UN Secretary-General, UNDEF Board, approve almost 50 new projects

Almost 50 two-year projects totalling almost ten million dollars have been approved for UNDEF’s 13th Round of funding. In this Round, UNDEF received 2,307 project proposals from organizations in 141 countries, the vast majority local civil society organizations in Africa, Arab States, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, adding further to the considerable growth the Fund has experienced since its creation in 2005 and bring the total number of projects supported by the Fund to more than 800. These UNDEF-supported initiatives all reflect a focus on strengthening the voice of civil society and encouraging the participation of all groups in democratic processes - thus concentrating on the demand side of democracy, rather than the supply side.

Once the short list has been reviewed and recommended by the Board, UNDEF notifies the Permanent Missions of those countries where projects are envisaged, and gives them at least a month to respond with any comments, should they so wish.  Following this stage, the short list is submitted to the Secretary-General for review and approval.

Followjng the Secretary General’s approval, the proposals move into the final stage in the selection process: the negotiation of a project document, which is in effect the contract between UNDEF and the grantee. This requires the applicant to provide a more elaborated project design, and involves comprehensive guidance, input and review by UNDEF. Only upon successful conclusion of this process will the project formally be approved for funding. UNDEF is also required to notify the Government of each country where a project is recommended.

The short list is the product of a thorough and rigorous process. A team of ten assessors from around the world-- combining more than 100 years of programme and project experience -- scored each proposal against 10 set criteria and produced a long list of some 300 project proposals. To narrow down the list further, UN Resident Coordinators were invited to provide comments, quality vetting, and views on how proposed activities would fit in with existing work in the countries and fields proposed. The same comments were sought from the UNDEF Programme Consultative Group, making use of the specific expertise of each of its entities: the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the Department of Peace Operations, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Development Programme, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and UN Women. Based on this collective input, the UNDEF Secretariat produced the short list of 54 recommended project proposals.

Of the project proposals, 33 per cent are in the Arab States, 22 per cent in Africa, 19 per cent in Asia, 11 per cent in Europe, and 13 per cent in Latin America. Broken down by key activity, 23 per cent of project proposals are in rule of law and human rights; 22 per cent in women's empowerment; 18 per cent in youth engagement; 15 per cent in strengthening interaction with government; 9 per cent in electoral processes; 9 per cent in community activism; 3 per cent in media and 1 per cent in tools for knowledge. Governments on the Board comprise those countries who have made the largest cumulative financial contributions to the Fund over the past three years: Algeria, Canada, Germany, India, Poland, Republic of Korea, Sweden, and United States of America, and six countries reflecting geographical diversity: Botswana, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Mongolia and Tunisia.