Getting the right resources
After the second meeting of the financing dialogue, Linda Muller sat down with Zsuzsanna Jakab to discuss resource mobilization for the Organization.
Zsuzsanna Jakab (left) is Regional Director for Europe. Before taking up the post in 2010, she founded the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), in Stockholm, Sweden. She has been the State Secretary at the Hungarian Ministry of Health, Social and Family Affairs and has held senior management roles at the WHO Euro office.
Linda Muller is the project manager of the Financing Dialogue.
Linda Muller: Can you tell us a little bit about your own experience with resource mobilization?
Zsuzsanna Jakab: I think everyone in the Organization has done resource mobilization, including the Regional Directors. My experience at WHO is that we have always done it in a very uncoordinated way. I have often been struck by the duplications and lack of coordination between divisions and major offices. In one country I was told that in the last two days they had met with five WHO directors, all looking to raise funds for their programmes, and none of them were aware of the others! This is bad for WHO’s image and credibility. We have to rely heavily on resource mobilization since voluntary contributions are a large part of our funding. With the financing dialogue and the new way of raising funds we are moving away from the way we have done business in the past.
Linda Muller: You, together with Deputy Director-General Dr Asamoa-Baah, led the Task Force on Resource Mobilization and Management Strategies. Tell us more about that process.
Zsuzsanna Jakab: It was a great experience to work in a truly global task force. We had representatives from all major offices, all very knowledgeable about resource mobilization. All regions were represented through DPMs/DRD and WRs. We worked in a global spirit and in an open working environment—everyone could be as honest as they wanted, as it was not a formal setting. That is the good thing about these task forces—you are not bound to any rules, so you can be very open and transparent with your thoughts—and that helped to advance the work. We could openly discuss the problems we identified with mismanagement of resources. “The one who raises the money owns the money” has basically been the approach. So it is not only that externally it was uncoordinated but also internally. The resources were not considered corporate resources for the organization. They were considered resources for the individual who raised them, often resources that came from their own country.
Linda Muller: What I take away from the task force, the discussions in the financing dialogue and the bilateral meetings that we held between the June meeting and now is that we are now firmly moving towards one WHO. We are moving away from the individual approach to a corporate approach and if RDs, ADGs or Directors are going to a Member State to talk about financing, they may be highlighting their own programme but you are also talking about the whole Organization. That is a radical departure from where we are now.
Zsuzsanna Jakab: Exactly! What we need is coordinated and integrated resource mobilization. We still have to work out HOW we will do it. It is a very logical step, but changing the culture and implementing this change in the Organization will take time. It will need strong leadership from the top, from the Global Policy Group and the ADGs.
Linda Muller: And also trust. Trust is a word that I heard several times during the course of the two days. If, and only if, Directors have a level of confidence that money will come to their programmes, they will play ball. So trust is needed. The trust is not there now because the money has not been there for them before. This will take time.
Zsuzsanna Jakab: At the Global Policy Group meeting in March 2014 we need to discuss how we distribute the resources internally. When the Directors see that they are receiving funds through the financing dialogue and other ways of doing resource mobilization (for example, bilateral discussions), they will become engaged. Currently there are pockets of poverty in every major office. Some programmes and offices have a hard time paying salaries. Some clusters have been cooperating and sharing, while others have not had that approach. We have to bring everyone together in a truly corporate spirit and trusting relationship, as outlined by the Task Force.
Linda Muller: In closing, a couple of comments from you on the outcomes of the Financing Dialogue?
Zsuzsanna Jakab: I thought it was an excellent meeting, much better than anyone expected. Through the reform process, we have managed to build trust with our Member States and with many of our donors. Throughout this meeting, you could feel a spirit of trust and for me that was the most positive message. There was no criticism or tension – just a very positive working environment. Everyone tried to find constructive solutions. They appreciate that the Organization is trying to move forward. Also, many countries came with pledges, even if they had to say that these were subject to approval by their parliaments. But it is a very positive sign of trust.
Linda Muller: . . . and that is a first for WHO.
Zsuzsanna Jakab: That is the first time it has happened for WHO—and it is very important. At this point, the preliminary figures show that we have close to 85% funding pledges for the next biennium, if all the pledges come in. But then we need to analyse the situation carefully. There are programmes and areas that are not well funded. We need to identify those and do active resource mobilization to ensure that all areas come up to a sufficient funding level. It is also important to distribute the resources. When the DDG said that we had pledges for 85% of the budget, I had a quick look at the situation for the European Region; the funding there thus far is 50%. So we have to analyse the situation and come up with a plan—first identify where the gaps are, and then identify how to fill these gaps. We have to go out in a coordinated way to Member States and donors. The one who does the resource mobilization has to do it for the whole Organization. So we have to make global plans.
Linda Muller: One thing that I would urge caution on is that right now we have a programme budget that is funded to 61%; the 85% is if all pledges materialize. We have to be very careful because we cannot spend pledges! So there is work to be done to operationalize all the pledges and then we can go out to fill the remaining gaps. What was very interesting for me was that our non-State contributors were also at the –table—the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, Rotary, , UNITAID—they also engaged in a new way and presented us with pledges. That was another positive sign of trust and commitment by non-State actors to the priorities set by our Member States. We can never take that for granted.
Zsuzsanna Jakab: Internally, we have to bring in some discipline into the process and we need to set up a global team to lead this. I’ve already said that to my team in Copenhagen: “From now on you cannot just go out to Member States and ask for money; we will coordinate internally”. We need to have this approach in the whole Organization.
Linda Muller: The UK illustrated this well by giving the Director-General a carrot! We need carrots as well as sticks in advancing the new resource mobilization approach!
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