14 February 2011
Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
On behalf of the United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) based in Apia (Samoa) and Suva (Fiji), we are honoured to present to you the Resident Coordinators’ Annual Report for 2010. For the first time, the report from the Resident Coordinators in these two locations is submitted jointly, demonstrating a significant step forward towards a One UN approach in the Pacific. Throughout the year, the Suva and Apia-based UNCTs continued to work in collaboration to implement their common Pacific UNDAF (2008-2012) covering 14 Pacific Island Countries: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. This UNDAF is based on priorities highlighted in the 14 national sustainable development strategies, the Pacific Plan promoting regional integration and cooperation, and other related regional strategies. The UN Joint Presences and their support to annual joint Pacific Island Governments/UN consultations were major highlights of the collaboration. The attached matrices provide fuller details.
- Development Context in the Pacific
In 2010 Pacific island economies have continued to suffer from the impacts of the global economic crises, but have to some extent benefited from the gradual recovery in the world economy, firm growth in Australia and expanding trade and investment ties with China. Most Pacific island countries (except Fiji, Samoa and Tonga) registered positive GDP growth, with Vanuatu and Solomon Islands recovering faster as a result to their growing tourist arrivals and commodities exports. However, still suffering prolonged impact of financial, food and fuel crises in 2008-09, all island countries remain under significant fiscal duress, and overall growth still remains weak. As a result, throughout the Pacific the households continue to experience economic hardship, especially among urban poor residents, rural outer islands residents and other vulnerable groups. Inflationary pressure due to high energy and commodity prices continues to threaten increasing poverty levels, and issues of good governance, corruption and discrimination remain key issues to influencing human development outcomes. Just five years before 2015, the Melanesian countries still have a long way to go to attain MDGs, while for Polynesian and Micronesian countries the challenge is not to regress in the progress already achieved.
Landmark political events of 2010 were the parliamentary elections in Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, as well as in Tonga where this was for the country’s democratic transition and devolution of power from the sovereign to an elected parliament. However, the political situation is still precarious in Fiji, which remains under Public Emergency Regulations following the abrogation of the constitution by the military regime in 2009, and in Vanuatu and Tuvalu where the governments had to change as result of no-confidence votes during the year. Even in Solomon Islands and Tonga, which have experienced overall successful democratic elections, the political situation is very fractious. Therefore, continuity of democratic governance structures is a continuing concern across the sub-region.
The following offers some further observations on the developments in individual countries:
Political uncertainty remains in Fiji. The Government, under the leadership of Commodore Bainimarama, remains in full control of the Government machinery in the country. The Government continues to rule by Presidential Decrees, and the Public Emergency Regulations (PER) continue to be renewed on a monthly basis despite the previous announcement that it would be cancelled upon the enforcement of the Media decree. Recent changes include resignations of the Defence Minister and the Reserve Bank Governor, as well as replacement of two of the most senior officers in the armed forces. Fiji is still suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIFs) and the Commonwealth. Diplomatic relations with Australia and New Zealand remain strained, and a renewed exchange of High Commissioners has yet to happen following expulsions late 2009. Fiji has, however, recently joined the Non-Aligned Movement and has taken over the Chair of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. The “Strategic Framework for Change” continues to be the guiding development plan document for Fiji, stipulating that the new Constitution will be formulated in 2012 and should be in place by 2013, followed by National elections under the new constitution in 2014.
Fiji went through the Universal Periodic Review process of the UN Human Rights Council in 2010. Other Member States made 103 recommendations to Fiji on how to improve its human rights record. The Government committed to implementing 97 of them, including ratifying all the core human rights treaties not yet ratified. Fiji reported to the CEDAW committee, presenting substantial state and NGOs reports. Although Fiji is behind in its reporting schedule, it has made relatively good progress and is the first Pacific Island Country to complete and submit to a second round of reporting, and has already make plans to respond to the CEDAW Committee’s concluding observations and recommendations.
In 2010 Fiji ratified two priority conventions relating to labour market governance – the Employment Policy Convention C122, and the Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention C129. However labour relations in the public sector in particular have been directly and detrimentally affected by the Administration of Justice Decree. Some progress has been made by the Employment Relations Advisory Board towards the Government’s objective of introducing a national minimum wage. However this is to be contrasted with the considerable delays there have been in completing the determination and implementation of new Wage Regulation Orders and deteriorating relationships between independent, employer and union participants in the country’s ten Wages Councils.
On the socio-economic front Fijiis still trapped in a low growth path with potential of increase if private sector investment provides a way out. However specific Government actions are still perceived negatively by the private sector which includes the localization of media ownership through the media decree, price controls, and actions in relation to Fiji Water.
For Samoa the slump in economic activities translated to a further contraction of 3%. The budget deficit is set to widen to 9.4% of GDP in FY2011 from 7.6% in FY2010. Economic growth is expected to pick up to about 2% in 2011, generated by Government spending, reconstruction activity, and higher inflows from remittances and tourism as economies strengthen in source countries. Increase in Government expenditure and the inflow of relief funds for the tsunami recovery efforts provided a stimulant for economic growth for the country in 2009/2010. In the Cook Islands the economy increased slightly from 0.8% in 2009 to 0.9% in 2010.
Samoaas is Niue are on track to achieve most of the MDGs, highlighted in their second MDG progress reports produced and published in time for the MDG Summit in New York. As a result however of economic and rebuilding challenges faced in the aftermath of the September 29th 2009 Tsunami, the United Nations General Assembly agreed in September 2010 that Samoa’s graduation from LDC status will be deferred to 2013. This LDC graduation will have significant implications on Samoa’s development expenditure, revenue earning measures, domestic financial instruments, interest rates, exchange rates and economic growth and inflation. To support Samoa’s progression to middle income status the UN is assisting the Government and the private sector in the areas of trade and pro-poor policy formulation. This is so that Samoa can have a strong economy, diversified and robust enough to generate the resources to finance and support its own development initiatives.
On the political front, Mr Henry Puna is the new Prime Minister of the Cook Islands; his Cook Islands Party taking over from the Democratic Party after winning 15 out of 24 parliament seats in the country’s elections in November. Samoa will head to the polls in early March 2011. The opposition parties (Tautua, Samoa Peoples Party) have formed a coalition (Tumua’i Tutusa) to contest the ruling HRPP during the general elections. In Tokelau Mr. Kuresa Nasau the current Faipule of Atafu is the Ulu (chairman of the Council for the current Government of Tokelau) for 2010 and is expected to be replaced in the next rotation of the chairmanship in 2011.
Population loss remains a concern for Cook Islands and Niue, and is an economic risk with most of the skilled and qualified people migrating to New Zealand and Australia. Employment, educational opportunities and family ties draws Tokelauans, Niueans and Cook Islanders to New Zealand. Maintaining a vital community on island has become a key objective for the Governments. Niue is pursuing its interest in hosting large regional meetings as a development opportunity, and they recently hosted the Financial Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) in October 2010. A shortage of jobs in all four countries has been seen with a perceptible decline in remittances as job markets overseas contracted.
The Marshall Islandsbudget for FY2011 cuts spending by about 5% from the FY2010 level to $130 million. This initiated the fiscal adjustment necessary to build up the public trust fund, in preparation for the end of Compact grants from the US in 2024. Reforms aimed at stimulating private sector activity and increasing the efficiency of state-owned enterprises is also underway to boost economic performance. Recent data show subdued spending on food imported from the US, although large purchases of machinery and transport equipment lifted non-food imports over May-August 2010. The current Government of President Jurelang Zedkeia was elected in late 2009 following a vote of no confidence against the former President Litokwa Tomeing.
The Government invited the UN Special Rapporteur on toxic waste to carry out a country visit in 2011 to look into the human rights issues arising from the U.S. nuclear testing in the country, including issues such as the right to health and indigenous rights. This is the first time that the Republic of Marshall Islands has extended an invitation to the UN Human Rights Special Procedures.
The Marshall Islands went through the Universal Periodic Review process under the UN Human Rights Council in 2010. Member States made 83 recommendations for improving the human rights record of the country. They focused on treaty ratification, CEDAW and CRC implementation, prevention of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention and during policing, enhancing the capacity of judges and lawyers, establishing a national human rights institution and discrimination. The Government will indicate to the Human Rights Council which of these recommendations that it accepts in early 2011. The cooperation between government and civil society on advancing gender equality has improved, and Government has been responsive to gender equality in civil society, in particular to the umbrella leadership of WUTMI (Women United Together in Marshall Islands) WUTMI was awarded a large grant from the UN Trust Fund to eliminate Violence Against Women, through a rigorous global competitive process; a significant achievement for an NGO in a Small Island Developing State.
In August 2010 a new Government was formed in the Solomon Islands by the Prime Minister Danny Philip, after a peaceful general election. The Government is, however, experiencing increasing pressure as four cabinet members have recently switched to the opposition, who have subsequently called for a vote of no confidence, contributing to a sense of flux. The Philip Government recently facilitated a reconciliation ceremony for the Melanesian Spearhead Group, allowing Fiji to take over the Chair from Vanuatu.
While none of the women candidates were successful in this round of elections for Parliament, the Solomon Islands has made significant progress in establishing a new umbrella organization: WISDM (Women in Solomon Islands Decision Making, that has made significant advances in establishing effective ongoing dialogue with legislators and policy makers and on advocacy for the adoption of Temporary Special Measures to accelerate women’s political representation. In response to discussions that attempted to label advocacy for gender equality as a ‘foreign agenda’, WISDM claimed ownership of the demand for gender equality through the mainstream media and following this initiative, the Prime Minister swiftly made public statements to offer support.
The new Government was unable to formulated a full budget before the end of 2010; a supplementary appropriations bill was passed that enables spending to continue for the first three months of 2011 at a level no higher than in the same period in 2010. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimates GDP growth at 3.5% in 2010. The merchandise trade deficit narrowed from SI$166.8m (US$20.7m) in October 2010 to SI$100.8m in November. Foreign reserves have continued to accumulate, reaching SI$1.9bn (US$230m) in November, equivalent to 8.2 months of imports of goods and non-factor services.
The Government invited the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights to carry out a country visit to look at issues of foreign aid and trade and how they affect economic, social and cultural rights in the country. The visit is due to be carried out in February 2010. This is the first time that the Solomon Islands have invited one of the UN Human Rights Special Procedures.
The Kingdom of Tonga had its general election under the revised constitution, on 25 November 2011 which saw for the first time a parliament with a majority of directly elected members. While the “Democratic Party of the Friendly Islands” won 12 out of the 17 popularly elected seats, the Government was formed by a coalition of the 9 Nobles and the 5 independent representatives in Parliament, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano. Tonga is the only monarchy in the Pacific and this election is a major milestone in the initiative by the King to move towards a democratic government.
In terms of economic growth, with an estimated budget deficit of 0.5% of GDP in fiscal year 2009/10 (July-June), the Government is targeting a balanced budget in 2010/11, but it will be reliant on the support of donors to achieve this. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has revised down its forecast for GDP growth in 2010 to a contraction of 0.4%, from growth of 0.4% previously. According to the most recent data from the National Reserve Bank of Tonga (NRBT, the central bank), consumer price inflation averaged 2.7% year on year in the second quarter of 2010, up from 2.5% in the first quarter.
The newly elected Government of Tuvalu is facing financial and political crisis. A vote of no confidence for newly elected Government and the opposition won their motion of no confidence, resulting in three MPs from the Government side crossing the floor to the opposition causing another change in Government, with Willie Telavi taking over as Prime Minister. The country has experienced several weeks of public order restrictions but these are now in the process of being eased. Fiscal performance worsened significantly over the first 9 months of 2010 mainly due to poor fiscal management, and weak demand for seafarers, which has resulted in a steady decline in remittances.
The former Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Edward Natapei, was replaced by the former Deputy Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, in a vote of no confidence on 2 December 2010. However, at the time this letter is being drafted, a new motion of no confidence has been submitted by a group of 29 MPs led by the former PM Edward Natapei, who claim to have a clear majority in Parliament. The Government has imposed a new tax on exports of "forest produce"; the move is expected to lessen the fiscal dependence of provincial governments on the central authorities. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) revised down its economic growth forecast for Vanuatu, in an indication that it has become less optimistic about the country's short-term economic prospects. Vanuatu’s traditionally large trade deficit narrowed on a year-on-year basis in the first half of 2010. However, both imports and exports were lower in the first half of 2010 than in the same period of 2009.
Summary on progress towards UNDAF outcomes
2. Highlights of progress against UNDAF outcomes
i) Outcome Group 1 on MDGs and Poverty met on several occasions in 2010 to discuss issues relating to the implementation of the UNDAF. OG 1 was an important part of the process to initiate with the UNCT the idea of the Pacific Conference on the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis and its members played key roles in organizing and convening the Conference in February 2010. OG 1 met with the UNDAF MTR independent consultants to discuss the implementation of the UNDAF and ways to improve the implementation of outcomes of OG 1. The OG 1 was part of the team that assessed the finding from the UNDAF MTR report and provided analytical feedback to the consultants for the UNDAF MTR reports. OG1 members also played key roles in (a) the review of the Millennium Development Goals including the preparation of and launching of the Second MDG country reports for Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu, the Brussels Program of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation; (b) the implementation of the Cairns Compact; (c) working with members of the CROP Sustainable Development Working Group to develop regional partnerships in sustainable development and green growth; and (d) in the early consultation with the Government of Vanuatu for the midterm review of the Vanuatu Priority Action Agenda (PAA) 2006-2015.
In Samoa and Cook Islands updates were prepared for the National MDG reports. The public’s awareness of MDGs and the UN was enhanced through an extensive advocacy campaign which included the MDGs Sports for Development promotion using the Pacific Nations Cup and Forum Under 19 Tournaments in partnership with Samoa Rugby Union, publication of UN supplement for UN Day in all four countries, a letter writing competition on HIV/AIDs in collaboration with Samoa Post and through a MDG Media Development workshop in August for the Pacific Islands.
In response to the food and fuel price increase and global economic crisis, UN also responded jointly to support Pacific island governments to set up an early warning sentinel monitoring system in the six priority Pacific countries considered to be most vulnerable. (Kiribati, Fiji Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu). During 2010, the UN invested in strengthening capacities of governments, including national statistics offices, to improve data coordination among sectoral Ministries for evidence-based policy making to better respond to the needs of the most vulnerable. The Governments steered two rounds of sentinel monitoring exercises with the early findings flagging the negative coping strategies employed by vulnerable families during the economic crisis. These included missing or dropping out of school particularly among secondary children, skipping meals or shifting to lower quality of foods, increased child abuse and gender based violence among other things. With further refining of methodology including responding to the vulnerabilities to natural disaster and climate change, and accelerated institutionalization in 2011 onward, it is anticipated that this real time sentinel monitoring will equip the Pacific Island Countries to better prepare themselves for future crises and respond to the emerging vulnerabilities among the most vulnerable, particularly children and women. UNICEF is playing a leading role in this on-going joint UN support to the Pacific island governments.
ii).Outcome Group 2 on Good Governance and Human Rights met on a number of occasions to discuss the key priorities of 2010. The key deliverables for OG 2 in 2010 were: a) A collaborative effort on the formulation of a joint programme on Community Resilience and Coping with Climate Change and Natural Disasters in Vanuatu from 2011 to 2013; b) the work to assist the independent consultants on the UNDAF midterm review and the analysis findings of the consultants UNDAF MTR report; c) preparation of a joint programme concept note on local governance in Vanuatu; d) finalization of a joint activity results and resources framework for Kiribati, Palau, Tuvalu, and Tonga for 2010-2012 on legislative strengthening. Furthermore, the Human Rights group worked on two key activities: 1) formulated a UNCT Human Rights strategy for advocacy, including advocating for the creation of National Human Rights Institutions and UN Special Procedure visits to countries of the region on human rights and water and sanitation and violence against women; and 2) prepared a briefing note on the strategy to assist UNCT members to advocate on the basis of it. Two (Cook Islands and Niue) of the five countries that had not submitted their initial Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) reports did so in 2010. Tuvalu also completed its initial CRC report but awaits cabinet approval prior to submission to the Child Rights Committee in Geneva.
iii) Outcome Group 3 on Equitable Social Protection Service met on a number of occasions throughout the year to discuss key priorities. Given the broad range of programmes and partners covered by the group, separate technical working groups have been formed for Health, HIV/AIDS, Education, Protection and Youth. Each of these Working Groups facilitated coordination and made progress in advancing joint work in the region.
The Health Working Group has contributed to strengthening the capacity of Pacific Island countries to achieve the health MDGs and worked to establish professional networks including the Inter-Agency Working Group on Strengthening Health Supply Systems in the Pacific (to enhance health commodities security) and the Pacific National Health Accounts Network. The Pacific Food Summit in April 2010 was a major achievement, bringing together trade, agriculture and health ministers to address cross-cutting concerns. Progress was also made on the framework to revitalize primary health care towards achieving healthy islands, and on strengthening EPI delivery through the annual Pacific Immunization Programme Strengthening (PIPS) meeting.
The UN has made a noticeable effort to maintain polio-free status and to ensure near elimination of measles as well as working towards controlling hepatitis B by 2012 through immunization. The latter is extremely important as, for example, immunization rates in Samoa has dropped from 90% to 56% immunization for males and 69.7% for females indicating that the country’s immunization program is not as strong as previously thought. Efforts by the UN to address the issues of immunization have ensured that Governments refocus their programmes to address this problem. Other key contributions by the UN to the Health sector include a Pandemic Influenza H1N1 2009 vaccination campaigns, and a global vaccine independence initiative (VII), now in its 12th year. The UN and other partners continued the Pacific Immunization Programme Strengthening (PIPS) partnerships formed in 2004 with the sixth PIPS workshop successfully implemented with 65 country participants, technical experts, secretariat and donors receiving technical updates and reviewed performance.
For HIV/AIDS, the Pacific Regional Strategy Implementation Plan (PRSIP II) provides a strong foundation for collaboration among UN funds and programmes and with regional partners. Over 2010, the HIV/AIDS Technical Working Group developed capacities of Government and non government partners to conduct targeted interventions for key affected populations (most at risk and most vulnerable adolescents and youths) and to implement national HIV response. PPTCT services have been scaled up in health facilities in five countries, and the UNGASS reports was submitted to the General Assembly for the majority of the PICS.
The UN system continues to work extensively in the area of sexual reproductive health because of the vulnerability of the Pacific region to HIV/AIDS due to high levels of STDs, domestic violence and a highly mobile population. The UNs support has resulted in the development and review of national policies on sexual reproductive health (SRH), Family Planning (FP) and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and in increasing the number of critical SRH services available in 2010. The Pacific Aids Commission Report launched in April contributed in raising awareness on key issues such as data collection and analysis that Governments need to address. In the Samoa and Cook Islands, visibility and political support for young people’s sexual and reproductive health has been lifted through the joint UN and SPC Adolescent Health Development (AHD) program which trains boys and girls to serve as peer leaders and engages political leaders. Also through the joint AHD program a qualitative study was undertaken in 2010 to determine the effectiveness of current youth friendly health service facilities. The results of the study will inform the strengthening of essential standards and guidelines to improve the quality of services for young people. The UN together with the Cook Islands Government completed the STEPwise Approach to Surveillance of Risk Factors for Non Communicable Diseases to provide scientific evidence to update the national strategy, prioritize interventions and evaluate the impact of prevention activities.
HIV/AIDS is high on the UNCTs priorities with the recruitment of a HIV/AIDS National Officer and Educator to lead the HIV/AIDS Technical Working Group and provide support in implementing HIV/AIDS programmes. The HIV/AIDS TWG submitted five proposals of approximately USD$75,000 in order to secure funding for advocacy and training programs to increase public awareness of AIDS and to enhance the capacity of NGOs working in the area, two of the proposals were approved for implementation. A Pacific AIDS Commission report was launched in Samoa in April, providing key areas to inform government policy and future HIV/AIDS programming.
Regional progress in meeting the Education for All (EFA) goals was supported through the collaboration of UN agencies and regional partners. Notable achievements by the Education Working Group include supporting the Government of Kiribati to initiate a sector-wide approach through the Kiribati Education Improvement Program (KEIP), facilitating the Pacific EFA End of Decade Assessment reports in a number of PICS and the sharing of best practices towards reaching children still excluded from education. With a view to improving the quality of education and student performance across the Pacific, the group and partners has supported the strengthening of literacy and numeracy monitoring and will pilot ‘Benchmarking Quality Education for Results’ with the endorsement of the Pacific Islands Forum Education Ministers.
The Protection Working Group finalized an action plan in response to the UN SG’s Bulletin on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (ST/SGB/2003/13), and was actively involved in inter-agency dialogue on Social Protection , including the UN global ‘social protection floor initiative’. The Youth Working Group strengthened young people’s participation in the UNDAF through a review of the Youth Advisory Panel, and facilitated their participation in the GEC conference, held in Vanuatu in the beginning of the year.
iv) Outcome Group 4 on Sustainable Environment Management met on a semi-annual basis in 2010 to discuss two key issues: a) Joint Programme on Climate Change to ensure that all inclusive process is undertaken to map out the competitive edge of UN system in the Pacific focusing on green growth for example the green job initiative; and b) Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) & Climate Change Adaptation (CCA). OG 4 worked closely with relevant regional agencies in trying to formulate a joint initiative that would link the work on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. OG 4 also worked closely with the independent consultants for the UNDAF MTR exercise both at the information gathering stage and providing analytical feedback on the UNDAF MTR findings. Furthermore, all projects identified under the Global Environment Facility (4threplenishment) Pacific Alliance for Sustainability programme were progressed through the approval process and at least three are under implementation. These projects collectively will provide a significant response to many of the region’s environmental problems apart from Climate Change.
Given the size, fragility and limited resources of the Pacific Island states, climate change remains a formidable challenge. Food security was considered an important priority by the UNCT given the severe impacts of climate change and variability on agriculture resulting in low yields for both export and subsistence crops. Programmes were implemented during the year on alternative livelihoods and diversification of food practices and DRM methodologies and initiatives. In April, the UN provided support and led the organisation of the Pacific Food Summit and Climate Change with regional organizations in Vanuatu and the UNDAF Outcome Group 4 focusing on Sustainable Environment Management agreed in the beginning of 2010 to focus on a Climate Change Joint Programme. A consultant was hired to produce a concept note and work will continue in 2011 to refine the Joint Programme for the UNCT. As a result climate change and DRR/DRM are increasingly being integrated into policies and projects and has increased the resilience of communities to adapt to the changes in their environment caused by Climate Change. The Prime Minister of Samoa has requested for the UN system to assist in the countries efforts to access the Climate Change (CC) funds which are expected to be made available in the coming year. This approach allows Samoa, Cook Islands and Niue to draw down funds through two tracks – directly via the Government and through the UN systems, significantly increasing their access to CC resources.
Cross Cutting Groups:
v) Gender – The UN Gender Group met consistently on a monthly basis in 2010 to build rigorous and substantive interagency exchange and coordination on advancing gender equality in the UN system, and in UN agencies’ partnerships with governments and civil society. In 2010 the UN Gender Group a) Improved UN inter-agency coordination in Gender Equality planning and Programming; b) Strengthened UNCT accountability to advance gender equality and empower women and prepared the group to ensure strong and sound technical support on gender in the new UNDAF preparations and planning; c) completed project design documents for UN Joint Programme to End Violence Against Women at country level in Kiribati and Solomon Islands and submitted the Solomon Islands proposal to the UN Trust Fund to eliminate Violence Against Women, and supported submission of a proposal from Samoa; d) supported preparation of the Pacific Island Governments’ commitment to develop and rollout the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE Campaign with a clear plan for a strong region wide communications strategy; e)provided leadership of UN visibility and action in interagency preparations, actions and publicity on UN work on gender through International Women’s Day and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, in support of developing a Pacific UNiTE Campaign to End Violence Against Women; f) facilitated UN agencies dialogue with Regional mechanisms to coordinate the work of Gender and Development partners, and coordinated UN participation in the Secretariat of the Pacific Communities 11thTriennial; and and g) made progress towards an electronic Gender Expert Roster,
The UNDAF MTR notes that the UN Gender Group is rigorous and committed, enjoying high levels of regular participation, and with an increasing number of agencies recruiting staff with competence, able to contribute substantively to the group. It further noted that the Gender Group is well positioned to strengthen the UN System work on gender equality adding that this is one of the areas critical to the achievement of all MDGs. The Pacific has several notably alarming gender equality indicators: Lowest global levels of political representation of women and among the highest global levels of violence committed against women and girls. These will be prioritised in future UNDAF planning. Gender is now given high priority on the UNCT agenda and recruitment has commenced for a permanent gender specialist to be located in Samoa.
vi)Communication and Partnership Group – the group met on regular basis to discuss important communication issues that cut across the four thematic areas of the UNDAF and also worked on UN advocacy work in the Pacific such as UN Day, World Poverty Day, World Statistics Day, 16 Day of Activism to End Violence Against Women, International Volunteer Day and World AIDS Day. The group also worked on a regional media workshop on MDG reporting that was held in Suva, Fiji.
vii) Monitoring & Evaluation - The UNDAF M&E technical working group continued with its tasks and responsibilities outlined in its Terms of Reference under the leadership of UNFPA. A key achievement in 2010 was the coordination of the UNDAF MTR and the annual reviews, compilation and submission of the One UN report on the Cairns Compact development partner reporting. Other results achieved include the review of the UNDAF M&E indicators, working with the Secretariat of the Pacific community on the Ten Year Pacific Statistics Strategy and the launching of the UN’s Pacific Info database consisting of data on MDGs and the UNDAF.
Summary on progress in UN Reform
3. Highlights on progress on UN Reforms
UNDAF Mid Term Review (MTR)- From May-July 2010, an independent Mid Term Review for the joint UNDAF 2008-2012 was carried out by two independent consultants focusing on: 1). Relevance and strategic positioning; 2). Effectiveness and achievement of development results; and 3) Efficiency of the UN processes and system to achieve UNDAF results. The report noted the advances made convening UN agencies around gender and noted evolving UN coordination advancing gender equality, notably through planning and resource mobilization to drive the UNSG’s UNiTE campaign in the Pacific and joint programming to end violence against women. The report was finally endorsed on 2 December 2010 by the Fiji and Samoa UNCTs.
While the MTR concluded that the UNDAF provided a solid framework for the UN in the Pacific, it made a number of short and medium term recommendations. The recommendations focused around (a) investing further in joint, One UN approaches to programming; (b) in joint advocacy and communications; and (c) in enhancing host country ownership. Ensuring an inclusive approach to fully open up for the contribution of all agencies to the next UNDAFs was also a key recommendation. The MTR recommendations will inform development of the new UNDAF for the period commencing in 2013, and are also used to strengthen ongoing activities.
Organizational work towards One UN – In 2010 an increasingly collaborative and cohesive approach by the UNCT members brought a number of achievements. A joint UNCT retreat was held in February 2010 to discuss important priorities for the joint work of the UNCTs in Fiji and Samoa. Some of the key priorities that were discussed in length were the i) UNDAF mid-term review process; ii) UNDAF outcome group and gender, HIV and communication interagency group work plans; and iii) how to work together better in trying to Deliver as One in the Pacific. In response to discussions at the retreat, agencies produced a number of proposals for increased cohesiveness.
A structured and comprehensive approach to annual Joint Strategy Meetings in the five LDCs (Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) began with the CPAP consultations in late 2007. After three years of practice, it is now fully institutionalized and host Governments as well as Joint Presence Offices in these countries have a strong ownership and familiarity with the process. The latest such round of reviews were conducted in October-November 2010. Joint missions and meetings also take place in non-LDC countries but further work is needed to achieve the same systematic and comprehensive approach. An increasing number of UN agencies are actively taking part in the joint reviews. There is also broad and increasing interest among UN agencies to associate themselves with the Joint Presence Offices.
Among the highlights of these annual reviews were important policy and analytical discussions in Samoa that identified the need for the Government to undertake pro-poor work supported by much more specific social and economic data. To support government in its pro poor work the UN provided assistance in the developing of key policy informing documents such as the Household Income Expenditure Survey (HIES), Demographic Health Survey and MDG report. As a result the Government is re-focusing its sector plans and programmes to be more pro-poor and is working with the UN to concentrate on development of pro-poor sector plans and poverty reduction programmes such as the Samoa Trade Sector Policy and MDG acceleration Plan of Action. Involvement of the UN system at this strategic level is an important development in Samoa.
In 2010, a new Joint Presence Office was launched in Nauru, which brings the total number of Joint Presences to eight (8) in the Pacific. The eight Joint Presences are now fully operational in Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The core work of the Joint Presences is to support - UN coordination work at the national level, assist in the programming and monitoring work for the UN agencies in the host countries and work closely with the host Government in relations to capacity development and to integrated international and regional commitments such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), Mauritius Strategy for Implementation (MSI), Paris Declaration, Cairns Compact, and other emerging priorities such as climate change
Delivering as One Initiative- The One Fund mechanism was established in Kiribati in July 2009. So far it has served as an inter-agency pooling of US$ 1 million (US$500,000 each year), drawn from the Delivering as One Extended Funding Window, and has been implemented with participation from seven agencies. This initiative has led to recognition of Kiribati as one of the Delivering as One ‘self starter’ countries. The challenge now is to expand the One Fund to attract additional resources from donors and replicate the model to other Pacific Islands where possible. So far, other major Joint Programmes formulated and in the pipeline for funding are:
i) the initiative agreed between the UNCT and the Prime Minister in Samoa for UN work in the country to be put on a fast track towards becoming recognized as a ‘self starter’ country;
ii) Joint Programme on Community Resilience and Coping with Climate Change and Natural Disasters in Vanuatu from 2011 to 2013;
iii) Joint Programme on Violence Against Women in Kiribati and Solomon Islands;
iv) Joint Programme on UNDAF in Palau;
v) the initiation of a significant tripartite project in Samoa which will focus on labour market governance, labour law reform and the pre-departure and reintegration components of the New Zealand and Australian seasonal employment schemes; and
vi) Joint Human Security Fund approach to the reintegration of ex-combatants in Solomon Islands.
Non-project joint activities– In 2010, the UN system in the Pacific came together, forming a partnership also with regional agencies, to stage the Pacific Conference on the Human Face on the Global Economic Crisis, held in early February in Port Villa, Vanuatu, and hosted by the Vanuatu Government. Some of the key outcomes were policy advice and shared best practices on i) improving efficiency and equity in public expenditure/management; ii) social services, protection and infrastructure; iii) income creation and promotion of the private sector and informal economy; iii) improving data for evidence-based policy, planning and monitoring; iv) sustainable green growth; and v) strategic investments in information and communications technologies. The conclusions from this conference also informed the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting in Vanuatu in August, which concluded among other things in the “Port Vila Declaration on Accelerating Progress on the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals”.This conference followed and built on the successful high level meetings on; respectively; Decent Work for Sustainable Development in the Pacific and the Mauritius Strategy Review, both facilitated by the UN.
The UN system in the Pacific worked closely with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in the production of the “2010 Pacific MDG Tracking Report”. It further provided support to the Pacific Island Countries and to the Forum Secretariat in implementation of the “Cairns Compact”, a regional aid effectiveness initiative agreed by the Pacific Island Forum Leaders’ meeting in Cairns, Australia in August 2009. As part of this support, UN agencies worked together to produce a consolidated report on UN assistance to the Pacific. The UN agencies also participated in further development of aid effectiveness concepts under the Cairns Compact, and in several countries capacity building projects were implemented to strengthened national capacities for aid coordination and effectiveness.
In late 2010, the UNCTs engaged in the Paris Declaration Surveys. The data collected from the surveys will also take into consideration the work undertaken under the Cairns Compact, and an agreement has been reached with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat to conduct coordinated data collection for the two exercises. The compiled aid effectiveness report will be part of the reporting to the upcoming Paris Declaration Fourth High Level Forum that will take place in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 29 November to 1 December 2011. Data collected will also benefit the regional reporting to the Pacific Forum Leaders’ meeting in Auckland, New Zealand in September 2011.
In the lead up to the General Assembly Millennium Development Goals Summit in September 2010, the UN agencies engaged in a collaborative effort to assist the Pacific Island Countries in their preparations for the Summit. This work was undertaken in close collaboration with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, and in close consultations with the Permanent Representatives of the Pacific Island Countries to the UN in New York. Materials produced included fourteen country snapshot reports on the MDG achievements and background briefs with Pacific content for the six thematic round tables at the Summit. Furthermore, the “2010 Pacific MDG Tracking Report” was launched during the Summit alongside the Asia-Pacific Regional MDG Report.The countries and their Permanent Representatives expressed a wish to extend this type of collaboration also for other initiatives in future.
The UNCT, Samoa was able to meet with the entire Tokelauan Cabinet comprising of the Ulu o Tokelau and Faipule. The main issues of discussion were the difficulties and challenges faced by the Government and people of Tokelau due to its size and political affiliations
For the review of the Brussels Program of Action for the Least Developed Counties and of the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation for the Small Islands Developing States, national and sub-regional reports were prepared; sub-regional consultations were held; and assistance was provided to member States with their participation in regional and global meetings including the Commission for Sustainable Development in May 2010 and General Assembly in September 2010. The outcome of the MSI review in the Pacific and in the General Assembly (GA resolution 65/2) provide guidance on how the UN system in the Pacific can best address the “unique and particular vulnerabilities of small island developing States” in the Pacific.
Humanitarian assistance, Early Recovery (ER) and Disaster Risk Management:In 2010 Pacific Island Countries were spared from major disasters. Cyclones affected Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji and the Solomon Islands but major damage and the need for international assistance was avoided. UN and humanitarian partners strengthened regional and national preparedness through the organization of and support to inter-agency contingency planning workshops, simulations and joint assessments in Cook Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Cook Islands and the regional Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) meetings. The UN was instrumental in putting gender squarely on the agenda of four important regional conferences, including strong participation of representatives of Ministries of Women and women’s networks at the regional PHT meetings
Humanitarian and disaster risk management continues nevertheless to be a major agenda item for the UN. In response to Cyclone Pat in February, the UN worked with the Cook Island’s Government to articulate the Early Recovery programme, following which resources were made available to implement recovery programmes in the areas such as food security. The Early Recovery Framework leveraged a coordinated response by different partners to assist in the cyclone recovery efforts. Assistance from the UN focused on coordination support during the response and relief operations and the development of a recovery and reconstruction plan to ensure speedy economic and social recovery for the people of Cook Islands. One such recovery effort under the plan included an initiative whereby young people earned wages by cleaning up the debris and repairing homes damaged by the cyclone. The assistance was follow up by a lessons learned and contingency planning workshop in the Cook Islands four months later.
Similarly the Samoan Government is still receiving assistance of about US$2 million under the Early Recovery Programme to support the rehabilitation and recovery of the 2009 tsunami affected villages. The UN programme of support reached all the 23 affected villages thus helping about 5000 community members. The Village Development Plans (VDP) developed by the communities and facilitated by the UN, became the vehicle for prioritising and delivering Early Recovery assistance to the communities. The inclusive process of VDP, which included women and landless men, empowered these specific groups by giving them a voice and the opportunity to participate in the delivery of services. This VDP approach has been adopted by the government to provide development services across the entire country providing for sustainability and up-scaling of early recovery efforts.
Another very important contribution by the UN to the Samoa Government's Tsunami Early Recovery Project was the systematic human rights monitoring of persons internally displaced by the 2009 disaster. As a result the affected population were apprised of their rights to protection, appropriate assistance and the fact that they should be involved in finding solutions to displacement through return, local integration and relocation. The monitoring report was an important innovation in that it was the only survey that was carried out at household level providing documentary evidence of the sufficient recovery support made available by Government in compliance of the Hyogo Framework for Action.
Under the leadership of the UN, the international humanitarian community active in the Pacific continued to make important progress in achieving a more consistent and predictable approach to humanitarian assistance. Since 2008 the key regional humanitarian partners (UN, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, INGO’s, donors) are collaborating closely under the unique coordination mechanism of the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) and agreed on a Pacific cluster approach, chaired by the UNRCs, Fiji and Samoa.
The UN System also supported national reviews of the progress in implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action in the Cook Islands, Fiji, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. In collaboration with SOPAC, two regional consultations were conducted to inform the global mid-term review of the Hyogo Framework for Action which was called for by the UN SG. The UN also continued to support the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management which convened in August in Suva, Fiji, and is actively engaged in the Pacific Disaster Risk Management Partnership Network which is supporting the implementation of the Pacific Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Management.
Operational work for One UN – The Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfers (HACT) work in the Pacific Island Countries reached, as of June 2010, compliance for the following three countries: Kiribati, Solomon Islands & Vanuatu. Fiji was the fourth country to be HACT compliant; later in 2010. The priority actions for 2011 include completion of micro-assessments in the remaining six countries.
The UN Security Management Team met regularly and discussed the security situations in all Pacific countries with UN staff presence in 2010. The Warden System was restructured simplifying the zoning system according to an agency based system and new Zone Wardens and deputies were appointed. The SMT maintained Fiji’s Security Phase to ‘Phase 1’ throughout 2010, taking into consideration the political uncertainty of Fiji after the abrogation of the constitution in April 2009, and continues to monitor the situation. The Solomon Islands was also classified at ‘Phase 1’ during 2010, while all other countries were classified as ’No Phase’. In 2010 saw the strengthening of the UN DSS office with the recruitment of a replacement for the Regional Security Advisor as well as a Deputy Regional Security Advisor. At the end of 2010, the new Security Level System was introduced, to replace the Phase system, and relevant raining was conducted for staff and for the UNCT.
The Operation Management Team (OMT) met regularly to discuss common services and premises issues. Travel Services Long Term Agreements (LTAs) were finalized with two new travel agents, which are used by all UN agencies based in Suva, and is expected to give some better value for money and better services.
The UN continued to engage in joint advocacy activities, reaching out to the general public on certain UN Days with selected communication campaigns and messages from the UN system. International Women’s Day, World Health Day, World Environment Day, World Population Day, International Youth Day, World Humanitarian Day, UN Day, UN Volunteer Day, World AIDS Day, Human Rights Day, etc., were commemorated with various public functions amongst a number of the Pacific Island Countries.
Key aspects of the proposed 2011 workplan
4. Key aspects of the proposed 2011 work plan:
i) The rollout of the next UN Development Assistance Framework, covering 2013-2017, will be one of the main outputs of the Resident Coordination Office work in 2011. The RC Offices will be working closely with the convening agency for the UNDAF Rollout.
ii) Thorough follow-up on the Pacific UNDAF Mid Term Review report findings and recommendations will be undertaken by the UNCT through its various sub-groups. The MTR findings and recommendations will not only be one of the key inputs for formulation of the new UNDAF, but they will also guide programmes and One UN activities in 2011 and 2012. There is a clear need for the UNCT to work together to achieve more through a One UN approach; the team will therefore endeavour to expand joint programming initiatives and continue those already in progress. It will also attempt in 2011 to ensure that all countries covered are equally involved. With this in mind the UN will ensure that consultations with countries and partners on the new UNDAF are initiated this year.
iii) Mindful that we are only a few years away from the 2015 deadline the UNCT will continue to focus its work and resources particularly on the Accelerated Framework to achieve all the MDGs. To further hasten the achievement of MDGs the UN will work to strengthen pro-poor macro-economic policies.
iv) Climate change will continue to be a key area for the UNCT in 2011 especially as countries as well as regional entities have asked for the support of the United Nations for climate change and to this end the UNCT will look at (i) ways of enhancing coordination on climate change issues; and (ii) assist countries and the region as a whole to access and develop capacity for managing climate change financing including selected fast track development of proposals.
v) In 2011 the programming and implementation arrangements for the Kiribati One Fund will be strengthened, with a view to making the One Fund more inclusive and consider possibilities for its expansion. Further, opportunities will be sought for establishing One Fund arrangements also in other Pacific countries.
vi) In Samoa, the UNCT will respond to the wish expressed by the Prime Minister to ensure simplification of processes and establishment of Samoa among the group of Delivering as One Self-Starter Countries.
vii) Another key priority will be to advocate and explore concrete opportunities for more Joint Programme activities. Joint programming will be actively promoted, and initiatives for joint programmes from agencies will be supported.
viii) Further, the UNCT will build on the existing initiative for Joint Presence Offices in the Pacific, exploring opportunities for broadening agency participation, scope and capacity in the Joint Presences. The aim will be to have the Joint Presences as a key outreach for the UNCT across the countries covered.
ix) The UNCT will continue to work for aid effectiveness, through activities related to the Paris Declaration as well as to the Cairns Compact. Related to the aid effectiveness work, the UNCT will continue to deploy Integrated Missions and conduct Joint Strategy Meetings on an annual basis in host countries.
x) The UNCT will also work for a full HACT assessment to be completed in the remaining Pacific Island Countries, with a view to ensuring full HACT compliance in all countries covered.
xi) The UNCT will continue and will endeavour to expand its close collaboration in support of key events. In 2011, some strategic events and processes include the Forum Economic Ministers’ Meeting, the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in September, and the Climate Change Roundtable. The UNCT also expects to contribute in a proactive manner to the Rio +20 preparations, and as part of this help the Pacific SIDS organize a special event on climate change financing.
xii) In 2011, a new initiative will be made to strengthen and expand the advocacy and communications function of the RCO, on behalf of the UN system. Activities envisaged include web based communication tools, events, knowledge management services and products etc. The RCO will take the opportunity of a Joint Communications unit being established by UNDP’s sub-regional centre together with its multi-country office and will establish a specific UN wide dimension of this unit. Among other things, the Joint Communications unit will formulate a UNDAF communication strategy.
Operating in a multi-country environment in the Pacific, all UN agencies would agree that there is room for simplification and harmonization of the programming processes, for which the UNDAF serves as an umbrella. There have been initiatives for simplification in the past, which inter alia have led to a 14-country UNDAF for 2008-2012. This has, however, not necessarily lead to a simplification at the country level and to achieve this it is a need to explore the mechanisms beyond the UNDAF and how they may also be simplified. The UNDAF Mid Term Review confirmed that significant opportunities remain for simplification and for a stronger joint UN approach.
The focus has to be on the beneficiaries. Therefore, we need to economize on interim steps that only indirectly address the needs of beneficiaries. To move as directly as possible to concrete programmes with impact at a country level, and to focus the attention of UN and other development partners around those, appears to be the most rational approach.
At the same time one cannot ignore the need for some level of process to ensure buy-in from stakeholders at many levels, including country governments, regional organizations, donors, development banks and the UN system.
In the combination of multi-country and regional programming structures used by UN agencies and other development partners in the Pacific, the traditional country-based hierarchy of programming tools starting with the UNDAF and going down to individual country programmes and annual work plans etc., becomes extremely transaction heavy to the extent that it detracts from delivering substantive and strategic outcomes, and also has prevented full agency buy-in. Steps to simplify this process are therefore recommended, as outlined below:
- Take a broad and deep approach to the country (or in this case sub-regional) analysis. Include all relevant constituencies in this process, including country governments and civil society organizations, regional organizations, donors, dev. banks and the UN. Use the vast pool of existing analytical material starting with the Pacific Plan, country development plans, outcome documents from Pacific Island Forum meetings, country analyses from development banks, etc. As part of this process direct country consultations should take place.
- Continue the practice of developing a multi-country UNDAF, but make this document into a higher level statement of principles (such as the intent to maximize joint programming) and key priorities (such as MDGs). Highlight in this document a few focus issues that all agencies recognize, such as gender, climate change, non-communicable diseases, but defer the development of a results matrix and action plan to country level programming. Make sure the document is inclusive.
- As a direct continuation of the UNDAF programming: Embark on creating cross-sectoral joint programmes at country and sub-regional level, using a geographic focus rather than a thematic focus. These joint programmes would serve as umbrellas for UN agency work at country and sub-regional level. Also non-UN stakeholders such as regional organizations, donors and development banks would be invited to participate in formulation and to subscribe to these programmes. For ExCom agencies these joint programmes would serve as Country Programme Documents for Board approval, as well as a component of their Regional Programmes.
The UNCTs in Apia (Samoa) and Suva (Fiji) looks forward to working closely in 2011 with the Pacific Governments, regional organisations, civil society organisations, local communities, development partners, UN HQs, and non-resident UN agencies in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals and real UN reforms at the country and regional levels.
Baoping Yang Knut Ostby
UN Resident Coordinator a.i, Samoa UN Resident Coordinator, Fiji