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The Flexible Multi-partner Mechanism (FMM) - 2019 Annual Progress Report

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1. Executive summary

1. The year 2019 marked a time of growth and renewed commitments for FAO’s FMM, the main pooled-funding mechanism for resource partners willing to contribute flexible, voluntary, annual and multi-year resources to the Organization for the achievement of results under FAO’s Strategic Framework and the realization of catalytic impacts. Following this renewal of the FMM in 2018, the number of resource partners committing funds to the Mechanism doubled in 2019, from four to eight. This immediately kick-started the new FMM phase, with planning, promulgation and implementation of new subprogrammes.

2. Commitments for this phase (2018-21) amounted to approximately USD 41 million (as of 31 December 2019), generating tremendous momentum for continued growth and potential impact. Key resource partners that have so far contributed to the new phase include Belgium, Flanders, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The generous contributions of the Netherlands as a founding member and key pillar of the previous two phases is also noteworthy.

3. These new commitments were largely the product of major transformational changes to the FMM that began in 2018. As part of this evolution, the FMM has seen important progress in the streamlining of its governance arrangement, and the definition of clear criteria for prioritization and application of a programmatic framework for allocating resources. In addition, key programmatic improvements include the development of a dedicated FMM Project Cycle Pilot Appendix, a new theory of change, a results framework, risk analysis, and an Operational Guide. These have also been complemented with better communication and outreach efforts, including a new Web site, newsletter and brochures. Taken together, in 2019 these changes helped the FMM secure more resources and begin delivering more profound results.

4. This annual report provides an overview of the major improvements and transformational changes to the FMM since 2018, in addition to presenting key achievements, challenges and lessons learned in the implementation of the Mechanism in 2019. The FMM is comprised of 24 subprogrammes working across six thematic umbrella programmes (Annex 3). In 2019, a total of 12 subprogrammes received funding with the remaining seven yet to be funded. In addition, five subprogrammes were approved in early 2020, following additional contributions to the FMM. All the main thematic areas are funded, apart from the Oceans and Blue Growth programme. All in all, the FMM has allocated a total of USD 21 million for the implementation of its five out of its six thematic umbrella programmes (Figure 1), with planned activities in almost 60 countries.

5. From these 17 funded subprogrammes, ten became operationally active in 2019 and three, which commenced programming and formulation development in 2019, became operationally active in early 2020. These subprogrammes, directly contributing to the overall results of FAO’s Strategic Framework, are also linked to at least 13 out of the 17 SDGs.

6. Due to the transformation of the FMM in 2018, committed resources were received at different times during 2019. Thus, implementation started late in the year for the majority of subprogrammes. It is noteworthy that some resource partners provided resources for 2018 that enabled an early start for some programmes. Delays also came from formulators providing useful key lessons for improved implementation modalities in 2020. Hence, this document captures the progress of both operational and preliminary results for the 13 funded subprogrammes.

7. Despite the delays in receipt of funding mentioned above, a good number of FMM subprogrammes have already begun delivering notable preliminary results, contributing towards the achievement of the FMM’s results chain. For example, FMM subprogrammes had strong catalytic and spin-off effects, with relatively small projects leading to complementary or wider projects and/or attracting additional financing from national or international sources. The achievements of Dimitra Clubs in 2019 – promoted by the Gender equality and women empowerment in food and agriculture (FMM/GLO/138/MUL) subprogramme – led countries to request the formation of their own clubs, for example in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. New projects within other organizations (i.e., UN Women) have also integrated the Dimitra approach into their own work in post-conflict or fragile contexts. Dimitra Clubs also served as a glowing example of capacity development where 100 new club facilitators were trained to support more than 75 000 club members.

8. Several FMM subprogrammes also started to consolidate and build on FAO’s existing partnerships, as well as establish new ones in 2019. For instance, the subprogramme Closing the agricultural data gap: contribution to the 50x2030 initiative (FMM/GLO/125/MUL) benefited from established partnerships with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank, which allowed it to contribute substantially to the highly innovative 50x2030 Initiative. A new partnership between FAO and the European Space Agency (ESA) supported the use of earth observation data to measure and disaggregate SDG targets under the subprogramme, Improving country data for monitoring SDG achievements and informing policy decisions (FMM/GLO/129/MUL).

9. FAO’s policy advice efforts under the Transforming future face of agriculture: Boosting decent jobs for youth in the agri-food chain (FMM/GLO/136/MUL) subprogramme facilitated exchanges between the agriculture and social protection sectors in Paraguay, the Philippines and Tanzania, promoting a stronger, more integrated approach to poverty reduction.

10. Digital innovation was at the forefront of a number of FMM subprogrammes in 2019. In Tanzania, through Transforming future face of agriculture, FAO studied existing technological infrastructure, namely the M-Kilimo app, to understand how to tailor its Digital Services Portfolio to best meet the needs of Tanzania’s rural farmers. In Uganda, the Generational gaps and eliminating child labour in agriculture (FMM/GLO/137/MUL) subprogramme supported the finalization of a digital app for youth on how to work safely in farm settings.

11. Under its new programmatic approach, the FMM has already begun to showcase the benefits of reduced fragmentation and cross-sectoral responses in achieving an even greater impact. This report demonstrates how the flexible funding mechanism can create new and powerful partnerships, contribute to transformative impacts and support the delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Resource mobilization outcomes in 2019

12. With the FMM’s key shift in strategy since 2018 – including its streamlined governance, adoption of a more robust resource allocation process, improved reporting procedures and extensive outreach efforts – together with its prospect for generating results on the ground, the Mechanism has continued to gain support and recognition. In 2019, the total FMM budget amounted to nearly USD 41 million from both new and longstanding resource partners (See Annex 2). Its awareness within the Organization is also increasing.

13. Renewed contributions from existing resource partners are a sign of continued confidence in the ability of the FMM to deliver greater impact through greater flexibility. Since 2010, the Government of Sweden, a pioneering advocate for flexible funding and an instrumental partner in the implementation of key FMM priority areas, has committed a further USD 16 million in support of the current phase (2018-21). As part of the early force behind the FMM, the Government of Belgium, having joined in 2013, remains one of the Mechanism’s strongest supporters and has committed EUR 8 million to the new phase (2017-20). Since joining the FMM in 2011, the Government of Flanders has been an important advocate of flexible funding and re-joined the new phase in December 2019 with a contribution of EUR 3 million for the 2019-21 period. The Government of Switzerland, which first contributed to the FMM in 2016, has also shown its support for the FMM’s current phase through a cumulative contribution of CHF 480 000. The Government of the Netherlands was one of the first resource partners to provide funds to FMM since the creation of the Mechanism in 2010. The country’s contributions have been essential to the FMM’s previous phases and possible new contributions will play a key role in continuing to produce real impact on the ground.

14. Notably, increasing evidence of the FMM’s results from past phases, as well as an improved governance arrangement and better management, combined with FAO’s increased efforts to communicate the benefits of the Mechanism, brought three new resource partners into the FMM membership in 2019. The Government of Italy, an integral part of the history and culture of FAO as host country to its headquarters and an active contributor to the Organization, provided USD 1 million in 2019 and committed EUR 1.5 million in 2020 for the current phase of the FMM. The Government of France, another staunch supporter of FAO’s work since its founding, joined the FMM in 2019 with a contribution of EUR 1 million. The Government of Norway, a longstanding FAO partner for more than 70 years, also signed a funding agreement in 2019, committing NOK 90 million, approximately USD 10 million (as of December 2019). This support has set a very good start for the FMM in the current phase.