programmes and UNDAFs/country programmes
[Added: 2011/03/30]
Regional bureaux, regional service centres (RSCs) and country offices No due date No deadline established
2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2: UNDP should establish a cost-effective framework for broader and deeper partnership that will facilitate systematic consultation to ensure UNDP continued relevance at the regional and interregional levels.

The broad partnerships to be covered by the framework would include relevant regional organizations, national government, civil society and the United Nations system, especially the regional commissions. The framework and subsequent consultations would ensure that UNDP is appropriately positioned in the regional space to add development value and identify opportunities for further regional and interregional cooperation.

Management Response: [Added: 2011/01/12] [Last Updated: 2020/07/05]

Regional service centres were created in part to provide a more cost-effective UNDP response to regional and country-level needs. Geographical proximity lowers costs when compared to working from Headquarters. It facilitates interaction with regional partners, while also reducing the costs for them to engage with UNDP, and has encouraged deeper participation in regional knowledge networks and communities of practice. Another clear advantage recognized in the evaluation report is same time-zone operation hours. All these factors have contributed to accelerating UNDP responses and the sharing of contextually appropriate options with our regional and country-level partners. This in itself increases cost-effectiveness. At the same time, in all regions the regional service centres continue to foster and strengthen partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, including through the regional programmes. Those partnerships are important for establishing traction for important normative and mandate-related messages on human development and Millennium Development Goals-related commitments and for backstopping their effective implementation at the country level. They also help us ensure alignment with regional priorities, as well as ownership of regional interventions. A number of initiatives have been taken to promote interregional cooperation under the auspices of the global programme. For instance, the global programme-funded International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth in Brazil has made considerable investments in expanding a new partnership base, consistent with and further enhancing the regional cooperation work that UNDP seeks to support. New partnerships, policy dialogue across regions, and South-South knowledge exchanges are central to the work of the Policy Centre, which is anchored in UNDP?s Poverty Group. As mentioned in the evaluation report, in 2009 a strategic partnership with China was entered into in order to establish trilateral cooperation to support developing countries, particularly in Africa. A new partnership was forged with the Republic of Korea for the establishment of the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre for Global Development Partnerships, which will undertake policy analysis and research on global partnerships in international development. UNDP is confident that these types of initiatives will help us learn how to broaden the South-South partnership base in a cost-effective manner. Going forward, UNDP regional bureaux will take stock of current and ongoing partnerships in order to identify potential areas for improvement. Based on this stocktaking exercise and existing good practices, regional partnership and resource mobilization strategies will be reinforced As the chairs of the Regional Directors? Teams (RDTs), acting within the UNDG machinery, UNDP regional directors will continue to promote effective complementarities and a culture of cooperation among the United Nations organizations active in each region. UNDP will also continue to participate actively in the regional coordination mechanism (RCM), as convened by the United Nations Regional Commissions, and encourage a two-way interaction with these bodies in support of each other?s work. Finally, UNDP will strengthen the governing and, where applicable, advisory boards of the regional programmes and projects to ensure the continued relevance of regional and interregional interventions through greater consultation with key partners and stakeholders.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.3 Strengthen the role of thematic boards/advisory panels to review and assess programme contributions to intended outcomes
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Regional bureaux with RSCs 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. The Global Programme Advisory Committee met in Nov 2012 and included an expanded Advisory Board, with Directors of the 5 Policy Centres (OGC, DDC, Rio-IPG-IC, Singapore, Istanbul). The Advisory Panel reviewed the contribution to GP outcomes and relationship to policy centres.
2.1. Take stock of current regional partnerships and integrate responses into ongoing and new regional cooperation frameworks
[Added: 2011/03/30]
Regional service centres, regional bureaux No due date No deadline established
2.2. Ensure appropriate planning and exchange of work plans between the RDTs and the RCMs with a view to deepening synergies and complementarities, where applicable
[Added: 2011/03/30]
Regional bureaux with RSCs No due date No deadline established
3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3: UNDP should foster a corporate culture that encourages interregional lesson learning and programmatic collaboration and that ensures the use of regionally grounded knowledge across the organization.

UNDP-defined regions should not become silos with regard to programmes and knowledge sharing. Countries sharing common problems and cross-border issues are not always in the same region and in such cases UNDP needs to facilitate interregional cooperation. Interregional knowledge sharing needs to be promoted through the use of appropriate corporate incentives that would strengthen UNDP global knowledge management efforts. Incentives also need to be developed to promote the use of regional knowledge and experiences in UNDP corporate strategic planning, advocacy work and policy advice.

Management Response: [Added: 2011/01/12] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

Regional and interregional collaboration are integral to what UNDP does as a global organization seeking to help countries to accelerate their progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Efforts are under way to strengthen a corporate culture that encourages both vertical and horizontal lessons learning and programmatic collaboration. The former involves the use of country- and regional-level knowledge for corporate learning; the latter involves intraregional and interregional activities.) A number of actions have already been undertaken to strengthen the practice and knowledge architecture, which is anchored in the regional centres and complemented by the implementation of the organization?s knowledge-management strategy. The fourth global cooperation framework set out to: (i) establish a ?one-practice team approach? for integration of the global and regional programmes; and (ii) adopt a corporate approach to regionalization to strengthen coherence and effectiveness of the practice architecture. Throughout 2009 and 2010 a cadre of ?practice leaders? ? policy advisers with practice specific knowledge ? was deployed to each regional centre with two objectives: leveraging country and regional experiences in a global context, and bringing policy advisory services closer to our national partners. Knowledge management experts have been deployed to all regional centres, where they are, inter alia, responsible for accelerating intraregional and interregional knowledge codification and sharing.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 Increase synergies between the regional and global programmes to promote interregional cooperation
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Regional bureaux, BDP, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. The new Global and Regional Programmes to be submitted to the Board in January 2014 will identify opportunities for increased synergies.
3.2 Increase collaboration between regional centres, leveraging existing knowledge management systems and management structures; review the composition of the global programme advisory committee
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
BDP/BCPR and RSCs 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. A consultant has been hired to review the management arrangements to increase synergies between the global programme and regional programmes and the management arrangements of regional centres. The new GP will include the results of this assessment.
3.3 Establish explicit methods by which regional learning can inform corporate direction and decision-making
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
BDP, BCPR, Executive Office, regional bureaux, country offices 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. Continuous reinforcement of UNDP knowledge management system provides methods for regional learning to inform corporate direction and decision making.
4. Recommendation:

Recommendation 4: To increase effectiveness and develop capacity, UNDP should base the management of regional programmes and projects in an appropriate location in the region or subregion.

The five regional programmes should be managed by the regional service centre where they can benefit from regional dynamics and leverage regional capacity. Regional projects should be located close to the beneficiaries, where they will be able to better respond to changing contexts and better utilize regional capacities. Where possible, this should be with regional institutions with the host country resident representative serving as principal project representative. In cases where projects are located with the regional service centre, they should have dedicated project management capacity. 

Management Response: [Added: 2011/01/12] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

As stated in paragraph 86 of the evaluation report, the regional programmes of Asia and the Pacific and Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States are managed by the regional service centres. The regional programmes for Africa, Arab States and Latin America and the Caribbean are partly managed from headquarters, reflecting the different states of evolution of regional approaches observed in the evaluation. UNDP recognizes that each region presents its own challenges and opportunities, and requires an approach informed by lessons from other regions but tailored to the specific needs of the regional context. This is true for both the regional programmes and the regional service centres more generally. The location of regional projects will be determined based on their content and implementation arrangements, with the aim of promoting maximum ownership at the regional and country levels. With regard to the recommendation that projects located with the regional service centres should have dedicated project management capacity, UNDP recognizes that the capacities for project management and advisory services are different though mutually supportive. Policy advisers should share accountability for how their advice is implemented and the results that are achieved, and need to be familiar with the modalities which shape their advisory role and how their advice is implemented. Project experts likewise have an obligation to contribute within their area of expertise to UNDP corporate practice development.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Develop, as part of the regionality criteria, specific criteria for determining the location of regional programme and regional project management, taking into account the strategic, substantive, partnership and operational requirements of each case
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Regional bureaux 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. The new Regional Programmes to be submitted to the Board in January 2014 will include recommendations for the location of regional programme and regional project management, taking into account the requirements of each region.
5. Recommendation:

Recommendation 5: UNDP should maximize the use of regular resources allocated for regional programmes for interventions that contribute directly to development results and minimize their use for internal corporate results.

Regular resources should be used for adding direct development value by allocation to regional projects or to policy advice that makes a clear and demonstrable contribution to development results. The use of regular resources to finance support to the project management function of country offices should be minimized. Technical support to country offices to carry out these day to-day functions should be financed from the management budget, possibly through further decentralization of support capacity from headquarters to regional service centres and, where appropriate, from regional service centres to country offices.

Management Response: [Added: 2011/01/12] [Last Updated: 2020/07/05]

Regional programming aims to contribute to the achievement of development results at the country, subregional and regional levels. Regional cooperation frameworks, approved by the Executive Board, present a variety of approaches and a mix of assets to address development challenges specific to each region. Policy advisers financed through the regional programmes are assigned to work on either regional or country priorities, or in some cases both. Their main purpose is to be available to regional, subregional and national counterparts as defined and scheduled through regional projects, country programmes and budgeted work plans.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Based on structural review findings and business model (recommendation 7), refine functional alignments with funding sources where necessary
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Regional bureaux, RSCs 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. The new regional programmes to be submitted to the Board in Jan 2014 will be designed to maximize contributions to development results in the priority areas of the new strategic plan 2014-2017.
6. Recommendation:

Recommendation 6: UNDP should retain the system of regional service centres under the purview of the regional bureaux.

While the staffing composition and portfolio of activities and services may vary according to regional context and demands, efforts are required to standardize management tools and approaches, including those related to monitoring the contribution, relevance and efficiency of the regional service centre arrangement. The centres need to strengthen their networking and ensure that they benefit from, and contribute to, global knowledge. The regional service centres should be headed by at least a deputy regional director. The residual practice of having dual reporting lines, including for practice leaders, in regional service centres should cease. All staff should have a single reporting line within the regional service centre, while at the same time be accountable for linking and contributing to global knowledge.

Management Response: [Added: 2011/01/12] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

All regional service centres are an integral part of their respective regional bureau. Oversight of the regional service centres is the responsibility of the relevant regional bureau. All these centres are headed by a deputy regional director, who reports to the regional director. UNDP agrees with the need to standardize management tools and approaches as part of the ongoing evolution of these established centres. In order to facilitate the provision of integrated advisory services, UNDP is developing a common system for tracking incoming requests from country offices. This will include all advisers, irrespective of their location, and all practice areas. The system is based on practices already in place in some regional service centres. This global tracking system will be linked to the organization?s overall management systems where contributions, relevance and efficiency can be monitored and compared. Efforts are also under way to systematize the way UNDP makes available its advisory services. With focal points at the country level, practice leaders and advisers at the regional service centres, and practice directors at the global level, UNDP now has an institutional structure that can facilitate an internally connected ?knowledge hierarchy?. The location of practice leaders and advisers at the regional level is vital to this architecture. Combined with the peer-to-peer potential of Teamworks, UNDP will be better able to support partner institutions at regional and country levels to achieve development results. The challenge remains, however, to leverage this structure for interregional lesson learning and improved programmatic collaboration that permits reciprocal knowledge exchanges between country, regional and global advisory services. The UNDP Strategy for Knowledge Management promotes a corporate culture of interregional lesson learning and programmatic collaboration (see response to evaluation recommendation 3). Although the evaluation questions the practice of dual reporting lines for practice leaders in the regional service centres, UNDP believes there is limited evidence to warrant this conclusion. UNDP acknowledges the challenge of this dual track. As key pillars of the UNDP global practice architecture, however, practice leaders need a substantive connection to the Practice Director in New York. It is precisely the clear distinction made between matters related to country offices (within the purview of the regional bureaux) and those related to global practice (within the remit of central bureaux) that makes the matrix relationship of practice leaders function effectively.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 Establish across regional centres a common tracking system, which will be monitored globally
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
BDP, BCPR, Bureau of Management, RSCs 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. A policy service application was launched on the RR-Net to better link policy advisory service providers to clients, and is accessible by this link: http://policyservices.unteamworks.org/?source=lyris
6.2 Periodically review matrix reporting arrangements to ensure optimal configuration suitable for evolving practice and knowledge architecture
[Added: 2011/03/30]
BDP, BCPR, Office of Human Resources No due date No deadline established Annual basis, beginning December 2011
7. Recommendation:

Recommendation 7: UNDP should develop a strategic corporate business model that covers global, regional and country levels; provides a sustainable and transparent allocation of funds and human resources; ensures that functions and services are not duplicated; and facilitates the location of capacity in the most appropriate place.

UNDP should recognize that in order to strengthen the results from its regional work and presence, it cannot look only at regional programming and institutional arrangements. The business model needs to be holistic, treating the programming and institutional structures within the organization as a whole, and at all levels. It should recognize the interlinkages between country, regional and global programming and results. It should prioritize establishing critical country office capacity that should be identified and put in place. In developing the model for supplementary technical support to country offices, UNDP can draw on approaches that have worked including that of GEF, which finances dedicated technical expertise in the region that also contributes to corporate initiatives. The model should enhance cross-practice and crossregional approaches to human development and United Nations partnerships at the country and regional levels. The UNDP business model must also protect, and expand to the extent possible, the funding for regional programmes so that they can maintain and augment their contribution to development results and step up to emerging challenges. 

Management Response: [Added: 2011/01/12] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

UNDP recognizes the need to continue to review and fine-tune its strategic corporate business model, as proposed in the evaluation recommendation, while retaining sufficient flexibility to adapt to each regional context. UNDP is continuously striving to improve its strategies and business practices so as to achieve high-level quality development results in the most cost-effective manner. This ambition is at the heart of the Administrator?s Action Plan and critical in today?s resource-constrained environment.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1. Develop corporate business model that responds to recommendations of the structural review process relating to regional presence
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Corporate 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. Initial response completed. The new strategic plan and regional programmes will provide additional opportunities for integration under a single corporate results framework. The Annual Business Plan will support this at the operational level.
7.2 Tighten Atlas data entry to strengthen location-centered monitoring of staff positions and projects between Headquarters, RSCs and sub-locations
[Added: 2011/03/30] [Last Updated: 2013/03/21]
Corporate 2013/12 Overdue-Initiated Timeframe revised. The issue of data entry has been resolved. Further work on this is ongoing as part of the Peoples' Capacity Strategy.

Latest Evaluations

Contact us

1 UN Plaza
DC1-20th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Tel. +1 646 781 4200
Fax. +1 646 781 4213
erc.support@undp.org