ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

274th Session
Geneva, March 1999

Committee on Technical Cooperation



The ILO's resource mobilization strategy: Progress report


I. Introduction

II. Programme development

III. Strengthening and extending partnerships with funding agencies

IV. Marketing

V. Supporting elements

VI. Concluding remarks

I. Introduction

1. As requested by the Committee, this paper reports on the implementation of the Office's strategy for mobilizing resources for technical cooperation, which was adopted at the November 1997 session of the Governing Body.(1)  It provides concise information on progress made so far, the main difficulties encountered and on key elements of the work planned for the coming months.

2. The Office intends to undertake an evaluation of the strategy early in 2000, taking into account the results of the Conference discussion on technical cooperation in June this year and the discussions on the Programme and Budget for 2000-01. It would also recommend modifications to the strategy in the light of these discussions and outline an action plan for the years 2000-03 -- up to the end of the next programming cycle.

Implementation plan

3. Following the adoption of the strategy by the Governing Body, the Office prepared an internal work plan for 1998-99 to implement it. The plan is organized around the three main components of the strategy: programme development, strengthening and extending partnerships with funding agencies, and marketing.

4. In view of the resource constraints, the implementation of the strategy started by concentrating on the most immediate and needed tasks. These concerned programme development and strengthening partnerships with the donor community. It was considered that the marketing effort would follow these critical first steps once a clearer picture of overall programme development and priority areas had been established. At that stage, the implementation of the strategy would also take into account the new programming elements related to the adoption of the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up, as well as the outcome of the discussions on the Programme and Budget for 2000-01.

5. Coordination of implementation of the work plan was entrusted to the Bureau for the Promotion of Active Partnership and Technical Cooperation, under the overall responsibility of the Assistant Director-General responsible for resource mobilization.

II. Programme development

6. The resource mobilization strategy recognized that the Active Partnership Policy has significantly improved the basis for programme development in the Office. The country objectives jointly agreed with constituents provide a solid basis not only for programme development at the national level, but also for programme development at the regional, subregional and international levels. Especially at the country level, fund-raising is helped by joint programme development with government institutions and the social partners, an approach that has started to show positive results. At the international level, the global programmes are a critical component of the overall work programme of the Office. Experience so far has confirmed the relevance of this overall approach to resource mobilization.

7. As outlined in the paper on global programmes,(2)  the Office has in this initial period of implementing the strategy devoted considerable attention to the development and promotion of a number of global programmes. The present funding status of the principal global programmes shows the value of this approach for resource mobilization, although, as indicated below, this is not yet the case for all global programmes.

8. This overall positive result is directly linked to the interest of the donor community in these programmes: the approach shows a clear ILO commitment to working on a number of priority themes of global relevance reflecting the core mandate of the Organization and the common issues of the various country objectives. The themes covered by the global programmes are also given importance in the overall work programme of the Office, including in activities funded by the regular budget. From the perspective of the donor community, the global programmes also provide the possibility of establishing a more long-lasting and substantive relationship with the ILO in areas of common interest.

9. These factors greatly enhance the scope for interested donors to agree with the ILO to work on a longer-term basis and with a more stable funding commitment. The approach also offers a better guarantee that the national-based activities -- as well as those at regional, subregional and international levels under the global programmes -- will feed into and benefit from the larger ILO support structure for these programmes.

10. The funding attracted by the global programmes in the last two years has demonstrated the value of the approach for resource mobilization. Although IPEC has been operational for a longer period and has a unique funding situation, the new approvals for funding obtained for ISEP and STEP are quite encouraging. Since the launch of these two global programmes, new approvals for ISEP at the time of writing have reached more than $7 million; for STEP the figure is over $8 million. The funding base for ISEP is quite diverse, with Sweden as the main contributor; the main funding for STEP was made available by Belgium.

11. The funding situation for More and Better Jobs for Women is less advanced. It has so far mainly relied on regular budget funding, a contribution from the United Kingdom and a number of other contributions. For the promotion of the programme a number of events were organized, including the Informal Ministerial Meeting during the 1998 session of the International Labour Conference. It is envisaged that the programme will attract further extra-budgetary funding in the context of follow-up on the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, towards which it could contribute in a meaningful way.

12. The follow-up on the Declaration may also include a global programme on the promotion of social dialogue and industrial relations, which is at the moment being considered. All units concerned will be involved in the process of reaching a decision on the nature and scope of this programme, notably the Bureaux for Employers' and Workers' Activities (ACTRAV and ACTEMP). The development of the Occupational Safety, Health and Environment programme has experienced some delay; further development work will reflect the discussion of the Programme and Budget for 2000-01.

13. The resource mobilization strategy equally recognized the importance of national-level programming for the development of regional, subregional and international technical cooperation projects and programmes. In this respect a major role is being played by the regional offices, in addition to the area offices and the MDTs: the African region was actively involved in the development of Jobs for Africa, a regional employment programme for which the UNDP was the first donor to make a contribution ($3 million). Another example is a subregional project on the promotion of industrial relations and social dialogue in selected countries in Asia, funded by Norway ($1.5 million).

III. Strengthening and extending partnerships
with funding agencies

14. The resource mobilization strategy outlined a partnership approach with the donor community based on increasing substantive relationships. These were to reflect a longer-term commitment to collaboration on a number of jointly determined subjects and the establishment of more intense and regular dialogue at the policy and technical levels.

15. With regard to multibilateral donor countries, the strategy envisaged widening relations with representatives of other relevant parties, including the social partners. As far as the main United Nations institutions are concerned (UNDP, UNFPA, World Bank, etc.), the approach would likewise aim at strengthening the policy and substantive dialogue on issues of common concern. With respect to the European Union, the strategy called for continuing efforts to arrive at a mutually acceptable form of cooperation.

16. Next to the need to intensify relationships with existing partners, the strategy recognized the need to diversify and increase the number of funding partners. In this context, it was foreseen to start a deliberate and well-prepared campaign to attract funding from non-governmental and private sectors.

UNDP and other United Nations bodies

17. The implementation plan included continuing the long-standing relations with the United Nations funding agencies, in particular the UNDP. These efforts are part and parcel of the ILO's contribution to the United Nations reform process. Especially in that context, the UNDP and the Resident Coordinators continue to play a key role at the country level. The Office has been actively working in a number of countries in the context of the UNDAF (United Nations Development Assistance Framework). For example, in the Philippines, one of the countries where the United Nations has been working on the basis of UNDAF as part of the first phase of its implementation, the experience has been very promising. This is also the case for resource mobilization efforts for which, through the active coordinating and fund-raising role of the UNDP, the ILO has recently raised some $1.5 million for its programme of work.

18. Overall, the ILO's approach to the UNDP, as well as to the other United Nations funding bodies, is guided by the following principles:

19. The effectiveness of working in partnership with the UNDP was recently demonstrated when unexpected funding opportunities arose and it was possible to alert the area offices to seek funding from the UNDP. The downward trend in UNDP funding that started in the early 1990s has thus been arrested, inter alia, by the fact that in many countries the Office has developed a work programme based on country objectives, some of whose components are of interest to the UNDP. Overall new funding approvals from the UNDP increased from $35 million in 1994-95 to $75 million in 1996-97; in 1997 approvals reached $48 million -- the highest figure since 1994, when UNDP approvals were $18 million.

20. This funding situation with the UNDP implies a solid reversal of the previous downward trend, which lasted until 1995. Although the prospects for future funding from the UNDP (and other United Nations funding bodies) is far from certain, this recent reversal suggest that there is good reason to expect that the annual approval level of some $30 to 40 million can be maintained.

Multi-bilateral donors

21. The implementation plan reflects the recognition in the resource mobilization strategy of the growing importance of multi-bilateral donors. Over the past five years the contribution of these donors in terms of overall technical cooperation expenditure has been some $50 million per year, at least 60 per cent of overall extra-budgetary expenditure. This picture is in line with the yearly figure of new approvals from the multi-bilateral donors: since 1993, when the yearly approval figure was some $40 million, the approvals have shown an upward trend, reaching an average yearly approval level of $60 million for the last three years.

22. The strategy recognized that there might be scope for increased funding from the long-established and largest multi-bilateral partners and for intensifying relationships with these main donors, as well as for increased collaboration with the other multi-bilateral donors and for establishing relations with new partners. These efforts were made both at the central level through contacts between ILO headquarters and multi-bilateral donor representatives, and at the country level through contacts between the area offices and MDTs and the donor community. It is increasingly clear that the opportunities for resource mobilization at the country level (apart from those with the UNDP) are also becoming increasingly important in the case of multi-bilateral donors. This is especially true of donors that manage their development programmes at the local level, as is increasingly the case.

23. Cooperation with the long-established donors was maintained and where possible intensified. Regular contacts were thus pursued with Denmark, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain in the form of yearly or, more frequently, joint committee or review meetings. These provide an excellent means of maintaining a policy dialogue, reviewing ongoing programmes and establishing future directions. Efforts to establish or re-establish such meetings with a number of other multi-bilateral donors are starting to show success. Joint meetings were re-established with Belgium, and with Portugal a mechanism for regular meetings was introduced in 1997. The start of discussions with France and Sweden on a regular review mechanism is expected to lead to positive results in the future. It is intended to continue discussing the possibility of increased funding and organizing regular reviews with a number of other countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, Finland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom). With Germany, which makes the major part of its multi-bilateral contribution available through its core contribution to IPEC, regular contacts are maintained both formally and informally as well as through IPEC's Steering Committee. Close relations with the United States are likewise mainly maintained through IPEC, to which it is also a main contributor.

24. Increasing programme collaboration with donors is another key part of the strategy. In the case of the multi-bilateral donors, this has now been established as the principal form of partnership with Denmark, which started the programme approach linked to four-year funding as part of its active multilateralism. Since last year Belgium, Norway and Portugal have also decided to move in this direction. As mentioned above, Germany and the United States maintain regular contacts with IPEC and occupy therefore a special place in this regard.

World Bank and other financial institutions

25. The strategy also included strengthening relationships with the other main multilateral development institutions outside the United Nations system. In this respect the World Bank and other development banks were considered to be of particular relevance. Therefore, the Office has continued its efforts to establish high-level policy contacts to determine common goals as a first step to reopening funding possibilities. The subjects of recent dialogue included a wide range of topics, including the social and employment impact of structural adjustment policies and of globalization of the economy; labour law and wage policy issues; labour market, social security, enterprise development and credit; employment and training; gender; and child labour. However, it has become clear that for increased funding, the Office, in addition to this substantive dialogue, will have to come to a decision on the question of reinvesting in a capacity to do the demanding preparatory work for Bank-funded projects and the intensive work required in their implementation. This would include a decision to take part in the bidding process required for most Bank-funded projects. Only with such a capacity is there a chance of obtaining funding for projects, mainly in the context of Bank loans to governments. It is intended to examine this question in particular in connection with the discussion on technical cooperation at the Conference in June and in the context of the programme and budget discussions.

European Union

26. As mentioned in the resource mobilization paper, the European Union is potentially one of the most important partners of the ILO. It was decided in 1995 to complement efforts to come to a collaboration agreement at the overall and political level, with an increased focus on facilitating project discussions at the operational level. As reported, the efforts to come to an overall cooperation agreement, which have not yet been concluded, will be continued by the Office in close collaboration with the United Nations system.(3)  At the operational level, there have been some encouraging results, including the approval of an IPEC project in Pakistan ($1.1 million) and a project to support the trade union movement in Central America ($1 million).

New partnerships

27. The last main component of strengthening partnerships concerned new funding sources outside the multilateral and government-related financing institutions. The strategy envisaged exploring the use of grants from the private sector, foundations and non-governmental organizations. Work in this area has started and has so far concentrated on an analysis of the different possibilities of partnerships that could be established, and the instruments and strategies needed to ensure success in each case. The scope for partnerships with international and national workers' and employers' organizations for resource mobilization is also being considered. These initiatives are to be based on a partnership approach which fully recognizes and respects the ILO's value system. In this context, the internal procedures for accepting funding from private sources are being clarified and reflect the principle that such funding should not serve the agenda or commercial interest of the funding agent and should safeguard the independence of the ILO in making use of the funding provided. It has become clear that in the context of seeking new funding partners the global programmes are of particular interest.

28. These efforts have facilitated the success of recent initiatives such as the innovative approach of the Italian social partners, which organized a national funding campaign in support of ILO and UNICEF projects on child labour in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan. Funding obtained at the beginning of this year from the United Nations Foundation Inc., established by Mr. Ted Turner, for a project on the legal empowerment of indigenous peoples in Central America ($1.5 million) is another example.

IV. Marketing

29. The third component of the strategy, a renewed marketing campaign, would involve a deliberate step forward in coherent efforts to increase the ILO's visibility so as to underpin its resource mobilization efforts. It would emphasize the ILO's role as a standard-setting organization committed to working with its constituents in a practical and pragmatic way through its technical cooperation activities to help them meet ILO principles and standards. The strategy stressed the need for enhanced communication both outside and inside the Office.

30. With respect to these aspects the strategy paper specifically recognized the need to attract experienced communications staff, as well as to work with outside specialists in this field. The need for a professional approach in dealing effectively with this part of the resource mobilization was emphasized, as was the need to secure the necessary budget allocations for these efforts. Work on this component of the strategy has been scheduled to start this year in the expectation that it would be clearer what resources are available after the discussions on the Programme and Budget for 2000-01.

V. Supporting elements

31. In addition to the above three key elements, the strategy recognized the need for adjustments and improvements in the Office's working methods in order to ensure successful resource mobilization. In particular the respective roles of the various parts of the Office were to be made more transparent and consistent. The strategy therefore includes a part on improving internal communications and capacity building for ILO staff. It was finally envisaged that all relevant parts of the Office would be implicated in a coordinated process to ensure the synergy required to guarantee effective resource mobilization efforts.

32. The work envisaged in this area covers the development of an Intranet site to facilitate information sharing and the preparation of manuals and guidelines. To complement these efforts, the plan includes briefing and training activities for headquarters and field staff. During 1998 a start was made with the development of the Intranet site and the planning of briefing and training sessions for field staff. The latter are organized in collaboration with the regional offices, starting in February 1999 for Asia and the Pacific, and later this year for the other regions.

VI. Concluding remarks

33. In the relatively short time since the adoption of the strategy a number of critical issues have emerged. To ensure the best possible basis for successful resource mobilization, these will have to be addressed in the near future. As mentioned above, it is felt that these issues should be considered in the context of the Conference discussions in June on technical cooperation and the Programme and Budget for 2000-01. The major issues identified so far are briefly mentioned below.

34. As is the case in general in the context of the Active Partnership Policy, the need to brief and train staff on resource mobilization has increased tremendously in the Office. However, the resources required for the briefing and training programmes have not yet been made available. In the coming months planning and costing for these activities will be fine-tuned to allow an early decision on financing to be taken. Next to briefing and training, a good system of sharing information throughout the Office is a critical element in the overall approach. Here again it is necessary to provide the necessary budgetary resources to put such a system in place. The Office will also examine the resource requirements in this area so that a decision can be taken in the course of the discussions referred to above. As already indicated, the marketing campaign will be further examined in this regard.

35. Another critical issue which needs to be addressed in the context of attracting more resources from the financial institutions is the need to re-establish the Office's capacity to prepare the required bids. Since the bidding process is very competitive, only well-prepared bids in areas of work compatible with the ILO's mandate would be considered. However, this cannot be done successfully without a unit in the Office directing and supporting such efforts. In this regard, working closely with the Turin Centre, which has developed such a bidding capacity, would be considered. Participating in international bidding for project contracts would also increase the scope for funding from the European Community, which uses this method extensively in selecting the implementing partners for its development activities.

36. Finally, as regards the field structure, the report of the Working Party on the Evaluation of the Active Partnership Policy(4)  highlighted the need to clarify the roles and responsibilities of different ILO units, which also has implications for the resource mobilization efforts. Any follow-up measures to clarify the roles of area offices, MDTs, regional offices, branch offices and headquarters units would be equally beneficial to the Office's resource mobilization efforts.

37. In conclusion, initial experience of implementing the resource mobilization strategy has made it clear that its ambitious aims require further investments to ensure that the Office has the required capacity to implement the strategy fully. As stated above, this principally concerns the training and information aspects at the internal level, a professional approach to external marketing (particularly to attract new funding partners), and the re-establishment of the capacity to participate successfully in international bidding for project funding from the development banks and the European Union. For the successful continuation of the resource mobilization programme, a decision on financing for the above areas would have to be taken in the near future.

Geneva, 24 February 1999

1. GB.270/TC/2.

2. GB.274/TC/3.

3. GB.273/PFA/5.

4. GB.273/TC/2.

Updated by VC. Approved by RH. Last update: 26 January 2000.