Malawi SDG Acceleration Fund: 2020 Annual Report


1. Introduction

1.1. Strategic Framework

The 2016 Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR)1 requested the United Nations Development System (UNDS) to support Member States’ efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a coherent and integrated manner. The review emphasized the need for a United Nations (UN) that is more strategic, accountable, transparent, collaborative, efficient, effective and results-oriented. It also emphasized the need for the UNDS to have well-designed pooled funding mechanisms to support common, cross-cutting UN approaches at country level. The 2030 Agenda calls for a shift on the way the UNDS transacts its business so that the world is put on a path to sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

Prior to the QCPR, in Malawi, a first joint mobilization effort was set up through the implementation of the One UN Fund in 2009. Under the leadership of the Government of Malawi (GoM), the One Fund supported coherent resource mobilization allocation and disbursement of donor resources. The One Fund closed on December 2018, and stakeholders agreed on the establishment of a similar coordination and financing mechanism. As a result of this agreement, and considering the QCPR recommendations, the Malawi SDG Acceleration Fund was approved in December 2018.

Afterwards, in 2019, the GoM approved the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), the strategic plan for the United Nations contributing to the Malawi Government’s national development priorities and actions for the period 2019-2023.

The cooperation framework incorporates the goals and principles that underpin Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that lie at its heart. It represents a strong collaborative development agenda that aims to support the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy 2017- 2022 (MGDS III).

In response to national priorities, the UN in Malawi supports the government in three inter-linked and mutually reinforcing strategic priority areas, or Pillars.

Each of these pillars translate into concrete, measurable and time-bound outputs that provide clear, normativeoperational linkages and enable the UN and partners to establish the attribution of the United Nations’ contribution to national priorities.

1.2. The Fund

This report presents the overall operation and implementation of the Malawi SDG Acceleration Fund (hereafter referred to as ‘the Fund’) in 2020.

The Fund is a financing coordination mechanism where the Government of Malawi (GoM), Development Partners (DPs), and the United Nations (UN) agree on joint priorities and mobilize resources for key interventions in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and related national priorities. It represents the commitment of involved stakeholders to uphold the pledge of leaving no one behind and to endeavor to reach those furthest behind first, a principle at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The objective of the Fund is to support the achievement of results consistent with the current and future UNSDCF. It supports coherent resource mobilization to under-funded cross-sectoral areas where the UN has a comparative advantage in implementing together. The focus of the Fund is the mobilization, financing coordination and co-financing of catalytic interventions in support of the SDGs. Catalytic understood as investments that aim support strategic UNSDCF components, to fill strategic financial gaps when there are no other resources available, that unlock or enable key investments for SDGs, and /or that support in areas where other partners cannot.

The Fund’s first year of implementation, 2019, represented the year of transition from the One Fund to the SDG Acceleration Fund, including the early implementation of four3 projects that overlapped from one fund to another.

Building on lessons learned from the overall ONE Fund implementation and from the SDG Acceleration Fund’s first year, and with the objective to make it more efficient and impact-driven, in 2020 the Fund underwent a thorough review of its governance and operational structure that led to enhanced coordination and broader participation of stakeholders. In fact 2020 is the year when the Fund moved to implement a new governance and operational design and, as this report will show, this development has represented an incredibly positive turnaround for the mechanism.