Report of the Eleventh Meeting of the Programme Coordinating Board of UNAIDS, Geneva, 30 May–1 June 2001,

Agenda Items 2 and 3: UN System Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS 2001-2005; UNAIDS Unified Budget and Workplan 2002-2003


36         Agenda Items 2 and 3, represented by documents UNAIDS/PCB(11)/01.3 and UNAIDS/PCB(11)/01.4 respectively, were presented together by Dr Peter Piot (Executive Director, UNAIDS);  Dr Jim Sherry (Director of Programme Development and Coordination, UNAIDS);  Ms Gillian Holmes (Senior Advisor on Strategy Development, UNAIDS);  Dr Suman Mehta (HIV/AIDS Coordinator, UNFPA);  Mr Joel Rehnstrom (Chief of Planning, UNAIDS);  and Mr Mark Stirling (Principal Officer, HIV/AIDS, UNICEF).


37         Two years ago, the PCB requested the development of a five-year UN system-wide Strategic Plan to address the epidemic. This was endorsed by the Economic and Social Council.  Subsequently, the Administrative Committee on Coordination called on all relevant UN system agencies to participate in the process. As the Strategic Plan was being developed, so were the UNAIDS Unified Budget and Workplan (UBW) and preparations for the UNGASS.  This presented opportunities to connect the three processes though the elaboration of a set of UN-system strategic objectives that linked UNGASS to the Strategic Plan and the UBW. The UN Strategic Plan primarily builds the platform for UN action and collaboration.  The UBW strengthens the agency efforts on which the platform is based. Though the Strategic Plan and the UBW are not yet ideal, their development reflects a number of major accomplishments, e.g. participation by 29 UN-system organizations in the Strategic Plan and all 7 Cosponsors in the UBW; coordination across the full range of UN-system capacities; and enhanced accountability through greater clarification of priorities and improved tools for information-sharing and performance monitoring. 


38         The purposes of the UN System Strategic Plan are: to operationalize the Global Strategy Framework on HIV/AIDS within the UN system; to ensure a more intense and strategic UN system response over the next five years; to link the work of individual UN system organizations to the achievement of the UN system strategic objectives; and to guide the development and implementation of the UNAIDS UBW.  The ultimate objective of the Strategic Plan is to reduce HIV transmission, vulnerability and impact. The efforts within the Plan are organized within nine areas of work: (1) ensuring an extraordinary response; (2) cross-cutting issues; (3) protecting young people; (4) addressing the most vulnerable; (5) care and support; (6) operations and biomedical research; (7) human and institutional resources; (8) socioeconomic impacts; and (9) regional strategy development.  Each of these areas of work is focused on the achievement of one or more agreed goals, towards which all partners are working.  The Plan emphasizes functions best performed by the UN system, i.e. the provision of current data on the epidemic and responses to it; facilitation of advice on best practice and policy; and mobilization of funds in support of country efforts.  Each agency has developed a specific plan prepared in a standard format.  This plan is linked to the UN system objectives that, in turn, anticipate the goals and targets of the UNGASS declaration.  The plans are in different stages of development and approval by agency boards.  The Strategic Plan should be seen as a living document, which must be able to adapt to the changing epidemic and which will gain in prioritization and specificity over time.  It is currently broadly related to the anticipated UNGASS goals and targets, and will be further refined once these goals are endorsed at UNGASS. The roles and responsibilities of the UN system in general, and individual UN system agencies in particular, with respect to achieving the UNGASS targets, will also be clarified after UNGASS.


39         The UNAIDS Unified Budget and Workplan 2002-2003 (UBW) comprises the combined global and regional HIV-related activities of the UNAIDS Cosponsors and Secretariat, together with the support provided to the UN Country Teams and Theme groups, inter alia, through Country Programme Advisors and Programme Acceleration Funds.  It totals US$378.5 million for the biennium 2002-2003 and consists of three components: (1) a core component of essential programme activities of the Cosponsors and Secretariat (US$190 million) representing 50% of the total budget; (2) the regular budget or general resources of the Cosponsors dedicated to HIV/AIDS (US$68 million) representing 18% of the total budget; and (3) a supplemental component representing additional requirements of the Cosponsors (US$120.5 million), which comprises an additional 32% of the total. 


40            Regarding the US$190 million core component, the distribution is 34% for the Cosponsors; 22% for interagency-managed efforts; 26% for Secretariat-managed activities, and 18% for Secretariat posts. Compared to the last biennium, there is roughly a one-third increase overall, with a 117% increase in the Cosponsor share; a 25% increase in the interagency-managed efforts; and a 16% increase in the Secretariat-managed component, which reflects accounting of extrabudgetary contributions (mainly from the World Bank) as part of the UBW in 2002-2003.  All of the UNAIDS entities have increased the share of their UBW core resources committed to regional efforts. By geographic focus, Europe and the CIS have the smallest share with approximately 7% of the resources, and Africa the largest share with approximately 25% of the total.  Budgetary attributions by functional areas range from 5% for mobilizing resources, to roughly 22% for policy development, and 26% for advocacy—the areas of greatest overall investment within the UBW.  Among the four major components of an expanded response, the allocation is 40% for prevention, 20% for vulnerability reduction, 25% for care and support, and 15% for impact alleviation.  The distribution by areas of work ranges from the largest (26% of the total, for strengthening national strategic planning and coordination) to the smallest (2.7% for cross-cutting themes—human rights, gender, partnership development—which have been mainstreamed into the work of the Cosponsors).  The largest share for a thematic area is in the area of children and young people. 


41         The budget has been constructed to link planned actions with outputs and indicators to measure their implementation. The different budget outputs together contribute to the intermediate outcomes and the UN response, in support of an expanded national response aimed at reducing HIV transmission, vulnerability and impact.  Accountability in the proposed UBW and Strategic Plan is substantially improved by linking specific agency outputs to specific UN-system objectives to the achievement of specific UNGASS goals, impacting on the epidemic.


42         The PCB congratulated the UNAIDS Executive Director, his staff, and the Cosponsors for the clear presentation on the UN Strategic Plan and UBW and for the enormous efforts made to articulate the inputs of UN-system organizations, to place HIV/AIDS on their agendas, and together develop a strategic plan. It urged UNAIDS and other UN-system organizations to continue moving further away from an inventory of activities and to develop an even clearer strategic vision; to prioritize among the goals and outputs; to assign agencies clear responsibilities, including lead responsibilities; to identify more clearly where agencies complement or overlap; and to operationalize the Plan into action that will achieve specific goals as soon as possible.  It further urged the UN-system agencies to ensure greater relevance of their global efforts to country-defined needs, to support the urgent scaling-up of interventions that have proven successful at country level, to mobilize funding rapidly for country action, to strengthen support to national health systems, and to integrate HIV/AIDS issues more completely into various aspects of the work of the agencies at country level, e.g. integrate HIV/AIDS into family planning programmes.  There could also be more work done to link the Strategic Plan and the UBW at the country level, as well as to bilateral activities.


43         Though the UBW clearly describes the financial needs and inputs of the seven Cosponsors of UNAIDS, there is no similar costing done for the other agencies participating in the Strategic Plan, nor is financial distribution to each region clear.  Some PCB members noted the need to maintain flexibility within the strategic objectives for varying regional concerns, as well as the need to encourage cross-fertilization and coordination among the regions.  There is also a need to find appropriate balance among those countries worst impacted and those most vulnerable.  Though the Board made a number of suggestions regarding the improvement of the Strategic Plan, it urged that more time not be spent in revising the document.  Instead, the Plan should be used immediately as a tool to scale up and intensify efforts, and improvements to the Plan should be made through the monitoring and evaluation process as the Plan is implemented. Monitoring and evaluation should focus on what additionality has been achieved as a result of the Plan.


44         The PCB noted that the Strategic Plan should serve as guidance to the UN Theme Groups on HIV/AIDS and suggested that it be disseminated as a comprehensive guidance document to other partners of the international community, such as bilaterals and NGOs, as well as to national programmes. There might be a need to reformulate the document into a more user-friendly format and provide training to enable decision-makers and planners to understand and use the document effectively.


45         PCB members proposed that UN agencies have a dialogue with their governing boards regarding each other’s goals and comparative advantages under the Strategic Plan and UBW, with a view also to improving communication among the agencies. The responsibility among PCB members to ensure that PCB concerns are followed up in the governing boards of the Cosponsors was also recognized.  Regarding authority over budgetary matters reflected in the UBW, it was clarified that the PCB has authority to approve the overall level of the core component, the distribution of the core component by area of work, the overall global and regional distribution levels of the core component, and the overall distribution of the supplemental component. On the other hand, the individual governing bodies of the Cosponsors have authority over the regular budgets of the Cosponsors. While welcoming the results-based budgeting approach, some PCB members noted that staff and activity costs should not be separated in results-based budgets. As regards funding of the budget, the PCB urged governments to indicate their intentions at the earliest possible time.


46         As is the PCB's opinion as well, it was pointed out that there is a clear agreement among the Cosponsors that the priority is to fund the core component of US$190 million first, then to fund the supplemental component. Even though there have been funding shortfalls in the past, the UBW does not appear unrealistic, as there are indications that funding is on the increase, and currently there exists great political momentum. Because some unspent funds may remain from previous years, it will also be possible to have rapid start-up for the next biennium. Though there is no real increase in the budget for the Secretariat, the Secretariat should be able to cope with anticipated demands, as the Cosponsors are taking on a number of its functions. The UBW will provide support to country activities, but will not finance country activities themselves. On the other hand, it is envisioned that the Global Fund will be used entirely to finance country activities.


47         As for operationalizing the Strategic Plan, for the first time there is a clear statement describing the contributions that the various UN agencies can and should make. The Secretary-General plans to continue convening regular heads of agency meetings as follow-up to UNGASS, and there is a working group of Cosponsor representatives to review follow-up activities.  Monitoring will also increase and guide the operationalization of the Strategic Plan and UBW through result-based management.


48         The PCB endorsed the UN System Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS 2001-2005 and approved the Unified Budget and Workplan for 2002-2003.