2.2.1 Introduction to Corporate Planning


Strategic planning is a fundamental organizational management activity that is used to set priorities; focus energy and resources; ensure that management, staff various offices within the organization and other stakeholders are working toward common goals; establish agreement around intended results; and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. It is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future. Effective strategic planning articulates not only where an organization is going and the actions needed to make progress, but also how it will know if it is successful.

In UN-Habitat, the strategic plan provides the (i) strategic setting; (ii) overarching vision, (iii) strategic results to be achieved, (iv) areas of focus, and (v) implementation strategies, that will guide its work for a period of six years.

The Governing Council in 2005 requested UN-Habitat to develop a strategic plan to sharpen its programmatic focus in critical areas. The first strategic plan, the Medium-Term Strategic and Institutional Plan (MTSIP) for 2008-2013 was developed in 2007, and a subsequent strategic plan for 2014-2019 was developed by the Agency and approved by the Governing Council in 2013.

UN-Habitat’s planning process therefore starts with a six-year strategic plan. In order to align the strategic plan with the planning cycle of the UN Secretariat which uses biennial strategic frameworks as the main policy document, UN-Habitat implements the strategic plan in a rolling manner, with three consecutive strategic frameworks and work programme and budgets.

In practice, three consecutive biennial strategic frameworks are derived from the strategic plan. For example, from the strategic plan 2014-2019 are derived the strategic frameworks 2014-2015, 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.

Each biennial strategic framework leads to a corresponding biennial work programme and budget (WP&B). As in the example in figure 9, there are three work programmes and budgets 2014-2015, 2016-2017 and 2018-2019.

Finally, each biennial WP&B leads to 2 annual work plans. For example, from the WP&B 2014 - 2015 will be derived the 2014 and 2015 annual work plans.

The strategic plan, the strategic frameworks, the work programmes and budgets, and the annual plans are all presented along UN-Habitat’s seven (7) focus areas or subprogrammes; namely:

  • Subprogramme 1: Urban Legislation, Land and Governance
  • Subprogramme 2: Urban Planning and Design
  • Subprogramme 3: Urban Economy and Municipal Finance
  • Subprogramme 4: Urban Basic Services
  • Subprogramme 5: Housing and Slum Upgrading
  • Subprogramme 6: Risk Reduction and Rehabilitation
  • Subprogramme 7: Urban Research and Capacity Development

The seven subprogrammes are jointly implemented by seven corresponding thematic branches and 4 regional offices under a matrix structure13.

Figure 11: Delivering the Strategic Plan

13 See UN-Habitat organizational structure in annex 1




2.2.2 Strategic Planning


The UN-Habitat Strategic Plan is a six-year document that constitutes the overarching framework providing the vision, mission, goal and strategic direction of the organization. The preparation of the strategic plan at UN-Habitat includes the following steps:

  1. Selecting a team
  2. Preparing a concept note
  3. Communicating with staff about the preparation of the strategic plan
  4. Conducting a situation analysis (Where are we now and what are the trends?)
  5. Defining an identity/assessing UN-Habitat’s identity (Who are we?)
  6. Defining the future (Where do we want to be? What are our priorities and results?)
  7. Defining strategies (How do we get there? What are the risks and assumptions? How much will it cost?)
  8. Defining performance tracking mechanism (How do we measure progress?)

Step 1: Selecting a team

The strategic planning exercise is led by the Executive Director of UN-Habitat (ED). The ED is responsible for establishing a diverse and inclusive strategic planning team, including a chair.

The strategic planning team should be kept to a manageable number that allows representation from a diverse cross-section of UN-Habitat staff and representatives of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) (Member States) if need be, but not too large as to impede the ability of the team to operate effectively. The team should represent Senior Management Board and other core functions.

Step 2: Preparing a concept note or a roadmap

One of the first tasks of the strategic planning team is to develop a concept note and roadmap that defines the strategic planning process and stages, responsibilities, timeframe and communication plan. The team also prepares the terms of reference for a facilitator, preferably a trained professional who has no vested interests in the outcome of the plan, and is therefore less likely to be intimidated or become partial. An impartial third party can concentrate on the process instead of the end result and can ask the tough questions that others may be afraid to ask.

Step 3: Communicating with staff about the preparation of the strategic plan

A strategic plan is an organization-wide process and staff at all levels must be involved and contribute. For this reason, the ED should communicate with all the staff, through town hall meetings and regular memos on the preparation of the strategic plan; including on channels available to all staff to contribute to the development of the plan (e.g. email, intranet, posters, etc.). Open and free discussion regardless of each person’s position within the organization should be encouraged.

Step 4: Conducting a situation analysis (Where are we now and what are the trends?)

Before an organization attempts to chart its future course, it must first determine where it currently stands. It must gauge conditions both inside and outside the organization in order to plan ahead.

At UN-Habitat, an internal/external assessment supports the “Where are we now and what are the trends?” stage of the strategic planning process. It provides a baseline assessment of the organization. Further, extending the internal/external assessment by anticipating the evolution of current conditions and identifying emerging issues and trends (also known as “foresight”), lays the groundwork for the “Where do we want to be? What are our priorities and results?” stage of the strategic planning process.

By gaining a thorough understanding of both internal and external factors, senior managers and planners in UN-Habitat are better able to position the organization to respond to beneficiaries’ needs in the areas of sustainable urban development.

Typically, guided by the facilitator, both senior managers and staff are involved in collecting and analyzing the data to enhance their understanding of the organization. Inputs should also be sought from Member States (e.g. through the UN-Habitat Committee of Permanent Representatives), strategic and key partners, beneficiary communities and other stakeholders.

Internal/external assessment involves:

  • Situation Inventory - An assessment of UN-Habitat’s position, performance, problems, and potential.
  • Environmental Scan - An analysis of key external elements or forces that affect the environment in which UN-Habitat functions.

To lead into the “Where do we want to be? What are our priorities and results?” part of the planning process, the internal/external assessment is supported by:

  • Foresight - Explicit efforts should be made to systematically identify, monitor, and analyze long-term trends and issues that are likely to affect UN-Habitat’s future environment of operations. It also examines the implications those trends and issues may have for alternative organizational goals and potential actions.
  • Problem Analysis - An identification and analysis of strategic issues—problems or concerns of critical importance to UN-Habitat and its beneficiaries and other stakeholders.

It does not matter whether the internal situation inventory or the external environmental scan is done first, as long as both are done. Foresight and problem analysis should be ongoing at some level in the organization. However, both play a particularly important role during the strategic planning process and should therefore be formally undertaken.

(a) Situation inventory - How to conduct a situation inventory

A situation inventory is an assessment of UN-Habitat’s position, performance, results, problems, and potential. It identifies strengths and weaknesses and evaluates authority and capacity to respond to issues, problems, and opportunities. It identifies beneficiaries and their needs and expectations. It also reveals the paradigms (patterns or beliefs) and values that comprise the organization’s current philosophy and drive (or disrupt) current operations; it throws light on administrative or managerial policies and procedures that help or inhibit performance. A situation inventory should accurately reflect UN-Habitat’s internal situation.

A situation inventory is a team exercise. Senior management, with support from the facilitator, and input from the planning officers, should design the method (e.g. survey, focus group, etc.) to be used in conducting an internal assessment. Managers and staff should be involved in the collection and analysis of information. They must be briefed thoroughly beforehand regarding the assessment and its purpose, and how the information gathered during the assessment will be used.

Generally, a situation inventory includes meetings in which managers and staff, with the help of the facilitator, work through a series of exercises and questions designed to assess the organization’s internal condition and capacity. Senior management may opt to conduct an employee survey. However, the key to a successful internal assessment is thorough preparation and communication.

The situation inventory is the first time that many staff, and even some managers, become involved actively in the strategic planning process. So this may be their first opportunity to express any doubts or complaints they may harbor about the process. To help prepare participants for the situation inventory, be sure to let them know ahead of time about the purpose of the internal assessment and how it fits into the complete strategic planning process. Garnering input from managers and staff for the design of assessment methods can also expedite the actual assessment exercise.

Specifically, a situation inventory responds to the following questions:

  1. Who are UN-Habitat’s beneficiaries and stakeholders?
  2. Where has UN-Habitat been programmatically?
  3. Where is UN-Habitat now?
  4. What opportunities for positive change exist?
  5. What are UN-Habitat’s strengths and weaknesses?

These questions can be part of a survey, or can be discussed in meetings carried out as part of the situation inventory process.

(b) Environmental scan - How to scan the external environment

UN-Habitat does not operate in a vacuum. To carry out its mission, UN-Habitat must function within an external environment that often exerts forces over which the organization has little control. Further, that operating environment (internal and external) may be subject to frequent shifts or changes.

An environmental scan is an analysis of key external elements or forces that influence the environment in which UN-Habitat functions. Scanning provides an essential backdrop for both strategic planning and policy development. An environmental scan looks at the current operating environment and, combined with foresight methodologies, anticipates changes in the future environment. An environmental scan looks at both the internal and external environment and responds to the following types of questions, which should be customized by senior management and planning officers depending on the context.

(c) Foresight - Why and how to foresee or anticipate change

The environment in which UN-Habitat operates is changing rapidly. For example, demographic shifts, economic swings, technological innovations, and changing social values and lifestyles require alterations to UN-Habitat’s policies and strategies for contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the New Urban Agenda and achieving lasting results. To avoid crisis management and wasted resources, the Executive Director must be able to anticipate issues, problems, and opportunities. Foresight leads to better decision making, policy development, and strategic planning. To decide where UN-Habitat wants to be in the future, it helps to have an idea of what the future operating environment will be.

Foresight involves explicit efforts to systematically identify, monitor, and analyze long-term trends and issues that are likely to affect UN-Habitat’s future environment and to examine the implications those trends and issues may have for alternative organization goals and possible organization actions.

Foresight methods often involve one or more of the following: (i) issue identification, (ii) trends analysis, (iii) futures programmes, and (iv) alternative futures.

  1. Issue or problem identification uses methods to identify policy issues that are likely to occur in the future. It is usually associated with scanning activities. Scanning is a periodic and systematic assessment of the social, political, economic, and physical external environment, with an eye for changes that may affect the organization over time.
  2. Trends analysis, which is often used in demographic, economic, technological, and social forecasting, analyzes trends and attempts to project future developments. Trends analysis is more statistically oriented than other foresight methods.
  3. A futures programme usually starts by identifying a preferred future and working its way backward to identify the means necessary to bring about that future. This generally results in a broad policy framework or strategic plan that drives more detailed strategic and/or operational plans. Futures programmes are often linked to a highly visible date or event (for example, a major upcoming event or forum such as the World Urban Forum).
  4. Alternative futures is a method that uses scenario building to investigate possible or probable future paths. It allows managers to simulate various future conditions and explore the probable outcomes of various courses of action. For example, linked with trends analysis, different scenarios could project futures with “if the trends continue” (a reactive approach) or “if we alter the trends” (a proactive approach) alternatives. In difficult financial times, organizations might construct scenarios reflecting different levels of funding.

(d) Problem analysis - How to analyze issues/problems

Environmental scanning and foresight activities allow management to: (i) anticipate emerging policy issues; (ii) identify unanticipated side effects of proposed policy; (iii) understand emerging trends and crossover effects of policies; (iv) support accountability (oversight and evaluation); and (v) identify and involve relevant stakeholders.

Before an issue can be addressed, it must be analyzed or diagnosed. That is, the facts must be determined. This involves the following:

  1. Define the issue or problem and determine its parameters.
  2. Understand who is affected by the issue or problem and how they are affected.
  3. Determine how serious and immediate the issue or problem is.
  4. Project future trends for the issue or problem.
  5. Determine the underlying causes of the issue or problem; identify and verify the key cause(s).
  6. Assign a priority relative to other concerns.
  7. Use the information generated by the situation inventory, environmental scan, foresight and problem analysis.

The key purpose of this analysis is to try and ensure that ‘root causes’ and not just the symptoms of the problem(s), are identified and subsequently addressed as part of the strategic plan process. A clear and comprehensive problem analysis provides a sound foundation on which to develop a set of relevant and focused objectives.

Problem Tree analysis

One main tool used in problem analysis is the “problem tree”, a simplified example of which is shown in annex 3. Important points to note about using the problem tree tool are:

  • There are two main approaches that can be used to help give focus to the problem analysis, namely: (i) the ‘focal problem’ method, through which the group brainstorms on development problems (or constraints). With this method, a focal problem is identified, and the cause and effect analysis then pivots around the focal problem; (ii) the ‘objectives oriented’ method, whereby a broad or high-level development objective is specified at the start of the analysis, and constraints to achieving this objective are then brainstormed, analyzed and sorted into a cause-and-effect logic. Both approaches are equally valid, and which approach to use is largely up to individual preference and circumstances.
  • Ideally, problem analysis should be undertaken as a group activity involving stakeholders who can contribute relevant technical and local knowledge. A workshop environment is an appropriate forum for developing problem trees, analyzing the results, and proposing solutions.
  • It may be appropriate to undertake a number of separate problem analysis exercises with different stakeholder groups, to help determine different perspectives and how priorities vary.
  • One should not necessarily expect full consensus among stakeholders on what the priority problems are or what the causality of these problems is.
  • It is important to recognize that the problem tree diagram—however it is produced—should provide a simplified but nevertheless robust version of reality. If it is too complicated, it is likely to be less useful in providing direction to subsequent steps in the analysis.

Before starting work on preparing a problem tree:

  • Clarify the scope of the investigation or analysis. You will not want, or be able, to deal with a limitless range of problems. This information should thus help identify either an appropriate objective, or focal problem, to help give focus to the problem tree analysis.
  • Inform yourself further. Collect and review existing background information on the main issue(s) of concern. Are you clear what the main issues are, or are likely to be?
  • Identify the relevant stakeholder group(s). Who needs to be involved?

The following main steps should be followed in conducting a problem tree analysis:

  1. Identifying and listing the main problems
    • Explain the purpose of the exercise and the context within which it is taking place. Explain the problem tree method and the input expected from the participants. Provide some examples of the cause and effect relationship before starting, emphasizing the importance of identifying root causes.
    • Using contributions from the group, list all the negative statements about the situation you are analyzing. This can be undertaken as a brainstorming session.
    • Print each problem statement in clear language on a card and display this on some suitable wall space.
  2. Identifying core problems
    • Through discussions, identify a core problem on which all can agree - the one(s) which appear to be linked to the most negative statements.
    • Print a precise definition of the core problem on a card (if the existing statement requires further clarification).
    • Display the card on a wall (or on the floor) so that the whole group can clearly see it.
  3. Identifying cause and effect
    • Begin to distribute the negative statement cards according to whether they are ‘causes’, i.e. leading to the core problem, or ‘effects’, i.e. resulting from the core problem. Do this until all causes are below the core problem and all effects are above the core problem. At any stage in the exercise, those statements that are considered to be unclear should either be more clearly specified or discarded. Problems that are clear but very general in nature and which affect not only the core issue, but would apply to almost any development problem, can be treated as ‘overall constraints’ and moved to the side of the main problem tree. This helps keep the core problem tree focused and manageable. You can be guided in this by considering whether or not the problem is likely to be one that can be addressed by an activity-based solution. If not, it is a constraint.
    • Then the guiding questioning for further structuring the statements into a problem tree becomes “What leads to that?” Choose any negative statement printed as a problem on the cards and ask: “What leads to that?” Then select from the cards the most likely cause of the problem, and place it below the chosen statement.
    • If there are two or more causes combining to produce an effect, place them side by side below the resulting effect.
    • After you have placed the card or cards for each relationship, pause to review. Then ask the group if there are more causes leading to that problem.
    • Similarly you must ask if there are any more effects resulting from that problem.
    • If there are multiple effects resulting from a cause, place them side by side and above the cause(s).
  4. Checking the logic
    • At each stage you should invite participants to move the cards, i.e. to suggest or hypothesize other relationships.
    • When you have placed all cards, review the structure to ensure that related streams of cause and effect are close to each other on the problem diagram.
    • Choose one of the cards at the top line of your Problem Tree, then work back through the diagram according to the guiding question: “What leads to, or causes, that?” in order to check the logic or completeness of your cause-effect structure.
  5. Drafting the problem tree diagram
    • Draw vertical links to show cause-effect relationships, and horizontal links to show joint causes and combined effects;
    • Copy your diagram onto a sheet of paper and distribute it for further comment and variations within an appropriate time period.
  6. Dealing with overall constraints

Overarching development problems that are identified during the analysis, but cannot be addressed directly should be taken out of the main problem tree diagram and considered as overall constraints. These overall constraints should then be considered as part of the risks and assumptions analysis undertaken later in the process.

Summarizing the outcome of the situation analysis

At several points during the strategic planning process, senior managers and staff review and analyze the information generated by the internal/external assessment. The information gathered is ultimately presented in a report, including a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) matrix; as well as a synthesis section on trends and emerging priorities. Whatever format is used, the report should be concise.

Through the situation inventory, environmental scan, foresight and problem analysis, senior managers and staff of UN-Habitat should have a thorough understanding of the internal and external factors affecting the organization. They should also have identified any strategic issues and priorities that merit special emphasis.

The final results of the internal/external assessment inform the other phases of the strategic planning process. The information revealed during the assessment is also valuable for implementing quality management efforts, developing budget requests, conducting programme evaluations, and preparing for audits.

The assessment should be reviewed or repeated when revising and updating the strategic plan. Foresight efforts should remain ongoing, even if they are informal rather than institutionalized. Staying aware of environmental conditions and emerging issues helps UN-Habitat avoid being blindsided by events or problems.


Step 5: Defining an identity/reviewing UN-Habitat’s identity (Who are we?)

In the context of the strategic planning process, UN-Habitat senior managers and staff must take a critical look at the identity of the organization before projecting the organization into the future, by reviewing and adjusting as necessary the vision, mission and philosophy of the organization based on the findings and conclusions of the internal/external assessment.

The vision, mission, and philosophy (values) comprise the “identity” of UN-Habitat —its “uniqueness.” Organizational identity is more than a name, logo, or line of business. It denotes the unique capabilities and characteristics of the organization (the special mix of knowledge, skills, experience, expertise, and even attitude) that distinguish it and determine its ability to achieve lasting results.


Strategic planning links organizational identity to productive potential; it pinpoints what the organization does well and what it does not. Identity reveals information about the character of the organization and provides the glue that binds the parts of an organization together to form a whole.

Senior managers with support from the facilitator take the lead in identifying and expressing the uniqueness of UN-Habitat. However, organizational identity reflects the values and ideas of the whole organization. Senior managers should therefore seek and weigh the opinions and perceptions of all staff as well as external stakeholders. For that reason, the findings of the internal/external environmental scan are important, before undertaking the vision-mission-philosophy components of the strategic planning process.

(a) Vision: A compelling conceptual image of the desired future

The vision focuses on what the organization wants to achieve in a way that motivates the organization toward its attainment. It is the inspiration for all other components of the planning process. It is a vision of, and for success and results. The vision symbolizes UN-Habitat’s future. It is a critical ingredient for change.


It represents a global, continual purpose for the organization. It is the ultimate standard toward which progress and results are measured. Its structure is less important than its effect on the values and behavior of every member of the organization.

How to assess/create the vision of UN-Habitat

Crafting a great vision is a leadership challenge. In fact, it can be argued that crafting an organization’s vision for change—and then empowering staff to achieve that vision—is management’s most important contribution to the achievement of excellence and results.

However, a great vision is conceived through partnership between senior managers and those who will be living with the vision. UN-Habitat’s vision incorporates values and ideals of all staff in Headquarters, Regional, Country and Liaison Offices.

By sharing the vision, management and staff members establish shared ownership of the overall vision as well as a commitment to the fulfillment of that vision.

Reviewing or crafting a vision of UN-Habitat takes into account the following:

  • What are our aspirations? What is our ideal future?
  • What overall results do we want to accomplish?
  • What legacy do we wish to leave?
  • What will UN-Habitat be like in the future?
  • How do we wish to be known by our stakeholders?
  • How will we enhance the quality of life for those who use our services/products?

UN-Habitat’s vision statement covers the lifetime of the strategic plan and may even extend beyond the time frame of the plan. The vision statement should be:

  • Brief and memorable
  • Inspiring and challenging
  • Descriptive of the ideal
  • Descriptive of future accomplishments or service levels
  • Appealing to everyone in the organization and to beneficiaries and other stakeholders

Other examples of vision statements:


“UNICEF is the driving force that helps build a world where the rights of every child are realized.”


“To help countries achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion” (2014-2017 Strategic Plan).

(b) Mission: A broad, comprehensive statement of purpose

The mission identifies what UN-Habitat does and for whom. That is, it describes UN-Habitat’s services and products and its beneficiaries. The mission is all encompassing and rarely changes.

The mission statement should be written to answer the following questions:

  1. What is our name?
  2. What do we do?
  3. For whom do we do it?
  4. Why are UN-Habitat’s resources devoted to this effort?

A well-written mission statement:

  1. Identifies purpose but not process. It describes the overall reason for the existence of the organization, as established by relevant mandate and resolutions.
  2. Identifies beneficiaries of the organization or users of the organization’s products or services.
  3. Identifies the services or products provided by the organization to meet the needs of its beneficiaries and other stakeholders. It helps identify the needs or expectations of stakeholders
  4. Is clear and succinct.

In defining UN-Habitat’s mission, the following tasks should be completed:

  1. Identify the organization’s purpose. Why does UN-Habitat exist? What problems or needs was UN-Habitat created to address? Why are public resources devoted to this endeavor? What functions or services are or should be provided by UN-Habitat? What mandates have been assigned to UN-Habitat? Is UN-Habitat carrying out all mandated or authorized programmes?
  2. Identify the organization’s beneficiaries and other stakeholders. For whom does the organization carry out its functions? Who receives or benefits from the services provided by the organization? Are there other stakeholders?
  3. Review and revise existing mission statements and draft new statements as appropriate..

Other examples of mission statements:


UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect.”

World Bank

“The World Bank Group aims to fight poverty with passion and professionalism for lasting results - to help people help themselves and their environments by producing resources, sharing knowledge, building capacity, and forging partnerships in the public and private sector”.

(c) Philosophy: Core values defining how the organization conducts itself in carrying out its mission.

Philosophy defines the way in which UN-Habitat does business. It summarizes the operating principles or core values that will be utilized in fulfillment of the vision and mission. It characterizes UN-Habitat’s corporate culture and is part of its organizational identity.

Expressing an organization’s philosophy is essential to planning because the philosophy lays a foundation of principles or beliefs to support the vision and mission. A worthy vision must be guided by an equally worthy philosophy. Principles or values expressed in a philosophy serve as a test or criteria for judging the quest for excellence; they guide decisions, choices, and the selection of strategies. Principles are of no use unless they are implemented; but when they are implemented, they can be powerful instruments for changing organizational culture and motivating staff members.

How to express the philosophy

Describing UN-Habitat’s philosophy (core values) presents another challenge for management. Not only should the philosophy reflect the values and principles of the senior management but it should address organization-wide values and assumptions as well. The philosophy should be compatible, comfortable, and convincing for everyone within UN-Habitat, as well as for Member States and other stakeholders.

There is a great deal of leeway in the articulation of organization philosophy. Length and format may vary. Sometimes philosophies are expressed in terms of responsibilities—an organization’s responsibilities to its beneficiaries, its staff members, its environment and its stakeholders. Sometimes philosophy is expressed in terms of quality or excellence in management and services.

A well-written philosophy statement should:

  1. Express principles, core values, or fundamental beliefs in clear, decisive language
  2. Express basic beliefs about the conditions under which people work best
  3. Support systems and processes that will help make the vision a reality

Generally, the best statements of philosophy express the organization’s attitude and values about three things:

  1. People: the way in which people inside and outside the organization—staff and beneficiaries—are treated.
  2. Process: the way in which the organization is managed, decisions are made, and products or services are produced.
  3. Performance: expectations concerning the quality of the organization’s products and services.

Other example of philosophy statements:

World Bank

“Fighting poverty”

Step 6: Defining the future (Where do we want to be? What are our priorities and results?)

Goals and strategic results make up the “Where do we want to be? What are our priorities and results?” part of the strategic planning process. Goals establish the direction in which UN-Habitat is heading in order to achieve its mandates; strategic results identify milestones along the course. Both are inspired by UN-Habitat’s vision, mindful of the organization’s mission and philosophy, and based on the organization’s current internal situation and external operating environment, as well as projections of future conditions.

(a) Goal: The general end result toward which effort is directed

The formulation of goals is one of the most critical aspects of the strategic planning process. Goals are broad statements that describe desired outcomes for UN-Habitat. They stretch and challenge the organization, but they are realistic and achievable. They chart direction—show where the organization is going—and point toward a desired destination. However, they do not set specific milestones or determine ways to get there.

How to set UN-Habitat’s goal

Characteristics of a goal

  • The goal is in harmony with and clarifies or amplifies UN-Habitat’s vision, mission, and philosophy. The goal is aligned with UN-Habitat’s mandates.
  • The goal charts a clear course and points to a particular destination but does not determine specific ways to get there. The goal addresses policies and priorities but not strategies.
  • The goal provides a framework for the rest of the strategic planning process. It guides the formulation of strategic results and the development of effective strategies to achieve those results.
  • The goal reflects the results of the internal/external assessment and is developed in response to strategic issues or critical success factors.
  • The goal encompasses a relatively long period of time. As a general rule of thumb, the goal is for the lifetime of the strategic plan and may have such a long time frame that it continues into subsequent plan updates.
  • The goal tends to remain essentially unchanged until a shift in the environment under which it was created occurs.
  • The goal is challenging but realistic and achievable. It reflects positive change.

Tips for setting goals

  • Hold a goal-setting session away from the everyday activities of the office. Go on retreat if possible. If it is not possible to get out of the office, go to a quiet, comfortable area and do not allow interruptions.
  • Use the information gathered during the internal/external assessment to support goal setting. Like policy development, goal setting should be grounded in fact and based on reliable information.
  • Verify that the goal is within UN-Habitat’s mandate.

(b) Priorities or Focus areas

After determining the goal of the organization, the next process is to determine the key priority areas of the organization. This is a serious undertaking that involves an intense and iterative process (through meetings, workshops, etc.) during which there are reviews, discussions and decisions on programmatic priorities that will best address the global challenges affecting human settlements, especially chaotic urbanization. This process is informed by UN-Habitat’s mandates, the situation analysis, the organization’s competitive advantage, outcomes of evaluations and reviews, emerging issues, etc. For the strategic plan for 2014-2019, the following seven priorities or focus areas were identified:

  • Focus area 1 - Urban Legislation, Land and Governance: aims at fostering equitable sustainable urban development through the formulation and adoption of enabling legislation, increased access to land, and strengthening of systems of decentralized governance for improved safety and service delivery.
  • Focus area 2 - Urban Planning and Design: aims at improving policies, plans and designs for more compact, better integrated and connected, socially inclusive and climate-resilient cities.
  • Focus area 3 - Urban Economy and Municipal Finance: aims at improving urban strategies and policies that promote inclusive economic growth, livelihoods and enhanced municipal finance.
  • Focus area 4 - Urban Basic Services: aims at increasing equitable access to urban basic services and improving the standard of living of the urban poor.
  • Focus area 5 - Housing and Slum Upgrading: aims at improving access to sustainable, inclusive, adequate housing and improved standard of living in slums.
  • Focus area 6 - Risk Reduction, Rehabilitation and Urban Resilience: aims at increasing the resilience of cities to the impacts of natural and human-made crises, and undertaking rehabilitation in ways that advance sustainable urban development.
  • Focus area 7 - Urban Research and Capacity Development: aims at improving knowledge on sustainable urbanization issues and capacity for implementation of evidence-based policies and programmes at national, local and global levels.

After the priorities or focus areas are agreed upon and endorsed by key stakeholders, (e.g. senior management and Member States through the CPR), the next stage is to clearly articulate the overall strategic result for the entire strategic plan, and then determine what each priority or focus area is about. This is a highly participatory exercise that requires inclusion of as many staff members as possible to determine what this strategic result should be.

The process should commence with orientation on results-based management, including the process of developing a results chain to ensure that everyone participating in the process understands what results are, and what a strategic result is. Participants also need to have in-depth knowledge of the substantive areas on which they are working. With the facilitator, experts on RBM from the Quality Assurance Unit support and guide the process.

(c) Strategic result or objective: a specific and measurable target for accomplishment

A strategic result is the highest level of result sought by UN-Habitat. It includes the degree or type of change and a timetable for its accomplishment. In contrast to the goal (which is a broad, general statement of long-range intention), strategic results are specific, quantifiable, time-bound statements of outcomes. As such, strategic results represent milestones or intermediate achievements necessary to realize the goal. Strategic results complete the “Where do we want to be? What are our priorities and results?” part of the planning process.

How to formulate strategic results

Strategic results are a required strategic plan component. In UN-Habitat strategic results or objectives are set both at programme and focus area levels.

Characteristics of Strategic Results

Well-written strategic results are SMART. That is, they are:

  • Specific: strategic results reflect specific accomplishments that are desired, not ways to accomplish them. All strategic results should be capable of generating specific strategies or actions. A strategic result should also be detailed enough to be understandable and give clear direction to others.
  • Measurable: a strategic result must be measurable in order to determine when it has been achieved.
  • Attainable: strategic results should challenge, but not demand the impossible. They should state what can reasonably be achieved, given available resources.
  • Realistic: strategic results should target results or outcomes, not ways to accomplish them.
  • Time-bound: A time frame for meeting strategic results should be specified. Each strategic result should be attainable within a reasonable time period--certainly within the span of the strategic plan.

When formulating strategic results:

  1. Review the organization’s mission and goal. Be sure the purpose is clear; all stakeholders are identified; and the intent of goals is understood.
  2. Be sure that you understand the internal and external factors affecting UN-Habitat. Review information generated during the internal/external assessment for:
    • What are UN-Habitat’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
    • What are the most critical issues that must be addressed?
    • What are UN-Habitat’s mandates?
    • What are the needs and expectations of Member States?
  3. Decide what results you want:
    • How do UN-Habitat’s activities or processes work? What can be improved?
    • What is our baseline performance level? What benchmarks exist? How much room for improvement is there?
    • What specific outcome(s) do we hope to achieve? Is this realistic? What variables or factors may influence the outcome?
    • Are specific levels of achievement already mandated by governing bodies? Do service standards exist?
    • Are proposed results consistent with the United Nations policies, values, and priorities?
  4. Set a time frame for achievement of results:
    • What is a reasonable period of time for achieving the desired results?
    • How critical is immediate action? What are the opportunities to act now versus later? What are the consequences of action now versus action later?
    • Are specific time frames or deadlines already mandated by governing bodies?
  5. Build in accountability. As you set objectives, think about how you will measure progress toward those objectives.
  6. Keep records related to the formulation of strategic results. Each strategic plan must include, where applicable, a description of any programme evaluations used to develop strategic results and an identification of the primary persons who will benefit from, or be significantly affected by, each strategic result within the plan. This information should have been obtained in the internal/external assessment. It is part of the process documentation that accompanies the strategic plan and is subject to performance audit.

Step 7: Defining strategies (the “How do we get there?” part of the process)

To achieve results, it is not enough to know where UN-Habitat wants to be; it is fundamental to know how to get there. Strategies make up the “How do we get there?” part of the strategic planning process. Strategies indicate how strategic results and expected accomplishments will be achieved. Essentially, a strategy deploys resources to achieve specific outcomes addressing Member States’ needs, service delivery, and/or mitigation or resolution of public issues and problems.

Strategies are the methods used to accomplish goals, strategic results and expected accomplishments. To achieve strategic results, UN-Habitat must select specific courses of action or build strategies. Strategies are concepts for leveraging and generating success. They are directed toward the accomplishment of specific outcomes (expected accomplishment); they exist for that purpose. Strategies bridge the gap between goals and strategic results, and expected accomplishments and outputs that are delivered in order to achieve those goals and strategic results.

In UN-Habitat, development of strategies for achieving the focus area strategic results is a heavily participatory process that includes subject matter experts, senior management and other staff. They discuss what the key role of the focus area will be and what it will focus on in order to achieve the strategic result. Experts on each of the focus areas prepare policy papers on each of them, and these form the basis of the discussions and brainstorming.

Successful strategy building incorporates:

  • Reality and reasonableness: Strategies do not represent wishful thinking but make reasonable assumptions based on solid data.
  • Self-awareness: Strategy builders are cognizant of how well or how poorly their current strategies perform; use metrics to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of processes; and have their finger on the pulse of internal capacity and the external operating environment.
  • Awareness of similar programmes: Strategy builders incorporate knowledge of how similar UN agencies work. They use benchmarking to identify best practices and think about how that information can be used to improve their own strategies.
  • Emphasis on action, execution, and follow-through: Strategies do not fall victim to “analysis paralysis”—over-thinking and under-doing.
  • Willingness to change and/or take risks: Strategy builders are willing to challenge the status quo, take on “sacred cows,” abandon a current strategy or initiate an innovative new one when clear evidence supports that change, and tolerate risk taking. Of course, tolerance of risk taking must be a part of UN-Habitat’s corporate culture if innovation is to occur.
  • Diverse thinking: Strategy builders are not a homogeneous group. Strategies are not viewed through the same lens; diverse opinions and points of view are sought.
  • Inclusiveness and perspective: Strategy building involves the right people throughout the organization at the right time. Organizational silos are overcome. The “big picture” is maintained even while separate programmes and projects contemplate their individual strategies. Ultimately, all programme and project strategies work together to achieve organization-wide goals and strategic results.

How to build strategies

In UN-Habitat strategy building involves research, analysis, and prioritization. Strategy options or alternatives may be identified and compared through:

  1. Brainstorming how to achieve expected accomplishments: Free-flowing discussions generate innovative ideas, identify opportunities for coordination and cooperation, and encourage innovative approaches.
  2. Researching what works: Benchmarking, for example, identifies “best practices” and how they got to be that way. Senior managers and key staff members may already have an idea of what works and what does not. Issue scanning may have pinpointed innovative approaches in both the public and private sectors.
  3. Evaluating what is already in place: The situation inventory portion of the internal/external assessment should have identified what UN-Habitat is doing well, where improvements are needed, and organizational strengths and weaknesses. Programme evaluations, internal audits, and performance audits should also be used to review current strategies.

Strategy building is a decision-making process; and good decisions are based on good information. Use the information generated during the internal/external assessment, including any alternative future scenarios developed through foresight, to build strategies. Before a decision is made regarding the course of action that will be taken, each alternative must be weighed. To analyze the merits of alternative strategies, the following questions need to be considered:

  • Is this strategy being used currently or has it been used in the past? If so, how successful has it been? How do we know? Why should we continue or re-implement this strategy?
  • If a new strategy is implemented, is it plausible to assume that the expected accomplishments and strategic result will be reached? How do we know? Has this strategy been successful in other UN agencies or private sector organizations? What assumptions must hold true in order for the strategy to be effective?
  • What are the anticipated costs and benefits of this strategy?
  • How does this strategy address the needs and expectations of Member States?
  • Will this strategy have a positive or negative impact on any other strategic result or strategy? Is it dependent upon the implementation of other strategies?
  • Do we have the mandate to take this action?
  • Do we have the resources (personnel, financial, physical facilities, training, hardware, software, other equipment, funding, etc.) required to implement this strategy? If not, how will we obtain the resources? Can we reallocate resources within the organization? Can we raise funds?
  • Are we organized to act on this strategy? If not, what changes must be made? How long will they take?
  • What is the time frame for this strategy? Is it currently ongoing? If not, when would it be implemented and how long would it last? How does the time frame for this particular strategy relate to the time frames for other strategies? Are there priorities or particular sequences for implementation?

Compare alternative strategies on these factors, then select and prioritize the strategies that will be used to achieve the goal and strategic results. However, prepare to be flexible after the strategic plan is operationalized. If strategies prove to be more or less successful than anticipated, be prepared to revisit and revise strategies. If unanticipated consequences or situations arise, be flexible enough to react in a timely fashion—minimizing damage or maximizing an opportunity.

With the completion of strategies—after the identification of the goal, strategic results, mission and vision—what is termed a “strategic choice” will have been made for the next six years of UN-Habitat’s contribution to the sustainable urban development process.


Figure 12: Pyramid of strategic choice


Step 8: Tracking progress (how do we measure progress?)

Step 8.a. The results framework

Results frameworks are an explicit articulation (graphic display, matrix, or summary) of the different levels, or chains of results expected from a particular intervention—project, programme, or development strategy.

Once the vision, mission, philosophy, goal, overall strategic result and all the focus areas have been defined, a very important step in the strategic planning process is the preparation of results frameworks, which not only clearly articulate the different levels of results, but also allow for clear expected accomplishments and indicators of achievements for each strategic result.

Although UN-Habitat uses the term “results framework”, similar conceptual tools—also designed to organize information regarding intended outcomes and results—are used across different agencies, including logical frameworks, logic models, results chains and logframes.

Thus, at the level of the strategic plan, the results framework captures the essential elements of the logical and expected cause and effect: linking outputs, outcomes, impacts or expected accomplishments, strategic results and the goal.

Figure 13: Example of UN-Habitat’s results chain

What is required to design a results framework?

Designing a results framework is an iterative process, with objectives and interventions providing the basis for its design, and draft results frameworks in turn helping to clarify specific objectives and interventions. The process for developing a results framework therefore starts with understanding both the problem to be addressed and the desired outcomes, specifying the programme logic, and building stakeholder consensus. Once this agreement is in place, stakeholders can focus on selecting appropriate indicators. Thus, basic steps are as follows:

  1. Identify and work with stakeholders
  2. Develop expected accomplishments and sub-expected accomplishments
  3. Develop indicators
  4. Identify critical assumptions and risks


1. Identifying and working with stakeholders

Stakeholders are those who may be affected by or have an effect on an initiative of UN-Habitat. They may also include people who have a strong interest in the initiative, even though they are not directly affected by it.

One way to characterize stakeholders is by their relationship to the initiative in question.

  • Primary stakeholders are the people or groups that stand to be directly affected, either positively or negatively, by an initiative or the actions of UN-Habitat. In some cases, there are primary stakeholders on both sides of the equation: a regulation that benefits one group may have a negative effect on another.
  • Secondary stakeholders are people or groups that are indirectly affected, either positively or negatively, by an initiative or the actions of UN-Habitat.
  • Key stakeholders, who might belong to either or neither of the first two groups, are those who can have a positive or negative effect on an initiative, or who are important within or to UN-Habitat, or another institution engaged in the effort.

Stakeholders’ interests can be many and varied.

A few of the more common ones are:

  • Social
  • Economic
  • Environmental
  • Political

Stakeholder mapping is a method for identifying all those people or organizations that may have an important impact on UN-Habitat’s results.

Stakeholder engagement involves influencing and managing the people or organizations that have an interest in UN-Habitat’s initiatives. For this purpose, a stakeholder engagement strategy should be developed.

  1. Developing expected accomplishments and sub-expected accomplishments

Expected accomplishments (EAs) are changes that occur in part because of a programme or project intervention, i.e. its approach to realize the overall objective. Expected accomplishments are: (i) the direct consequence or effect of the generation of outputs and services; (ii) indicative of a positive change for the end-users/beneficiaries of the programme or project’s outputs; and (iii) at a lower level than strategic results and should lead to the fulfillment of the strategic result (expected accomplishments occur before realizing the strategic result).

Sub-expected accomplishments (Sub-EAs) are utilized in UN-Habitat to help strengthen the relationship between EAs and outputs. Sub-EAs are a critical middle layer that helps determine if the right mix of outputs is in place.

EAs and sub-EAs are results. As described in Section 1.1, results are the consequences (outcomes, effects, expected accomplishments) for the beneficiaries of a development intervention or humanitarian assistance, deriving from the utilization of products and/or services provided to them.

As defined in the introductory sections, results are a describable or measurable change that is derived from a cause-and-effect relation¬ship. There are two types of such changes: (i) outcomes (EAs and Sub-EAs), and (iii) impact (strategic results and goals), which can be set in motion by a development intervention. The changes can be intended or unintended, positive and/or negative.

It is expected that careful management for development results within programmes using RBM will lead to positive change.

However, this is not always the case. Change can sometimes lead to unintended or negative consequences. It is therefore impor¬tant to continually manage for results so that programmes and projects can truly result in positive change.

To distinguish results from each other, it can be helpful to reflect on the concept of “Spheres of Control, Influence and Concern”. These spheres facilitate differentiation of results:

  • over which UN-Habitat has power (Sphere of Control; deliverables or outputs);
  • from those UN-Habitat can influence, but cannot control (Sphere of Influence; use-level outcomes);
  • and those UN-Habitat is concerned about (Sphere of Concern; change in society or impact).

Figure 14: Spheres of control, influence and concern

Using the theory of change to develop EAs and Sub-EAs.

The Theory of Change (ToC) is essentially a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused in particular on mapping out or “filling in” what has been described as the “missing middle”, between what a programme, project or change initiative does (its activities or interventions), and how these lead to the desired goals being achieved. It does this by first identifying the desired strategic results and then working backwards from the results to identify all the preconditions (outcomes) that must be in place for the strategic results to occur (and how these are related to one another causally).

The ToC is therefore an excellent tool to use when identifying EAs and sub-EAs, with the two central questions being:

  • What expected accomplishments (also called preconditions or outcomes in ToC) should be realized in order to achieve the strategic result or objective of each focus area?
  • What sub-expected accomplishments should be realized in order to achieve the expected accomplishments?
  • Which assumptions must hold true to move from the sub-EA to the EA on one hand, and from the EA to the strategic result on the other hand?

These are all mapped out in an outcomes or results framework. The results framework then provides the basis for identifying what type of output, activity or intervention will lead to the EAs and sub-EAS identified as preconditions for achieving the strategic result. Through this approach the precise link between outputs and the achievement of the strategic result is better understood. This leads to better planning, in that outputs and activities are linked to a detailed understanding of how and why change actually happens. It also leads to better evaluation, as it is possible to measure progress towards the achievement of EAs and strategic results that goes beyond the identification of outputs.

The process of developing a ToC is led by the facilitator or an RBM specialist. Below are the steps to follow in developing a ToC:

Task 1: Clarify the purpose of the ToC process

A clear purpose for going through a ToC process gives you a sense of direction and helps to ensure that the participants start off on the same foot.

The purpose informs decisions about who should participate in the process, how to shape the process, and what levels (e.g. policy, programme, project) it needs to encompass, as well as what type of outputs or products you want to end up with and which questions need specific attention in each step.

Core questions:

  • Why are we doing this? What do we want to be different for the Member States and the Agency as a result? Which specific benefits do we expect the process will bring us?
  • What is this ToC process expected to produce?

Task 2: Describe the change

What you want to change, why and for whom are the core questions of any ToC process. The desired change represents the changes in people’s lives and the conditions and relationships in society that we wish to see occurring and want to contribute to through UN-Habitat’s actions during the six-year period of the strategic plan.

In UN-Habitat the departure point or the change we want to see will be the strategic results of each focus area, which have been already identified. However, the ToC could be taken as an opportunity to fine-tune the strategic results.

Core question:

  • What is the desired change? Why? And for whom?

Task 3: Analyze the current situation

Every change initiative takes place in a context that determines the conditions and opportunities for change. We need to understand the situation in order to make strategic choices that increase the chances of success. This step is about analysis of the existing situation and the issues we wish to change: the ‘ecosystem’ in which the desired change is to take place; and the social, political, economic, cultural, ecological and geographical factors that directly influence the issue, its causes or effects, and the desired change process?

What are the roles and interests of stakeholders and other actors? Are there power and gender dynamics at play? What are the drivers of change and what are the opportunities?

In the case of UN-Habitat the report summarizing the outcome of the situation analysis should be an input to the ToC process and therefore made available to the facilitator and participants.

Core question:

  • What is the current situation in relation to the issue(s) we wish to change?

Task 4: Identify domains of change

Once the existing situation has been explored and mapped, we need to identify the domains where important changes have to take place in order to achieve the overall desired change. Identifying the domains of change helps to make the complexity more manageable, and to determine what matters for the desired change, and for the people who we hope will benefit from that change. It enables us to decide where best to intervene.

To make the desired change possible, changes usually need to happen simultaneously in many different domains and amongst different groups of stakeholders.

For example, changes may be needed in formal institutions, as well as in the behaviour and relationships of actors involved in those institutions, —such as the legal system; changes in the behaviour and relationships that shape people’s participation in political processes; changes in the norms and values people have about housing; changes in the attitudes of service providers, etc.

These changes are substantial, beyond the control of any single actor, and often need to happen in parallel in order to reach the desired change.

Core questions:

  • For the desired change to happen, who and what needs to change? Where and in which way? Who needs to do what differently?

Task 5: Map change pathways

Pathways of change are a projection of the envisaged change process into the future, based on what we know of the current situation and our views and beliefs about how change happens.

Mapping ‘pathways of change’ is done by working backwards from the long-term desired change, asking ourselves what needs to change for the desired change to occur. At the same time, we are also unpacking and testing our thinking about how the change process may evolve from the current situation to the future.

Pathways of change, or causal pathways, can be pictured as a series of intermediate changes realised, often called ‘results chains’, or in the form of a less linear representation, such as a flow chart, web or system map. It is essential to indicate the interrelations between elements, as well as the feedback mechanisms and how the process is expected to evolve over time. In practice, this process will never be linear: think of backlashes and recurrent processes. This means that the pathways and underlying ToC need regular adaptation, in response to developments in the situation and new information.

Realistic assumptions are identified along the way. Assumptions are the variables or factors that need to be in place for results to be achieved. Assumptions can be internal or external to UN-Habitat.

Assumptions should be stated in positive language. The expectation from stakeholders is that if the outputs have been delivered and the assumptions in the programme document still hold true, then the outcome will be achieved. At the end of this process, each focus area must have its own ToC.

Core questions:

  • How do we think the change process may evolve? What needs to happen before the next positive step in the process can take place?

Task 6: Select EAs and sub-EAS for the results framework

Because the rule of thumb is to have no more than three EAs per objective or strategic result and no more than three sub-EAs per EA, this step of the ToC is about prioritizing the EAs and sub-EAs that are not only relevant to the work of UN-Habitat, but also critical to achieving the strategic result.

A prioritization process based on task 5 is therefore carried out by considering UN-Habitat’s comparative advantages, to determine the specific areas in which to focus development assistance in the anticipated strategic plan. The prioritization must consider the mandates, technical capacities available (in-country, regional or global) and resources of the organization. The process also uses the outcome of the situation analysis.

The EAs and sub-EAs selected will then be part of the results framework. EAs and sub-EAs are about change. It is important to use ‘change language’ rather than the customary ‘action language’.

The differences between change language and action language are:

Action language (i) expresses would-be results from the providers’ perspective – and usually starts with “by doing this or that”; (ii) can be interpreted in many ways because it is not specific or measurable (e.g., improve housing); and (iii) focuses only on the completion of activities (e.g., to establish 25 new youth-friendly centers).

On the other hand, change language: (i) describes changes in the conditions and/or quality of life of people; (ii) sets precise criteria for success; and (iii) focuses on results, and does not focus on the methods to achieve them (hence the need to avoid expressions such as “through this and that” or “by doing this and that”).

The following are some examples of results using change language:

  • Improved capacity of partner cities to adopt strategies supportive of inclusive economic growth;
  • Increased capacity of local and national governments and other Habitat Agenda partners to implement urban legislation in the urban extension, densification, urban planning and finance areas;
  • Enhanced capacity of slum communities to partner with national and local authorities implementing policies or programmes on access to adequate housing and improved standard of living in slums;
  • Improved capacity of national and local authorities and partners to formulate evidence-based policies or programmes.


Figure 15: Example ToC diagram, using National Urban Policies

  1. Developing indicators

An indicator is a specific observable and measurable characteristic that is used to show changes or progress a programme or intervention is making towards achieving a specified outcome or result. It specifies exactly what is to be measured, but does not indicate the direction of change.

There are various types of indicators: input and process indicators (these two constitute implementation indicators); and output, outcome and impact indicators (these three constitute performance indicators). Indicators can be qualitative or quantitative, and provide evidence to demonstrate the extent to which expected accomplishments have been achieved by the end of a programme or specific time period. It is important that stakeholders agree a priori on the indicators that will be used to measure the performance of an initiative.

Quantitative indicators are discrete statistical measures. Quantitative indicators measure specific change through hard numbers or percentages that are verifiable:

  • Number of….
  • Frequency of….
  • Percentage of….
  • Amount of….

Qualitative indicators are interpretative judgements. They are measures of an individual or group’s judgement and/or perception of the presence or absence of specific conditions. Qualitative indicators normally utilize surveys or opinion polls that ask respondents their opinions or views on a given aspect of change:

  • Capacity of….
  • Extent of….
  • Degree of….
  • Level of….

The criteria for a strong indicator are as follows:

  • Validity: Does the indicator actually measure the EA?
  • Reliability: Is the indicator a consistent measure over time?
  • Sensitivity: When the EA changes will the indicator be sensitive to those changes?
  • Simplicity: How easy will it be to collect the data?
  • Utility: Will the information be useful for decision-making and learning?
  • Affordability: Can UN-Habitat afford to collect the information? Choose indicators that provide the best possible measurement of the results achieved within the budget available. Look for a balance of rigor and realism
  • Meaningful and relevant: They are significant and relate directly to the EAs. They are valid measures of progress toward the EAs they measure.
  • Credibility: They are based on accurate and reliable data. They stand up to audit.


Good indicators are SMART indicators, with the following characteristics or criteria:

  • Specific (to the process being measured)
  • Measurable (either in quantitative or qualitative terms)
  • Achievable (without overstretching local statistics capacity)
  • Realistic (cost-effective)
  • Time-bound (within a reasonable time period).

Tip for developing indicators: Avoid combining several results or variables (changes in condition), or indicators into one statement. Specify statements about the quality, improvement, or implementation of a policy, legislation or service in verifiable terms.

Often qualitative indicators may be quantified. For example, we may quantify the number of people who are very satisfied, moderately satisfied or unsatisfied with the service provided. However, the level of satisfaction remains a qualitative indicator.

  1. Identifying risks

Risk corresponds to a potential future event, fully or partially beyond control that may (negatively) affect the achievement of results. Since potential impacts can be both positive and negative, some agencies have chosen to widen the definition of risks to include both threats that might prevent them from achieving their objectives and opportunities that would enhance the likelihood that objectives can be achieved. Such a definition has the advantage that it enables a more balanced consideration of both opportunities and threats, thereby promoting innovation and avoiding risk aversion.

During the strategic planning process, risk assessment should consider a wide range of potential risks, including strategic, environmental, financial, operational, organizational, political and regulatory risks. Using a risk matrix, as in figure 16 below, enables systematic identification and prioritization of identified risks. In the risk matrix, risks can be ranked according to their likelihood of happening (from improbable to frequent) and potential harmfulness (from unimportant to critical) if they were to occur. A risk mitigation strategy should also be defined for each risk to minimize the potential impact of risks on the achievement of results. Programmes and projects are expected to manage the risks related to their activities. The following are a range of risk mitigation strategies that may be considered:

  • Prevention: prevent the risk from materializing or prevent it from having an impact on strategic results or EAs;
  • Reduction: reduce the likelihood of the risk developing or limit its impact if it materializes;
  • Transference: pass the impact of the risk to a third party;
  • Contingency plan: prepare actions to implement should the risk occur;
  • Acceptance: based on a cost/benefit analysis, accept the possibility that the risk may occur and go ahead without further measures to address the risk.

During implementation, it is good practice to incorporate the planned responses to risks into the regular work plan of the programme or project, assigning staff members to be responsible for the actions and resources required.

The risk assessment should be repeated during the formulation of work programmes and budgets, programmes and projects and should be guided by the Enterprise Risk Management Strategy.

Figure 16: Programme risk matrix

Step 8.b. The performance measurement plan

The performance measurement plan (PMP) is a framework that operationalizes all the indicators constructed as part of the strategic planning process, by providing the basis to effectively use indicators to track progress and trends for the work to be undertaken during the six year period, and for the seven focus areas.

In this respect, for each indicator the PMP:

  • Clearly states the constituent elements and what is to be measured, i.e. operationalizes the indicators;
  • Establishes the units of measurement (e.g. number of countries, local authorities, cities etc.);
  • Establishes what each UN-Habitat branch/regional office/unit is and will be doing for each of the indicators, in each of the countries, cities, etc., and with which partners; if work has been started, provide evidence/documentation to support reported progress /status of the indicators;
  • Determines all baselines for indicators of the strategic results and expected accomplishments for the seven focus areas, as well as for the Executive Direction, the management and the Programme Division;
  • Establishes biennial targets for each of the above indicators for the six-year period;
  • Reviews coordination and collaboration among the various organizational units in UN-Habitat, towards indicator targets, expected accomplishments and strategic results; and
  • Gives clear recommendations and suggests methodologies, processes and tools for more efficient and cost-effective ways for tracking performance on indicators and expected accomplishments in future reports, taking into account the organizational context, and informed by best practices in other organizations.

To succeed, senior managers have to know how well UN-Habitat is doing. Therefore, this part of the strategic planning process, after the development of results frameworks, deals with measuring results. The most comprehensive, elegant, and technically perfect plan is of no worth unless it works.

What gets measured gets done. Most people want to do a good job. Performance measurement helps managers and staff focus on what is important. By comparing actual results with expected results, managers and policy makers are able to evaluate progress toward goals and objectives.

Performance measurement also brings greater clarity to budget processes and provides donors with a more meaningful sense of the results being obtained with their resources. The PMP follows the structure of the results framework and adds for each indicator:

  • Unit/division/department responsible for collecting data on the indicator
  • Measurement unit
  • Data collection method
  • Frequency
  • Source of data
  • Baseline data
  • Target data
  • Milestones

What is Responsibility?

Responsibility looks at who is tasked with collecting and/or validating the data.

What is a measurement unit?

A measurement unit is a quantity used as a standard of measurement so that any other value of the physical quantity can be expressed as a simple multiple of the measurement unit.

What is a data collection method?

Data collection methods represent how data about indicators is collected. Choosing a data collection method depends on the type of indicator and the purpose of the information being gathered. It also depends on how often this information will be gathered.

The identification of data collection methods and data sources can help with the selection and validation of realistic indicators. Data sources and collection methods should be established in collaboration with partners, stakeholders and evaluation specialists.

What is Frequency?

Frequency looks at the timing of data collection; how often will information about each indicator be collected and/or validated? Will information about a performance indicator be collected regularly (quarterly or annually) as part of ongoing performance management and reporting, or periodically, for baseline, midterm or final evaluations? It is important to note that data on some indicators will need to be collected early in the initiative to establish a baseline.

What is a data source?

Data sources refer to the individual, organizations or documents that will provide the information you need. Performance data on some indicators can be found in existing sources, such as land registries, appointment logs, and tracking sheets; or in the reports and studies carried out annually by actors, tracked by governments and partner organizations, and reported in annual reports to donors.

Finally, UN-Habitat staff and partners may need to identify their own sources of data to track performance against expected results. The source of the performance data is very important to the credibility of the reported results. Try to incorporate data from a variety of sources to validate findings.

What is baseline data?

Baseline data is the set of conditions existing at the outset of a programme or investment; quantitative and qualitative data collected to establish a profile. Each performance indicator must have an initial baseline figure, or the point in time preferably before the commencement of the initiative, programme or project that is designed to achieve a given result.

Without a baseline it will be impossible to measure change that results from the interventions or activities that are undertaken to achieve the concerned result Baseline data is collected at one point in time and is used as a point of reference against which results will be measured or assessed. A baseline is needed for each indicator that will be used to measure results during the investment.

Without a baseline, it will not be possible to detect change resulting from the interventions (e.g. “70 % of households with access to clean water” is not a meaningful result if the current status is not known – it might already be at 75 %!).

What are targets?

A target specifies a particular value for a performance indicator, to be accomplished by a specific date in the future; it is what the development intervention would like to achieve within a certain period of time, in relation to one of its expected results. Targets are normally expressed as either a percentage or a number.

What is a milestone?

Milestones are key stages, scheduled events or benchmarks on the results continuum that enable to formulate progress achieved towards planned results in concrete terms.

Structure of the strategic plan

At the end of the strategic planning process, the planning team produces a strategic plan, which comprises at least the following sections:

  1. Strategic analysis
    • Mandate of UN-Habitat
    • Urban trends, challenges and opportunities
    • Lessons learned from previous strategic plan
    • SWOT analysis
  2. Strategic choice
    • Vision
    • Mission
    • Goal
    • Theory of change
    • Strategic result
    • Priority areas
    • Focus areas, their strategic result and scope
    • Results framework: focus area results and indicators of achievements
    • Strategies
  3. Implementation of the Strategic plan
    • Implementation through the WP&B
    • Risk management
    • Organizational structure
    • Monitoring and reporting
    • Evaluation
    • Financial and human resources
  4. Annexes
    • Performance measurement plan
    • Resource mobilization strategy
    • Communication strategy

Member States, through the UN-Habitat’s Committee of Permanent Representatives, are consulted at each stage of the formulation of the strategic plan.

Once the strategic plan is finalized, it is submitted to the Governing Council for its review and approval. The approved document becomes the guiding programme policy of UN-Habitat for the next six years.



2.2.3 Strategic Framework


In the UN Secretariat, the strategic framework also known as biennial programme plan is the principal policy directive. It is the first step towards the preparation of the UN regular budget (RB) for the same period. It is a biennial document prepared based on mandates received from Member States through intergovernmental bodies (e.g. Governing Council, ECOSOC, General Assembly, etc.).

UN-Habitat is one of the three programmes (together with UNEP and UNODC) that are part of the UN-Secretariat. As such, UN-Habitat follows the planning and budget cycle of the UN-Secretariat and therefore has to prepare a biennial strategic framework. However, for UN-Habitat, the preparation of the strategic framework is not an ex nihilo (out of nothing) exercise, given that the strategic framework is derived from the six-year strategic plan, as noted in section 2.2.2.

The preparation of the biennial strategic framework can also be viewed as a way of reconciling or bridging UN-Habitat six-year strategic plan with the UN-Secretariat planning and budget cycle, on one hand. On the other hand, the biennial strategic framework constitutes the first step towards the implementation of UN-Habitat six-year strategic plan.


Figure 17: Preparation of the strategic framework


The preparation of the biennial strategic framework involves not only the participation of all offices, but also an assessment by relevant specialized intergovernmental bodies such as the UN-Habitat Committee of Permanent Representatives. Recommendations by the CPR for modifications to the proposed strategic framework should be incorporated when available.

In cases where it has not been possible to incorporate changes, the recommendations of the CPR, to the extent available, are forwarded to the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) at the time of its working session.


The structure of the Strategic Framework is as follows:


Figure 18: Structure of the Strategic Framework

The strategic framework includes the following sections:

  1. Overall orientation
  2. The seven subprogrammes, with the following elements for each: (i) logframe (which includes the objective, expected accomplishments and indicators; (ii) strategy; and (iii) external factors
  3. List of mandates


  1. Overall orientation: The overall orientation section of the strategic framework is derived from the six-year strategic plan, and provides a succinct narrative highlighting UN-Habitat’s overall strategy for the biennium. The overall orientation (i) reflects mandates that provide policy direction for the programme as a whole; (ii) mentions linkages, as appropriate, to the Internationally Agreed Development Goals (i.e. MDGs, SDGs, etc.) and the relevant major international conferences; (iii) integrates gender, youth, human rights and climate change perspectives, in line with General Assembly and Governing Council resolutions; and (iv) specifies the organizational unit responsible for the implementation of the subprogrammes.
  2. Subprogramme: A “subprogramme” refers to the organizational level under which a portion of the programme is carried out. It is equivalent to the focus area of the strategic plan.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme is comprised of seven (7) subprogrammes as follows:

  • Subprogramme 1: Urban Legislation, Land and Governance
  • Subprogramme 2: Urban Planning and Design
  • Subprogramme 3: Urban Economy and Municipal Finance
  • Subprogramme 4: Urban Basic Services
  • Subprogramme 5: Housing and Slum Upgrading
  • Subprogramme 6: Risk Reduction, Rehabilitation and Urban Resilience
  • Subprogramme 7: Urban Research and capacity development

These subprogrammes are jointly implemented by respective thematic branches and the four (4) regional offices (Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Regional Office for Africa, and Regional Office for Arab States).

Each subprogramme section of the strategic framework is structured as follows:

(a) Objective of the Organization (see also section 2.2.2 page 36)

The objective of the organization is the equivalent of a focus area’s strategic result as contained in the strategic plan. It is the highest level of result sought by a subprogramme and involves a process of change aimed at meeting certain needs of identified end-users. Objectives are specific, quantifiable, and time-bound statements of outcomes.

Objectives/strategic results are drawn from the six-year strategic plan.

When formulating or reviewing objectives, it helps to ask the following questions:

  • Why does this subprogramme exist?
  • What problems are being addressed by the subprogramme?
  • Who are the beneficiaries of the subprogramme?
  • What change do we want to see?

The objective must be well-defined, precise, focused and succinct, and should not be made up of more than one sentence. Stating several objectives within one sentence is an indication that further refinement of the objective is required. The objective is not necessarily limited to the two-year period of the biennium.

(b) Expected accomplishments of the Secretariat (see also section 2.2.2, page 41)

Expected accomplishments are drawn from the six-year strategic plan, although the preparation of the biennial strategic framework offers the opportunity to fine-tune some of the EAs in light of the lessons learned through performance assessments.

As stated in section 2.2.2, EAs are changes that occur in part because of a programme or project intervention; i.e., its approach to realizing the overall objective. Expected accomplishments are: (i) the direct consequence or effect of the generation of outputs and services; (ii) indicative of a positive change for the end-users or beneficiaries of the programme or project’s outputs; (iii) at a lower level than strategic results, and should lead to the fulfillment of the strategic result or objective (expected accomplishments occur before the strategic result); (iv) the basis on which performance will be measured; (v) identify the benefits or changes that are expected to accrue to users or beneficiaries; and (vi) relate to changes in knowledge, skills, behaviour, awareness, condition or status.

Each subprogramme includes a maximum of three (3) expected accomplishments.

(c) Indicators of achievement (see also section 2.2.2, page 47)

Indicators of achievement measure the extent to which expected accomplishments have been achieved as a result of the subprogramme’s intervention. Just like the EAs, indicators of achievement are drawn from the six-year strategic plan. Good indicators are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. A maximum of three indicators is typically used for each expected accomplishment.

When constructing indicators, it is useful to determine the data that is useful for assessment of the effectiveness of the subprogramme. For example, do we want to collect information on the number of Member States, institutions or individuals that are able to monitor programmes of action; or are we interested in the number of measures taken by them to monitor programmes of action? When we deliver our outputs, do we want to focus on increasing the number of entities able to monitor, or on increasing the number of measures taken by entities to enable them to monitor?

Data collection over time can be both costly and time consuming. It is thus important to carefully select which data would be most representative of the subprogramme’s effectiveness. Some helpful data collection design questions to ask are:

  • What data currently exists?
  • Where could we go to gather existing or new data?
  • What type of data collection methods would make the most sense?
  • How much data would we gather, and how frequently?

Once the data to be collected is decided, then the performance measures (i.e., baselines and targets) can be determined. On the basis of the above example, if we are focusing on the number of entities able to monitor programmes of action, we would need to collect data on the number of entities. For our performance measures, we would then need to know how many entities there were in 2012-2013, what our estimate is for 2014-2015 and what our target would be for 2016-2017. In cases where an indicator may apply to a number of issues, the indicator would then have corresponding performance measures for each issue.

(d) Strategy

Each subprogramme strategy is derived from the corresponding strategy in the six-year Strategic Plan (see also section 2.2.2).

The strategy highlights the focus of efforts to be made within the two-year period to meet the needs of intended beneficiaries and to achieve the expected accomplishments. The strategy reflects the underlying logic for carrying out a series of activities necessary and sufficient to achieve the expected accomplishments. In particular, a subprogramme strategy clearly specifies how each expected accomplishment will be achieved.

Examples of strategies might include:

  • providing assistance to post-conflict countries
  • enhancing support for negotiations
  • strengthening the international rule of law
  • ensuring that development issues are adequately addressed in intergovernmental debate
  • supporting implementation of programmes
  • consensus building
  • advocacy and capacity building
  • assisting the development and implementation of national policies
  • providing timely and accurate information, analyses and policy options
  • harmonizing policies and procedures

(e) External factors

External factors are events and/or conditions that are beyond the control of those responsible for an activity, but have an influence on the success or failure of the activities. They may be anticipated in the form of assumptions or they may be unanticipated.

  1. Mandates: They refer to relevant resolutions providing the mandates for achieving the subprogramme’s objectives. In preparing the strategic framework, unless it mandates continuing functions of UN-Habitat or establishes the programme of work for the organization, a legislative mandate adopted more than five years earlier should not be included.

If included, it should be accompanied by an explanation justifying its retention as a mandate. Any proposals for terminating, modifying or amending mandates, especially those that affect a cluster of activities or even a subprogramme or portion of a subprogramme, should, where applicable, be first approved by the relevant specialized intergovernmental bodies.

Their endorsement and/or recommendations will be submitted to the General Assembly through Committee for Programmes and Coordination, including justification for amendments and/or termination. UN-Habitat mandates are obtained from there (3) main bodies:

  • The General Assembly
  • The Governing Council

The preparation of the strategic framework is also informed by: (i) the findings of evaluations, audits and assessments; and (ii) the priorities established in the Strategic Plan.

Steps and responsibilities for preparing the biennial strategic framework

Step 1: The preparation of the Strategic Framework starts with the issuance of a memo by the Office of the Executive Director (i) announcing the commencement of the preparation process; (ii) clarifying roles and responsibilities; (iii) Issuing internal guidelines; and (iv) forwarding instructions received from the UN controller’s Office (Programme Planning and Budget Division).

Step 2: The Quality Assurance Unit (QAU) then leads the whole process by engaging with Branches and Regional Offices, ensuring that guidelines are observed and contributions are submitted on time.

Step 3: The Quality Assurance Unit puts the draft biennial strategic framework together and re-engages with Branches and Regional Offices to ensure that the draft biennial strategic framework is as robust as possible, and in particular that logframe elements (i.e., objectives, expected accomplishments and indicators) are derived from the six-year strategic plan; justified adjustments are introduced where needed; and the strategies specify how each expected accomplishment will be achieved.

Step 4: The Quality Assurance Unit submits the draft biennial strategic framework to the Senior Management Board for review and endorsement.

Step 5: The QAU organizes consultations with the Committee of Permanent Representatives on the draft biennial strategic framework; the consultations are attended by the all the Branches under the coordination of the Office of the Executive Director/Programme Division.

Step 6: Following consultations with the CPR and incorporation of relevant inputs, the QAU submits the draft biennial strategic framework to the Programme Planning and Budget Division (PPBD), both by email and through the Integrated Management Documentation and Information System (IMDIS) as follows:

Step 7: In collaboration with Branches and Regional Offices, the QAU addresses queries from PPBD before the draft biennial strategic framework is sent to the Department of General Assembly and Conference Management for editing.

Step 8: The QAU reviews the edited version of the draft biennial strategic framework.

Step 9: The Executive Director presents and defends the draft biennial strategic framework before the formal and informal sessions of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC).

Step 10: After submission of the Strategic Framework to UN HQ, it is reviewed by PPBD before consideration by the CPC. Once the Strategic Framework has been endorsed by the CPC it is forwarded to the Fifth Committee 14, which ultimately considers and approves it on behalf of the General Assembly.

14 The Fifth Committee is the Committee of the General Assembly with responsibilities for administration and budgetary matters. Based on the reports of the Fifth Committee, the General Assembly considers and approves the budget of the Organization in accordance with Chapter IV, Article 17 of the Charter of the United Nations.



2.2.4 The Work Programme


The biennial work programme and budget represents the second phase of the UN Secretariat planning and budgeting cycle. It is an implementation document that operationalizes the biennial strategic framework (and therefore the six-year strategic plan) by translating them into concrete deliverables or outputs and resources (both post and non-post resources) with a view to achieving the expected accomplishments.

The instructions for its preparation are provided to all entities of the UN Secretariat by the UN Controller’s office, in particular the Programme Planning and Budget Division.The instructions for its preparation are provided to all entities of the UN Secretariat by the UN Controller’s office, in particular the Programme Planning and Budget Division.



Figure 19: Preparation of the work programme and budget


In its simplest form, the work programme and budget is the strategic framework, plus the outputs, plus the resources.

In preparing the work programme and budget, one of the first tasks is to complete the logframes developed at the strategic framework stage, by ensuring that each indicator is accompanied by related performance measures or baseline and target data (see definitions of baselines and targets on page 50). This will enable a performance assessment at a later stage, by comparing the actual value of the indicator against a known past measure or comparator (i.e., baseline) and a planned goal (i.e., target).

In addition to identifying adequate resources, one of the most critical aspects of the preparation of the work programme and budget is to come up with the “right” outputs in terms of number, time frame and adequacy to achieve the expected accomplishments and respond to the needs of beneficiary groups and communities. The outputs (development or humanitarian interventions) must be sufficient to achieve planned results or EAs.

In other words, outputs should contribute to the attainment of expected accomplishments, so that the sum of planned outputs constitutes the optimal combination of services and products for achieving these expected accomplishments.


Figure 20: Components of the work programme and budget

For example, to achieve EA1 (included in the logframe on page 58) “increased capacity of local and national governments and other Habitat Agenda partners to implement urban legislation in the urban extension, densification, urban planning and finance areas”, would a single workshop be sufficient to achieve the EA in a particular country? This would probably be extremely difficult.

Therefore, three questions that need to be asked to guide the identification of outputs in terms of adequacy or sufficiency:

  1. What combination of outputs (e.g. advisory services, training, guidelines) would be enough to achieve the EA?
  2. How many of these outputs should be delivered?
  3. Where should they be delivered (countries/cities)?

In general, only final outputs should be listed. That is, the output of a particular office could be a report but not the research and analysis required for delivering that report, unless the office in question does not have final responsibility for finalizing or issuing the report.

Where an output is jointly produced by two or more subprogrammes within a programme, a choice must be made as to which subprogramme will reflect the output.

Outputs within each subprogramme in UN-Habitat are organized under the following categories:

  1. Servicing of intergovernmental and expert bodies
  • Substantive servicing of meetings
  • Parliamentary documentation
  • Other services provided
  1. Other substantive activities
  • Mandated recurrent publications
  • Discretionary recurrent publications
  • Mandated non-recurrent publications
  • Discretionary non-recurrent publications
  • Electronic, audio and video issuances
  • Exhibits, guided tours, lectures
  • Booklets, pamphlets, fact sheets, wall chart and information kits
  • Press releases, press conferences
  • Special events
  • Technical material
  • Organization of inter-agency meetings and contribution to joint outputs
  1. Technical cooperation
  • Advisory services at the request of governments
  • Group training (seminars, workshops, symposia)
  • Field projects
  1. Administrative support services (for programme support only)
  • Overall management
  • Human resources management
  • Programme planning budget and account
  • Internal oversight

Results-chains are used to identify outputs under each of the categories of outputs above. The development of results-chains starts with the identification of the objective or higher result.

The EAs are then identified, followed by the sub-EAs. The most sufficient (quantity) and adequate (quality and appropriateness) outputs to achieve the sub-EAs and EAs are ultimately identified. Results-chains as planning tools are developed from right to left.


Figure 21: General example of a results-chain


Rigorous consultation and brainstorming processes must take place within teams in charge of the preparation of the WP&B in order to identify the “right” outputs, services and products that UN-Habitat needs to generate to achieve the desired change. Indeed, the identification of outputs should not be viewed as a business as usual, linear exercise undertaken by one person in her/his office. It should not be viewed as merely copying and pasting outputs from the previous biennium. It should rather be conducted as a team exercise involving a critical questioning process about the rationale of current and past outputs; using available evaluations and assessments; and coming up with relevant, adequate and “transformational” outputs, able to make a difference in beneficiary communities and achieve lasting results. Achieving results starts with planning for results.

In addition, all activities planned and implemented in UN-Habitat, whether at Branch level or Regional Office level, must contribute to the delivery of the WP&B.

There is only one WP&B for UN-Habitat per biennium. Operating outside of that WP&B could put the organization at risk (confusion, unclear mandates, unclear focus and direction).

Figure 22: Example of a results-chain using subprogramme, Urban legislation, land and governance

The work programme and budget is principally structured as follows:


  1. Policy-making organs
  2. Executive Direction and Management
  3. Programme of work (seven subprogrammes)
  4. Programme Division
  5. Programme support (Management and Operations Division)

Further, the Executive Direction and Management, the seven (7) subprogrammes (which together constitute the programme of work), the Programme Division and Programme Support are comprised of the following elements:

  • Objective
  • Expected accomplishments
  • Indicators of achievement with related baselines and targets
  • External factors
  • Outputs
  • Resource tables15
    • Post (salaries and common staff costs)
    • Non-post (e.g. consultants, travel, hospitality, furniture and equipment, etc.)

The preparation of the WP&B is a very important step in the process of Delivering As One UN-Habitat. Indeed, Delivering as One UN-Habitat starts with:

  • Planning together in planning weeks/retreats
  • Agreeing on the outputs needed to achieve results
  • Identifying possible hindering factors and coming up with mitigation measures
  • Exploring potential partnerships
  • Factoring in cross-cutting issues

In addition to RBM, a related approach used by the UN-Secretariat in formulating budgets is results-based budgeting (RBB). As a literal reading of the term suggests, RBB is about formulating programmes and budgets that are driven by a number of desired results, which are articulated at the outset of the budgetary process. It involves calculating and proposing resource requirements on the basis of pre-determined results, rather than merely on the basis of scheduled outputs or activities.

RBB requires managers to identify objectives and results that involve certain changes or benefits to end-users, and subsequently measure the extent to which these changes or benefits have actually been brought about. Or to give the precise definition of RBB as it has been proposed by the Secretary-General: results-based budgeting is a programme budget process in which (a) programme formulation revolves around a set of pre-defined objectives and expected results, (b) resource requirements are derived from and linked to such expected results, and (c) actual performance in achieving results is measured by objective performance indicators16.

RBB therefore places more demanding standards on programme design and planning, and as such it is a component of RBM. RBM goes beyond RBB by (i) using Theory of Change to guide the implementation of programmes and projects; and (ii) having performance management (i.e., monitoring and evaluation) as a major pillar of the approach. In other words, RBM does no stop with a budget or plan that is results-oriented.

RBM ensures that the implementation phase is guided by the need to achieve planned results, and that performance is systematically assessed for decision-making, accountability and lessons-learning purposes.

By following a rigorous results-based management approach, UN-Habitat ensures that the RBB methodology proposed by the United Nations Secretariat is also taken care of.

Steps and responsibilities for preparing the biennial work programme and budget

Step 1: Like the strategic framework, the preparation of the work programme and budget starts with the issuance of a memo by the Office of the Executive Director (i) announcing the commencement of the preparation process; (ii) clarifying roles and responsibilities; (iii) issuing internal guidelines; and (iv)forwarding instructions (i.e. Support Guide) received from the Programme Planning and Budget Division.

Step 2: The Quality Assurance Unit leads the whole process by engaging with Branches and Regional Offices, ensuring that guidelines are followed and contributions are submitted on time. In engaging with various offices, the QAU uses RBM methodologies and tools (e.g., result-chains, theories of change, etc.) in view of supporting the identification of transformative outputs.

Step 3: The Office of the Executive Director organizes a senior management retreat or planning week, which reviews substantive priorities, strategies and partnerships, and advance the preparation of the work programme and budget.

Step 4: The Quality Assurance Unit puts the draft biennial work programme together, which will later on be complemented by resources (the incorporation of resources is coordinated by the Finance and Budget Unit of the Management and Operations Division). It re-engages with Branches and Regional Offices to ensure that the draft biennial work programme and budget is of the best possible quality, and in particular that the relationship between agreed outputs and expected accomplishments is as robust as possible.

Step 5: The Management and Operations Division (MOD) submits the draft biennial work programme to the Senior Management Board for review and clearance.

Step 6: The Management and Operations Division organizes consultations with the Committee of Permanent Representatives on the draft biennial work programme; the consultations are attended by all the Branches under the coordination of the Office of the Executive Director.

Step 7: Following consultations with the CPR, the Management and Operations Division submits the draft biennial work programme and budget to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), whose recommendations and report on extra-budgetary resources are submitted to the Governing Council to support its deliberations.

Step 8: The Management and Operations Division also submits the draft biennial work programme and budget to the Programme Planning and Budget Division, which coordinates the review of regular budget resources by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.

Step 9: The Executive Director presents and defends the draft biennial work programme and budget before the ACABQ.

Step 10: ACABQ reviews the draft biennial work programme and budget and provides its report to the Governing Council of UN-Habitat.

Step 11: The Governing Council of UN-Habitat approves the proposed biennial work programme and budget before final approval by the General Assembly.

15 This Handbook does not cover the resource component. It focuses on the programmatic aspects of the work programme and budget.

16 A/53/500 of 15 October 1998 - Office of Programme Planning Budget and Account




2.2.5 The Annual Work Plan


The annual work plan (AWP) is an internal document used to track and monitor progress in implementing the biennial work programme and budget. It is not subjected to the approval of intergovernmental bodies. The AWP is a very important tool for UN-Habitat as it also supports the resource mobilization strategy.

The annual work plan provides detailed output delivery planning and sets out what will be accomplished during each year of the biennium, and by each of each of the branches and regional offices.

It breaks down the biennial work programme and budget into two distinct annual plans, which helps to strengthen UN-Habitat’s implementation arrangements, plan resources, support monitoring and reporting, and have better control of activities. The AWP is UN-habitat operating plan and constitutes the last layer of planning at corporate level.

From the UN-Habitat annual work plan, individual offices (e.g. branches, regional offices, etc.) can extract their own annual work plan, which can also be translated into staff work plans.

Figure 23: Preparation of the annual workplan

The preparation of the AWP follows the approval of the work programme and budget. Outputs must be delivered within the biennium. The AWP contains:

  1. The expected accomplishments and indicators of achievements (taken from the WP&B);
  2. Sub-expected accomplishments (taken from results framework of the six-year strategic plan or from inputs to the preparation of WP&B);
  3. Approved work programme outputs (taken from the WP&B);
  4. Number of planned outputs for the whole biennium (taken from the WP&B);
  5. Number of planned outputs for the year being considered (to be provided by responsible offices and officers);
  6. Beneficiaries (to be provided by responsible offices and officers);
  7. Location where the output will be delivered (to be provided by responsible offices and officers);
  8. Responsible office and officer (taken from inputs to the preparation of WP&B, and to be reviewed and confirmed by responsible offices and officers);
  9. Internal and external partners, if any (to be provided by responsible offices and officers);
  10. Priority level (taken from the WP&B; each output is assigned a priority level ranging from 1 to 3 during the preparation of the WP&B);
  11. Funding needed to deliver the output (to be provided by responsible offices and officers); and
  12. Percentage of funding available (to be provided by responsible offices and officers).

Where possible, details on the projects or programmes through which various outputs are to be delivered should be provided.

The Quality Assurance Unit and the Programme Division coordinate the preparation of the AWP based on inputs from Branches and Regional Offices.

Steps and responsibilities in preparing the annual work plan

Step 1: QAU prepares a template (see template in annex 4) that includes the elements above; it fills out the template using data from the biennial work programme and budget.

Step 2: QAU sends the templates to all offices with instructions on how to fill it out and complete the required information.

Step 3: Offices return the duly filled out templates to the QAU by the deadline.

Step 4: QAU engages offices to obtain additional data, as applicable.

Step 5: QAU finalizes and issues the AWP, which is then used (i) to extract each office’s own annual work plans; (ii) to extract staff work plans; and (iii) for monitoring and reporting.