Review of the secretariat structure and operations

In March 2018, the secretariat engaged an external consultancy to assist in undertaking a thorough review of the organizational operations and structure with the objective of determining how best to adapt the organization to manage current and new workstreams in a manner that maximizes on synergies and ensures that the secretariat remains “fit for purpose” to support, in an effective and cost-efficient manner, mandated work under the Convention, The Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.  

The review included an examination of three interlinked areas:

  1. organizational structures and operations - to better align secretariat capabilities and structure to respond to the emerging support needs of governments under the Paris Agreement, while at the same time delivering on a large portfolio of continuing mandates that Parties have given the secretariat over the years;
  2. allocation of core and supplementary resources - to provide clarity on the structure, functions and funding model necessary for the secretariat to deliver its services;
  3. administrative services – to improve cost effectiveness and sustainability.

The external consultancy applied a five-stage methodology using a participatory, inclusive and transparent process, involving over 340 staff in surveys, meetings, workshops and focus group discussions over a nine-month period to achieve the project’s objective. On January 18, 2019, a final report was submitted by the consultancy containing conclusions and recommendations relating to:

  • overarching management and coordination mechanisms;
  • configuration of the secretariat;
  • funding models; and,
  • planning for change.

The secretariat’s senior management reviewed the conclusions and recommendations between the 28-30 January 2019 and agreed upon a course of action to be under-taken in 2019 for developing, refining and strengthening the organization’s culture, operations and structure.

Summary of key recommendations

Overarching management and coordination mechanisms- recommendations were in relation to the strengthening of:

  • internal management mechanisms and decision-making processes;
  • organizational development and oversight (ODO) functions, including establishing a centralized internal control framework;
  • leadership development and practices essential to flexible, collaborative and sustainable working practices that allow the organization to continually and effectively adapt;
  • policies, processes and tools that fully support work practices while reducing bureaucracy and increasing results;
  • the strategic role of Human Resources in ensuring staff are fully equipped to deliver on desired outcomes and rapidly deployed to priority areas of work.

Configuration of the secretariat -  recommendations were in relation to adjusting the current organizational structure to best meet the foundational principles developed during the review process:


Principles that the organisational design must fulfil:

Parties recognise that the secretariat is organised to deliver highly responsive, proactive and meaningful support
Encourages coherence around mandated activities
Encourages continuous utilisation of the secretariat's comparative advantage around the vision and objectives defined in the strategic framework
Compatible with secretariat’s predictable ability to resource and manage
Readily facilitates internal collaboration across multiple areas of expertise
Enables fast and coherent, secretariat-wide adaptation to changing political realities
Enables effective relationship management with diverse stakeholders


The external consultancy proposed an adjusted organizational structure and tested it with secretariat staff through consultations and workshops during the options-building phase of the project. The proposed structure was further adjusted during the decision-making and subsequent stages of the project, resulting in an organizational structure represented below:

Secretariat structure Fitch consulting



High-level structural design

  • Executive – delivering strategic direction, overall internal management, organizational development and oversight and strategic communications and outreach
  • Programmes – delivering under four functional work streams technical expertise in support of the mandated work required under the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement;
  • Operations– delivering essential services required by workstreams under the functional areas of work;
  • Cross-cutting – coordinating anchors that access skills, expertise and resources from across the programmatic and operations divisions to deliver support to the intergovernmental process, track collective progress, communicate, drive engagement on climate action and build and strengthen partnerships.


Funding models – recommendations were in relation to:

  • providing greater clarity and transparency in the secretariat’s funding model and budget structure;
  • modifying the funding model including, whereby core funding provides the foundation (in terms of predictability and sufficiency) the organization needs towards delivering on its mandate and related expectations, which is then complemented by supplementary resources through Trust Funds or other resource budgets for its additional requirements in delivering on its mandates;
  • strengthening the secretariat’s Resources Mobilization and Partnerships (RMP) function.


Planning for change – recommendations and timelines were provided under the following streams:

  • Structural development − design and implementation of new/modified functions essential to the success of the organization;
  • Cultural and behavioral change − development of the leadership culture and practices essential to flexible and collaborative working and performance management;
  • Organizational development − creating the processes and tools that will ensure the new ways of working can be applied effectively and consistently, including implementation of associated decision-making processes and internal governance mechanisms;
  • Project management – overseeing the change process, ensuring necessary resources are in place and adjusting activity plans in accordance with need.


Next Steps

The secretariat will initiate an organizational change process building upon the work of the 2018 Structure Review Project which concluded in January 2019. Its objective is to deliver on the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Structure Review Project final report, as adjusted by the management of the secretariat during the decision-making stage of the project.



The organizational change initiative, including allowing for transitioning to a new organizational structure is expected to be completed by February 2020.