UNDP to maximize impact with new strategic plan, calls for more predictable funding

10 Jun 2013

New York — The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is making major contributions in fighting poverty and promoting good governance worldwide, Administrator Helen Clark said Monday, adding that the agency now plans to sharpen its focus, scale up partnerships, and streamline operations.

But the lead UN development agency requires a stable, predictable stream of “core” or non-earmarked funding to implement programmes and fulfill a new strategic plan that its 36-member Executive Board will review and approve in September, she said in a statement to the UNDP annual Board meeting in New York today.

“Core resources finance our long-term expertise, corporate management and oversight systems, country office network, and the substantial support we give to the Resident Coordinator system,” under which UNDP acts as a lead UN agency on the ground in programme countries, Helen Clark said.

Proposed outcomes and areas of work in the draft Strategic Plan for 2014-2017 “should position UNDP to help developing countries transform their growth and development pathways, improve governance, and manage risk, with the aim of maximizing progress on poverty eradication,” she said. “Sharpening UNDP’s focus is a key objective” of the new Strategic Plan, she said, adding that it signaled “a higher level of ambition” and reflected UNDP’s continual effort to meet fast-changing needs in global development.

“Feedback has been positive on the vision proposed, and on reducing the number of development outcomes—from the 25 we have at present to seven. This should help to improve the quality of what we do,” with at most four outcomes planned for each country, she said.

“The draft plan also challenges us to break free of limitations imposed by our existing internal architecture. We must respond to development challenges in integrated ways,” she said. “The plan signals a move away from the existing somewhat rigid practice architecture to a more flexible, solutions-oriented approach,” focused on impact at the country level.

Despite fiscal challenges, UNDP’s traditional funders have worked hard to maintain contributions, Helen Clark said, although the agency has cut US$50 million from planned spending in 2013 through a temporary hiring freeze and suspension or discontinuation of lower-priority activities.

Core contributions in 2012 fell to US$846.1 million, but this figure fails to take into account a substantial payment received after the end of the year, she said, adding, “That payment is recorded in this year’s books, which then over-represents this year’s figures.” Non-core resources remained strong at US$3.79 billion, she said, showing that UNDP remains a partner of choice for many bilateral contributors. But a stable, critical mass of “core” funding—not earmarked for specific projects—is “bedrock funding for UN agencies, funds, and programmes,” the Administrator said.

UNDP is funded entirely through voluntary contributions by member states. Its 2012 expenditures totalled some US$5.17 billion and 2013 budget is approximately US$5.8 billion.

Transparency and results

Following an Executive Board decision, UNDP has since January published 51 internal audit reports on its public Website and continues to enhance publication of information in accordance with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), of which UNDP was a founding member. UNDP was recently chosen to host the IATI Secretariat in a consortium with UNOPS, Sweden, Ghana, and the UK NGO Development Initiatives.

A cumulative review of UNDP’s work from 2008-2013 affirms that the organization makes an important contribution to advancing human development  and responding to the needs of programme countries, Helen Clark said, with a focus on empowering women and girls integrated throughout its work:

  • In poverty reduction, UNDP has focused on achievement of the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agreed in 2000 and aimed at galvanizing global action toward eradicating extreme poverty by 2015. UNDP has now analyzed MDG progress in 146 countries, identifying opportunities for further progress.
  • UNDP has also worked in 49 countries on HIV responses, helping ensure that HIV is addressed as a development issue. With UNDP support, and in partnership with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, more than 1 million people have received life-saving antiretroviral therapy, and nearly 40 million people received malaria treatments.
  • Over the past five years, 149 countries sought UNDP’s support in democratic governance. Since 2011, UNDP’s work has contributed to strengthening 10,250 institutions across all levels of government, legislatures, and civil society organizations advocating for greater inclusiveness. Since 2008, it has supported 70 national human rights institutions and electoral activities in more than 60 countries around the world every year.
  • UNDP has worked in crisis prevention and recovery in 106 countries over the past five years, supporting vulnerable communities in more than 70 countries to prepare better for or recover from natural disasters. It also helped 47 countries mitigate and manage underlying structural causes of conflict and tension.
  • UNDP further remains the largest implementer of environment and energy programmes in the UN development system, providing support to 153 countries in this area. It has supported strengthening the energy sector in 83 countries and brought access to clean, renewable energy for 3.5 million poor and vulnerable people. UNDP has engaged with climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in 91 countries.

Feedback from an unprecedented global conversation led by the UN Development Group on what development goals should succeed the MDGs  “has affirmed the importance of tackling the unfinished business of the MDGs, of which there is a good deal, not least in poverty eradication,” Helen Clark said, citing calls for a sharper focus on jobs, inequality, governance, security, and quality of services such as education and health.

A preliminary report was issued in March, with the independent report of the Secretary-General’s High-level panel issued in May, and a final report scheduled for September.


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