UNDP Around the world

Livelihoods and jobs

 A young Palestinian woman takes part in a UNDP-supported job programme for unemployed young people. Photo: UNDP/PAPP

Although extreme poverty has dropped to historic lows, inequalities are widening within countries and violent tensions are making some societies vulnerable to crises. Competition is intensifying around scarce natural resources. With the world now facing an unprecedented global jobs crisis, globally, an estimated 600 million productive jobs are urgently needed over the next decade to sustain growth and maintain social cohesion. Jobs and livelihoods have emerged as a key concern in the discussions on the post-2015 development agenda. This is reflected in the aspiration of many countries which call for growth that is inclusive and sustainable, incorporating productive capacities that create employment and livelihoods for the poor and excluded. Many societies are also struggling to bring women and youth into the circle of prosperity.

UNDP’s livelihoods approach is anchored in the “UN policy on employment creation, income creation and reintegration in post-conflict situations”, which provides a framework for interventions in the short, medium and long term. UNDP promotes entrepreneurship development initiatives such as the provision of training, starting and scaling up of small businesses and supports in providing business skills development in countries. This is to create an enabling institutional framework for small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs), especially in labor-intensive (low productivity) sectors in which the poor predominantly work. Since the majority of people in developing countries work in the informal economy, and many rely on natural resources and ecosystems services for jobs and livelihoods, UNDP helps to strengthen capacities of institutions in many countries to implement measures that create work opportunities in the informal sector in the areas of SMME development, skills building and market development.

On the ground, UNDP provides support to strengthen community-level resilience, increase equitable access to natural resources, and better protect against economic and environmental shocks by promoting a wide array of livelihood opportunities in the Cash for Work schemes in reforestation, agro food processing, skills building, rainwater harvesting, cultivation of high value crops, improved agriculture practices and improved irrigation systems. UNDP also provides technical support and capacity building in the design, expansion and implementation of appropriate learning quality, skills development and education-to-work transitions in order to establish strong links between education and employment outcomes, particularly for youth. This has been critical for the poor to access jobs in higher productivity sectors with increased wages in the longer term.  

UNDP works to address the root causes of vulnerability, identify risk patterns and create an enabling environment for productive employment opportunities by facilitating South-South knowledge sharing, on the links between social protection schemes and direct employment and income generation schemes. UNDP also works towards developing a comprehensive policy framework on how to enhance productive capacities of poor people for livelihoods and jobs in many countries.