Building peace in the minds of men and women

MOPAN assessed the performance of UNESCO

15 March 2019

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In 2017-18, MOPAN, the Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network, assessed the performance of UNESCO. The assessment looked at UNESCO’s organisational effectiveness (strategic, operational, relationship and performance aspects) and the results it achieved against its objectives. This was the first MOPAN assessment of UNESCO. 

About the Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN):

The MOPAN is a network created in 2002, which is currently composed of 18 member countries with a common interest in assessing the effectiveness of the major multilateral organisations they fund. MOPAN’s mission is to:

  • Enhance accountability by supporting its members to assess organisational and development effectiveness of funded multilateral organisations.
  • Promote learning by informing strategic engagement and dialogue among multilateral organisations and development partners.

Credibility of assessments is ensured through an impartial, systematic and rigorous approach (MOPAN 3.0 methodology).

Members of MOPAN use the outcomes of these assessments to, inter alia, inform strategic decision-making and engagement with the assessed organisations.

UNESCO is one of the 14 organisations assessed by MOPAN in 2017-2018 period.

Key findings of MOPAN Assessment of UNESCO:

MOPAN has just released its assessment report of UNESCO – the first ever –  providing a snapshot of UNESCO’s performance over 2016 to mid-2018 covering strategic, operational, relationship and performance management as well as results. Overall the report is rather positive, with an overall rating of “Highly satisfactory” or “satisfactory” for the vast majority of indicators.

Key findings of the assessment show that:

  • “UNESCO has a clear strategic vision aligned to global normative frameworks, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change”.
  • “Despite the notable constraints, there has been no change to the expectations on UNESCO’s mandate and range of activities, and in spite of difficulties, UNESCO has protected its normative work and raised additional funds to finance programmatic work.”
  • “The organisation combines its normative and programmatic roles in ways that provide a mutually reinforcing interplay, ensuring that its work in both roles is relevant and targeted.”
  • “MOPAN’s survey of external partners confirms that stakeholders value UNESCO’s contribution to promoting cross-cutting agendas, with gender equality being a particular strength.”
  • “UNESCO is unique for having the mandate and space to bring together experts, practitioners, citizens and governments to develop solutions to the global problems embedded in the SDGs. It has rare expertise and a degree of authority that enables it to influence governments across the world.”
  • “UNESCO is recognised for its distinct interdisciplinary and participatory approach to programming, most notably in the design phase.”
  • “Notwithstanding the challenging environment, UNESCO has been able to drive through impressive improvements in areas such as results-based management and to provide high-quality services, most notably within its internal oversight, including evaluation and internal audit.”
  • “UNESCO continues to face an extended and damaging budget crisis, with the need for further prioritisation.”
  • “The institutional architecture at headquarters reflects UNESCO’s mandate; yet global field presence is unnecessarily complex, which compromises agility and relevance.”
  • “UNESCO has a strong appreciation of these challenges and is working to position itself to be more efficient and effective in the future through ongoing reforms.”

The assessment identified the following six strengths and seven areas for improvement

Strengths

  • UNESCO is central to the SDGs
  • UNESCO is a global leader in knowledge and practice
  • Education is a notable strength of UNESCO
  • UNESCO is effective in mainstreaming gender equality, good governance, environment sustainability and human rights
  • UNESCO is committed to RBM and RBB and is progressing well in these areas
  • UNESCO has a high-quality central evaluation service

Areas for improvement

  • Prioritization of the overall work programme remains limited
  • A number of corporate systems remain outdated
  • Rationalizing the gratuitously complex global field network remains a priority
  • Tracking poor performance and addressing inefficiency is a challenge for UNESCO
  • Refining the treatment of results and tracking impact is necessary to demonstrate continued relevance and sustainability
  • The quality of decentralized evaluations and evidence-base for normative work requires dedicated resources
  • Communicating externally