Our work

A train is rolling in a green valley, where sheeps and a river are flowing in the same way
Maramureş Natural Park, Romania

From the heart of Central Europe to the Silk Road in Central Asia, countries in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independence States (CIS) are distinguished by striking contrasts and common legacies.

For most of the 20th Century, state socialism characterized the region, enforcing state planning and limiting public voice. But from 1989 to 1991 the state systems collapsed, ushering in an unprecedented transition to democratic governance and free markets. 

While some states navigated the transition successfully – joining the European Union and contributing as international aid donors – others still face fundamental development challenges. Many people have come to enjoy relatively high levels of health, education and income; while others still struggle to satisfy basic human needs.

The region faces a variety of specific challenges. It is a high emitter of greenhouse gases. It also suffers from the world’s highest rise of HIV cases, with some 1.4 people living with HIV in 2011 compared with 970,000 in 2001.

Some 35 percent of people find themselves left out of society, or socially excluded. Many governments are not accountable and responsive to citizens. Women are often left out of political decision-making, leaving half the population without a voice. Some countries suffer the consequences of conflict, others are caught in frozen conflicts, while yet others face the risk of natural disasters.

Rural women are sitting in a conference room, listening

UNDP is on the ground in 25 countries and territories in Europe and the CIS, working with national partners, connecting people to knowledge and addressing their development challenges.

We recognize that in order to build the future that we want we must pursue development that does not infringe on the well-being of future generations. In other words, development must be sustainable.

At UNDP, we work with our national partners to:

  • Create resilient societies by including people living on the margins into economic, social and political life;
  • Empower people by promoting better governance and human rights; and
  • Promote biodiversity and alternative energy, while assisting countries to reduce their carbon footprint.

In Europe and the CIS, we are moving from helping countries steer their ‘transition’ to supporting states in pursuing sustainable development – policy advice that has generated lessons for other regions.