By Alexander Avanessov, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Montenegro
In April 2009 the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I, as Resident Coordinator (RC), on behalf of the Montenegro UN Country Team (UNCT) signed the Intgrated UN Programme (IUNP) for Montenegro 2010-2016. It was a result of a relatively quick, but very substantive and effective effort of the UNCT and the national institutions to elaborate a highly strategic, clear Delivering-as-One (DaO) programme, which aims to guide the UN work in Montenegro for the next six years. The Montenegro UN Country Fund was subsequently established in late 2009.
Just over a year has passed since then. The IUNP is well-grounded on Montenegro’s realities and responds to the Government’s major national priorities: Euro-Atlantic integration and more equitable regional development, capacity development of national institutions and human resources. The IUPN is also very much a common sense decision as the UN system in Montenegro is not very large – four UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, UNHCR and WHO) and IOM with a delivery of around $14 million per year. It was thus logical to pull together resources/expertise and focus UN programme activities on the most strategic national development goals.
As RC I had my own expectation, which has partly materialized. In addition to our common UNCT goal to make the UN system in Montenegro more strategic and impact oriented, I also tried to make the RC system as substantive, useful and less process oriented as possible. Primarily this was done by drawing on the strength of the UN system as whole, relying (where meaningful and strategic) on expertise not only from resident, but also from non-resident agencies. Additionally, I placed an emphasis on working around agreed strategic goals and national priorities through joint programming and common commitment to work as a team.
From the outset our principle was to preserve the identity of every Participating UN Organization and to try to get the best out of each of them. I am happy to see increased number of Participating Organizations in our programme, which now includes UNESCO, UNEP, FAO, UNIDO, UN Women and UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).
For us in Montenegro, where, as in many other middle-income countries, the funding base (both core and non-core) is rather limited, the support from the Expanded Funding Window (EFW) was absolutely critical. It gave an important initial boost to the functioning of the One UN Fund, which in turn stimulated a set of important and rather complex joint programmes. It made it possible, for example, to start up multi-sector projects in the area of social inclusion, including that of the Roma, displaced and internally displaced persons. Pulling together resources and expertise of UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR and WHO funded from the One Fund, we are addressing such issues as de-institutionalization of people with disabilities, reform of health system, juvenile justice, etc.
Thanks to funding from the UN Country Fund, for the first time in Montenegro, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO and FAO joined forces to explore initiatives in the areas of “green jobs” promotion and “green economy” as a strategic driving force of the socio-economic development of Montenegro which 20 years ago proclaimed itself as the ecological state.
Undoubtedly, a lot of efforts remain to be done to make the DaO concept as effective and efficient as envisaged. We still have to figure out how further to reduce transaction costs, what are the ways to ensure financial sustainability of the UN Country Fund, what would be the best means of enhancing joint programming and ensure even better use of the UN system to respond to national development priorities.
The Chair of the UN Development Group, Helen Clark, who visited Montenegro last year, told the UNCT that in the current resource-constrained environment, the UN development system has to draw on its collective strengths to maximize the development impact of support to governments.
UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Montenegro