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Review of UN-Habitat's Participation in the Delivering as One UN Initiative

Review of UN-Habitat's Participation in the Delivering as One UN Initiative

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The review covers the opportunities and challenges of UN-Habitat's participation in the Delivering as One (DaO) United Nations Initiative, and makes recommendations for a more rational, coherent and effective participation. UN-Habitat is currently active in six pilot DaO countries: Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Vietnam. The review was requested by the UN General Assembly, for consideration by Member States, and conducted by two independent consultants during the period from March to June 2011. A key finding of the review is that effective participation of UN-Habitat in joint programming has the potential to enhance its visibility and sharpen its comparative image. It also finds that establishment of National Urbanisation Committees or National Urban Forums with membership drawn from the Government, civil society groups and the private sector will be important to position the urban agenda at country level, and that UN-Habitat Headquarters should streamline its structure and working modality to enable it to "deliver as one".
The review covers the opportunities and challenges of UN-Habitat's participation in the Delivering as One (DaO) United Nations Initiative, and makes recommendations for a more rational, coherent and effective participation. UN-Habitat is currently active in six pilot DaO countries: Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Vietnam. The review was requested by the UN General Assembly, for consideration by Member States, and conducted by two independent consultants during the period from March to June 2011. A key finding of the review is that effective participation of UN-Habitat in joint programming has the potential to enhance its visibility and sharpen its comparative image. It also finds that establishment of National Urbanisation Committees or National Urban Forums with membership drawn from the Government, civil society groups and the private sector will be important to position the urban agenda at country level, and that UN-Habitat Headquarters should streamline its structure and working modality to enable it to "deliver as one".

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03/27/2014

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The present One UN Plan for Vietnam during
the period 2006-2010 (extended to 2011) is the
result of tripartite consultations between the
Government of Vietnam, the United Nations
Country Team (UNCT) and the donor community.
The Plan is financed from ODA donor grant
allocations to the One UN Plan Fund (OPF) for
Vietnam, under the UN Multi Donor Trust Fund
(MDTF), as well as from earmarked and non-
earmarked agency contributions (core funds). For
the period 2008-2010, OPF budget is at the level
of USD 79 million, representing approximately 30
per cent of multilateral ODA grants for Vietnam.
UN-Habitat’s participation is solely funded
through allocations from the OPF for Vietnam
(USD 0.95 million, representing slightly over one
per cent of OPF).

As per the OPF allocation criteria, it is hoped that
the next One UN Plan will be better integrated
among the agencies through procedures of joint
and result-based planning. In the current One

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REVIEW OF UN-HABITAT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE DELIVERING AS ONE UN INITIATIVE

UN Plan, the UN-Habitat issues of urbanization,
urban development strategies, pro-poor land and
housing, improvements of basic infrastructure
and services remain somewhat hidden in the total
list of 23 output clusters and 93 expected results.
Nevertheless, UN-Habitat is recognized, and the
agency is expected to make contributions under
each of the five plan components in line with its
mandate and comparative advantage.

Participation in the One UN Plan in Vietnam
is under the responsibility of the UN-Habitat
country team, which is composed of one Country
Programme Manager and six other nationals (i.e,
four professionals and two clerical staff). While
the Country Programme Manager is funded from
Headquarters resources, the other team members
are funded through UNDP administered service
contracts, under funds allocated to UN-Habitat
from the One UN budget. The One UN Fund
allocation is for the purpose of implementing three
projects: the Quang Nam Provincial Development
Strategy; the Urban Observatory (urban
indicators) project; and the pro-poor housing
project, totalling USD 0.95 million. While most
agencies contribute own resources (core funds) to
the DaO process, in the case of UN-Habitat, this
modest amount ensures the implementation of
three projects, and is the only source of funds for
all the other functions of the Country Programme
Manager and the team, including participation
in the DaO programming and implementation
process. The limited resources available to
the Country Programme Manager team pose
considerable stress and constraints to the team’s
ability to perform its multitude of functions.

Apart from the above DaO projects, UN-Habitat
activities in Vietnam are funded by the Water
for Asian Cities and Mekong Sanitation Project
(MekSan), implemented by a national project
manager, and coordinated by a regional project
office in Laos, separate from the institutional
arrangement for DaO in Vietnam, and outside
the scope of responsibilities of the Country
Programme Manager in Vietnam and of the
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

With the implementation of projects funded under

the One UN Fund, the visibility and perception of
the agency’s mandate has remarkably increased. As
a result of the cooperation agreements on projects
with national partners like the Association of
Cities of Vietnam, and agencies under the Ministry
of Construction, DaO has helped to engage the
expertise of other UN agencies in national policy
advocacy (i.e. UNFPA involvement in housing
policy advocacy, UNDP in climate resilient urban
development policy) and local strategic planning
(i.e., Quang Nam Provincial Development Strategy
with involvement of UNESCO, ILO and FAO). With
funding provided under the One UN Plan, UN-
Habitat was able to undertake specific projects to
demonstrate its competence and value added to
its Government counterparts, donors and other
UN agencies. The Government recognizes UN-
Habitat as its main international partner on issues
of sustainable urbanization. With its comparative
advantage in terms of specialized expertise, UN-
Habitat has been taking the lead among UN
agencies on DaO initiatives with sustainable
urban development, and has made competent
contributions to United Nations Country Team
discussions on climate change.

In the next One UN Plan (2012-2016), UN-Habitat
shall focus its intervention more on capacity
building, policy support, general advocacy, and
research on topical issues emanating from the
United Nations Country Team. The prospects of
funding future UN-Habitat projects through the
OPF are not promising. This is not a reflection
of UN-Habitat’s competence and relevance to
the Socio-Economic Development Plan, but the
result of a likely reduction of the OPF for the
next plan period. The change of Vietnam’s status
from a developing to a middle income country
(MIC) will change the external development
assistance architecture, less from ODA, with a
shift to (concessional) loans and Government
cost-sharing. Agency representatives, as well as
donors expect a significant drop in OPF funds
available for the next One UN Plan. Larger
agencies such as UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA
are already preparing for a shift in the funding
structure. This scenario will affect UN-Habitat’s
future operations in Vietnam considerably. With

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REVIEW OF UN-HABITAT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE DELIVERING AS ONE UN INITIATIVE

the absence of own (core) resources, the priorities
and funding modalities through Government
cost sharing, or direct donor funding for specific
project proposals along the agency’s recognized
competencies (including climate change or
disaster/risk mitigation and adaptation), need to
be considered.

At the level of the Ministry of Construction,
which is the Ministry responsible for policies
on urbanization and housing, a wide range of
requests for assistance is directed towards UN-
Habitat and its country team. The ministry has
identified the bottlenecks to be at the level of
infrastructure, institutional development, and
capacity building and human resources. The
present support provided by UN-Habitat projects
under DaO is highly appreciated; a formal request
for further assistance will be made to UN-Habitat
soon, including a request for further consultations
on future cooperation.

There is overall recognition of UN-Habitat’s specific
mandate relevant to the country’s development
priorities, its competence and comparative
advantage within the United Nations Country Team.
The active participation of the Country Programme
Manager and the team in the DaO process is very
much appreciated by the office of the Resident
Coordinator. This positive view is shared by the
representatives of other UN agencies, particularly
UNDP, UNFPA, FAO and ILO. UN-Habitat’s status
as a NRA does not appear to limit its active role
and competent participation in the deliberations of
the United Nations Country Team and its working
groups. In the view of the UNDP country office,
UN-Habitat’s focus on programme delivery, while
authorizing UNDP to administer its funds, is a
good model for other UN agencies of similar size
to follow. However, and as mentioned above, the
effectiveness of the present Country Programme
Manager structure is severely constrained by a lack
of human and financial resources.

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REVIEW OF UN-HABITAT’S PARTICIPATION IN THE DELIVERING AS ONE UN INITIATIVE

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