Supporting Transformational Change

04 Nov 2011
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The purpose of this report is to reflect on UNDP’s experience of development cooperation over the past 50 years, and to extract some common themes and general lessons about development cooperation for the future.


The report makes the case that development is a long-term proposition and is seldom amenable to short-term solutions. Certainly, truly transformational change at the national or subnational level takes time to achieve. If it is to be sustainable and sustained, it must be nationally owned and achieved. Outsiders cannot deliver such transformational change, but they can support it in a variety of ways, especially by helping to develop national capacity. UNDP believes that such international partnerships can play an important role in this regard.


The report documents seven cases where this has been achieved over a period of time. Taking 10–20 years as its frame of reference, the report demonstrates that development can be successful on this basis – even strikingly successful in some cases.

    Case studies:

    Microfinance in Mongolia

    Microfinance in Mongolia

    In the 1990s Mongolia transformed from a centrally planned to a market-driven economy. Since 2000 the average annual GDP growth rate has been above 5 percent. Not everyone, however, has benefited from this growth. With more than a third of Mongolians living below the poverty line, poverty remains a challenge. more

    Responding to the HIV Epidemic in Ethiopia

    Ethiopia’s first cases of HIV were reported in 1986 and the disease rapidly spread. By 2009, an estimated 1.1 million Ethiopians were living with HIV but the country had limited resources and capacity to address the epidemic. more

    Beautiful Bulgaria

    The programme initially focused on vocational training for the unemployed, targeting reconstruction in urban centres. It also provided training to small and medium enterprises and start-up financing for small businesses. In the early 2000s, the programme expanded to renovating tourism sites, sporting facilities and playgrounds. more

    Managing the Black Sea and the Danube River Basin

    The Danube River flows through many Eastern European countries before reaching the Black Sea. For decades, the discharge of polluted water into the Danube resulted in nutrient over-enrichment in the Black Sea, affecting fish stocks, beaches and the incidence of waterborne disease. more

    Bangladesh: Disaster Risk Reduction as Development

    A country of exceptional vulnerability to natural hazards Bangladesh has a long history of natural disasters. Between 1980 and 2008, it experienced 219 natural disasters, causing over US$16 billion in total damage. Climate change will only compound these impacts. more

    Local Governance in Cambodia

    A nation in need of reconstruction Few countries have faced such monumental challenges as Cambodia following the Khmer Rouge regime. Shattered infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of more

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