Rome, 10 January 2022 – There is real potential for the three United Nations Rome-Based Agencies (RBAs) to enhance progress towards eliminating hunger world-wide. The key to unlock this untapped potential is enhanced inter-agency collaboration – which responds to a genuine commitment among RBA staff. This, according to the first ever joint evaluation of the collaboration among IFAD, WFP and FAO.
The evaluation, which bears no precedent, systematically assesses the potential value added of RBA collaboration. To this end, the report provides credible evidence of the extent and quality of joint RBA performance towards shared objectives, and an explanation of the reasons for that performance. The evaluation focuses on all forms of collaboration at country, regional and global levels, and draws on the views expressed by over four hundred informants during interviews and meetings.
Collaboration between the RBAs is a daily reality, reflecting the shared strengths and commitment of these distinctly different organizations. RBA staff routinely act on the advantages of this collaboration, but not to the extent necessary to unlock its full potential impact on SDG 2. Moreover, at present, efforts to promote RBA collaboration are not grounded in an accurate understanding of the conditions in which it is most effectively pursued.
Despite the daily collaboration reality, there is widespread ambivalence about the concept. Complex layers of doubt and reluctance lie steeped beneath the strong official commitments – a situation worsened by the formal systems and procedures to promote, co-ordinate and report on collaboration, which add little value, are often not followed through usefully, and frustrate staff more often than they inspire them. Notably, the RBAs have made limited progress in reducing overlap, competition and duplication of work.
The latent opportunities inherent in these findings are highlighted by the strongly collaborative spirit that has developed in those countries where there is a clear advantage in working together. Good technical collaboration on certain themes and tasks suggests that coordination is generally easier around thematic and advocacy work than in formal operational project settings. These efforts have resulted in enhanced sharing of knowledge, lessons and good practice at all levels. While the depth, quality and practical value of this sharing vary, the evaluation notes significant technical interdependence between the RBAs in many fields.
To exploit these latent opportunities, and truly bolster progress towards attainment of SDG 2, the evaluation report recommends further embracing the new joint programming mechanisms at the country level and ensuring constructive, collaborative RBA engagement with these mechanisms. Furthermore, the report also recommends restructuring and reinforcing the coordination architecture for RBA collaboration within the framework of the UN Development System reform, whilst assessing the costs and benefits of proposed collaboration, and proceeding only if the benefits outweigh the costs.
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