FAO SSTC Screenshot: Staff Experiences, Perspectives and Demand

February 14, 2022

Since 2020 and building up on almost 30 years of corporate commitments, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has worked on updating its approach to supporting South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC), which has been translated in the new SSTC Guidelines for Action. The new guidelines emerge as part of the new FAO Strategic Framework and also respond to global frameworks, including the new System-Wide Strategy for SSTC of the United Nations.

Moving beyond strategic planning, FAO is now drafting practical guides and tools for its staff to plan for and use SSTC as a key delivery mechanism of its Strategic Framework. To this end, in the second half of 2021, an in-house survey was conducted to explore the experiences and expectations of FAO leaders and teams, on how to use SSTC more effectively as a key modality for delivery and to improve in-house services provided to technical, country and regional teams.

Involving 30 country offices, 11 HQ divisions/offices, 8 sub-regional offices and 6 partnership and liaison offices, the results from this survey constitute a high-value reference for FAO to move forward with its new strategic and operational approach. They do not only show progress and challenges, but also demand for better services, continued collaboration and deeper learning across all corporate layers, including those who might not make an extensive use of SSTC in their respective portfolio.

The survey galvanized an excellent collaboration (response rate of 80% of total of 98 invited) and demonstrated that there is a substantial interest from the field in FAO’s evolving SSTC agenda, with about 58% country offices responding at the leadership level.

The key insights emerging from the survey will guide the SSTC programming in the coming three years helping the operationalization of the new SSTC Guidelines for Action.

First and foremost, the survey demonstrated that there is ample potential to deepen collaboration with country offices, sub-regional offices, and departments/offices through more targeted South-South and Triangular Cooperation Division (PST) services. 57% of respondents stated that there are bottlenecks to engage in SSTC effectively in their day-to-day work, 86% would be interested in, or would like to have more information on training on SSTC concepts and practical aspects, and 71% would be interested in, or would like to have more information about being part of a corporate virtual working group on SSTC. 

Secondly, the survey reflects strong shared sense that SSTC adds concrete value to FAO’s overall portfolio and could be mainstreamed more extensively and strategically. 90% of the respondents agree that “SSTC can be a key delivery modality to bridge capacity gaps thereby accelerating results of FAO development and emergency projects”, and 91% think that “there is further potential for SSTC to be more strategically integrated in the diverse areas of work of FAO.”

In terms of specific benefits and added value of SSTC, most of the survey respondents state that SSTC supports capacity development in key areas (86%), provides fast-track access to proven solutions which are adapted to country specific problems (71%) and mobilizes additional financial resources (65%) as well as access to cost-effective solutions (56%), while it also fosters collective engagement of multiple stakeholders (55%).

In terms of demand for further support, survey respondents stated that the following PST services would be most needed in the next three years:

  • Support with partnership development for SSTC (74%)
  • Resource mobilization (73%)
  • Guidance on designing projects/initiatives employing SSTC (54%)
  • SSTC mainstreaming into programming including country, sectoral, sub-regional levels (54%)
  • Brokering and matchmaking of solutions (44%)
  • Guidance on implementation of projects/initiatives employing SSTC (43%)

Lastly and importantly, the survey also highlighted that SSTC appears to be largely underreported as a delivery mechanism and, therefore, potentially implemented on an ad hoc basis or without due consideration to the SSTC criteria/principles (among country office respondents specifically, the impression is that only 9% of SSTC is labeled correctly, while 91% consider that most or part of SSTC happens unlabeled). This highlights the need for systematic capacity development on SSTC programming in-house and the need for improved guidance, mechanisms and flows for SSTC quality assurance.

Originally posted by FAO. To view the original post, please click here.