This paper intends to understand what we mean by an ‘effective’ multilateral system, taking as a lens for this analysis, the four principles of effective development co-operation – country ownership, inclusive partnerships, a focus on results, and mutual accountability and transparency – agreed in Busan in 2011 at the 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

What made this work at once richer and more difficult is the sheer quality of the work already available to us at the outset, from QCPR reporting put out by the UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs, supported by the agencies funds and programmes of the UN System, to the work of UN’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office and the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, to the OECD’s own thoughtful analysis, built on access to the DAC. And we took these as our point of departure.

On top of these we brought not only the lens of the effectiveness principles, but also a distinct methodology, that sought to establish, in the words of those engaging closest with the system, what they think the value of these investments really is.

The basic approach to this work sought to leveraging the convening power of the Global Partnership, and its credibility on development co-operation and effectiveness issues, to develop a multi-stakeholder contribution to the discourse on an effective multilateral system and, based on this, reflect on how partners might more effectively support multilateralism. To achieve this, a two-part methodology was adopted:

  • A literature review, drawing on the pieces identified above, as well as other data sources – including from the Global Partnership’s own data collection efforts, and
  • Online consultations with a cross section of key stakeholders comprised of development partners (including traditional bilateral partners), partner countries, multilateral partners (drawn from UNDS agencies, but also development banks) and non-governmental partners. A total of 25 people participated in the consultations drawn from 20 entities across stakeholder groups. ‘Topic Guides’ were used to help lead and manage the discussions, themselves informed by the findings of the literature review.

The findings presented in this report are heavily focused on the UN system, reflecting the key issues raised during our discussions with partners and those that emerged from the literature reviewed.

This report has been led by members of the Global Partnership Action Area 2.7 on effective multilateral support. Please note that this is an interim report, for the purposes of sharing key ideas which have been initially validated and is still in the process of being validated through continued feedback and reflections from partners and participants.

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