Development coordination at country level

Investing in development coordination is investing in the UN's sustainable development results

At the 2023 SDG Summit in New York, Member States underscored “the importance of preserving and utilizing the strengthened capacities of the reinvigorated Resident Coordinator system for coherent and effective responses by the development system in the decade of action”.

Since the reforms in 2019, the Resident Coordinator’s cohort has been entirely revamped

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Two-thirds of the current Resident Coordinators were appointed after the reform

Both host countries and contributing countries consider the Resident Coordinator profile appropriate and effective to advance the SDGs. 

Host governments on whether the RC has the right profile and skillset to support their country’s development

Source: DESA survey of host Governments, 2023

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91% of contributing countries said in 2023 that the Resident Coordinator system has scaled up collective action for the SDGs

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Resident Coordinators' profile and skillsets

In 2023, DCO had to curtail talent scouting and the number of candidates sponsored to the Resident Coordinator assessment due to the existing funding gap

As result:

  • The number of nationalities represented in the Resident Coordinator ranks increased only from 56 to 57 between March 2023 and March 2024
  • The number of Resident Coordinators from outside the UN decreased (from 10 to 9) between March 2023 and March 2024
  • The intake of Resident Coordinator candidates into the talent pipeline was reduced by 46% in 2022, and a further 28% in 2023
  • Intake into the talent pipeline will be completely paused in 2024
  • The number of candidates sponsored to the Resident Coordinator assessment was reduced by 40% (from 91 in 2022 to 54 in 2023)
  • The average annual share of vacant Resident Coordinator positions increased from 13% in 2022 to 15% in 2023  
  • Resident Coordinators ad interim increased from 11% in 2022 to 18% in 2023

Both Resident Coordinators and UN country team members reported a decline in compliance with the Management and Accountability Framework (MAF) that governs their relationships and mutual accountabilities

  • 75% in 2023 of Resident Coordinators said that the implementation of the MAF improved in the last year, vs. 84% in 2022
  • 51% of UN country team members said that the implementation of the MAF improved in the last year, vs. 80% in 2022

DCO will facilitate a review of MAF in 2024, working closely with UNSDG entities, with a view to identify and to address outstanding issues.

All Resident Coordinators and UN country teams are supported by a minimum of core capacities for collective strategic planning, economic analysis, partnerships, communications, and data management and results reporting

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About 90% of the Resident Coordinator system staff is at the country level

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Before the 2019 reforms, over 50% of Resident Coordinator's Offices had severely limited or no capacities staff at all

UN country team satisfaction with Resident Coordinator’s office support has remained stable or largely improved since the reform.

UNCT members' ratings of support from Resident Coordinator's Offices

Source: DESA survey of UNCT members, 2023

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Resident Coordinator's Offices profile and skillsets

Additionally, in 2023, DCO continued to support specific Resident Coordinators to ensure timely support in development emergencies through rapid deployment of senior development coordination officers.

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Rapid deployment

Gender parity and geographical balance has been achieved across Resident Coordinator’s Offices. 

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Gender parity and geographical balance

Due to a funding shortfall, only 50% of Resident Coordinator’s Offices were fully staffed with core professional capacities in 2023

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Only 50% of Resident Coordinator’s Offices were fully staffed in 2023

Development coordination at regional level

DCO regional teams are outposted DCO headquarters capacities located in the same region as the countries they support 

DCO regional teams are based in Amman, Bangkok, Istanbul, Panama and Addis Ababa, with suboffices in Dakar and Lusaka to ensure full coverage of the 54 African countries.

The decentralization of DCO regional teams saves US$2 million per annum

Located in the same time zone as the Resident Coordinators they serve, DCO regional teams are first responders to wide-ranging demands from Resident Coordinators and UN country teams

DCO Regional teams provide:

Assistance in developing Cooperation Frameworks 

Capacity building 

Dedicated day-to-day strategic guidance and support for Resident Coordinators and their offices

SDG policy and partnership support

Connections with regional expertise

Support for transboundary initiatives 

Connections to global initiatives


Improved UN regional coordination through the Regional Collaborative Platforms led by the UNSDG Chair, as part of the Platforms’ tripartite secretariats

    In Africa, in collaboration with the Office of the Special Coordinator for Development in the Sahel, DCO supported the design of 48 project proposals from UN country teams in 20 countries to the African Development Bank (AfDB) Prevention Envelope, focusing on gender equality, youth employment, and climate change. Five UN proposals, with an estimated worth of US$70 million, have been selected. DCO also helped leverage regional expertise from a regional “Issue Based Coalition” to advise the Governments of Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe on carbon markets and carbon credits swaps, introducing innovative mechanisms for climate financing.

    In the Arab States, DCO collaboration with the UN Global Compact is helping to engage the fossil fuel industry in economic transformation and environmental sustainability. Collaboration with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is helping the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to address narcotrafficking, crime and arms trafficking.

    In Europe and Central Asia, DCO fostered partnerships with regional financial institutions like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, and regional forums and entities like the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building measures (CICA) and the Organization of Turkic States, and UN University to advance the SDGs in the region. It also coordinated UN entities' contributions to map and develop alternative transport systems for those disrupted by the conflict in Ukraine.

    DCO in Latin America and the Caribbean supported the development of the Caribbean Multi-country Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, finding the synergies across common priorities and needs while addressing the specificities of individual country contexts, and connecting the sub-region to expertise from entities without physical presence. It also facilitated the establishment of a UN Evaluation Network in the region to assess, learn and improve the quality of Cooperation Frameworks.

    In Asia and the Pacific, a partnership with the University of New South Wales enabled Resident Coordinators in Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Fiji and Nepal to access expertise on areas such as migration, food-water-energy nexus, and disability inclusion. DCO also facilitated the deployment of strategic planning experts to support Cooperation Framework processes, as by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to the Philippines, UNICEF to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and UNFPA to Cambodia.

    Resident Coordinators continue to value the support received from DCO regional teams

    RCO ratings of support provided by DCO regional teams

    Sharing of general guidance and tools on UNDS reformNetworks for knowledge sharingUN system-wide business efficiencies backstoppingCapacity buildingOverall strategic guidance to day-to-day RC/RCO operationsSupport and quality assurance of JWPs during CF designRC system administrative/operational backstoppingCommunicationsAccess to development/humanitarian/peacebuilding supportSupport and quality assurance of JWPs during CF implementationSupport to Human RightsEnabling access to UN regional expertisePartnership support

    Source: DESA survey of UNCT members, 2023

    Development coordination at global level

    DCO in New York has overall accountability for the effectiveness of the cadre of 130 Resident Coordinators and their offices servicing 162 countries and territories. It is also the secretariat to the UNSDG, supporting strategic direction to UN country teams across the world

    Over the course of 2023, DCO developed key analytical and programming tools as well as learning opportunities for Resident Coordinators and UN country teams on a wide range of topics – from specific aspects of SDG acceleration to UN-IFI collaboration and SDG financing, as well as crisis communication and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

    DCO also provided advice and support to Resident Coordinators and Resident Coordinator’s offices in their efforts to broker partnerships with civil society, IFIs, the private sector, and academic institutions in support of SDG acceleration, working closely with all relevant UN entities. 

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    DCO activities and results

    DCO stepped in when Resident Coordinator’s Office capacities were insufficient. 
    In 2023:

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    DCO took on full-time remote communications support for Haiti and provided crisis communications support in other complex settings

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    DCO took on the management of 8 UN country team websites, due to the hiring freeze of Communications Officers in those Resident Coordinator’s Offices


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    In Mali, DCO worked with the Resident Coordinator’s Office on a tailored communications strategy preparing for MINUSMA’s withdrawal

    DCO took on new responsibilities to strengthen links between UN country teams and key global pooled funds to advance the SDGs.

    Joint SDG Fund

    In 2023, DCO took on the leadership of the Joint SDG Fund Operational Steering Committee

    Spotlight Initiative to End Violence Against Women

    In 2024, DCO will begin hosting the secretariat of the Spotlight Initiative to End Violence Against Women and will join the Spotlight Initiative Advisory Board


    Funding Compact

    DCO has facilitated the development of a new Funding Compact, in consultation with Member States and UNSDG entities, for better quality of funding for the UN development system in return of improved transparency and accountability for results. 

    DCO continued to strengthen tools for accountability and transparency like UNINFO, and UN country teamUNSDG and DCO websites

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    UN INFO data is

    63 UN country teams, compared to 19 in 2022, reported on their system-wide contribution to the advancement of the SDGs in-country through the UNSDG Output Indicator Framework


    The SPTF website tracks Resident Coordinator system funding

    As the secretariat for the UNSDG Business Innovation Group, DCO continued to play an important role in supporting UN development system to advance efficiencies. 

    In 2023, DCO supported the Group in the development of priority common back-offices, engaged Resident Coordinators on key common premises projects, and helped engage potential providers and clients for global shared service centers.


    In 2023, the DCO NY team comprised of only 71 staff – due to 16 frozen posts because of lack of funding – providing support to some 1,150 Resident Coordinator system staff.

    Yet, Resident Coordinators continued to largely value the support received from DCO.  

    RCO ratings of support provided by the DCO team in New York