photo of UNAMID base at Um Baru
Thousands of newly displaced persons seek shelter outside the UNAMID base in Um Baru, North Darfur. UN Photo/Hamid Abdulsalam

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides an integrated framework for action aimed at markedly improving the lives of the world’s people, protecting the Earth’s natural resources, and fostering peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Both the General Assembly and the Security Council have expressly recognized that development, peace and security, and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, and that an integrated and coherent approach among actors is critical to sustaining peace, improving respect for human rights, and advancing development.

To provide the UN system with a common tool to help achieve such an approach, an analytical framework on risk and resilience was developed through a rigorous consultative process by a task team of the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP), led by the World Food Programme (WFP), over a period of 18 months.

Analytical framework on risk and resilience 

The analytical framework presents a more proactive, risk-informed and prevention-centered approach to United Nations system efforts in support of the 2030 Agenda that promotes coherent and coordinated system-wide engagement. It seeks to advance a harmonized understanding and application of the concepts of risk and resilience across sustainable development, humanitarian, peace and security and human rights efforts of the United nations system, as a basis to promote coherent and holistic analysis and joint planning. 

At the core of the framework are three elements -- systems thinking, the risk and resilience equation and a prevention “lens” – that can be combined to form a coordinated approach to addressing threats that could set back progress to the Sustainable Development Goals. Systems thinking can be used to describe the fundamental relationships among risks and other sustainable development issues at multiple levels, while a risk and resilience equation is useful for organizing efforts across pillars and for defining collective outcomes.  Applying a prevention lens is intended to help foster a proactive approach when implementing measures in order to increase resilience and lower risks. 

Pairing the risk-informed, proactive approach outlined in the framework with effective efforts to support progress on the Sustainable Development Goals is expected to help maximize the impact of United Nations work at country level. To that end, the Framework is being taken forward towards country-level operationalization within the mechanism of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG). More broadly, given its emphasis on bringing together the different United Nations pillars around collective outcomes and its applicability to all types of threats, the framework will serve to operationalize the humanitarian-development-peace-human rights nexus and complement ongoing initiatives, such as the “New Way of Working” initiative of the Agenda for Humanity and the United Nations System Strategic Approach on Climate Change Action 

About the development of the framework

Deliberations on diverse topics - including conflict prevention and peacebuilding, disaster risk reduction, cross-pillar coordination and, more generally, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda - at HLCP’s 30th session in October 2015 all pointed to a common need for the articulation of a coherent policy framework on managing risks and building resilience. Through these discussions, the Committee identified risk management and resilience-building as common threads connecting different pillars of UN mandates towards the shared goal of prevention. 

In March 2016, HLCP subsequently considered a think-piece on risk analysis, prevention, and resilience building presented by WFP. The Committee decided to conduct more in-depth analysis on these concepts and requested WFP to lead an informal task team to take this work forward.  In April 2016, CEB, in endorsing the Common Principles for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, identified HLCP’s work as critical to operationalizing the principles and underscored an expectation for HLCP to deepen the UN system’s conceptual understanding of risk, prevention, and resilience, perhaps towards articulating a system-wide policy. 

In line with these decisions, an HLCP task team, led by WFP and composed of 25 volunteering entities was formed to advance the work on this topic.   

Subsequently, in September 2016, HLCP considered a paper prepared by the task team that examined individual concepts related to risk, resilience, and prevention; the linkages between them; and their application in relation to the different pillars of the UN Charter and, ultimately, for supporting risk-informed programming. HLCP agreed with the paper’s conclusion that there was potential for developing a more coherent framework. To move forward, the Committee requested the task team to deepen its work on interoperability of concepts and a potential conceptual framework on risk and resilience.  

In March 2017, HLCP members offered feedback on a proposed approach on risk and resilience for better cross-pillar integration risk and resilience approach put forward by the HLCP task team. The Committee confirmed its support for the proposal and requested that the task team finalize it for approval at the following session. Accordingly, in September 2017, HLCP approved the Analytical Framework on Risk and Resilience, which was subsequently endorsed by the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) in November 2017.