International Labour Organization - Regular Budget Supplementary Account (RBSA) - Annual Report
“There have been calls too for more Regular Budget Supplementary Account (RBSA) contributions, and the existing RBSA contributors have shared with us their own needs and expectations. I want to express particular appreciation to them and to give assurances that the Office’s own internal guidance and practices will be responsive to those requirements.”
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder, in response to the Governing Body’s discussion, Programme and Budget 2018-2019
“The continued support of the RBSA partners has provided the ILO with the flexibility to allocate this funding to the priorities of the Organization in an agile and timely manner as a complement to other resources. It has also enabled the Office to leverage its influence within UN programming frameworks in countries, to steer work on SDGs, and to respond to urgent needs. The RBSA targeted in particular lower middle-income and low-income countries.”
ILO Programme Implementation Report, 2016-17
What is the RBSA?
The Regular Budget Supplementary Account (RBSA) is the ILO’s Core Voluntary Funding modality. It provides ILO development partners with an efficient channel to contribute unearmarked funding to the ILO in full compliance with the guidelines of the Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD-DAC).
Over the past ten years a group of eight donors have supported the RBSA: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
Understanding flexible funding
Understanding flexible fundingA New Approach to Development Cooperation
After more than 50 years of experience in development cooperation, the ILO has a larger portfolio than ever. It comprises more than 700 active programmes and projects in more than 100 countries, supported by 120 development partners.
This cooperation connects the ILO to women and men around the world, and promotes the ILO’s role on the global stage. It also reinforces the technical and institutional capacity of ILO constituents, enabling them to develop and put into practice policies that respond to the needs of people for decent work, livelihoods, and dignity.
The ILO’s Development Cooperation Strategy underpins the Organization’s commitment to promoting the Decent Work Agenda in support of the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. It affirms the ILO’s mission to increase and diversify its resources and partnerships at the global, national, and local levels.
The RBSA funding modality allows ILO development partners to contribute to a pool of unearmarked, flexible, and voluntary resources. The RBSA is the gold standard of good donorship, as defined by UN policy.
ILO FUNDING BASE
The ILO’s funding base consists of three components:
Assessed contributions, also known as the regular budget, are the funds provided by all ILO member States by virtue of their membership. In the period 2016-17, the ILO’s regular budget amounted to $797.4 million.
Allocated voluntary funding supports specific global and national programmes, with a clear timeline, geographic location, and thematic focus. In the period of 2016-2017, the ILO received $611.5 million in such funding.
Core voluntary funding, also known as the RBSA, provides a pool of flexible resources allocated by the ILO to strategic areas, geographic areas, or themes less endowed by other extra-budgetary resources, and emerging priorities. In the period 2016-17, the ILO received $29.3 million from eight countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
Allocated voluntary funding supports specific global and national programmes, with a clear timeline, geographic location, and thematic focus. In the period of 2016-2017, the ILO received $611.5 million in such funding;
Core voluntary funding, also known as the RBSA, provides a pool of flexible resources allocated by the ILO to strategic areas, geographic areas, or themes less endowed by other extra-budgetary resources, and emerging priorities. In the period 2016-17, the ILO received $29.3 million from eight countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden;
Assessed contributions, also known as the regular budget, are the funds provided by all ILO member States by virtue of their membership. In the period 2016-17, the ILO’s regular budget amounted to $797.4 million.
Origins of the RBSA
The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of 2005 sparked a transition toward more flexible development aid.
In 2008, the ILO created the RBSA to address unmet calls for assistance from constituents in developing countries in an adaptive, agile, and timely manner.
Since the launch of the RBSA, development partners have expressed appreciation for its flexibility.
Only countries eligible to receive Official Development Assistance (ODA) obtain RBSA resources. The RBSA modality allows the ILO to allocate funds when and where they are most needed, including in addition to other resources, within the overall ILO results framework. RBSA enables the ILO to expand, accelerate, deepen, and replicate existing interventions, especially in countries that do not attract voluntary contributions as easily as others do.
Over the past ten years, a group of eight donors have supported the RBSA: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. At the time of writing, the RBSA has mobilized a total of more than $200 million.
Others (One-off): United Kingdom, Spain, Kuwait, Ireland, Brazil, Poland
Note: 2018-19 figures in USD (‘000) as at 31 December 2018
RBSA allocations in 2016
RBSA allocations in 2017
Complementing other ILO resources, the RBSA has been instrumental in supporting Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) priorities and outcomes, as well as the achievement of decent work results in ODA-eligible countries.
In particular, the RBSA has allowed the ILO to:
Launch innovative initiatives;
Prioritize emerging needs;
Sustain results of successful interventions;
Enable constituents' participation in policies and programmes;
The initiative allowed people to develop new skills and secure new jobs. Women in particular gained the capacity to become entrepreneurs and technicians in the solar energy sector. Following the pilot’s success, the Government of Australia later funded a larger programme.
270 women have the capacity to become entrepreneurs in the solar energy sector, of whom 114 are assembly line workers and 20 are trainers
116 people have the capacity to become solar power system technicians, of whom 47 are technicians and 16 are trainers
440 people have the capacity to utilize bio slurry, all of whom apply it in their crop fields or fish ponds.
Prioritizing emerging needs
Prioritizing emerging needsPromoting Jobs for Peace & Resilience after Conflict & Disaster
The Syrian refugee crisis is one of the longest and most complex humanitarian emergencies of modern history. Neighbouring countries – Lebanon and Jordan – have accommodated large numbers of people fleeing the country. Recently, however, increased job competition has strained social cohesion between refugees and their host communities in those countries.
As part of the wider UN response to the crisis, and with RBSA contributions, the ILO has established a development-focused, employment-driven project to support refugees within their new communities.
In 2017, based on the success of the pilot programme, Germany and Norway partnered to support two employment-intensive investment programs in Lebanon and Jordan. To date, the joint projects have lifted 4,638 people out of joblessness.
At the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London in 2016, the Government of Jordan committed to creating 200,000 jobs through the Jordan Compact. This is just one result of the ILO’s evidence-based advocacy on behalf of Syrian refugees’ right to work.
The ILO continues to implement innovative approaches to allow refugees to develop skills, access work permits, and gain jobs. From January 2016 to April 2018 Jordan issued nearly 100,000 work permits for refugees. Of those, 36,368 were granted by 22 cooperatives and 14,422 were granted by trade unions in the construction sector. ILO support made this possible.
These RBSA-funded interventions position the ILO as a leading UN agency working for the employment and livelihoods of Syrian refugees in the region.
Expanding Exceptional Projects
Expanding Exceptional ProjectsSuccesses that Have a Positive Multiplier Effect
Empowering women entrepreneurs in the tanning sector in Senegal
Senegal’s informal economy is sprawling, accounting for a large part of the national economy. However, informal jobs are insecure and often low in quality. For example, the tanning sector in Senegal suffered from notoriously harsh working conditions, especially for female workers. The ILO mobilized RBSA funding to formalize their jobs.
With ILO support, women in the tanning sector in the Dakar suburbs established a formal cooperative. They replaced their dangerous and unsafe working conditions with safer environments. The use of protective materials and equipment is now mandatory.
86 women organized into seven small economic units within the cooperative
More than 300 workers moved from the informal to the formal economy
Working and living conditions in tannery sites improved
Productivity increased, resulting in a 25 per cent income increasefor more than 300 people
Women have joined trade unions and participated in social dialogue
15 women have gained leadership positions in their communities.
Enabling Constituents’ Participation
Enabling Constituents’ Participation Benefits of Collaboration in Polices & Programmes
Strengthening trade unions working for women’s rights in Bolivia
Excessive hours, poverty wages, and denial of weekend, vacation, and maternity time off are widespread problems in Bolivia. The ILO works to help trade unions mainstream the Decent Work Agenda into the country’s strategies, policies, approaches, and programmes.
In 2014 the country approved the Individual Work Contract for domestic workers and developed a proposal for a Supreme Decree, which would ensure that domestic workers enjoy social security benefits. In this framework, the ILO developed the capacity of workers, and especially of women workers, in compliance with the ILO Conventions that Bolivia has ratified— in particular the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189).
The ILO assisted the Bolivian Workers’ Confederation (COB) in creating a strategic plan to protect workers’ rights, particularly in the mining, manufacturing, construction, and domestic sectors. In addition, the plan called for the creation of inter-sectoral committees to address issues such as minimum wage and freedom of association.
Leveraging further funding
Leveraging further fundingStrategic Use of Existing Resources & Expertise
Demonstrating the potential of the renewable energy sector in Somalia
Unemployment is one of the most pressing challenges Somali youth face today. To overcome it, the ILO built strong connections between humanitarian and developmental support systems to develop employment-intensive investment strategies. The ILO also integrated skills development with direct employment, boosting the employability of young people.
By expanding access to renewable energy, Somali businesses increase their productivity and competitiveness, alleviate poverty, improve health and education, and bolster security. Together, this could also lead to increased investment.
RBSA funds provided for the ILO to leverage resources, expertise, and synergies at the country level to create a pilot project in Somalia. Collaboration within the UN system got the project off the ground.
Based on the lessons learned and good practices involved in the pilot, Sweden approved a $7 million project: Renewable Energy Skills Training and Women Economic Development.
The project seeks to unlock the potential of Somalia’s renewable energy sector.
Collaborating across the United Nations System
Collaborating across the United Nations System Sustainable Partnerships & Projects
Helping to end forced labour in the cotton industry of Uzbekistan
Nearly a quarter of the adult population of Uzbekistan – more than three million people – takes part in the country’s annual cotton harvest. About two-thirds of them are women.
The ILO has been monitoring the harvest since 2013, investigating child labour in particular. In 2015, with funding from the RBSA and the United States, the World Bank partnered with the ILO to monitor the harvest for forced labour as well.
This effort helped the country eradicate child labour, but the forced labour of adults persists.
From July to August 2017, more than 6,300 cotton picker recruiters received training and tools to reduce both child and forced labour in the recruitment phase. In 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution to highlight Uzbekistan’s efforts to prevent and eliminate child and forced labour, and to eradicate coercive recruitment practices.
In March 2017, the ratification of the Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement formalized a partnership between the European Union and Uzbekistan. The treaty extended provisions to cover the bilateral trade in textiles.
10 Years of RBSA
10 Years of RBSALessons Learned & Forward Momentum
The RBSA has enabled the ILO to expand, accelerate, deepen, and replicate its existing development cooperation programmes. It has also allowed the ILO to work within thematic areas and in member States that attract fewer voluntary contributions than others do.
For example, research and labour statistics are crucial for labour market policy design, but it is difficult to mobilize traditional development cooperation funding for that purpose.
The RBSA is subject to the same governance and oversight rules as the ILO’s regular budget. The ILO reports on the results of its actions, including those achieved with RBSA contributions, in its biennial Programme Implementation Report. RBSA projects are regularly evaluated on the basis of the ILO’s results-based evaluation policy and strategy.
Requests for RBSA are initiated and submitted by ILO country offices within an overall integrated resource framework. They subsequently pass through an appraisal mechanism involving the Regional Offices, technical departments at headquarters, the Partnership and Field Support Department, and the Strategic Programming and Management Department. This mechanism ensures ownership, transparency, consistency, and timeliness.
RBSA funds are allocated to Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs) based on the following criteria:
The strategic fit of the proposal with the DWCP outcomes, aligned with the biennial targets established in the ILO’s Programme and Budget, the national development objectives, the United Nations’ country programme goals, and the Sustainable Development Goals
Tripartite involvement and support
The soundness and feasibility of the proposed strategy to deliver substantial decent work results
Complementarity with existing resources and efforts and perspective to leverage additional contributions
Contribution of the proposal to gender equality and non-discrimination, the promotion and application of international labour standards, social dialogue, and a just transition to environmental sustainability
Since 2016, the ILO has concentrated most RBSA funding on least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile states, including countries impacted by the Syrian refugee crisis. The ILO has put in place a fast-track allocation process to that effect.
The ILO does allocate a small portion of RBSA resources to middle-income countries (MICs) listed as eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA), as established by the OECD-DAC, in particular to complement domestic funds allocated by national institutions. In such allocations to MICs, where possible the ILO requests relevant government agencies to provide in-kind contributions or co-financing.
Since RBSA funds are unearmarked and combined with other ILO resources to realize decent work results, it is not possible to attribute a particular result to a particular donor (or group of donors). Nevertheless, the ILO ensures that RBSA contributors can assess how the funds make a difference:
The ILO website details RBSA highlights and results. A series of factsheets is also accessible. These mark the ILO’s latest efforts towards greater transparency and better communication with contributors. They build on the existing biennial update, which provides an overview of funding received and allocations made.
Each year during the March and November sessions of its Governing Body, the ILO hosts an informal review meeting at its headquarters in Geneva. The meeting comprises the eight RBSA donors, Governing Body delegates, and staff from permanent missions in Geneva. The purpose of the meeting is to review progress, discuss challenges and opportunities, and strengthen the partnership between the ILO and the group of RBSA donors.
As part of a general review of its funding options, in 2014 the ILO commissioned a mid-term review to explore the value and function of the RBSA. The study focused on two questions:
Are unearmarked contributions effective as a funding modality?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using this funding modality compared to other modalities available to the ILO?
The study sought to assess the potential of unearmarked voluntary funding for the ILO and its partners. The study’s findings and recommendations were discussed at informal review meetings and steered subsequent ILO action to improve further the RBSA modality.
Interactions between partners
Since 2015 the ILO has organized annual visits to programme countries for development partners. Participants generally consider field visits useful because they allow for greater understanding of the ILO’s operations in practice, including their interaction with local stakeholders and other international organizations.
The goals of the visits are to:
Improve interaction in the technical content of the ILO’s work and country programmes, for which development partners provide voluntary contributions;
Provide evidence of how decent work results are achieved by constituents in member States with ILO support;
Show that RBSA funds address emerging needs, position the ILO as a lead UN agency for employment and livelihoods, and leverage additional funds from development partners.
The ILO’s development partners visited Zambia in 2015, Jordan in 2017, and Senegal in 2018.
1. Zambia, September 2015
Participants had the chance to visit project sites in Zambia. They met with the team in the ILO’s Lusaka Office and with the social partners.
2. Jordan, January 2017
After the success of the 2015 visit to Zambia, the ILO organized a visit to Jordan. Participants met with representatives of the Ministry of Labour, the team in the ILO’s Amman Office, and the social partners. They also visited Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) project sites.
In a tripartite meeting with the relevant ministries and the social partners, participants discussed the ILO’s contributions to the national Decent Work Agenda in the context of the ongoing refugee crisis.
3. Senegal, April 2018
The field visit to Senegal in 2018 was a response to one of the action points that arose in the RBSA meeting of 2017. RBSA contributors were interested in learning more about how the Decent Work Agenda is promoted there, especially regarding the interactions between local stakeholders.
As part of the ILO-wide commitment to strengthening results-based management (RBM) for development, the ILO ensures that RBSA funds match the priorities and outcomes established in the biennial Programme and Budget at the global level, and DWCPs at the country level.
RBSA allocations, as part of the ILO’s overall integrated resource framework, enhance collaboration between ILO field offices and technical units at headquarters, and allow for better planning and delivery of decent work outcomes.
A new, interactive application displays in a map all of the ILO’s planned and completed evaluations, recommendations, lessons learned, and good practices.
The application includes both RBSA-funded projects and thematic RBSA evaluations, such as RBSA support to selected Country Programme Outcomes (CPOs) concerning the promotion of employment during the 2012-13 biennium.
Evaluations of the RBSA adhere to ILO evaluation policy, which is aligned with UN-wide practices and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)/Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Guidelines.
Regional offices are responsible for developing evaluation plans in consultation with the ILO’s Evaluation Office. The latter assesses the quality of RBSA evaluations and reports to the ILO’s Governing Body through its Annual Evaluation Reports.
Evaluations can catalyse change and lead to new approaches and plans.
In the biennial quality appraisals which the ILO’s Evaluation Office assigns to external consultants, a number of evaluation reports includes those for RBSA. A review of these studies shows that the average quality rating of the RBSA evaluations is slightly higher than that of non-RBSA evaluations.
Clarify the purpose, definition, and rules of the RBSA funding modality and inform donors accordingly
Confine the RBSA to its original function as a unified account for unearmarked resources
Return the RBSA to its role as an instrument for strategic response, adjusting its allocations appropriately
Explore the options for overcoming the limitations imposed on the RBSA by the biennial appropriation framework
Complement the oversight and accountability structure for unearmarked RBSA resources
Promote strategic partnerships with donors according to the RBSA modality.
For the past ten years the RBSA has been the ILO’s core voluntary funding modality. Today, the RBSA represents one of the most effective and efficient aid resources of the ILO, and its positive effects would not be possible without the continued support of the eight donor countries: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
Looking forward, the ILO and its partners must determine how to develop further one of its key resources in the promotion of the Decent Work Agenda through development cooperation.
Three important developments support the expansion of RBSA as the gold standard of voluntary funding to the ILO:
The 2018 International Labour Conference resolution concerning effective ILO development cooperation in support of the Sustainable Development Goals sets the future direction of the ILO’s development cooperation programme. The resolution calls for enhanced resource mobilization through voluntary funding from public and private development partners, domestic funds, and UN funding modalities.
Member States of the UN have welcomed Resolution A/RES/72/279 and the call by the Secretary-General for a Funding Compact, as a critical tool to maximize the investments of member States in the UN development system and the system’s transparency and accountability for system-wide actions and results. The Funding Compact aims to improve the level, predictability, and sustainability of UN development system funding. It addresses the imbalance between core and non-core resources, as well as the quality of voluntary and grant-based funds. The Funding Compact requests that the UN development system enhances the visibility of member States’ contributions to core resources and pooled funds, as well as the relevant results.
The outcome of the discussion on the future of work at the Centenary International Labour Conference in 2019 will provide strategic direction for the ILO at a time when the world of work is undergoing profound and rapid transformation. In this context, the RBSA will continue to be a cornerstone of the ILO strategy to scale up its support for more impactful development cooperation that responds to the evolving needs of its members. Learn more about how the Organization aims to achieve its social mandate in the upcoming years.
The ILO has estimated RBSA expenditure at $36.4 million in 2018-2019. This is an increase of 20 per cent on expenditure for 2016-17, and will require the support of additional donors. To do so, the ILO must do the following:
Report on the results of RBSA for donors’ benefit, in alignment with RBSA principles, and provide tools for the advocacy of RBSA;
Demonstrate the value of unearmarked resources through evidence of the RBSA’s cost-effectiveness and overall impact;
Develop RBSA communications materials, including beneficiary testimonies;
Engage more directly with the representatives of donors both centrally and at the local level;
Plan more field visits to, RBSA-targeted countries;
Explore the possibilities of direct engagement between the ILO and OECD/DAC members who do not yet support the RBSA funding modality. Engage with the ministries representing those countries at the ILO, as well as with ministries of foreign affairs and development cooperation. Current RBSA donors may support such advocacy.
The RBSA is consistent with the Aid Effectiveness agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and SDG 17 on the global partnership for sustainable development. When donors provide unearmarked aid, they increase the effectiveness of that aid.