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UN Inter-agency Coordination

The World Summit on Sustainable Development has generated new momentum for achieving sustainable development goals. The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation focuses on enhanced implementation through meeting specific targets and commitments, greater integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions and better linkages between global deliberations and regional and national implementation.

This renewed emphasis on implementation creates new challenges to the United Nations system in terms of inter-agency co-ordination.

Programmes to Establish or Strengthen Inter-agency Collaborative Arrangements

The United Nations System Chief Executives Board (CEB) has taken the lead in coordinating system-wide follow-up activities, highlighting a number of broad principles to guide the elaboration of inter-agency collaborative arrangements. In the light of those principles, CEB took steps through its High-Level Committee on Programmes to establish or strengthen inter-agency collaborative arrangements in the key areas of freshwater, water and sanitation, energy, oceans and coastal areas, and consumption and production patterns. Specific actions taken include the following:

  1. Confirming UN-Water as the inter-agency mechanism for the implementation of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation water-related provisions and the Millennium Development Goals concerning freshwater. The terms of reference and modalities of work of UN-Water cover the elements of a detailed inter-agency plan for addressing water as well as sanitation issues, and include mechanisms for interacting with non-United Nations system stakeholders;
  2. Strengthening inter-agency support for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, including its programmes for mitigating the effects of extreme water-related events;
  3. Establishing UN-Oceans as the inter-agency coordination mechanism on ocean and coastal issues, in accordance with the WSSD's call for such a mechanism within the UN system (JPOI, para. 30c) to succeed the former ACC/SOCA. In addition to overseeing the management and development of the UN Atlas of the Oceans, a web-based information system covering over 1000 topics and accessed by about 2000 people daily from all over the world, UN-Oceans has established four time-bound task groups, each coordinated by a UN lead organization. Information on UN-Oceans, including its terms of reference, members, officers, joint activities and work programme, is available on its website;
  4. Endorsing the 10-year framework of programmes on changing unsustainable patterns of consumption and production being developed in the context of the Marrakesh Process as the basis for inter-agency collaboration;
  5. Setting up UN-Energy as a new system-wide collaborative mechanism to address the energy-related aspects of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.


At its twelfth session, the Commission on Sustainable Development reviewed inter-agency mechanisms in the context of its multi-year programme of work. The Commission stressed the importance of collective and cooperative work among United Nations agencies at the global, regional, sub-regional, and field levels, based on their mandates and comparative advantages. Such cooperation should help avoid inter-agency duplication while ensuring synergies and complementarities, and enhancing capacity-building in developing countries.