Our Perspectives

Working to build an inclusive and sustainable future for all


Sanju Bhoi picks spinach from her floating garden in Odisha state, India.Sanju Bhoi picks spinach from her floating garden in Odisha State, India. In partnership with the Odisha government, UNDP is helping communities adapt to extreme weather events. Photo: UNDP India

For UNDP and the entire United Nations system, 2015 is a year of historic milestones. It is the 70th anniversary year for the UN— founded in 1945. It is also the year in which the 15-year quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals concludes, and a new era of global development commitments is expected to be launched with the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals by world leaders in September.

UNDP played a central role in devising, promoting and helping countries to achieve the MDGs, and is now working with its national partners to prepare for the SDGs. We are helping to integrate the SDGs into national development planning, and are providing data-based support for measuring progress toward the new goals, both locally and globally.

The new goals are likely to include completing the unfinished business of the MDGs, with the eradication of poverty being a central objective. Despite impressive progress on poverty reduction in recent years, there are still 1 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day.

We also have an obligation to protect our planet for the sake of future generations and to safeguard today’s hard-won development gains. In December, climate change COP21 in Paris is scheduled to reach a new global climate agreement. UNDP, with its $1.3 billion portfolio of climate change projects in 140 countries, is a leader of UN efforts to combat global warming.

UNDP’s unique capabilities were evident in responses to the many crises which affected our world in 2014. In Syria, UNDP helped to create emergency livelihoods and provide support for essential services to communities affected by the conflict, and is helping neighbouring countries that are providing sanctuary and services to millions of Syrian refugees. We are supporting the Central African Republic at a time of grave national crisis by providing electoral assistance and support for political dialogue between groups and regions. During the devastating West African Ebola outbreak, UNDP worked to ensure that Ebola response workers were paid, and supported community awareness campaigns and the provision of basic services.

Contact tracers in West Point, LiberiaEbola contact tracers in Monrovia, Liberia. During the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, UNDP supported community awareness campaigns and worked to ensure that Ebola response workers were paid. Photo: Morgana Wingard/UNDP

Through its work in developing countries around the world in 2014, UNDP created nearly 1 million jobs in low-income communities, and helped to boost earnings and strengthen livelihoods for millions of others. UNDP’s work on HIV ensured that antiviral medication was provided to some 1.4 million people infected with the virus, and helped to combat the further spread of the pandemic through raising awareness of how the virus spreads. In its extensive electoral support programmes, UNDP helped to register 18 million new voters, including nearly 4 million in Afghanistan alone.

UNDP’s new strategic plan, now in its second year, is focusing our resources and expertise on three critical priorities: sustainable development pathways, democratic governance and building resilience to shocks. We are improving the way we plan, design, monitor and implement, ensuring that we deliver results effectively and efficiently. Staff positions at UNDP’s headquarters in New York are being reduced by around 30 percent, with more staff moving out to regional hubs to be closer to the countries we serve.

We have improved our project quality and social and environmental impact standards, and committed to high standards of transparency. In 2014, UNDP was ranked at the top of the annual Aid Transparency Index of development agencies.

We are confident that UNDP’s expertise in poverty reduction, MDG implementation, democratic governance and crisis response and recovery will continue to make it a highly effective partner for developing countries as they strive to achieve the SDGs and tackle climate change. Yet, ultimately, our effectiveness depends on close working relationships with our partners in developing and developed countries alike. For UNDP, maintaining and strengthening our partnerships is a very high priority as we work to build an inclusive and sustainable future for all.

This text is from Helen Clark's foreword to UNDP 2014/2015: Time for Global Action.

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