Our Perspectives

A new development model to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges


Kazakhstan is becoming a donor to other countries. Photo: UNDP in Kazakhstan

As economies boom in developing countries across the world, and many of these countries graduate to Middle Income Country (MIC) status, the landscape of development is being fundamentally reshaped.  We are now witnessing a range of more nuanced and complex development situations, which call for a new approach to meeting some of the world’s toughest development challenges.

How we approach those challenges following the end of the Millennium Development Goals – 8 goals that included a primary commitment to halve poverty by the end of 2015 – will define our future. So the post-2015 era represents an opportunity to frame a more ambitious and incisive development agenda.

I remember my experience in Kazakhstan, where a new approach in the development relationship between the government and UNDP helped turn the country into a key partner for the organization.

This strategic partnership has seen UNDP transition from a donor agency to a cost-sharing partner, and Kazakhstan becoming a donor to other countries.

This model of shared partnership and joint financing, which identifies innovative and strategic ways to support national priorities, is now more relevant than ever.

It has special resonance for Asia and the Pacific, as more countries in the most economically dynamic region of the world make rapid progress.

As countries graduate to middle income status – 27 in the Asia and the Pacific region –hundreds of millions of people climb out of poverty.

With stronger economies and soaring growth have come rising expectations, as well as responsibilities. Middle income countries may now be better equipped to serve their peoples, but challenges persist: income and gender inequality, growing aging populations, and rapid urbanization that demands more and better public services.

According to the latest data, approximately 70% of the world’s poor live with less than $2 a day in Asia and the Pacific, and face severe deprivations in education and health.

While financial resources may be at hand, and while countries funnel even more money to development programmes, there are still gaps in the ability to meet the needs of millions of peoples.

So there is an enduring need to build partnerships that can provide vital support not only to bridge those gaps, but to tackle sensitive issues, engage in country to country learning, and help leverage resources. Our reach in the sphere of development has provided us with unparalleled experience to help governments implement targeted programmes with transparency, accountability and integrity.

Expanding access to justice through village courts in Bangladesh, building trilateral cooperation between China and countries in Africa, to working with the government of Pakistan to support key governance reforms; jointly financed partnerships with governments have provided value and helped spark innovative solutions.

Our policy centres around the world  facilitate South-South Cooperation and connect governments to mutually benefit from each other’s knowledge and solutions.

Our growing experience with alliances involving joint financing has shown us that such partnerships guarantee greater success, make shared challenges easier to overcome, and bring results.

This may explain why over 70 % of UNDP’s programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean is financed by programme country governments.  In the rapidly developing Asia and the Pacific, this ratio is 3 %.

While official development assistance will remain important in the post-2015 era for low income countries, domestic financing will determine development outcome in MICs. 

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