Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.
United Nations Development AccountUnited Nations Headquarters New York

Development Account Projects

Integration of the trade dimension in the United Nations development assistance framework

Background:

Recent surveys of the content of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF)1 show that while there is a strong focus of the United Nations assistance at the country level on social, governance, environmental and gender issues, the role of economic and trade-related issues in achieving poverty reduction and development goals is still marginal in these plans. Social and domestic goals addressed by the United Nations assistance at the country level are not effectively connected with the economic and productive capacity issues, nor with the international economic environment that surrounds and largely determines any national development process.

Similarly, links between the Enhanced Integrated Framework (a six-agency traderelated assistance mechanism) and the "One UN" plans are now being introduced by UNCTAD and UNDP, but they need to be consolidated in terms of policy and operational coherence with the United Nations country assistance plans. A recent study prepared by UNDP on "Trade for poverty reduction: the role of trade policy in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers" (July 2008) shows that the role of trade (and trade-related assistance) in the papers is marginal, and that the economic development needs identified by the Papers are not fully taken into account in the formulation of UNDAFs and similar country assistance initiatives. The updated United Nations Development Group Common Country Assessment/UNDAF Guidelines adopted on 30 January 20092 include, for the first time, a specific reference to these issues.

In line with the United Nations system-wide coherence process and the resolution on triennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations systems,3 this proposal aims at enhancing inter-agency coherence and joint initiatives and national ownership in the area of trade-related assistance and capacity-building.

UNCTAD leads the United Nations Chief Executives Board on Coordination interagency cluster on trade and productive capacity, launched in April 2007. This cluster includes UNDP, UNIDO, FAO, WTC, ITC, UNEP, UNOPS, and the five regional commissions. Its aim is to coordinate joint operations at the country level.4 This proposal aims at supporting the national involvement of government and stakeholders in the preparation of joint operations on trade-related issues among the United Nations entities that are part of the cluster, including the World Bank and IMF as required in each case. UNCTAD will act as lead agency of this proposal, in close coordination with all the agencies of the United Nations Chief Executives Board for Coordination cluster mentioned above, with different inter-agency initiatives as required in each country targeted by this proposal. The coordination is carried out in a very flexible and action-oriented manner on a case-by-case basis through field missions, audio-conferences and e-mail.

Objective:

To strengthen policy coherence, inter-agency cooperation and integrated activities on trade and productive sectors within the United Nations system and in particular at the country level.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased ownership and participation of national Governments and stakeholders in the formulation of United Nations assistance plans in 10 selected countries — Africa (4), Asia/Pacific (3), Latin America and the Caribbean (3)
  • Improved knowledge management, better utilization and improved coordination of the United Nations expertise in the area of traderelated assistance by national authorities, stakeholders and donors
  • In the case of the least developed countries, improved policy and operational coherence among the various development assistance areas targeted by the United Nations entities, particularly in view of more interface between the Enhanced Integrated Framework, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and United Nations plans, as well as more coherence of these plans with the bilateral aid delivered at the country level

Implementation status:

In addition to the national workshop in Lesotho (May 2011) and the regional workshop in Mali (November 2011), a regional and a national workshop was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, in May 2012. Government representatives from a total of six countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, Fiji, Nepal, Samoa and Tajikistan) participated in the regional workshop, whereas a wider audience was targeted for the national workshop/session, held back-to-back with the regional workshop.

The workshops in Nepal, in words of the consultant, “posed a greater challenge than the previous regional workshop for French-speaking African countries, given the heterogeneity of participating countries’ situations and geographic location.
Therefore, in as much as possible, the focus was put on common features (high trade deficit, very narrow export base, high importance of remittances, dependence from much bigger and richer neighbours etc.) and experience-sharing was encouraged.

All participants, when asked about the impact of the course, agreed that it would serve them in their professional activities, both in designing development strategies and in negotiating with partners. One participant also mentioned that the course material will serve as a reference document in their drafting on a National Development Policy.
Participants also widely recommended a large dissemination of the course “to increase a common understanding of the issues” among the various developing countries. One of the dissemination channels suggested is an online course that would greatly multiply the number of sensitized officials.