United Nations Development System Reform

Dear Members and Partners,

A reform of the United Nations Development System (UNDS) with a view to improving its accountability, efficiency and coherence is implemented at the moment. The aim is to strengthening the system’s coherency and addressing long-standing concerns about fragmentation and duplication of efforts among the system’s funds, programmes and specialized agencies and better support implementing the Agenda 2030 and reaching the SDGs. Key features of this reform includes:

What is New?

The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) has been renamed the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. The Cooperation Framework represents the UN development system’s collective offer to support countries in addressing key Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) priorities and gaps. It begins and ends with an analysis of the national development landscape and SDG priorities, including through the lens of the imperative to leave no one behind. The Cooperation Framework serves as a core accountability tool between the UN Country Team (UNCT) and the host Government, as well as between and among UNCT members for collectively-owned development results.

The duties and responsibilities of UN Resident Coordinators are strengthened, including the following key characteristics:

  • The Resident Coordinators with strengthened authority and leadership, is the highest-ranking representative of the UN development system at the country level and (s)he is the designated representative of – and reports to – the Secretary-General;
  • The Resident Coordinators is responsible for the coordination of operational activities for development of the UN in support of countries’ efforts towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda;
  • The Resident Coordinators leads and supports the Country Teams in the development, monitoring and reporting of the UN Cooperation Frameworks. (S)he coordinates the UNCT’s implementation of the UN Cooperation Framework, and works with UNCT members to ensure alignment of both agency programmes and inter-agency pooled funding for development with national development needs and priorities, as well as with the UN Cooperation Framework and 2030 Agenda; 

The reform implies challenges and opportunities for IOE member federations.

  • As most of the Resident Coordinators won't come from the ILO, they are less familiar with the role of Employers Federations, the role of social partners and the importance of consulting of Employers Federations. Although the ILO will undertake awareness raising and capacity building of the Resident Coordinators, IOE member federations can`t take for granted that Resident Coordinators will automatically fully appreciate the role Employers Federations have.
  • The UN Global Compact is pressing to become the main business engagement point vis-à-vis the UN also at national level and letters have gone out to Resident Coordinators asking them to engage with the UN Global Compact local network.
  • However, the UN reform opens the opportunity for IOE members to have a much stronger engagement not only with ILO country teams, but with the UN Country Teams. Through the strengthened Resident Coordinator, they might get influence to the UN leadership at national level.
  • The UN Common Country Analysis (UN CCA), which underpins the Cooperation Framework, opens possibilities to engage and bring the perspective of employers not only to the ILO Decent Work Country Programmes, but to the wider UN development framework at national level.

It is of critical importance that IOE member federations pro-actively reach out to the UN Resident Coordinators and that they engage in the UN Common Country Analysis and the development of the Cooperation Framework. IOE member federations have to take their seat on the table and must make themselves heart. Please find attached the timeframe for the development of the Cooperation Frameworks for the different countries. In 17 countries the new cycle of Cooperation Frameworks starts in 2020.

The IOE has written together with ITUC to all Resident Coordinators to raise awareness of the important role of Employers Federations and Trade Unions and to ask them to fully engage with them. Please find the letter attached.

We would like to ask you to inform us in case there are any difficulties in the engagement with the Resident Coordinators and the UN Country teams. IOE is committed to support you at the national level.

We will also start webinars to help sharing experience and peer-learning between Employers Federations on the impact of the UN reform at national level. We will start with the webinars in March. An invitation will be provided soon.

Please do not hesitate to contact us in case you have any questions.

Yours sincerely,

Roberto Suarez & Matthias Thorns

IOE address

71 Avenue Louis-Casaï
1216 Cointrin
Geneva, Switzerland

T: +41 22 929 00 00
F: +41 22 929 00 01