Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg.Photo: NorwayUN/Marte Fløan Beisvåg

Norway's efforts on UN Boards leads to results

Last updated: 9/17/2013 // The UN development organizations Unicef, UNDP and UNFPA have adopted new strategic plans and budgets. As one of the largest donors, and a committed participant in the Boards’ negotiations, Norway is pleased to see our priorities well reflected in the results. “The new strategies and plans represent a great foundation for the organizations to ensure that they remain ever more relevant on the ground. They will be better at documenting results of their work”, says Berit Fladby, head of the Norwegian delegation.

“The fact that the share of the budgets that goes to administration and management costs is decreasing and that more funds are being spent on actual program activities, are positive trends. For a long time Norway has been working to strengthen the Unicef and UNFPA Evaluation Offices”, says Fladby.

Choices must be made; the UN can’t be involved in the same manner everywhere. This has been a recurring topic in the negotiations during the past year. Disagreements have arisen, especially around UNDP. Norway, together with other donors, has made it clear that the different UN organizations must be better at making priorities rooted in their comparative advantages. This means that some programs must be revised, and way given to new ways of thinking. The biggest disagreement has been between upper middle-income countries and high-income countries and on how they should contribute to UN activities in their own countries.

The main aim of this fall’s board meetings was to agree on new strategic plans and integrated budgets for the next four years. Last week Unicef’s board agreed on their new strategy. The main priorities of Unicef will be health, HIV and AIDS, water and sanitary, nutrition, education, and protection and social inclusion. New to the strategy is clearer emphasis on issues related to disadvantaged children (the equity approach).

Important priorities

UNDP’s new strategy was adopted last Friday. Including their important role in coordinating UN in the program countries, UNDP has a strong profile when it comes to democratic governance, fighting poverty and inequality, preventing crisis and sustainable development. The organization faces several challenges, and the strategy is set to provide guidelines for future adjustments.

UNFPA’s new strategy was also adopted last Friday. Their work is centered on sexual and reproductive health, reduced maternal mortality rates and fighting violence against women and girls. These are also important priorities to Norway. The organization has renewed their mandate on intensifying the work on highly sensitive issues, especially those concerning women and young girls’ reproductive rights.

Realistic budgets

Together with other donors Norway works continuously to improve the organizations and the way they are run. During several years UNDP, UNFPA, Unicef and UN Women have been working together on a joint budget reform. To Norway, it is of great importance that the organizations have a framework that ensures effective and efficient use of donor contributions. With result-based budgets it is easier to monitor and evaluate what the organizations are doing and if they are doing what they have promised to do.

One of the goals of the Norwegian Government is to contribute to strengthen the UN organizations in such a way that they will be better at delivering results. It has been made very clear that Norway demands better reports, more information and more results-based leadership.

Norway welcomes Unicef’s increased resources to the Evaluation Office, and when it comes to UNFPA, the organization now has separate budget lines for the Evaluation Office and for internal audit, both with increased funds.  

The resolutions on new strategies and budgets put an end to a consultation process that has been going on for a long time. The Norwegian priorities have been very well taken care of, and the reports for 2014 will be the first test showing what other adjustments that might be added. With the new strategies UN will be even more important and play an even stronger part on development issues.

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