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The normative work of the Department of Regional and Field Cooperation (RFC) at regional and global level is strongly focused on convening events and fora which provide a platform for the broad dissemination of technical reports, data products and other information that promote the development and wider adoption of standards, guidelines, best practices, benchmarks, and other instruments.

At the country level, normative activities are more effective when implemented particularly through integrated approaches, such as PCPs and Country Programmes (CP), where they are intertwined with other UNIDO functions (policy, convening, technical cooperation) to achieve greater transformational impact.

Regional and global strategies developed under the framework of RFC’s work, such as the UNIDO Strategic Framework for Partnering with Middle-income Countries, the UNIDO strategic framework for partnering and supporting the least developed and landlocked developing countries beyond 2021, or the UNIDO Small Island Developing States Strategy 2019–2025, have a strong normative component.

This is usually reflected not only through the promotion of specific industrial standards, but also by the adoption of regional and global declarations or agreements, including for example the San Jose Declaration of middle-income countries (2013) or the Ministerial Declaration of the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the Least Developed Countries (2021). These regional and global strategies are usually prepared in consultation with Member States from the respective regions and country groups.

The integration of RFC’s normative work with other relevant UNIDO functions, such as its policy and convening function, is a growing trend in the Department’s ongoing normative activities.

Looking to the future, one way to further strengthen normative work would be by developing a set of guidelines and methodologies for applying normative tools at country and regional level. This would better equip field representatives to respond to government requests for normative support or to inform them on the specific relevance of related industrial norms and standards for achieving their development objectives. It would also help to reflect on how PCP and CP frameworks can be used to enhance UNIDO’s normative function.

At the regional level, UNIDO’s normative role could be further enhanced by using existing UNIDO platforms for multi-stakeholder dialogue to promote harmonization of norms and standards, ultimately helping achieve greater regional integration. Establishing regional platforms that serve as a digital one-stop service for information and resources on international or regional normative standards and guidelines would also strengthen normative activities. Such a platform – the SDG 9 Accelerator – already exists for Latin America and the Caribbean.