In Brussels, UNDP Administrator underlines the importance of the partnership with the European Union to tackle global development challenges

Posted February 25, 2022

In Yemen, the EU-UNDP partnership has supported thousands of people to access food, jobs and electricity. Photo: UNDP Yemen

UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Achim Steiner, concluded a two-day mission to Brussels, which headquarters the European Union (EU), one of UNDP’s major partners in nearly 140 countries worldwide.

During the mission, Mr. Steiner presented UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2022-2025, providing reflections on the future of development and how UNDP works with partners to address complex and interconnected development challenges, including in the areas of climate, digital and crisis. Building on a solid foundation, discussions focused on the opportunities where the EU-UNDP partnership could be further strengthened at this critical moment for development in the context of COVID-19: as a result of the pandemic, poverty is rising for the first time in a generation; inequalities are starker than ever; and we need more ambition, speed and scale to change the carbon footprint of our generation. 

He met with Koen Doens, Head of European Commission’s Directorate General for International Partnerships, to discuss the long-standing EU-UNDP partnership, with close to EUR 2 billion of joint initiatives under implementation in the area of crisis and fragility, governance, and climate change.

Mr. Steiner discussed with Mauro Petriccione, Director General for Climate Action, and with Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director General for Environment, how the EU and UNDP can work together to scale up work on climate, nature-based solutions and biodiversity moving from pledge to impact. The EU supports UNDP’s Climate Promise, which works with 120 countries to reach their climate goals and the Biodiversity Finance Initiative, helping 40 countries to create sustainable finance solutions to protect biodiversity.

During the meeting with EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, Mr. Steiner underlined UNDP’s commitment to support access to clean energy for 500 million people by 2025 and the potential to partner with EU to deliver on this bold target. UNDP’s new Sustainable Energy Hub provides the platform to engage on energy and climate change agenda, allowing optimal off-grid electricity solutions, such as solar mini-grids or solar home systems, for people in rural and remote communities.  

With Mairead McGuinness, EU Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability, and Capital Markets Union, Mr. Steiner discussed the successful collaboration between UNDP and the EU in supporting the preparation of Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs) in over 70 countries and how to strengthen cooperation to scale up sustainable finance and investments for achieving the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. With EIB President Werner Hoyer, Mr. Steiner discussed the expertise that both institutions can offer to countries on climate finance, sustainable energy and green transition, as well as to leverage financing for the SDGs.

In a meeting with representatives of the EU Member-States, Mr. Steiner stressed the vital support of the EU and its Member-States to countries in crisis or conflict settings such as Yemen, Afghanistan and countries in the Sahel. He mentioned the importance to work at local level and invest in the “people’s economy” to sustain livelihoods and the delivery of basic services. For example, as part of Area-Based Approach for Development Emergency Initiatives (ABADEI) programme in Afghanistan, UNDP and the EU launched a US $16.9 million livelihoods recovery initiative to safeguard women’s livelihoods and women-led small businesses. In Yemen, the EU-UNDP partnership has supported thousands of people to access food, jobs and electricity. Mr. Steiner discussed with Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, the importance of deploying the full range of assistance (development, humanitarian, peace) in a synchronized manner to reduce humanitarian needs. They called for a structured dialogue between the EU and the UN on humanitarian, development and peace collaboration and for concrete new joint initiatives in the Sahel to tackle food insecurity.

Lastly, digital transformation and its impact on the future of development was discussed during the meeting with Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age. Mr. Steiner highlighted that UNDP’s new Digital Strategy aims to harnesses the potential of digital technology to reduce inequalities and accelerate progress towards the SDGs. Ms. Vestager highlighted an interest to scale up initiatives to support youth employment, such as the recent Jubilee programme launched in Nigeria with Euro 44 million support from the EU.