UNDP Action Plan

“Looking ahead, my vision is for UNDP to be widely acknowledged as a world class, knowledge based development organization which helps developing countries make transformational change and helps channel the strengths of the entire UN development system to that end.”

Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
Statement to the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board
24 June 2010


The UNDP Strategic Plan (2008-2013) provides the overarching framework for UNDP operations to support programme countries and is the basis for the Organization’s accountability to the Executive Board for results. UNDP provides support to the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly for least developed countries, and supports programme countries achieve their national development objectives. UNDP’s core focus on reducing poverty and achieving the MDGs, including HIV/AIDS responses, alongside support for democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery and sustainable development, is supported by a strong emphasis on capacity development as well through the integration of gender equality and facilitating south-south approaches.

Against this background, a sense of urgency is driving the need for UNDP to be even better positioned to meet today’s global challenges. With just five years left to deliver on the MDGs, leaders will be taking stock this year on how sufficient political will, resources and effort can be exerted collectively to ensure the goals are met in even the most challenging settings. Climate change is affecting all countries, and often most directly the already vulnerable. And even as countries attain middle income status, they continue to face stubborn development challenges. Available funding to fast-track positive development results will be increasingly competitive and diversified, even as in many parts of the world the consequences of not meeting urgent development challenges become more pressing.

UNDP must be better able to support countries to achieve their desired transformational change through their national development agendas in an increasingly dynamic and connected global environment. UNDP must help enhance country resilience to cope with whatever challenges are faced, and contribute to real increases in human development in partner countries. It can do so by being a truly world class, knowledge-based development organization.

Action Plan

In order to meet today’s global challenges, UNDP needs to be an ever more responsive, relevant, effective and efficient organization focused on development results and impact.

To do this it must:

  • Support national development agendas and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through more focused interventions at the country level to support strategic and transformational outcomes
  • Harness and strengthen its global knowledge network and advisory capabilities to support country level transformations and quality program interventions
  • Cultivate and extend strategic partnerships which facilitate transformative knowledge transfers, both across the South and between the North and the South
  • Leverage its global presence to connect partners, knowledge and stakeholders
  • Achieve measurable development results and communicate its contribution to developing national capacities to achieve sustainable human development
  • Be effective, efficient and flexible
  • Champion UN development effectiveness


Fully aligned with the Strategic Plan and in support of the Administrator’s vision for the organization, the UNDP Management Group held a retreat in February 2010 to chart the pathway ahead and identify action to improve UNDP’s efficiency and effectiveness over the next two years. An Action Plan has consequently been developed and seven areas in which to accelerate change and ensure UNDP is fit for purpose in the 21st century have been identified.

Key elements of the seven areas are:

  • Positioning UNDP as a world class knowledge based development organization: sharpening and articulating clearly UNDP’s knowledge niche; further development of the knowledge platform and systems to capture and apply as appropriate countries’ development experiences and individuals’ know-how; translating knowledge into actionable strategies at the country level; and putting in place incentives for knowledge capture and transfer at all levels.
  • Measuring and managing for results: working with national partners to improve the focus and strategic positioning of UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs) and Country Program Documents (CPDs), and ensure clear and measurable results frameworks, that aim for transformational impact; enhancing the quality assurance system to deliver reliable information on UNDP’s contribution to national development results; and further institutionalizing a culture of results-based management, its integration into institutional performance systems, and strengthened results-based reporting.
  • Strategic Communications: communicating clearly about what UNDP does, how it does it and what its interventions help achieve; strengthening strategic communications with external partners; implementing a coherent approach to publications; and strengthening internal communication.
  • Strengthening Strategic Partnerships: expanding and strengthening existing partnerships with donors; positioning UNDP as a facilitator of south-south cooperation with a special focus on least developed countries; articulating UNDP’s role in middle income countries and net contributing countries; building new strategic partnerships with key emerging economies in support of south-south development cooperation; and developing strategic and effective partnerships with key multilateral and regional institutions.
  • Managing performance and developing staff: ensuring UNDP’s systems can deliver the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time, including: more efficient and effective recruitment and vacancy management; streamlining and strengthening the staff performance management system, including incentives for good performance; strengthening leadership and management skills to support the effective delivery of UNDP’s programs; strengthened learning and development to support organizational goals.
  • Driving effectiveness, internal efficiencies and realigning incentives: Reducing the process burden through the identification of the core of minimum mandatory corporate processes that will ensure UNDP is efficient, effective and accountable; articulating key roles, accountabilities and relationships (across country offices, regional centers and headquarters); establishing a comprehensive incentive system that reinforces effectiveness and efficiency at all levels; and reviewing and reforming policies and procedures to support responsive operational program delivery.
  • Driving UN development coordination at country level: strengthening UNDP’s capacities in supporting coordinated UN engagement in achieving the MDGs and addressing climate change; reviewing and strengthening the management of the Resident Coordinator system; defining and providing systematic support to delivering as one countries and countries voluntarily proceeding down a delivering as one path.

These are not stand alone issues. There are strong linkages between the various projects and work streams. Coordination and collaboration between them, where relevant, will be critical. The Action Plan is directly overseen by the Administrator and the Associate Administrator.

Over the next two years the aim is to demonstrate progress through real gains in efficiency, effectiveness and impact. Expected results include:

  • More focused, substantive, and strategically positioned UNDP assistance, with interventions lifted from the small scale to the catalytic and transformational – in support of countries’ own development agendas
  • A strong focus on development results through a strengthened culture of results-based management, and clear communication and reporting on what UNDP is achieving
  • A significant global network of partnerships for development
  • A more systematic approach to South-South co-operation to facilitate the sharing of relevant experience and expertise
  • Realigned incentive structures throughout the organization; strengthened leadership and management skills; shortened recruitment times, and systematic staff development and recognition systems
  • UNDP’s new knowledge platform, rolled out across the organization, providing a dynamic and real time capability for staff to capture and apply knowledge
  • Active use of knowledge at all levels of the organization to improve the effectiveness of development programs and operations
  • Measurable efficiency gains: a simplified, less time consuming staff appraisal system and simplified and streamlined procurement processes
  • Clearer and simpler communication products

UNDP Around the world