Comments on Proposed MG Paper

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Here is a set of comments furnished to DG Management upon request on a draft two-page outline of the above mentioned paper.

1. The first issue that can be highlighted is that so-called “changing development landscape” is not new to UNDP. We have been facing this at least since the late 1990s and the change process instituted in 2000 was a response to this. The Practice architecture was developed in response to such challenges. The difference today is that (at least) a) there is no “new development paradigm” (contrast to the Washington Consensus of earlier times; but UNDP does have the Human Development Paradigm!; b) and competition from private foundations and other non-profits with large amount of resources.

2. UNDP this needs to hammer more deeply into the HD paradigm, refine it and adapt it top the new conditions. A glaring missing area in the proposed paper is Democratic Governance or Good Governance. This is a central part of the Development as Freedom paradigm that needs to be incorporated into all of our interventions. There is no inclusive growth without more participation and involvement of people in local processes and the creation and/or strengthening of institutions that allow for this to take place. The experience of the last 20 year of Globalization clearly show this as evidenced by raising inequality all over the place (including the most advanced countries.

3. UNDP should seriously think about giving up (so to speak) its expertise on the “overall development context (which BTW does not exist as such) and instead focus on those areas that are more relevant to HD, based in its “in-depth knowledge and understanding” of the situation in developing countries which, BTW, are not a monolith. This is important to capture as we well need to build customized HD options for different types of countries. As a matter of fact UNDP should use its “depth” capacity to refine its “breath” approach (I am using language from the outline).

4. The above should set up the framework for the “Analysis of options for UNDP’s approach. I am not sure I agree with the idea that we need to use the upcoming international events to shape this. We will in fact need to have some sort of positioning before any such event takes place so we can be oherent at the global level while supporting our ground work in programme countries.

5. The Analysis of options should also take stock of where we are today in terms of objectives, outcomes, partners, knowledge products, CO support and risk and strategies, The paper say we need to “Identify” these. We should instead revisit and revise what we are currently doing by using tools such as business case, cost benefit analysis, SWOT analysis. etc. This will also help us identify critical gaps that we face and need to address if the fit the revisited HD paradigm.

6. One critical gap related to our impact on outcomes. This is one of those areas where we have not been able to really make a difference. And here is where we once again need to bring the knowledge cycle back in. We are very weak when it comes to assessing impact (and we are not the only ones BTW). But we do have this incredible amount of information coming from programme countries through the 15 thousand projects we support. However, we do a bad job when it comes so distilling the information and asking the simple question: what really happened to this or such programme in relation to the established outcomes. In DGP alone, we have close to 2,000 active projects in 2009. Over 30 of those programmes spent more than 5 million dollars that
year. Now this MUST have clear impact on outcomes, more than the other 500 projects that spent less than 200k per year. Why are we not working on this in DGG?

Cheers, Raúl

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