United Nations Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework in the Caribbean 2017-2021
The United Nations (UN) is adapting its planning and programmes to better help Caribbean countries ensure that no one is left behind in their thrust to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
From Jamaica in the north, through the vibrant islands of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), to Guyana in the south, the Caribbean has demonstrated a wide variety of development achievements and considerable convergence in the challenges countries face.
In middle-income country contexts, marked by decreasing aid flows and changing needs for support from bi-lateral and multi-lateral partners, the UN System is acting on a strong momentum for integration to offer more focused, coherent, and coordinated support to national partners. These actions reflect the spirit of Caribbean countries, which have long been proponents of political integration and have acted to establish major integration mechanisms in the region such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the OECS.
The 2017-2021 United Nations Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework (UN MSDF) defines how the Agencies, Funds, and Programmes of the UN (hereafter referred to as Agencies) will pool their comparative advantages within a single strategic framework that aligns with and supports the overarching strategic goals of the Caribbean’s governments and key stakeholders.
This framework provides a platform for countries to access the global expertise and experience of the UN System at both the country and sub-regional levels.
The UN MSDF will increase the coherence of the work of the United Nation System in support of our Member States’ development and strengthen our ties with Member States and partners across the region. It will also allow for a sharper focus on common priorities, enhance regional initiatives and collaboration, and enable knowledge sharing and cross-collaboration within the region. From a cost perspective, it offers better strategic positioning to leverage resources within a regional resource mobilisation framework, increases efficiency, and decreases transaction costs.
Real progress towards achieving the SDGs in the Caribbean demands a multi-sectoral, human-centered approach to development that focuses on the most vulnerable populations in an equitable manner. The UN MSDF builds on the UN´s normative agenda and the need to safeguard the jointly-agreed commitments reflected in various international Conventions and Treaties.
The highly participatory formulation of the UN MSDF brought UN colleagues, both in the region and beyond, into close collaboration with our national and international partners. It also benefitted from surveys aimed at teasing out what, in the eyes of our partners and staff, constitutes the comparative advantages and added value of the UN. Its signing by governments of 18 partner countries and territories in the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, along with all the UN Agencies with presence in the region, marks a new stage in the UN’s decades of on-the-ground cooperation.
The UN Resident Coordinators, the Heads of UN Agencies sitting on the United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) in the Caribbean, and the United Nations Development Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNDG LAC), look forward to the successful implementation of this new approach over the period 2017-2021. The governments of the region also look forward to more effective support from the UN towards the attainment of the region’s development goals.
We trust that through the UN MSDF, the UN System will be better equipped to provide Member States with the tools, partnerships, and resources needed to achieve national and sub-regional development priorities, in an inclusive and equitable manner, as reflected in the SDGs. We also look forward to embracing the wider Caribbean in support of deepening regional and triangular cooperation, and improving the effectiveness of the UN’s technical cooperation as it engages with Member States in localising the SDGs and accelerating the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and CARICOM Strategic Plan.
The United Nations Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework (UN MSDF) defines how the UN will jointly achieve development results in partnership with 18 English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean countries and Overseas Territories for the period 2017-2021. The countries covered are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Curaҫao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. The framework aims to ensure that no one is left behind in national development efforts, and exemplifies the commonlyshared belief that similar development challenges of the Caribbean countries require a coherent and coordinated response by the UN.
National consultations had an important role in the development of the UN MSDF. The consultations were held in 15 countries using the Common Multi-Country Assessment (CMCA) as the basis for discussions, and provided opportunities for strategic alignment between UN activities and national priorities, as well as a space for countries to validate the CMCA and identify national priorities the UN could address. The national consultations expanded on the principle that no one should be left behind, which is an integral tenet of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the results identified the common challenges faced by the countries. The challenges were grouped into four areas: climate change and environment; economic and social development; health; and crime, and justice and citizen security. The consultations concluded that by joining efforts and resources to deal with these issues, the benefits to countries could be maximised.
The anchor of the framework is the CMCA. It built on the national specificities of the countries to identify the broad issues in the region that are critical for sustainable development. The CMCA analysed and presented the major development challenges in the Caribbean, and the interrelated causes; it also highlighted a regional approach through the UN MSDF as a mechanism that would decrease the administrative burden on national governments and prompt a more coherent response to regional and national challenges, needs, and priorities. The analysis was informed by the work of regional entities, national governments, and key actors such as the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the region’s universities. It identified the fundamental constraints to the development of the region related to a number of interconnected dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – that were seen as critical for sustainable development and democratic governance.
The four priority areas of the UN MSDF seek to safeguard the jointly agreed commitments reflected in the human rights conventions and treaties as key strategies to accelerate progress towards the SDGs. The priority areas ensure the voices, realities, and capacities of those most often in the margins of policy development and implementation – among them women, children, youth, older persons, and persons with disabilities – are at the forefront of the UN’s support to Member States. This has been done by clearly aligning the results matrix of the UN MSDF with the SDGs and the SAMOA Pathway, which will have the additional benefit of contributing to national efforts to accelerate progress towards these commitments.
Furthermore, the core principles of human rights, gender equality, youth, environmental sustainability, and development of national capacity will be mainstreamed across the four priority areas of the framework. In line with the 2030 development agenda, data and information to increase evidence-based decision-making is also a theme identified as a priority and will be cross-cutting across the priority areas.
Further extensive consultations on the UN MSDF with governments, civil society, and national, regional, and international stakeholders identified four priority areas: an inclusive, equitable, and prosperous Caribbean; a healthy Caribbean; a cohesive, safe, and just Caribbean; and a sustainable and resilient Caribbean.
Estimated resource requirements highlight the need for not only resource allocation by the United Nations System (UNS), but also for regional and international resource mobilisation, partnerships, and alliances involving key stakeholders, as well as in-kind contributions from Member States, to complement the UNS resources and fill identified gaps.
Monitoring, reporting, and evaluation of the UN MSDF is critical not only for the accountability and transparency of the UNS, but also for enabling Member States to maintain ownership of and commitment to the framework, and to facilitate the continued “buy-in” and contributions of development partners and other key stakeholders. Regional and national mechanisms for these accountability functions, building on existing structures and procedures to the extent possible, will be established and supported.