Delivery of international development assistance has rapidly evolved in recent years. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness promotes the principle of national ownership and leadership. Bilateral and multilateral assistance is therefore increasingly reaching developing country governments as direct budgetary support.
At the same time the international community is channeling more funding via pooled resources. These typically take the form of various multi-donor trust funds that can address trans-border issues – such as initiatives on environment or health – or individual country needs. Throughout this change in focus the demand for accountability has grown on the part of donors and recipients alike.
In September 2009 the Executive Board recognized the potential for value-adding contributions that UNOPS can make in providing efficient, cost-effective services to development partners in financial management.
UNDP takes a leading role in administration of multi-donor trust funds on behalf of UNDG. In line with UNOPS mission as articulated by its Executive Board in September 2009 – to expand the capacity of the UN system and its partners – UNOPS administers multi-donor trust funds in its mandated areas and in close coordination with other relevant UN partners.
Specific tasks, performed together or separately based on partner wishes, include:
- Supervise and/or support administration of donor grants or loans implemented by national authorities or international organizations;
- Carry out capacity assessments of implementing partners;
- Ensure timely, transparent fund disbursements; and
- Support the development of national implementation capacity.
Examples of UNOPS financial management work include:
UNOPS has supported the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP) since its inception in 1992, executing more than 9,000 grants to support conservation projects in 104 countries. UNDP is responsible for developing overall SGP policy and plans. On behalf of UNDP, UNOPS ensures that SGP projects are delivered in a timely and cost-effective manner.
UNOPS is fund manager for the Three Diseases Fund – a consortium of donors including the European Commission and the governments of Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Its purpose is to resource a programme of activities to reduce transmission and enhance provision of treatment and care for HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria for the most in need populations.
The Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) is an innovative financing mechanism set up in 2002 to attract, manage and disburse funding to fight the three diseases. To date the fund has committed more than $15.6 billion to support ground-breaking, targeted interventions in 140 countries. As a financial instrument, GFATM has no in-country presence and so operates through local fund agents which oversee, verify and report on grant performance at the country level. The Switzerland Operations Centre has served as a local fund agent in challenging settings such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Kosovo, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.