Credits Photo by Wilson Stratton on Unsplash
Published on July 3, 2024

Best Practice and Lessons Learned from Conducting Joint Programmes in Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau

The Joint Programming Roundtable, held on June 13, 2024, at the FAO Conference Room brought together representatives from various UN agencies of the UN Country Team in Samoa. The roundtable commenced with opening remarks, which highlighted the critical need for enhanced collaboration among UN agencies to meet donor expectations and improve the quality of joint programming efforts. Emphasis was placed on the expectation from donors for UN agencies to work together, especially on topics of mutual interest.

The roundtable discussed global best practices, lessons learned, and specific joint programming initiatives in the region to improve future efforts.  In the closing, emphasis was placed on the importance of applying the insights gained from the roundtable and continuing the dialogue to improve joint programming efforts in the region. Participants were encouraged to collaborate closely and focus on making a tangible impact on the lives of the communities they serve moving forward.

Key Discussions and Insights

Emanating from the discussion were several key insights.  For example, as regards enhancing collaboration, donors expect increased coordination among UN agencies. Joint programs should therefore be designed to align with areas of mutual interest and leverage existing structures within communities.  A highlighted initiative underscored the importance of community engagement and using existing local structures to avoid "reinventing the wheel."

Common challenges in implementation include capacity constraints, non-responsiveness from governments, and complex application processes. Solutions discussed included placing key staff in-country and simplifying procedures.  Non-responsiveness from governments often stems from capacity constraints rather than lack of interest, necessitating a more supportive and understanding approach from UN agencies.

Ensuring the sustainability of joint programs beyond initial funding periods and improving impact measurement and evaluation were emphasized. Engaging local communities and stakeholders was highlighted as critical for success.  Creating advisory groups comprising youth, women, and civil society to provide regular input and feedback on programs were key ideas.

With regards simplifying processes, reducing administrative burdens and streamlining procedures for accessing joint program funds were identified as necessary steps to improve efficiency.  For instance, simplifying application and reporting processes to reduce the workload on agencies and partners.

Enhancing support for local partners and stakeholders through training and capacity-building initiatives were also deemed important.  This could include providing training opportunities to improve their ability to implement and manage joint programs effectively.

Additionally, encouraging a culture of continuous learning by regularly reviewing and sharing lessons learned from joint programming initiatives is crucial.  This could be undertaken through regularly convening forums or workshops to share experiences and insights from ongoing and completed programs.

Key Recommendations to Strengthen Joint Programming

  1. Strengthen Coordination and Communication
    • Improve coordination between UN agencies to enhance the effectiveness of joint programming.
    • Establish regular communication channels and feedback mechanisms to ensure alignment and synergy among agencies.
  2. Adapt Global Best Practices to Local Contexts
    • Tailor joint programming approaches to the unique contexts of Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau.
    • Leverage global best practices while considering local cultural, social, and economic factors.
  3. Enhance Stakeholder Engagement
    • Increase involvement of local communities and stakeholders in the design and implementation of joint programs.
    • Set up advisory groups comprising youth, women, civil society, and other stakeholders to provide regular input and feedback.
  4. Focus on Sustainability and Long-term Impact
    • Develop strategies to ensure the sustainability of joint programs beyond their initial funding periods.
    • Implement robust impact measurement and evaluation processes to inform future programming and secure additional resources.
  5. Simplify Processes and Reduce Bureaucracy
    • Streamline application and reporting processes to reduce the administrative burden on agencies and partners.
    • Simplify procedures for accessing joint program funds and support.
  6. Capacity Building and Support
    • Provide training and capacity-building opportunities for local partners and stakeholders.
    • Enhance support mechanisms for governments and local agencies to improve responsiveness and implementation efficiency.
  7. Continuous Learning and Improvement
    • Foster a culture of continuous learning by regularly reviewing and sharing lessons learned from joint programming initiatives.
    • Encourage innovation and adaptability in program design and implementation.



All joint programs of the Joint SDG Fund are led by UN Resident Coordinators and implemented by the agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations development system. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.