26.07.2018 - UNESCO Venice Office

UNESCO contributes to UN Inter-Agency MAPS Missions in South-East Europe

What Can You Do/SDG 4 Quality Education

In July 2018, the High-Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York reviewed progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals until 2030, including the National Voluntary Reviews of selected countries. Among these countries was Albania, to which the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe recently provided support to facilitate the implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This has included the country’s MAPS Report and a Situation Analysis of Education in Albania. Montenegro presented its National Voluntary Review in 2016 and Serbia foresees to present its own review in 2019.

MAPS, which stands for Mainstreaming, Acceleration, and Policy Support, aims to mobilize and leverage the expertise and comparative advantages of UN agencies and programmes to contribute to human-centred and rights-based sustainable development under the overarching objective “to leave no one behind”.

By examining available data and existing policies and strategies, the MAPS Missions support national governments assess and identify potential areas for UN intervention and critical issues in order to stimulate integrated national policy responses to SDG acceleration with the support of the UN Country Teams. This eventually leads to the forthcoming rollout of the next generation of the UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) per country. The MAPS process is seen as complementary to the process of accession of these countries to the EU.

The MAPS Missions also facilitate the integrated alignment of the SDGs with current key national policy documents (until 2020), and those to be developed by the governments subsequently until 2025 and 2030, such as the National Development Strategies, and strategies per Sector/Line Ministry.

The provisional dashboards are prepared to evaluate and project the degree of likeliness of achieving particular Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Targets until 2030. The dashboards split the results of the analysis into 3 distinctive groups. The highly influential positive targets with a strong potential for breakthroughs have been grouped as “Accelerators”. The persisting stumbling blocks and unresolved problems are selected as “Bottlenecks”.

The targets that may not be achieved at least in the mid-term perspective, but should be addressed as a necessary prerequisite to avoid their deterioration have been characterized as “Enablers”. For example, growing enrolment at universities may be seen as an “Accelerator”, while skills gaps of teachers and obsolete curricula would be defined as "Enablers”. 

In the MAPS process, UNESCO is most actively involved in policy analysis and technical backstopping for SDG 4 - Education 2030 and SDG 5 - Gender equality, and variable country-specific priorities pertaining to culture, environment, climate change, and water in line with SDG 6, 11, 13 and 15. UNESCO staff have contributed to the MAPS Missions in Albania (April 2018) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (May 2018) and will also do so for Serbia (September 2018).

These missions were fact-finding and stocktaking by nature, mutually beneficial for both the governments and the UN Agencies as the most recent in-depth external assessment and evaluation. They have demonstrated that the national context matters and determines the priorities to be addressed in a long-term perspective within the UNDAFs case by case.

Such missions help identify the degree of alignment of the national strategies with the SDG Targets and Indicators and related data gaps. In the national statistical systems, the disaggregated indicators usually already cover the issues of gender disparities but will require further development for specific target groups, such as ethnic minorities, disability, homeless people, refugees and migrants.

For social sectors, such as Education and Culture, national averages typically present a stable and adequate picture but may hide considerable urban-rural disparities and a lack of attention to vulnerable groups, such as, for instance, orphans. Despite the low or zero demographic growth in these countries, the social sectors face underfunding for structural reforms and investments in quality improvements, such as teacher training, curriculum review and updating and major school repairs and equipment.  

Recommendations for capacity-building programmes will be an integral part of the follow-up to the MAPS Missions in order to sustain the momentum and ensure further synergies between the catalytic role of the UN system and the evolving training needs of the government staff.    

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