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Governance for sustainable human development
A UNDP policy document
Implementation of governance programmes


Contextual factors relevant to governance programmes

Several contextual characteristics may affect which types of governance programmes are more or less important - and more or less likely to have an impact:

  • Socio-economic indicators including education, access to basic needs and the role of women.

         The economy: its base, growth and type; financial dependence on external resources, including aid and debt; and degree of integration with the global economy.

         Human capacities and sustainability.

         Natural resource base and trends in the environment.

         Cultural, religious and ethnic diversity and structures, conflict or polarisation and internal means of resolving conflict.

         Indigenous values, networks and knowledge.

The manifestations and mix of these factors vary greatly among and within regions. For example, in many countries in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America public sector and market reforms have created conditions for high growth and expanded opportunities. Even so, some people are becoming increasingly marginalised. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, remains saddled with huge debt, economic stagnation and rapid population growth, causing overexploitation of the natural resource base. Reforms are being undertaken at a time when official development assistance has leveled off and the benefits of globalisation have largely bypassed the region.

The success of governance programmes and projects greatly depends on the way they are designed and implemented. The underlying principles of UNDPís implementation strategy are finding suitable entry points and partners for policy dialogue; responding quickly to national needs while keeping a long-term view; creating opportunities for government, the private sector and civil society to interact to achieve policy and programme consensus; implementing programmes in ways that are nationally led, sustainable and that develop strategic capacities; and coordinating development and UN resources.

Throughout programming, the country office should bear in mind the UNDP mandate, our comparative advantages and approaches to good governance, the socio-economic environment of the country and the country type.

Participatory approach

Without the full involvement of major stakeholders and beneficiaries in design and implementation, programmes are not sustainable. Numerous participatory methodologies are available. UNDP Management Development and Governance Division has helped to further and test one methodology, called process consultancy, for developing participatory programmes while also developing social capital. The outside expertís role is to support and help build consensus. The methodology helps UNDP country offices and experts to initiate that consensus building, cultivate an awareness of the importance of governance, identify key agents of change (reformers, leading thinkers, civic leaders and so on), develop goals and strategies and organise capacities for change. The methodology can be applied in all UNDP programme countries. Process consultancy, combined with a programme approach and national execution (which support development of national capacities to meet national goals), can serve as a powerful tool for developing capacities to reach collective targets. This is one proven way in which UNDP provides training, management development and governance programming. Other effective approaches are available. Guidelines for process consulting and other approaches are available from the Management Development and Governance Division.

Identifying entry points

At the beginning of the programming process, UNDP should identify and consult key people in government, civil society and the private sector who will be involved in governance programmes. In that way it can assess national needs and identify areas for support. Any dialogue should be impartial and bring together national stakeholders to reach consensus, develop political will for change and understand the importance of good governance. Documents and studies (such as national human development reports) and regional strategies could be used to provide analysis, options and methodologies, and to stimulate dialogue. Synergies and linkages should be sought between governance, poverty, sustainable livelihoods, gender and the environment. This should lead to a country cooperation framework document that clarifies national goals and strategies and identifies possible areas for UNDP support, along with appropriate entry points and partners.

Experience shows that UNDP is most effective when it is able to respond quickly and flexibly to unfolding needs and opportunities, while retaining a long-term view on sustainability. At times UNDP must be willing to take risks to take advantage of fast-evolving opportunities, some of which may be directly related to governance - for example, national elections, changes in government bodies, annual planning and budgetary discussions, national campaigns and conferences on specific themes. Some of the most effective governance programmes, however, have been initiated through other entry points - such as poverty, gender, the environment and integrated rural and urban programmes.

Developing strategic capacities

UNDPís approach to capacity development is based on two important principles. First, it asks, ďcapacity development for what?Ē and advocates that the answer be closely related to people-centred sustainable development. Second, it claims that how capacities are developed influence the what as well. UNDP advocates that capacity development design take into consideration the key characteristics of good governance - participatory, transparent, equitable, accountable and strategic vision.

The success of good governance programmes depends on developing capacities to articulate goals and manage change. UNDP emphasizes the importance of sustaining and expanding existing capacities and targeting high-impact capacities for assistance. Criteria for strategic interventions include the impact on policies, development resources and the enabling environment, particularly to eliminate poverty; whether key leadership and managerial capacities will be strengthened; and whether support will broaden participation. Because most governance programmes involve, for example, judicial systems, financial management systems, parliamentary systems and decentralised governance systems, a systems approach to capacity development - which places institutions and people in processes that perform specific tasks - is most appropriate.

UNDP support for building capacities for national information systems and linkages to regional and global networks is a cornerstone of its strategy to develop capacities in priority areas. Such linkages support national decision-making by helping countries tap into an array of local, national and global knowledge and experience, and to build a global network of experts to support governance-related programmes. Guidance on design issues is available from the Sustainable Development Network Programme and the Management Development and Governance Division of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. Institutions in each region will receive support for regional and subregional networks. At the global level, UNDPís Management and Governance Network (MAGNET) will be the global node for national and regional networks. MAGNET, which is managed by Management Development and Governance Division, includes a consultancy roster and UNDP governance documents that can be found on the Internet.

Feedback on impact is an important device for future programme design and implementation. UNDP is working to develop capacity targets, benchmarks and indicators of progress and success that are tailored to measure the success of governance programming.

Coordination and the role of the resident coordinator

UNDP can take steps to improve the impact of the governance programmes that it supports and to ensure that the UN and external partners support national priorities in a coordinated way. For example, it can become the lead agency in collaboration and country-based aid coordination for one or more aspects of governance programmes; provide an impartial forum to discuss issues related to governance and to help forge local partnerships; provide data and electronic information services on national governance programmes to all development partners; help governments package and negotiate governance programmes for resource mobilisation; and help coordinate UN responses and programmes in support of national goals or in answer to crisis situations - or both.




Division of responsibility within UNDP

UNDP has responsibility for governance programmes at three levels: the country, the region and the world.

UNDP country office

Leadership by country offices is crucial, since most of UNDPís resources are available at the country level. The UNDP country office is responsible for identifying, developing, implementing and monitoring programmes and projects that develop consensus on national goals and strategies and then develop relevant capacities. Coordination and resource mobilisation are also vital. These responsibilities have important implications for a proactive office: UNDP offices may need to organise themselves to analyse changing needs and respond rapidly to emerging opportunities. Some offices have a team focused solely on governance programmes. More important are the abilities within country offices to identify effective entry points and implementation partners, identify partner institutions that can monitor and assess trends and develop a network of people and institutions that can help in initiating consultation and development of programmes.

Regional support to programme countries

Regional programmes add value and support to UNDP country initiatives in one or more ways. They help define regional governance policies and strategies, facilitate sharing of regional experiences, establish regional networks and centres of excellence, provide flexible and rapid regionwide support to develop national programmes, undertake regional briefings and training, conduct regional studies of trends and identify and pilot new approaches in countries that may also be applied regionally. Each of the UNDP regional bureaux has prepared (or is developing) regionally tailored governance strategies.

Global support to programme countries

UNDP supports a number of global projects to support good governance including those on institutions of governance, decentralisation and urban management.

UNDP Governance Task Force. Chaired by MDGD\BPPS, the task force facilitates UNDP governance policy and interbureau activities; shares information and provides guidance and feedback on global programmes; and responds in a coordinated way to interagency and UN conference requirements.

BPPS Management Development and Governance Division. MDGD, working within the framework of the BPPS Global Programme, has three main responsibilities: developing corporate-level policies, tools, instruments and methodologies based on country experiences; researching issues of priority to UNDP; and supporting UNDP country offices for programme development and backstopping. MDGD is developing competencies in such areas as institutions of governance; decentralisation and local governance; civil society; urban management; economic and financial management; aid management and accountability; and capacity development methodologies. In other related areas MDGD is developing partnerships and a comprehensive roster of consultants who can be recruited rapidly. MDGD strategy calls for close collaboration with other BPPS divisions dealing with the macroeconomic framework, poverty, gender, the private sector and the environment. MDGD will collaborate closely with the United Nations Capital Development Fund in local government programmes. The fund is concentrating its resources in the poorest countries to provide modest capital grants and microfinance that support local and community institutions of governance.

Office of UN Services, Emergency Response Unit. The Emergency Response Unit provides resources under TRAC line 1.1.3 for the development of strategic frameworks and capacity development of national institutions to prepare for, mitigate, manage or prevent crises. Where possible, available resources should be programmed during the preparation of the country cooperation framework.





UNDP will build partnerships with agencies in the UN system as well as with institutions and networks outside the UN system to implement its governance policy. UNDP is chairing the UN systemwide Sub-Task Force (of the Interagency Task Force on Enabling Environment) on Capacity-building for Governance with representatives from 18 UN agencies and programmes. The mandate of the Sub-Task Force is to promote integrated follow-up to UN conferences by building on best practices of existing interagency cooperation. UNDP is also taking the lead in the governance sub-group of the Secretary Generalís Initiative for Africa. Partnerships with specific agencies in the UN system are identified in chapter 2 of this document.

UNDP will also use the expertise and experience of global, regional and national institutions and networks outside the UN system. Collaborative agreements have been signed or are being developed with several global institutions and networks including International Union of Local Authorities (IULA), Inter-Parliamentarian Union (IPU) and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA).

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