Frequently Asked Questions
About the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F)
SDG-F Joint Programmes
- What activities will the SDG-F support?
- What is a joint programme?
- What is the maximum number of UN Agencies that can participate as implementing partners?
- How does the joint programmes selection process work?
- Can a cross-cutting issue (gender, sustainability or public-private partnerships) become the policy sectorial area of a Joint Programme proposal?
- Should be concept notes and programme documents be submitted in English?
- How is it suggested thatshould the coordination structure is be configured in order to guarantee a coordinated implementation with adequate checks and balances?
- What is the role of the RC during the formulation and implementation of SDG-F-funded Joint Programmes?
Joint programmes budget
MDG Achievement Fund’s experience
More about the SDG Fund
About the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F)
The Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG-F) is a development cooperation mechanism created in 2014 by the Government of Spain and UNDP, on behalf of the UN system, to support sustainable development activities through integrated and multidimensional joint programmes. It builds on the experience, knowledge, lessons learned and best practices of the previous MDG Achievement Fund (www.mdgfund.org, 2007-2013), while expanding its activities towards sustainable development and a greater focus on public-private partnerships. Gender and women’s empowerment is a cross-cutting priority in all our areas of work. The SDG-F intends to act as a bridge in the transition from MDGs to SDGs providing concrete experiences on “how” to achieve a sustainable and inclusive world post 2015.
The SDG-F will focus on three sectorial areas (inclusive economic growth for poverty eradication, food security and nutrition, and water and sanitation) which address some of the most important development gaps and build on the MDG-F’s experience using a multisectorial approach to the MDGs. Equally important, all SDG-F programmes should embed three cross-cutting issues that are considered central pillars for the future of development aid: sustainability (understood both as environmental sustainability but also in the wider sense of longer term sustainability of results), gender equality and women’s empowerment, and public-private partnerships.
SDG-F Joint Programmes
The SDG-F will operate at the country level through joint programmes implemented by specialized UN agencies in collaboration with national counterparts and other stakeholders to bring integrated and holistic approaches to national and local development challenges.
According to UN DOCO, the UN office that promotes coordination and coherence among UN Agencies, a “joint programme is a set of activities contained in a common work plan and related budget, involving two or more UN organizations and (sub-)national partners." It is the preferred mode of work if the development challenge to be tackled requires the collective expertise and action of different specialized agencies and national partners. The joint programme's governance structure is crucial for the success of its work. In this regard, SDG-F will rely on the critical and strategic coordination and executive role of the UN Resident Coordinator (RC), the highest representative of the UN in the country.
The SDG-F will not accept joint programme proposals with more than four UN Agencies as implementing partners. Based on the MDG-F’s experience, three is the preferred number of participating UN Agencies.
Eligible countries can submit concept note proposals until 16 June 2014, following the SDG-F Terms of Reference. United Nations country teams, formed by the UN Agencies’ representatives in the country and under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, have been invited to submit concept note proposals to be assessed by a committee of experts and approved by the SDG-F Steering Committee. Proposals may only be submitted after approval by the National Steering Committee
No, the programme should corespond to one of the three sectorial and policy areas established in the SDG-F’s Terms of Reference (inclusive economic growth for poverty eradication, food security and nutrition, and water and sanitation). However, in some cases one of the three cross cutting issues can be specially highlighted or relevant. For instance, within the inclusive economic growth sectorial area, women’s access to productive resources and economic opportunities can be selected as an outcome of the joint programme. In such a case, however, the programme should be formulated as an inclusive economic growth programme, not as a gender programme. All three cross-cutting issues (sustainability, gender and public-private partnerships) should be incorporated in the design of programme proposals.
Programme proposals can be submitted both in English and in Spanish.
To ensure proper checks and balances of programme activities the Resident Coordinator is called upon to establish committees at two levels: a National Steering Committee (NSC), and a Programme Management Committee (PMC).There should only be one NSC per country and one PMC per programme.
- The National Steering Committee’s role is to provide oversight and strategic guidance to the programme. The NSC should be small and the membership should formally consist of non-implementing parties to allow for independence. The NSC members should at a minimum include a representative of the national Government, a representative of the Government of Spain and the Resident Coordinator (RC). The RC and the national Government representative will co-chair the NSC. Other representatives and observers (civil society, other donors, etc.) can be invited by the co-chairs, especially in cases involving institutions providing matching funds. Depending on the country-specific context, other formal members may be included in the NSC. The NSC will normally meet semi-annually and will make decisions by consensus.
- The Programme Management Committee’s role is to provide operational coordination to the joint programme. The membership will consist of implementing Participating UN Organizations of the Joint Programme and relevant Government Counterparts. The RC or his/her representative will chair the PMC. Joint Programme managers and experts can be invited to the PMC meetings as needed. The PMC will normally meet quarterly, but may have to meet more often depending on the need to address issues related directly to management and implementation of the programme.
The Resident Coordinator (RC) will remain accountable for the overall objectives of the proposals and will be responsible for adherence to the SDG-F’s guidance for formulation and implementation. The experience of the MDG-F showed that the Resident Coordinator had a critical role in ensuring the effective functioning of the JP’s governance structure and, particularly, in promoting and applying the MDG-F’s principles at the country level. These included: a) the importance of specific and direct financing for MDGs achievement; b) the incorporation of the principle of aid effectiveness; and c) the valued added in terms of the UN delivering together. The RC is entrusted with leadership of the overall programme design, an ongoing programmatic oversight of the Fund’s activities and the co-chairing of National Steering Committee meetings. The RC’s role is to facilitate and motivate collaboration between Participating UN Organizations to ensure that the programme is on track and that expected results are being delivered. He or she will also be the main interface between the Secretariat and the MPTF Office on the one hand and the UNCT on the other.
The SDG-F has identified eligible countries to participate in the call for Joint Programme proposals (see table below). Each country may submit more than one joint programme proposal but, at this stage, the SDG-F expects to support a maximum of one programme per country.
- Latin America and the Caribbean: Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru
- Arab States: occupied Palestinian territory
- Africa: Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania
- Asia: Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste and Viet Nam
Conceived as a laboratory mechanism for transitioning from the MDGs to the SDGs, this list of eligible countries represents both lower and middle income countries from four different regions of the world. Some of these countries participated in the previous MDG-F with successful joint programmes, and are therefore familiar with the MDG-F approach. Others will be implementing the approach for the first time. The list of eligible countries could be enlarged in the future if additional resources are mobilized.
No, the SDG-F’s programmes are implemented locally through the United Nations Country Offices, and the SDG-F will therefore not fund local NGOs directly. Nevertheless, working with civil society is one of the pillars of our approach, and local NGOs might participate in joint programmes if their work is aligned with an approved programme containing specific components that could be implemented by civil society organizations.
Joint programmes budget
The SDG-F will support formulation costs (up to 10,000 USD) of those joint programmes that are preselected after all concept notes have been reviewed. There will be no advance of formulation costs for the concept note’s elaboration phase.
As pointed out in the SDG-F's ToRs, “matching funds can come from the national government, bilateral donors, and other UN agencies, IFIs, private sector, civil society organizations, foundations or other stakeholders." The term “matching funds” points to the establishment with a partner of a political-strategic dialogue for effective development results as defined under the (Paris-Accra) Busan guidelines. It also aims to create a greater impact thanks to the greater scale of the programme. It thus does not include the cost of staff per se as co-financing.
Yes, joint programmes can also use financial resources coming from other donors’ projects or programmes as matching funds. The programme will have a single Steering Committee (SC) and the donor or donors of the “matching initiatives” will be included in the SC. Please note that the donor/s of the “matching initiative” must sign a letter where the conditions of the SDG-F are acknowledged, and in particular, accepting visibility, accountability and governance conditions established by the SDG-F’s ToRs. Additionally, a copy of the already existing project/programmes must be attached to the Concept Note and to the Full-fledged programme document, so that the reviewers will be able to assess the feasibility of merging it with the joint programme. If available, monitoring reports, or mid-terms evaluations of the matching initiatives should also be attached. Accountability wise, according to the ToRs, the RC Office will be responsible for reporting on the global budget of the initiative: SDG-F finds plus matching funds.
Given the differences in the financial rules and procedures of the various UN Agencies, joint programmes should use the UNDG Harmonized Budget Categories when preparing the programme’s budget. These include: 1. Staff and other personnel costs; 2. Supplies, Commodities, Materials; 3. Equipment, Vehicles and furniture including Depreciation; 4. Contractual Services; 5. Travel; 6. Transfers and Grants to Counterparts; 7. General Operating and Other Direct Costs. For more information, please visit the MPTF explanatory note on the subject.
MDG Achievement Fund’s experience
The MDG Achievement Fund (MDG-F) evaluation and knowledge management strategies have produced valuable insights on development cooperation in the form of lessons learned, key findings, knowledge products, publications and reports. All this knowledge has been compiled and is now accessible through the MDG-F’s website (www.mdgfund.org) and online library. In addition, the global and thematic evaluation of the MDG Achievement Fund, which will be finalized during 2014, will provide strategic insight to improve the operational aspects of the SDG-F and its findings will be incorporated in due course. Disseminating and sharing the knowledge generated by the MDG-F with development aid practitioners and decision makers represents an important area of work for the SDG-F’s team.
No. The MDG Achievement Fund closed its operations in 2013. Even if the new facility shares with the MDG-F its inspiring principles (national ownership, multisectoriality, joint programmes implemented by multiple UN Agencies) and builds on its results, the SDG-F goes beyond the MDG-F in that it adapts to the new context of development aid, especially by placing a greater focus on sustainable development.
As the largest ever contribution of a single country to the UN Development System for the achievement of MDGs, the MDG-F reached more than 9 million direct participants through 130 joint programmes in 50 countries. Its work was anchored in integrated, holistic, approaches to development problems identified by national partners. In addition, the MDG-F established other thematic, advocacy and knowledge partnerships to advance the MDGs. All this experience has been extensively evaluated and analyzed, and findings from this evaluation process will be feeding the work of the new facility. Moreover, the SDG-F’s Secretariat will share these findings with other development partners so as to inform other development initiatives, especially those rooted in joint and integrated programmes.
More about the SDG Fund
The initial resources of the SDG-F (approximately USD 60 million) come primarily from the residual funds of the MDG Achievement Fund, which closed in 2013. The Government of Spain has also contributed additional financing.
Even if, at the establishment of the SDG-F, the debate over the new development agenda is still underway and its outcome unclear, the Government of Spain, with this Fund, wants to affirm its political will to support the creation of a new development framework with a heavy focus on poverty reduction and sustainable development. As proof of this commitment, the SDG-F will contribute to a consistent and effective post-2015 development agenda, using as a basis the vast experience of the MDG-F with its results and lessons learned. The SDG-F intends to make a solid and practical contribution to the transition process from the MDGs to the future Sustainable Development Goals, and is being conceived almost as a laboratory where UN country offices will also contribute concretely with their national counterparts in joint efforts on “how” to achieve a sustainable world.
A Steering Committee, represented at the highest level by UNDP and the Government of Spain, meets at least once per year and provides overall guidance and strategic direction. UNDP’s Multi Partner Trust Fund Office (http://mptf.undp.org/) is entrusted with the administration of the Fund as Administrative Agent. The UNDP/SDG-F Secretariat, a small, specialized and technical team sitting on UNDP’s Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, will ensure that the decisions of the Steering Committee are applied and followed up and will coordinate the programmatic, advocacy, evaluation and knowledge management aspects of the SDG-F. At country level, joint programmes should establish appropriate governance mechanisms that represent the interests of the national government.
The SDG-F was conceived as a permanent facility (and therefore without a scheduled operational closure) to channel strategic joint efforts of UN Agencies, the Government of Spain and other development partners to advance sustainable development. The new facility is born at precisely the same time that the post-2015 development agenda is under discussion and it intends to be a means of implementation of this new framework for international aid.
Yes, Spain and UNDP, in the SDG-F framework document agreed to open the SDG-F to new donors, from both the public and private sectors that are interested in supporting multidimensional UN joint programmes to achieve sustainable development.