A world of development experience

Woman casting her vote in Tunisia
UNDP supports an election in the world every two weeks. Photo: UNDP South Sudan

UNDP works in nearly 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results.

This is a critical time for the world. At UNDP, we see this period as a huge opportunity to advance the global sustainable development agenda. Last year, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to continue the work of the Millennium Development Goals. UNDP is working to strengthen new frameworks for development, disaster risk reduction and climate change. We support countries' efforts to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, which will guide global development priorities for the next 15 years.

UNDP focuses on helping countries build and share solutions in three main areas:

In all our activities, we encourage the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women, minorities and the poorest and most vulnerable.

The annual Human Development Report, commissioned by UNDP, focuses the global debate on key development issues, providing new measurement tools, innovative analysis and often controversial policy proposals. The global Report's analytical framework and inclusive approach carry over into regional, national and local Human Development Reports, also supported by UNDP.

In each country office, the UNDP Resident Representative normally also serves as the Resident Coordinator of development activities for the United Nations system as a whole. Through such coordination, UNDP seeks to ensure the most effective use of UN and international aid resources.

UNDP also administers the UN Capital Development Fund, that helps developing countries grow their economies by supplementing existing sources of capital assistance by means of grants and loans; and UN Volunteers, which fields over 6,000 volunteers from 160 countries in support of peace and development through volunteerism worldwide.

Improving UNDP's efficiency and effectiveness

The new generation of development goals require fresh vision and new ways of doing business. UNDP is well positioned for both. UNDP is fully committed to playing its part in making this moment a launch pad for stepped up efforts to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality and exclusion. In 2014, the first year of our new 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, UNDP took important steps to streamline operations and use resources more effectively, with an emphasis on lasting and measurable development impact.

As a result of those changes, UNDP is now more:

Focused: UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2014-17 -- centred on 7 sets of outcomes, compared to the previous 35 -- presents a unifying vision to better help countries achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and reduction of inequality and exclusion. Our work is focused on helping countries build and share solutions in three critical, interconnected priorities for development action – sustainability, democratic governance, and climate and disaster resilience – rather than thematically and bureaucratically separated ‘practice areas.’

Results-oriented: Our new Integrated Results and Resources Framework clearly shows the allocation of resources and results achieved, allowing stakeholders to easily monitor performance, learn lessons, and hold the organization accountable for the funds entrusted to it. Key development and institutional results can be seen at “Results at a glance.”

Data-centric: UNDP is a producer and consumer of data for all aspects of its work. We have put in place an open data platform that enables wide global usage of data. Around 185,000 websites currently embed the UNDP Human Development Report data sets or country profiles. UNDP is also using mobile technologies to connect users to real-time information on disasters. For example, in Uzbekistan, UNDP helped create a mobile app in Uzbek and Russian that can transmit emergency information from the Ministry of Emergency Situations to at-risk communities.

Efficient: UNDP is today a leaner and more efficient organization, operating even closer to the field.  UNDP’s new structure reflects a staff reduction of 10% at headquarters and regional levels. We have also moved a further 20% of staff from New York to regional hubs to strengthen our support to country offices.

Accountable: After reviewing our business processes to identify how UNDP teams could work more efficiently, UNDP adopted a new internal accountability framework to reduce duplication and improve efficiency. In addition, UNDP has been awarded an “unqualified” (i.e., clean) audit opinion by the United Nations Board of Auditors for the period ending 31 December 2013. This milestone represents nearly a decade of clean audit opinions for our organization.

Transparent: In 2014, UNDP was ranked as the most transparent development aid organization in the world, according to the Aid Transparency Index. Information and data about UNDP’s activities, funding, results and stories are more accessible now than ever. For the first time, we are disclosing feedback from our partners on the role and performance of UNDP. And our public disclosure of internal audit reports also ensures that UNDP’s work is subject to rigorous and independent scrutiny.

Innovative: UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2014-17 emphasizes the need to identify, explore, test, evaluate and scale up innovative approaches to development in order to help UNDP work more creatively and ultimately more effectively. In response, we are increasingly tapping into the experience and expertise of local communities or entrepreneurs to help identify problems and implement solutions, using different problem-solving approaches. Some of these include innovation camps and crowdsourced development solutions.

Socially and environmentally responsible: As of 1 January 2015, UNDP adopted mandatory Social and Environmental Standards for all of its projects and programmes. These standards will strengthen UNDP’s efforts for increased quality in its programmes and ensure social and environmental benefits for the people we serve.

Green: UNDP is committed to minimizing the environmental impact of its operations. Throughout the organization, staff are developing innovative solutions to reduce UNDP’s reliance on fossil fuels, supporting a corporate commitment to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions from global operations by 10% over 5 years. As of 2014 UNDP has achieved organization-wide climate neutrality by offsetting remaining Greenhouse Gas emission with Certified Emission Reductions (CERs).

Diverse: As an organization focused primarily on the developing world, UNDP enjoys a healthy representation from both developed and developing countries among its staff. UNDP’s new structure has contributed to increased diversity. Fifty-four percent of our headquarters staff come from developing countries today, compared to fifty-two percent in 2013.


Helen Clark became the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme in 2009, and is the first woman to lead the organization. She is also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group.

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Results at a glance

In 2014, our programmes helped:

Empower people and build more resilient communities in 161 countries

Create nearly 1 million jobs, 41% of them for women

Strengthen livelihoods in low-income communities, benefitting 11.2 million people

Combat climate change and mitigate its impacts in 140 countries

Register 18 million new voters, including nearly 4 million in Afghanistan

Train 2 million health workers to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria

Improve energy access for 1.3 million people

More results
Changing with the world:
UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017

With the changing world as the backdrop, and building on our core strengths, our vision is focused on making the next big breakthrough in development: to help countries achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion.

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UNDP in Focus
Time for Global Action

UNDP in Focus 2014/2015 highlights our key actions over the past year and their impact on the lives of beneficiaries around the world. The report also outlines the ongoing restructuring process that will ensure UNDP is fit for purpose in the new post-2015 landscape.

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UNDP brochure

We act on three fronts to achieve development that is sustainable, inclusive and resilient.

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Partnership survey 2015

In the survey, we share feedback from our partners on the role and performance of UNDP.

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