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Last week, I conducted an induction workshop for the UN Peacebuilding Fund in Guinea-Bissau to better plan, design and implement PBF projects. It was a fantastic opportunity to bring together UN Agencies, CSOs and the government to support better peacebuilding projects.

I was particularly impressed by how much national actors are keen to learn more about planning skills. Their attitude of wanting to absorb all the content was an important sign that there is indeed a possibility for them to become even more active players in defining priorities.

UNCT and particularly national actors, provided some of the most sophisticated analyses I've seen in a long time. Their nuanced take on challenges, dynamics, and priorities within the Guinea-Bissau peacebuilding was nothing less than impressive.

The main challenge was to translate these priorities into realistic and catalytic responses, with a strong monitoring and evaluation component. Their work on designing hypothetical responses during the workshop shows that, while some areas should still be enhanced, most are on the right track to developing more effective projects. But that must be ongoing work that goes beyond just one workshop.

Strengthening the planning capacity of peacebuilding actors is not simply a technical exercise. It requires continuous work by the individuals engaged in these processes, and strong institutional backing so that these skills can be well implemented.

I'm hopeful that the discussions we had last week (and continued this week) will positively contribute to ensuring that PBF projects in Guinea-Bissau indeed fulfil their catalytic role in the peacebuilding environment in a place often forgotten by other donors.

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  • Writer's pictureGustavo de Carvalho

Tomorrow, I fly back to Guinea-Bissau. I will be training the UN, government and civil society on better planning and implementation of UN Peacebuilding Fund projects. I will be reflecting thoughts on challenges and opportunities for peacebuilding planning.

Since the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Mission (UNIOGBIS), peacebuilding has been at a cross-road. Ensuring stronger national ownership and inclusivity on PBF projects is crucial for its success. Otherwise, peacebuilding will remain externally-led.

In most eligible countries, PBF resources are pretty small compared to broader official development assistance. In Guinea-Bissau, the PBF accounts for over 10% of all aid received by the country. Reflecting on what catalytic funding means is essential!

The international community has much to do. First, it needs to ensure better coordination and ensure that countries that need resources the most are not becoming "aid orphans". Providing more reliable and sustainable funding can make a significant difference.

In doing so, it comes my second point. The UN Peacebuilding Commission should become more active in galvanising resources and become a stronger actor in Guinea-Bissau itself. As the chair of GB configuration, Brazil needs to step up its game!

Institutionally, the gap left by the departure of UNIOGBIS. A new Resident Coordinator is to be identified soon. They will have a significant role in ensuring strategic coherence coordination and ensuring that national actors are in the driving seat.

But this brings me back to my first point on ownership. There is limited sustainability if national actors are not equipped (and at times even allowed) to be in the driving seat. External actors need to think more about "transferring" rather than "doing". More to come!

Gustavo de Carvalho

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African UN member states should act as unifiers and conveners rather than dividers. More coordination could help them overcome the structural challenges they face at the United Nations. This policy report was published by the Council on Foreign Relations' International Institutions and Global Governance Program.

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Gustavo de Carvalho

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