The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations‘ global development network.
Headquartered in New York City, UNDP advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. It provides expert advice, training, and grant support to developing countries, with increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries.
The status of UNDP is that of an executive board within the United Nations General Assembly. The UNDP Administrator is the third highest-ranking official of the United Nations after the United Nations Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General.
To accomplish the MDGs and encourage global development, UNDP focuses on poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS, democratic governance, energy and environment, social development, and crisis prevention and recovery. UNDP also encourages the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women in all of its programmes. The UNDP Human Development Report Office also publishes an annual Human Development Report (since 1990) to measure and analyse developmental progress. In addition to a global Report, UNDP publishes regional, national, and local Human Development Reports.
UNDP is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from member nations. The organization operates in 177 countries, where it works with local governments to meet development challenges and develop local capacity. Additionally, the UNDP works internationally to help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Currently, the UNDP is one of the main UN agencies involved in the development of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
UNDP works with nations on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and its wide range of partners.
The UNDP was founded on the 22nd of November 1965 with the merger of the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance or EPTA and the United Nations Special Fund. The rationale was to “avoid duplication of [their] activities”. The EPTA was to help the economic and political aspects of underdeveloped countries while the Special Fund was to enlarge the scope of UN technical assistance.
In 2013, UNDP’s entire budget was approximately 5 billion USD.
UNDP’s offices and staff are on the ground in 177 countries, working with governments and local communities to help them find solutions to global and national development challenges.
UNDP links and coordinates global and national efforts to achieve the goals and national development priorities laid out by host countries. UNDP focuses primarily on five developmental challenges:
UNDP supports national democratic transitions by providing policy advice and technical support, improving institutional and individual capacity within countries, educating populations about and advocating for democratic reforms, promoting negotiation and dialogue, and sharing successful experiences from other countries and locations. UNDP also supports existing democratic institutions by increasing dialogue, enhancing national debate, and facilitating consensus on national governance programmes.
UNDP helps countries develop strategies to combat poverty by expanding access to economic opportunities and resources, linking poverty programmes with countries’ larger goals and policies, and ensuring a greater voice for the poor. UNDP also works at the macro level to reform trade, encourage debt relief and foreign investment, and ensure the poorest of the poor benefit from globalisation.
On the ground, UNDP sponsors developmental pilot projects, promotes the role of women in development, and coordinates efforts between governments, NGOs, and outside donors. In this way, UNDP works with local leaders and governments to provide opportunities for impoverished people to create businesses and improve their economic condition.
The UNDP International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) in Brasília, Brazil expands the capacities of developing countries to design, implement and evaluate socially inclusive development projects. IPC-IG is a global forum for South-South policy dialogue and learning, having worked with more than 7,000 officials from more than 50 countries.
A 2013 evaluation of the UNDP’s poverty reduction efforts states that the UNDP has effectively supported national efforts to reduce poverty, by helping governments make policy changes that benefit the poor. Nevertheless, the same evaluation also states there is a strong need for better measurement and monitoring of the impacts of the UNDP’s work. The UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017 incorporates the recommendations of this poverty evaluation.
Crisis prevention and recovery
UNDP works to reduce the risk of armed conflicts or disasters, and promote early recovery after crisis have occurred. UNDP works through its country offices to support local government in needs assessment, capacity development, coordinated planning, and policy and standard setting.
Examples of UNDP risk reduction programmes include efforts to control small arms proliferation, strategies to reduce the impact of natural disasters, and programmes to encourage use of diplomacy and prevent violence.
Recovery programmes include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, demining efforts, programmes to reintegrate displaced persons, restoration of basic services, and transitional justice systems for countries recovering from warfare.
Environment and Energy
As the poor are disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and lack of access to clean, affordable water, sanitation and energy services, UNDP seeks to address environmental issues in order to improve developing countries’ abilities to develop sustainably, increase human development and reduce poverty. UNDP works with countries to strengthen their capacity to address global environmental issues by providing innovative policy advice and linking partners through environmentally sensitive development projects that help poor people build sustainable livelihoods.
UNDP’s environmental strategy focuses on effective water governance including access to water supply and sanitation, access to sustainable energy services, Sustainable land management to combat desertification and land degradation, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and policies to control emissions of harmful pollutants and ozone-depleting substances. UNDP’s Equator Initiative office biennially offers the Equator Prize to recognize outstanding indigenous community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and thus making local contributions to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
HIV/AIDS is a big issue in today’s society and UNDP works to help countries prevent further spreading and reduce its impact, convening The Global Commission on HIV and the Law which reported in 2012.
Hub for Innovative Partnerships
Major programmes underway are:
- ART Global Initiative
- World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty
- Territorial Approach to Climate Change
- Africa–Kazakhstan Partnership for the SDGs
Human Development Report
The UNDP spends about 0.2% of its budget on internal evaluation of the effectiveness of its programmes. The UNDP’s Evaluation Office is a member of the UN Evaluation Group (UNEG) which brings together all the units responsible for evaluation in the UN system. Currently the UNEG has 43 members and 3 observers.
Global Policy Centers
The UNDP runs six GPCs, including the Seoul GPC on partnerships, and the Global Center for Public Service Excellence that issues the influential ‘Raffles Review’ on developments in public administration research.