Why joint programmes?

All SDG Fund programmes are UN joint programmes. Various specialized agencies of the United Nations coordinate with each other and their national partners to create integrated responses to issues. These include nutrition, water access, gender equality and the creation of income generating opportunities for the most vulnerable.

More technically the United Nations Development Group (which gathers all UN development agencies) uses this definition:


 “A Joint Programme is a set of activities contained in a joint work plan and related common budgetary framework, involving two or more UN organizations and (sub-)national governmental partners, intended to achieve results aligned with national priorities as reflected in UNDAF/One Programme or an equivalent programming instrument or development framework. The work plan and budgetary framework form part of a Joint Programme Document, which details roles and responsibilities of partners in coordinating and managing the joint activities. While the Joint Programme arrangement is only between UN organizations, government entities, civil society organizations and the private sector can be engaged as implementing partners, depending on the rules of participating UN organizations”.

UNDG, Guidance Note on Joint Programmes (August, 2014)


Joint programme activities are contained in a common work plan and budget. They help to achieve greater coherence that supports national priorities and needs. They also:
  • Generate integrated responses to complex and multifaceted development challenges. This is the case for example of all the thematic areas established as priorities by the SDG-F. Let’s take the example of food security and nutrition. By working together, UN Agencies and national counterparts’ agriculture, environment, health, education and trade, the solutions can involve small farmers, health centers, food distribution centers, production a food with high amounts of micronutrients, schools. This creates healthier, more informed, newer income opportunities and more empowered women.

  • Generate platforms for dialogue. We have been very surprised how in many occasions our programme committees become the germen of more permanent bodies to promote intersectorial dialogue where national government entities, civil society and UN Agencies are debating common challenges for their countries.

  • Help countriesto coordinate development programmes themselves, among different ministries and at different levels.

Joint programmes also have coordination challenges, which governance and coordination structures are made to address. For a joint programme to succeed, the complementary role of each participant needs to be clear. Also, the number of participating UN agencies in an SDG Fund joint programme is limited to 4.