On 11 and 12 September 2018, UNESCO held its first Partners’ Forum. The Forum is rooted in a reform initiative of the United Nations General Assembly which invites all UN Funds, Programmes and specialized agencies to discuss with a broad range of their partners how to finance the development results in their respective plans. This first Structured Financing Dialogue gives important pointers about how UNESCO can optimize its future engagement with partners to attract resources for its programme.
Jessica Jeavons, Chief, Section for Mobilizing Government Partner Resources, Bureau for Strategic Planning
HARNESSING UNESCO’S RICH NETWORK OF PARTNERS
The objectives of UNESCO’s Partners’ Forum were twofold: to create a strong enabling environment to strengthen the resourcing of UNESCO’s programme and encourage existing and new partners to support and engage with UNESCO on its programme.
Generously funded by Sweden and mobilizing over 760 participants, the Forum was an exuberant illustration of UNESCO’s convening power and attractiveness to partners that shed light on how various partners are working with UNESCO. Most of UNESCO’s donors have a clear view on their own portfolio with UNESCO and good knowledge of the areas they are supporting, but they do not necessarily know how other partners are working with UNESCO, nor have the complete picture of UNESCO’s programme as a whole. The Partners’ Forum contributed to addressing these gaps and highlighted opportunities for evolving multi-stakeholder partnerships.
TOWARDS OPTIMIZING STRUCTURED FINANCING DIALOGUES
The UNESCO Partners’ Forum is highly relevant for the Strategic Transformation because it offers a forward-looking model for engaging existing and potential partners in UNESCO’s programme. Careful attention has been given to piloting new guidelines and methodologies that can be used for future events and to obtaining feedback and ideas from all key stakeholders. Staff, Member States and other partners were invited to give their feedback and suggestions for improvement. An on-line survey was launched, and an external study was conducted.
It is therefore important to distill the experience into a set of key lessons learned to be discussed at the upcoming Executive Board, so that together we can optimize Structured Financing Dialogues as a tool for strengthening resource mobilization and building enduring partnerships at UNESCO.