Typically UN agencies do not execute implementation projects but can provide guidance on project design/partnerships/funding/monitoring and evaluation depending on the area of work and the relevant agency. They can also enter into partnerships on specific initiatives (e.g. UNDP-Shell partnership in Nigeria). We need to be clear internally on what we want from a broader partnership with the UN before we engage in conversations with them.
Here are ways in which engagement with the UN can be approached:
1. Strategic partnerships around specific projects: We can select specific high-profile projects where a partnership with a selected UN agency can be developed. Typically such a partnership will require either collaboration on project design, or implementation (with the UN agency bringing in NGO partners). Typically such a collaboration would be interesting to the UN if it involves an innovation in either service delivery or partnerships. Let me know if something like this is interesting for you, and I can send more information on past partnerships.
2. Monitoring and evaluation: we can contract UN agencies to conduct independent evaluations of our projects- this is a potentially powerful endorsement of our work (if of course the evaluation goes well!). It requires a willing ness to share our methodologies, data, inputs, and results openly with them, and bring them on board at the project planning stage itself, rather than at the end of it, so they can help design baseline indicators for tracking.
3. Joint funding: The UN can be approached for joint funding, though such instances are relatively rare. It is more possible to engage the UN to act as a convenor, to bring together other funders for similar projects so that there is coordinated funding and implementation for specific projects.
4. Best practices resources: The UN is a good repository of best practices in implementation and can be used as a channel for cross-national collaborations, learnings and information on best practices in design, implementation and impact evaluations.
5. Global Compact: The most high-profile engagement with the UN is of course to sign up for the Global Compact. This requires signing on to specific principles, and there is a fair amount of flexibility as I understand, around what constitutes adherence. Personally, I am not a huge fan of the Compact, and feel that it is a fairly low-return engagement (from both ends). But please dont be coloured by my personal opinion on this; I know several of the people involved in the inception and design of it in NY, and would be happy to discuss the implications of joining with them.
6. Specific agencies: Finally, here is a list of the relevant agencies we can tie up with for sector specific projects:
• UNDP: All MDGs, poverty reduction, environment, energy-related projects
• UNICEF: children’s welfare, education, water and sanitation
• UNFPA: reproductive health, maternal health, family planning
• WHO: guidelines for public health, disease specific interventions
• CGIAR: agricultural research and development
• UNEP: environment related initiatives
• UNESCO: education, science, cultural heritage
• UNIFEM gender, women’s empowerment
• Global Compact: CSR branding, partnerships
• FAO agricultural, rural development projects
• WFP emergency, humanitarian assistance, school meals