United Nations Development Group Delivering Together for Development
Capacity Development

Capacity development and ownership of national development strategies are essential for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations General Assembly has defined capacity development as a core function of the United Nations development system and called for a coherent and coordinated approach of the United Nations development system to capacity development efforts of programme countries.

The United Nations Development Group (UNDG) recognizes capacity development as one of five key principles for UN country programming – alongside a human rights-based approach, gender equality, environmental sustainability and results-based management. The UNDG has agreed on a common approach to capacity development and articulated the role of UN country teams in a joint position statement. The UNDG capacity assessment methodology guides assessment of capacities and formulation of capacity development strategies at the country level.

For governments to fully own, achieve, and account for the priorities in the national development framework, they must assess their capacity development needs, respond to those needs and evaluate the effectiveness of their efforts. UN country teams can play a critical role in helping governments to achieve these tasks. They must aim to support national efforts to develop lasting capacities at individual, institutional and societal levels. In line with a human rights-based approach, these capacities will help rights holders to claim their rights and duty bearers to meet their obligations.

As there is no “one size fits all” solution, support for capacity development needs to be tailored to the specific needs and context of each country. The guidance, tools and resources on this page are intended to help UN country teams to meet this challenge.

Policy Framework
Guidance and Tools
Good Practices
Reference Documents
Further Resources

Policy Framework

UNDG Position Statement on Capacity Development
2006
The paper articulates the common UNDG policy and offers practitioners a tool for integrating capacity development into programming activities.
Guidance and Tools

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Guidance Note for Effective Use and Development of National Capacity in Post-Conflict Contexts
October 2013
The guidance note is designed for use by all UN staff based in crisis and post-conflict settings. The Guidance Note consists of ten principles, advice, and resources for the United Nations as it supports the use and development of national capacity in countries emerging from conflict. The Note is intended to inform assessment, analysis and planning exercises and to guide capacity development programming with national as well as other partners, covering the entire spectrum of UN support, including peacekeeping, humanitarian and development activities. It seeks to ensure that the UN system-wide support to capacity development is based on national ownership and priorities, while acknowledging its mandates and norms.
UNDG Capacity Assessment Methodology
2008
The methodology helps UNCTs assist national partners in analyzing their capacity assets and needs and designing capacity development strategies. It consists of a capacity assessment framework, a process and a supporting tool.
Technical Brief on UNDG Programming Principles: Capacity Development
2009
This brief for practitioners summarizes the core messages of capacity development and offers practical examples.
UNDG Presentations: Capacity Development and Capacity Assessments
2009
The presentations provide an overview of the UNDG approach to capacity development and capacity assessments.
Overview of UNDG Members' Capacity Development Tools
2007
The overview serves as resource guide for practitioners on programming capacity development interventions.
Matrix of Benchmarks - Capacity Development
2006
The matrix assists practitioners in identifying benchmarks for capacity development.
Good Practices

Reference Documents

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Report of the UN Inter-Agency Workshop on Capacity Development, New York, April 30-May 1, 2008
2008
The report identifies strategic and practical suggestions for moving forward with a more effective collective response to supporting capacity development.
Report of the UN Inter-Agency Workshop on Capacity Development, Geneva 20-22 November, 2002
2002
The first inter-agency workshop on capacity development, including participants from CIDA, OECD/DAC and IFRC.
Workshop report on UN-wide Consultation on Capacity Development
2009
This UNDP-hosted workshop aimed to: Reconvene capacity development champions across the UN; Take stock of the advancement in integrating capacity development into policies and; identify next steps to build and maintain momentum in supporting capacity development.
Further Resources

Development Gateway Foundation
The Development Gateway Foundation offers a resources portal for development information and knowledge-sharing.