31st UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board Meeting
NGO Delegates for North America
6. Monitoring and Evaluation Reference Group (MERG) (pdf)
We are happy to hear that the MERG has been recently reconstituted through an open call process and seeded with experts in M&E. We are particularly happy to hear about priorities of the new MERG and the particular focus on civil society and key programs. From the NGO Delegation’s perspective, it is imperative that all MERG members, especially those representing civil society are accountable to the concerns and priorities of civil society, especially people living with HIV, including key affected groups. We remain concerned that neither the NGO delegation to the PCB nor the constituency-led global organizations (e.g., GNP+, INPUD, MSMGF, NSW) were engaged in the nomination process. This makes it difficult to hold MERG delegates accountable to the concerns of civil society. We have formally communicated these concerns to the MERG, which has since noted them with openness.
Moving forward, it is essential that the newly constituted MERG be more deliberate and strategic in engaging the NGO delegation and constituency-led global organizations when soliciting expert advice and civil society input. This is especially important in light of the MERG’s newly established and important priorities.
The NGO Delegation views the participation of Co-Sponsors as central to the MERG’s work. At present, this occurs through a link with and representation from the Co-sponsors’ Evaluation Working Group or CEWG. At the request of the CEWG, the NGO Delegation has designated a focal point who will work closely with the group on civil society-related issues. We call on the MERG and the CEWG to strengthen and expand these links.
Recalling the Decision Point from the 28th meeting of the PCB, Agenda Item 6, we further request that the reconstituted MERG coordinate closely with the CEWG to strengthen and refine indicators of civil society engagement, including guidance for reporting resourcing of civil society-related activities within the UBRAF. We understand that this is no small undertaking and stand ready to support realistic but expedient monitoring and evaluation of civil society engagement in order to further strengthen the work of UNAIDS.
We note that UNAIDS is host to the MERG’s Secretariat and as such reports to the Executive Director. Among its various responsibilities, the MERG Secretariat coordinates development of a yearly work plan, as well as prepares and convenes the biannual MERG meeting. In addition, the MERG Secretariat may assist in the identification of MERG Network experts. We, therefore, look forward to regular and relevant updates of MERG activities in the Executive Director’s report to the PCB.