UNDP strategic plan 2014-2017: Changing with the world | Turhan Saleh

20 Jan 2014

An aerial view of the city of Sehwan Sharif in Pakistan An aerial view of the city of Sehwan Sharif in Pakistan's southern Sindh Province. Photo: UN/WFP/Amjad Jamal.

We are at a very important moment in modern history, an inflection point, meaning that things are going to be very different in the future than they have been in the past. First, the role that developing countries play in the world – in the economy, science, technology, politics, culture – is changing dramatically. Their importance and influence, which is rising rapidly already, will increase greatly.

Second, for the first time in human history, more people are living in cities and towns than in villages. The fastest rates of urbanization are in developing countries, specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa. Just think about how this changes our conventional view of where and how people live in the developing world.

Third, we have technologies now that are profoundly changing the way we work with each other, relate to each other,  and make and sell things. And the boundaries of these technologies are shifting quickly.   

So this is really an incredibly exciting time for development. But there are big dangers:
•    Growth and development are not necessarily bringing benefits fairly to everybody, so tensions are rising – and sometimes boiling over –  in a growing number of countries.
•    Sometimes the changes taking place are so profound that societies and political systems can’t cope, and collapse or suffer deep crisis.
•    Climate change could have catastrophic effects in the future, rolling back development progress that has taken years, even decades, to achieve.

So, how does UNDP respond to this? Our vision is very clear: we want to help eradicate poverty and roll back inequalities and exclusion.
Three big development ideas are pushing the Strategic Plan forward: the first is about giving new life to current models of development. In other words, how can growth bring more people into the development process and be sustainable?

The second idea is about democracy – not just about holding elections regularly and passing laws (important as they are), but also about looking at the rules governing how we share resources, about how safe citizens can feel under the rule of law in their society, about health and education services, and about jobs people can get to support themselves and their families.

The third idea is about acknowledging that we live in a risk-rich world, and that protecting and improving development gains will mean managing these risks smartly, ahead of time if we can. This way, countries and societies can become  better able to prevent crises and more resilient to bounce back stronger when they do happen, as some inevitably will.

In everything we do, we are going to reach the people who need the greatest attention: the poor, and very specifically, women and youth.

The way we operate as an organization is going to change as well, based on what we’ve learned in the last few years to make us more relevant, effective and more valued by the people we serve. We’re going to be more open in our outlook, get out of our silos and bring the full capability of UNDP to bear across the different dimensions of development: economic, social, political, environmental. Partnerships will matter hugely, not least South-South cooperation, to help us deliver better results for the countries that we work with across the world.

Talk to us: How is the development world changing and how can we best adapt?

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