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UNDP Global

What’s Next?

Boldly re-imagining life in a post-pandemic world


The economic and societal disruption caused by COVID-19 is worsening. Huge job losses, bankruptcies, shrinking GDP, widespread failure of small businesses, fundamental shifts in consumer and public behaviour will become more apparent as the pandemic drags on.

We can no longer play by the old rules, and there are hard choices ahead. But also opportunities. We must commit to recovery that is equitable and green. We must work to reform fossil fuel subsidies, help nations deal with the increasing debt issues and comprehensively address one of the most pervasive and insidious inequalities; the status and role of women.


The next phase of UNDP’s response is a quantum leap—to help decision-makers enact fundamental changes to ensure a just and fair transition to a clean economy by overhauling governance and social protection and fostering digital disruption.

Fossil fuel subsidies

We believe fossil fuel subsidies can be removed without causing social harm. In five countries we are analyzing the best way to reform energy prices and we will offer a guide for policymakers on carbon pricing and subsidy reform. But we can leave no one behind. The poorest and most disenfranchised cannot be allowed to bear the brunt of the crisis.



Equity and inclusion

Women have suffered job losses, increased violence and a greater burden of unpaid care. Temporary Basic Income, an idea which has quickly gone mainstream, will give women greater freedom, choice and power. And we estimate just 12 percent of the total financial response to COVID-19 in 2020 could provide a six-month guaranteed income to 2.7 billion poor people.



Backwards or forwards?

COVID-19 has set human development back for the first time when we began measuring 30 years ago. Our present course is not only hobbling development for many, it’s guaranteeing a climate catastrophe.

Our flagship publication, the Human Development Report, on its 30th anniversary will examine how we can expand human freedom and prosperity while protecting our planet.



Looking ahead

UNDP continues to lead the way and engages with the best minds of our time. Our decades-long association with Nobel Laureate, Professor Amartya Sen guides thinking by recognizing that human development is deeply and irrevocably tied to the health of the earth.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that we have to carry on our work at two different levels. At one level we are breaking fresh ground but without being quite sure what its implications will be for things here and now. The other is to do things here and now and see where we are going. To what extent where there is a danger that some of the acute needs, some of the acute sufferings, would be neglected as a result, there’s a question there. So, it’s really a matter of balance.”

Professor Amartya Sen

When you see a chance, take it

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to set things straight. To write a new social contract, together, that is fair and just for everybody. A bold, ambitious plan to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.



Jobs and livelihoods 

Deprived of jobs, the poorest are literally at risk of starving. Cash transfers can avert the worst, efficiently. Using big data, AI and partnerships with cell phone companies, cash can be transferred instantly. Cash transfers are empowering, effective and avoid the costs of intermediaries.



Digital connectivity 

COVID-19 is exposing a stark digital divide. This is an opportunity to think big on connectivity in the developing world and reach the underserved with healthcare and education via telemedicine and remote learning, and invest in digital entrepreneurship.



Rural development 

Today’s food system is the largest cause of health problems, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, as well as the greatest employer of people. There are 1.1 billion smallholder farmers who need help to improve productivity, reduce risk and ensure fair prices.



Diversified supply chains 

Supply chain disruption has hurt the most vulnerable and prompts the question of whether and how countries should build greater self-sufficiency.

We need diversified global supply chains that allow countries to exploit their comparative advantages, coupled with governments’ commitments to open borders and trade.




Countries that prepared are weathering the crisis better. With global risks increasing, governments should strengthen their preparedness, so they are more ready to face the next crisis. Resilience also requires rethinking how to finance public goods differently—whether human health, or the climate.



Keep calm and invest in intangibles

Governments are also investing, whether consciously or not, in intangibles which are vital to societies’ and economies’ long-term future. Some of these, such as public trust, cohesion and hope, can be bolstered by the concrete investments. Others, such as leadership, are more a function of individuals or culture, and can be tremendously influential in how effectively countries recover.

Seizing opportunities

There are gems of opportunity in this unique, terrible crisis. UNDP is fighting for a future where one third of all food produced isn’t wasted while one in 10 people goes hungry; where 10 times more isn’t spent on fossil fuel subsidies than on renewable energy, and where more than two billion people don’t live in fragility, conflict or violence. We are working to transform the lives of those who, even before the coronavirus, were out of school, out of work, offline, and off the grid.



Photo credits from top to bottom

  • UNDP Yemen
  • UNDP Guatemala/Carolina Trutmann
  • UNDP Georgia
  • UNDP Mauritius/Stephane Bellerose
  • UNDP India/Dhiraj Singh
  • UNDP Bangladesh/Fahad Kaizer
  • UNDP Sierra Leone/Lesley Wright
  • UNDP Turkey/Levent Kulu
  • UNDP Afghanistan
  • UNDP Guatemala/Carolina Trutmann
  • UNDP Azerbaijan
  • Gaelle Marcel/Unsplash