CBI Advises UN Leadership on Improving Policy Dialogue

The United Nations development system works globally in more than 120 countries to strengthen the capacity of government and civil society to provide health, education, economic development, nutrition and many other essential services. Over the past several years, the UN agencies that operate together at the country level  (UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the UN Development Programme, and more than 30 others) have been seeking to move “upstream” in their engagement with government counterparts. Both individually and in coordination as Country Teams, the UN agencies have been shifting from capacity building projects to providing advice and advocacy on national policy and program issues.  

In 2011, the UN Development Group (UNDG, the global coordinating body for the UN development agencies) asked CBI to assess how effective UN Country Teams have been in their efforts to engage in “upstream” policy dialogue with senior government counterparts. CBI was selected because of our experience working with UN Country Teams as facilitators of strategic planning, and as trainers building senior agency representatives’ skills in collaboration, negotiation and consensus building.

CBI recently completed its report for the UNDG, titled "UN Country Teams Engaging in National Policy Dialogue: Lessons from the Field." For the study, the CBI Team (Managing Director David Fairman, Senior Consultant Marc Jacquand, and Associate Betsy Fierman):

  • Defined “upstream engagement in policy and program dialogue;
  • Reviewed a sample of 14 recent UN Country Team strategic plans for evidence of systematic engagement on policy issues;
  • Produced five country case studies with in-depth description and analysis of recent cases of policy dialogue; and 
  • Produced findings and recommendations for UN Country Teams and the UN Development Group to more effectively engage in national policy dialogue.

The five country case studies were:

  • Promoting an Integrated Approach to Citizen Security in El Salvador 
  • Advancing MDG Achievement through Gender Equality in Malawi
  • Creating and Supporting a Human Rights Ombudsman Office in Tajikistan 
  • Elevating Nutrition to the top of the national policy agenda in Timor Leste 
  • Framing the Policy Dialogue on Social Protection in Vietnam; and

UN counterparts have given strong positive feedback on the Policy Dialogue study. The UN senior staff member overseeing the study wrote that the CBI team “are to be commended on the excellent analysis presented in this report, which will be very helpful both at the country and headquarters levels in taking forward the UN system's effective policy engagement with national governments.”Read the complete "UN Country Teams Engaging in National Policy Dialogue: Lessons from the Field".

For more information on CBI's work with the UN, contact David Fairman, CBI Managing Director.