On 30 November, DPA will launch its new Multi-Year Appeal (MYA). The MYA will lay out the extensive range of activities and processes carried out or facilitated by DPA and made possible by voluntary contributions. (In 2016, a full 40 per cent of the Department’s work was funded by donors.) The Appeal, as with DPA’s broader strategic plan, aims to contribute to the Secretary-General’s vision of centering the Organization’s work on peace and security around prevention.
In the run-up to the launch of the Appeal, we talked to Sushil Raj, head of DPA’s Donor Relations Team, to ask him about his work and how DPA leverages that function to respond to ever-growing demand for its expertise and services.
Sushil Raj: DPA fundraises in the absence of adequate regular budget financing for conflict prevention, mediation and sustaining peace activities. The expectations and requests by Member States to support activities far outweigh what is available to the Department through the regular budget. The number of requests and volume of activities are also significantly more than what can be covered through the Secretary-General’s “unforeseen funds”, a mechanism set up to deal with emergencies. Other Departments and Offices of the United Nations Secretariat also fundraise; however, DPA is unique in its fundraising to support the good offices of the Secretary-General, conflict prevention and mediation activities. In the past, DPA tapped Trust Funds with voluntary contributions, and sporadic fundraising took place. But DPA established a dedicated fundraising capacity and started to solicit extra-budgetary contributions more systematically following the recommendations of a study on conflict prevention resources and donor relations, which the Department commissioned in 2006-2007. Over time contributions to DPA became Official Development Assistance (ODA)–eligible. It introduced project management, monitoring and evaluation capacity to track performance and capture results. In the last five years, the Department has fostered a culture of learning, improved strategic planning, and a focus on results and innovations - such as the Rapid Response and New Ideas Windows - which are essential to furthering our mandate effectively.
What do voluntary contributions allow DPA to do?
Extra-budgetary funds through DPA’s Multi-Year Appeal allow us to do a multitude of things, ranging from extending electoral support to providing mediation expertise. For example, the funds cover 90 percent of activities of our Electoral Affairs Division, and help pay for a Standby Team of Mediation Experts who can deploy within 72 hours where needed; a Rapid Response capacity to deal with urgent and unforeseen requests; liaison presences across the world that support UN work with regional organizations; studies, evaluations, trainings, specialized expertise; and other activities that we cannot cover through the regular budget.
Are there trends you can detect in the way donors give? Or under what conditions?
In terms of DPA’s own experience in fundraising, I think the Department has been successful in increasing the amount of unearmarked funds, which means fewer conditions on how to use these resources, which in turn allows us to be more responsive to Member States who request our assistance and expertise, requests that often cannot be planned for. In 2016, 77 per cent of contributions were unearmarked, and 79 per cent in 2017. This increased flexible funding shows that our partners have confidence in our work.
We also see that donors are giving to the Department based on a track record of delivering results, improved reporting, and an increased global focus to find political solutions to crises around the world. Conflict and crisis prevention is central to the vision of the Secretary-General, which reinforces what we have been doing for years. We hope our partners will continue their political and financial support to help us help the parties find political solutions to crises and conflicts around the world.
What is the focus of the MYA 2018-2019?
The Appeal for 2018-2019 focuses on renewed support to inclusion and inclusive processes; support to our regional offices and strengthening of our liaison presences; support to the Secretary-General’s High Level Advisory Board on Mediation; deepening our work on sustaining peace; and increased collaborations with the UN system and civil society on women peace and security, land and conflict, indigenous peoples and minorities and youth, and South-South Cooperation. At the launch we expect to hear from the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General for Somalia, as well as from the Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union, who will speak about how extra-budgetary funding has supported their work.