In February 2006, following the World Summit, Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the formation of a group of high-level experts, including Jean-Michel Severino. The group’s mission was to explore means of improving the coherence and effectiveness of the United Nations system in the field and in the three domains of development, humanitarian aid, and the environment. This study was meant to lay the groundwork for a fundamental restructuring of United Nations operational activities. It led to a report published in November 2006 entitled Delivering as One (DaO).
Following the publication of the high-level panel report, eight countries volunteered to act as pilot countries for “Delivering as One” development strategies:
The “Delivering as One” initiative was thus launched in 2007. Since then, the pilot countries have explored ways of increasing the UN system impact at country level. Since 2008, the pilot countries and the United Nations have worked together to strengthen country programme coherence and to reduce costs, both for the United Nations system and for the governments of the beneficiary countries. The “Delivering as One” initiative has attracted the attention of several other countries: to date, 32 countries (“self-starters”) have joined the group of “Delivering as One” volunteers.
The pillars of this reform are:
“One Programme”: common definition and planning of priorities.
“One Leader”: strengthening of the role of the Resident Coordinator (established in the first set of UN reforms initiated by Kofi Annan) and of his office.
“One Voice”: one communication strategy.
“One Budgetary Framework”: common budgetary framework, common fundraising strategy, common trust fund.
“One Office”: where possible, in addition to pooling of management services (purchasing, HR, accounting, etc.)
The importance of “Delivering as One” to the future of the United Nations was underscored in the Secretary General’s five-year action agenda (January 2012): he cited the launch of a second generation of “Delivering as One” among the priority measures to take in order to strengthen United Nations development system.
France supports the “Delivering as One” initiative and wishes to the see this dynamic of reform spread across the whole United Nations system. French delegations attended the five high-level intergovernmental conferences on “Delivering as One”, including the Tirana Conference in late June 2012. France has also made financial contributions to the initiative, amounting approximately to 1 million dollars between 2007 and 2010 for the “One Fund” of pilot country Vietnam.
The resolution on the United Nations operational development activities, or QCPR which has been negotiated in autumn 2012, had defined, among other things, the future of “Delivering as One”. The ECOSOC discussions from July 13th to 17th 2012, as well as the recent independent evaluation of the initiative, provided a basis for a first assessment.
From the perspective of the volunteer countries, “Delivering as One” has had a largely positive outcome. Since the initiative started, five high-level conferences on “Delivering as One” have been held, the most recent being the Tirana Conference (June 27–29 2012). In the outcome document, the pilot countries and several “self-starters” confirmed their will to see the initiative continue and consider it as the first step towards a global reform of the UN development system. At ECOSOC, the volunteer countries reiterated the message of the conference.
The General Assembly requested an independent evaluation of the initiative in the 2007 TCPR resolution, and again in the 2010 resolution on system-wide coherence. The evaluation only dealt with the pilot countries (and not the “self-starters”) over the 2008-2011 period. It relied mainly on qualitative methods (interviews).
Its results were presented to ECOSOC in July 2012. The “One Fund” and “One Voice” strategies had a significant impact. The study shows that country teams and governments of beneficiary countries believe that the initiative has significantly improved national ownership of UN assistance.
The study brought a number of challenges to light. The impact on transaction costs has been ambiguous: they were reduced for the governments of recipient countries, but they increased for UN country teams as a result of a lack of inter-agency coordination at the headquarters level.
According to the evaluation, the main difficulties are due to the gap between country-level coherence efforts and those taking place at the headquarters, still insufficient. For example, the “One budgetary framework” and “One office” strategies encountered problems of incompatibility between information and management practices between agencies. Another issue is the sustainability of the initiative, highly dependent on the contributions of donor countries through the “One Fund” strategy.
It must be noted that the evaluation period was very brief and that only eight countries were evaluated. Furthermore, the initiative was not implemented in a homogeneous way in the various countries. The evaluators’ task was therefore particularly difficult.
Presentation of the Delivering as One initiative on the United Nations Development Group website
The Secretary General’s Five-Year Action Agenda
The Tirana Conference (June 27-29 2012) Outcome Document