Resident Coordinators unlock UN expertise for governments and development partners

In 2023, building on the momentum from recent Summits and global policy dialogues, as for example on food systems, education, climate change, biodiversity and financing, Resident Coordinators emphasized needed transformations for SDG acceleration

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More than 35 development system entities provide more integrated and effective policy support and financing solutions for SDG acceleration

Resident Coordinators helped steer UN team support to countries pursuing transformative action in areas for SDG acceleration, such as: 

Jointly agreed SDG roadmaps, or Cooperation Frameworks, are in place – substituting the old UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) – positioning the UN development system to better support national SDG acceleration

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UN country teams have replaced UNDAFs with Cooperation Frameworks

There is mounting evidence demonstrating that the reforms have largely delivered on expectations and mandates set out by the UN General Assembly

2023 Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) evaluation on Resident Coordinators’ leadership for SDG policy support concluded that:

  • Resident Coordinators have effectively leveraged UN expertise – in-country and non-resident – to enable integrated policy advice and have effectively engaged with senior levels of government and development partners to enable policymaking aligned to Member State needs.
  • Resident Coordinators supported the advancement of human rights and efforts to leave no-one behind for sustainable development in national policymaking dialogue.
  • Resident Coordinators’ leadership, impartiality and inter-personal skills were key factors impacting the Resident Coordinators' effectiveness to enable integrated policy advice, along with Cooperation Framework coordination mechanisms and pooled funds.

RCs and UNCT members surveyed by OIOS reported that RCs effectively led on delivering high quality, integrated policy advice in 2023 and enabled joint advocacy around key strategic issues, compared with 2021

Source: OIOS, 2023

Participation of non-resident entities in country-level collective UN strategies is also systematically improving

A majority of Resident Coordinators and UN country team members surveyed by OIOS reported that resident and non-resident UN entities engaged with the government around their respective areas of expertise within a more coherent and coordinated UN policy framework. 

RCs and UNCTs on UN entities' engagement within a coherent and coordinated UN policy framework

Source: OIOS, 2023

  • DESA annual surveys confirm the increased ability of Resident Coordinators to effectively lead strategic support by UN country teams for national plans and priorities, compared to pre-reform.

Host governments on whether the RC effectively leads UN country teams' strategic support for national plans and priorities

Source: DESA survey of Host Governments, 2023

UN country teams on whether the RC has led the UNCT in providing support for needed changes in national policies and regulatory frameworks to advance the SDGs

Source: DESA survey of UNCT members, 2023

Host Governments on whether the RC and UNCTs have built the capacity of public institutions for SDG acceleration

Source: DESA survey of host Governments, 2023

Evidence is also growing that the UN entities place great value in the Resident Coordinator’s role as an enabler of results across their mandates. 

The 2022 independent evaluation of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)'s engagement confirm that the repositioned system and reinvigorated Resident Coordinator function has enabled an environment for UNFPA to advance the normative agenda and leverage joint programming for results.  

Throughout, the focus of the Resident Coordinator system has been on ensuring a tailored approach in different country settings, utilizing new coordination capacities, tools and pooled funding


    In Mexico Resident Coordinator's leadership facilitated access to the Joint SDG Fund resources, which enabled coherent UN team support in the adoption of a National Care Systems Law covering an estimated 46 million people by 2030.


    Timor Leste

    In Timor Leste, Joint SDG Fund resources enabled the UN team to support government prioritization of US$ 80 million for a food basket scheme, which provides households with locally sourced food items boosting demand for local production.

    Timor Leste


    In UgandaJoint SDG resources were successfully tapped, which, backed by a US$ 13.5million commitment from the Government, helped the Uganda Development Bank establish a facility for concessional financing to promote climate-smart agriculture, climate-resilient infrastructure, and low-carbon industries.


    Under the leadership of Resident Coordinators, UN country teams have made visible progress in ensuring a robust focus on the most vulnerable and providing normative support

    UNCTs on whether the RC fosters a coherent, strategic engagement with government counterparts on the UN's normative agenda

    Source: DESA survey of UNCT members, 2023

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    92% of UNCTs say they consult with the Resident Coordinator on sensitive cases related to their normative agenda.

    However, only 58% of UN country teams that reported engagement with the universal periodic review of human rights said they used the review recommendations.

    Gender equality

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    In 2023, 97 UN country teams – a record number –reported on the UN country team System-Wide Action Plan (SWAP) for gender equality in 2023, compared to only 76 in 2022

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    In 2023, 26 countries accessed resources channeled by Resident Coordinators channeled from the Spotlight Initiative, contributing to the adoption of nearly 500 laws and policies to end violence against women and girls

    Youth engagement 

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    94% of common country analyses and Cooperation Frameworks today include a youth focus


      In Egypt, the Resident Coordinator’s convening of young people led to the establishment of a Youth Climate Change Committee at the Ministry of Youth and Sports to ensure youth perspectives are reflected in national climate policies.



      In Bhutan, the Resident Coordinator’s Office surveyed 25,000 young people in person and an additional 15,000 via social media to ensure that their needs and aspirations underpin programming by the UN country team.



      In Guinea, the Resident Coordinator’s Office enabled consultations with over 1,000 young people for the Common Country Analysis update of the UN country team. 


      Disability inclusion

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      Resident Coordinator’s Offices' support enabled 100% of respondent UN country teams to report on annual implementation of the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy for the third year in a row


        In Uganda, various organizations of persons with disabilities, including the National Union of Women with Disabilities of Uganda, contributed to the design and implementation of the Cooperation Framework 2021-2025. 



        In India, an inter-agency coordination mechanism for disability inclusion was officially established as an integral part of the new Cooperation Framework 2023-27 governance structure.


        Resident Coordinators have strengthened synergies across the UN’s work, ensuring the UN’s efforts by different pillars better address root causes of crises and reduce drivers of humanitarian needs, risks and vulnerabilities as foundations for sustainable development

        Host governments on RCs contributing to building stronger synergies across development, humanitarian and peacebuilding interventions

        Source: DESA survey of host Governments, 2023

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        82% of UN country team members confirm that Resident Coordinators contributed to building stronger synergies across development, humanitarian and peacebuilding interventions.

          In mission settings, “triple-hatted” Resident Coordinators also serving as Humanitarian Coordinators and Deputy Special Representatives of the Secretary-General have been central to link peacebuilding and development interventions, ensuring coherence between the work of the mission and of the UN country team.

          In DRC, the Resident Coordinator’s collaboration with national and provincial authorities led to a pioneering ‘Tanganyika Strategic Results Framework’ for the third largest of the country’s 26 provinces, aligned with the provincial development plan. The framework has informed the development of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)'s transition plan for the province and is being replicated in the three remaining provinces where MONUSCO is still present.

          In Mali, the Resident Coordinator has mobilized support across the UN system in the context of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA)’s withdrawal to set up a new Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) to enable a transfer of relevant tasks to the UN country team. 

          In other complex settings, “double-hatted” Resident Coordinators also serving as Humanitarian Coordinators lead the emergency response, while also ensuring that UN activities are geared towards supporting countries to exit emergencies and return firmly to a path to sustainable development. 

          15 Resident Coordinators in pilot countries were instrumental in 2023 in supporting a wide range of partners to advance Government-led solutions to internal displacement

          In Lebanon, the Resident Coordination/Humanitarian Coordinator facilitated multi-stakeholder collaboration between development and humanitarian partners that rooted interventions in social protection

          Resident Coordinators have been instrumental in enabling effective UN support for disaster preparedness.

          The leadership of the Resident Coordinator led the Maldives to become the first country in Asia and the first Small Island Developing State(s) (SIDS) to embrace the Early Warnings for All initiative, with the objective to cover for all people by multi-hazard early warning systems by 2027.

          Resident Coordinators have been critical in ensuring immediate crisis response in countries where a Humanitarian Coordinator has not been designated.

          In South Africa and Tanzania, Resident Coordinators mobilized funding and coordinated support to Governments to address the impacts of devastating floods.

          In Chile, Peru and Bolivia, Resident Coordinators tackled the impacts of unprecedented climate change and El Niño-driven wildfires and floods.

          In Vanuatu, the Resident Coordinator boosted the UN’s support to the Government following twin category-4 cyclones in 2023.

          Challenges remain

          System-wide commitments made through Cooperation Frameworks do not uniformly translate to coordinated delivery in country. 

          This will require stronger alignment in UN development system entities’ programming, configuration of their capacities and business models at country level and strengthened reporting on how entity-specific activities contribute to UN country team results. Member States’ oversight through UN entities’ governing bodies will be critical to make this happen.

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          Only 2/3 of UN entities recognize reporting obligations to the Resident Coordinator on key activities, including planning (67%) and resource mobilization (63%)

          The share of multi-year funding frameworks for Cooperation Frameworks remains low.

          To address this, DCO is already investing in helping Resident Coordinators and Resident Coordinator’s offices to drive improvements, and working with UN entities to further identify and implement planning approaches that can ensure better alignment with Cooperation Framework outcomes. 


          The 2023 OIOS evaluation has also highlighted the negative impacts of under-funding of the Resident Coordinator system to effectively coordinate and enable integrated policy responses.


          The report's resource page can be found here, and the glossary here.

          To learn about the Resident Coordinator system and the Development Coordination Office visit: