A mission to save the world

January 25, 2019


Now more than ever, global collaboration is essential to tackling the challenges we face to secure a sustainable future. Unfortunately, nationalism and protectionism are undercutting the work of the UN as it strives to create a just and prosperous world for everyone.

So how do we work in a shrinking democratic space? UNDP’s mandate is to end poverty, build democratic governance, rule of law, and inclusive institutions—and although that work is sometimes challenged, our mission is clear.

We need to show that multilateral cooperation is indispensable for long term benefits for all nations. It’s important that the UN and UNDP continue to show positive results for people and planet, through a transparent process that creates trust with our partners. We need to show that this is the time to invest in cost-efficient multilateral solutions.

We know that when the international community sets common goals for development, such as the Millennium Development Goals, the forerunner to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), commitment and resources can be mustered to achieve real and lasting results. We have proven that multilateral cooperation creates conditions for effective and coordinated efforts for sustainable development.

Broad partnerships
These partnerships are becoming broader, which is a good thing. The Paris Agreement, which brought all nations into a common cause to fight climate change, will need more ambitious commitments by Member States. But significant work is still being done in other ways, including by regions and cities, as well as by the private sector and civil society.

The SDGs are the clearest, most far-reaching call to action for multilateral progress. They are ambitious and transformational and I believe we can reach them if everybody—governments, private sector, civil society and academia—gets involved and picks up the pace. Whether in the public or private sphere, we must encourage everybody to take responsibility and include the goals in their strategies and budgets.

We have the map. All we need to do is follow it.

For UNDP to fully do its part we need specific financing; what we call core and flexible funding. When donors trust us with their money, and don’t specify a particular programmatic area, we can plan more strategically and act more quickly than if the funds are earmarked. We can make long term plans to fulfill the 2030 Agenda and combat climate change. Greater levels of core funding will truly ensure more development results – and we can prove that it is more cost-efficient.

Knock-on effects
We know that climate change is one of the biggest barriers to achieving the SDGs—it threatens our way of life, and that of our children, and if left unchecked it will undo the gains we have so far made.

UNDP implements the majority of the UN’s climate action and we’ve proven that tackling one challenge can overcome others. Renewable energy is an excellent example of this. Recently UNDP and its partners installed solar panels on a police training academy in South Sudan. UNDP is working in South Sudan with the support of the Netherlands, Japan, Germany, the United States and Norway, who have contributed just over US$ 30 million to a programme to improve justice and the rule of law in the country.

The solar panel project very quickly had a host of knock-on effects, far beyond simply keeping the lights on. It taught local workers new, marketable skills, it encouraged more women and girls to become police officers, which has in turn enabled them to tackle violence against women. And, because they now have the internet, the officers feel connected to the wider world. As one of them put it: “We are now part of the global village.”

And that’s just one example of how the SDGs connect social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Addressing inequalities
We are particularly proud to be part of the UN Green Climate Fund. It was fundamental to the successful adoption of the Paris Agreement because it addresses some of the inequalities implicit in the status quo—why should nations who have contributed least to climate change suffer most of its consequences? We’re doing our part to implement many of the programmes the fund is financing. And we are scaling up our support to countries who are implementing their national determined contributions to combat climate change and adapt to a changing climate.

From the eradication of poverty and inequality, to democratic governance, to climate action, UNDP’s mandate is broad; we have a lot of work to do. Yet despite the current trend of cuts to UN contributions, we continue to receive funding and support. This shows the high level of trust that we are privileged to enjoy. We aim, through effective, targeted and transparent programming, to hold and build on that trust to create a sustainable future and leave no one behind.

Ulrika Modéer UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy spoke about these themes during a wide ranging interview on the popular Swedish Radio current affairs programme Lördagsintervjun. To listen to the interview, click here