01 February 2020

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF) outlines methodology for INFF inception phase

The inception phase is crucial for a healthy start of the process that leads to an INFF. The methodology published by the IATF in January 2020 offers a step-by-step guidance and is also grounded on early experiences by pioneer countries.

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The inception phase is crucial for a healthy start of the process that leads to an INFF. The methodology published by the IATF in January 2020 offers a step-by-step guidance and is also grounded on early experiences by pioneer countries.


Navid Hanif
Director, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Building Block

Inception phase

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#INFF #IATF #Guidance

In January 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF) released the first in a series of guidance documents aimed at supporting countries in designing and implementing integrated national financing frameworks (INFFs). The focus of this first module is the INFF inception phase. It builds on the thematic chapter of the 2019 Financing for Sustainable Development report as well as early country experiences in INFF inception and provides an overview of both the INFF technical dimension – how countries can start the process of operationalising an INFF – and its political dimension – who should be involved.

Where and how to start

The inception phase module suggests the following three steps: 

  1. Scoping exercise. This involves reviewing and collating data sources, existing analyses, policies and other relevant information and basic materials related to each of the four INFF building blocks; as well as national development strategies and plans, which form the basis the INFF. The aim is to create a snapshot of financing trends and gaps; map existing policies and instruments, including targets, commitments and contributions to sustainable development priorities; determine gaps in data, reporting and monitoring systems; and identify relevant stakeholders and governance structures. Typical sources of data and information are provided in the module to guide this step.
  2. Identification of institutional arrangements required to operationalise the INFF. This involves agreeing on INFF oversight processes and how to establish or incorporate them within existing governance structures. A central driving institution – an oversight committee or body at the highest level of government –will have authority to lead the full INFF process, consult with other stakeholders, set up a technical secretariat (if necessary) and shape the country’s financing strategy.
  3. Roadmap of next steps for INFF implementation. Elements to consider include whether further assessment and diagnostics are to be undertaken; the process and responsibilities for developing a financing strategy and related monitoring framework; and timelines, milestones and any required support from development partners. Next steps can be set out in a separate INFF roadmap document or as part of existing work plans and can be amended or strengthened following a full assessment and diagnostics phase (building block 1).

A practical checklist detailing the components of each step is included in the guidance module, as well as links to major tools and information sources available at the international level.

Lessons from early experiences in INFF inception

Experience from early implementers of INFFs, such as Cabo Verde and Kyrgyzstan, highlight key lessons that can be used to inform good practices going forward.

  • Government needs to be in the driver’s seat. Political backing is needed from the highest level, along with leadership at the senior technical level. A crucial function of the inception phase is to ensure national ownership of the INFF from the outset. Relevant line ministries and government departments or agencies beyond those serving on the INFF oversight committee, which is typically led by ministry of planning or finance, should be actively involved.
  • All relevant stakeholders need to be brought on board from the start in an inclusive manner to create broad-based buy-in for the INFF. These stakeholders include civil society, the private sector, political institutions, the legislature, development partners including international financing institutions and UN agencies, and academia. The INFF oversight committee may bring representatives together as members of a consultative body to review and advise on financing policies and interventions suggested in the context of the INFF.
  • National priorities and needs should guide the inception phase. Early experience shows that the initial steps in the INFF process and the resulting roadmaps vary from country to country. For example, in Cabo Verde the inception phase was carried out in conjunction with a Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (for further information on MAPS please consult the following publication: MAPS - Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support for the 2030 Agenda) process and was thus able to benefit from relevant insight on priority actions and accelerating investments. As a result, a short inception phase led to a draft INFF roadmap, which proposed a more detailed assessment and diagnostics exercise to be undertaken. In Kyrgyzstan, a scoping mission outlined the institutional basis for the INFF and initiated a development finance assessment to carry out an in-depth inception phase – including a full diagnostic – in support of INFF development.