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Copy of Theory of Change

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Ingrid Fitzgerald

on 9 September 2015

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Transcript of Copy of Theory of Change

Why a "theory of change"?
Strong call in first phase ECOSOC dialogue and UNDG ASG AG retreat for a "theory of change"
Functioning "as a system" critical to support transformative, integrated, universal SDGs
More horizontal and integrated agenda - 3 dimensions of sustainable development, pillars of UN system - requires a more coherent and integrated UNDS
Post-2015 agenda is a change project and the UNDS will need to invest in, and ensure strong leadership for, change at all levels
Many reform initiatives - but no underpinning single TOC for how change happens in the UNDS
TOC critical to inform future reform efforts, and evaluate and measure progress
Draft paper - designed to be iterative and respond to feedback...
Existing Theories of Change
Many reform initiatives - historically and currently - contain implicit assumptions and understandings about how change happens
Key reform efforts outlined in the paper include reforms introduced by UN SG Kofi Annan (1997), Delivering as One first and second generation & the SOPs, the QCPR itself, the ECOSOC dialogue, among others
Many of these frameworks include important elements of a "theory of change" as well as indicators to measure progress
But they are at different levels (country/country specific, global thematic, etc) and don't apply across the whole UNDS, or for the post-2015 era
Also important to recognize the elements that are beyond UNDS control - reform is not (only) a technocratic process - it requires political will and commitment....
Principles & Assumptions
UNDS is complex and systems thinking and complexity approaches more appropriate than linear/causal approach
TOC is descriptive, not prescriptive
SDGs will set out the "what" - this TOC focuses on the "how"
Functioning as a system will lead to greater relevance, strategic positioning and impact
Change must be purpose driven, by the values and ideals of the UN - need to move away from "command and control" approach
To date, change efforts have been largely focused on country level - need to consider drivers of change at global and regional levels
Draft TOC is meant to be "internal" to the UNDS - may need different TOC for external audiences
Integration across the pillars may need a separate "theory of change"
Theory of Change....
Developing (and testing) a theory of change for the UNDS to function "as a system" for relevance, strategic positioning, and results...
Designing (for) change in complex systems...
We would like to hear your views on...
What elements of the draft TOC are most critical to functioning "as a system"? What's missing? What can be left out?
What should be the scope of this TOC - do we need different TOCs for different levels - global, regional, country? For different audiences?
Are the elements included here sufficient to bring about the transformative change we need to see in the UNDS to deliver the SDGs?
What are the implications of the TOC for your work and for the UN system?
How can we measure the change we want to see towards functioning "as a system"?
Post-2015 development agenda and SDGs call for transformative change.
SDGs represent a "fourth shift" in the history of the UNDS
Questions then become:
Does this all add up to change?
What (more) does the UNDS need to do to be ready?
How much of this is policy amenable?
In complex systems, cannot rely on cause and effect.
Need fast feedback and multiple parallel experiments - to fail faster, learn and adapt. Fostering innovation and experimentation will be key.
Look at how change towards greater coherence has occurred in other sectors outside the UNDS.

Some areas where UNDS has under-invested to date e.g. change management
Piloting - test and fail experimentation is critical in a complex environment
UNDS needs to resist temptation to overly bureaucratize and codify guidance - giving up "command and control" approach
Need to refine and test TOCs for UNDS substantive work, and for
the UNDS works together.
SOPs are an essential platform for UNDS support - but need to build on this - ie. critical issues such as behaviour change and internal communication.
As DaO experience shows, vital to keep focus on "what is it all for" - relevance, strategic positioning, results and impact.
Is functioning as a system the only way to achieve this? What alternative hypotheses are there? i.e. division of labour for the SDGs?
Critically important to be able to measure change going forward - for the UNDG, and the next QCPR.
Next steps
Conduct small number of focus group discussions with i) ASG AG and sherpas, ii) UNDG WG co-chairs, iii) UNRCs and UNCTs, iv) regional UNDGs and v) DaO veterans to test and refine the TOC
Present the revised TOC to the UNDG ASG AG in October
Some initial feedback we have received...
Define what we mean by "UN system", what is needed to act as a system, and show where functioning as a system adds value
Need clarity on the focus of the TOC - should be primarily country level; avoid having competing TOCs for development, peace and security and humanitarian
What about external influences - what are the external pressures?
If we are serious about change, MS also need to change their behaviour (governance and funding)
Need to be able to deliver synergistically - need examples of how to do so, and what's missing
Trust is an absolutely critical input, including trust at country level (ie agencies representing each other)
Previous reform packages were not fully implemented - need to ensure we implement the whole package
Need to be clear on our "strategic intent" - is it strategic pluralism or something else?
Consider whether the underpinning factors are in place or not, look at assumptions and how to mitigate risks.
How can we make change while we are still discussing change - need to create space, see where we are already changing and how best to build on that
Full transcript