Partnership with the European Union helps improve the lives of millions in the Arab States region and boost the SDGs

Posted March 18, 2022

Posters featuring results of the EU-UNDP partnership in the Arab States region – in particular in countries such as Yemen, Iraq and Somalia – were prominently displayed in Brussels metro railway stations and the international airport, and are expected to reach at least half a million people. Photo: JCDecaux

Job creation, food scarcity in the Arab region, opportunities for a green transition, digital transformation, and support for vulnerable groups like women and youth were some of the key themes discussed in the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Arab States region Week in Brussels, from 14-18 March.

Led by Dr. Khalida Bouzar, Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States, the objective of the week-long campaign was to engage in a strategic dialogue with the European Union (EU) to better understand its priorities and explore opportunities for joint collaboration. It included a series of engagements with the EU officials, representatives of the Member-States and the diplomatic corps, an address from the Regional Director to the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries Special Committee on Climate Change and COP27 as well as a meeting with the League of Arab States Ambassadors which brought together representatives from across the region in a growing tripartite relationship between UNDP, the Arab States and the EU.

Perspectives and stories from the field were central to the mission with a strong focus on countries, with Resident Representatives from Algeria, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Yemen also joining the Regional Director. With development as the foundation of peace, many conversations were centered on UNDP’s Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus approach and the importance of the three sectors coming together to effectively address the region’s vast needs.

As highlighted in the newly-launched report, Making a Difference: the EU-UNDP partnership in the Arab States region, the EU is one of UNDP’s largest partners in the region, with the partnership spanning 14 Arab countries and states. Joint efforts between the two organizations help boost resilience and recovery from crises, support local development, and build forward better from COVID-19, reaching the most vulnerable – including women, children and the displaced.  This includes supporting thousands of people with access to food, jobs and electricity in Yemen; providing more than 4 million people in Libya with better access to health, education, infrastructure and public services; and supporting the return of 4.9 million people displaced by the ISIL conflict in Iraq.

“I am proud of what we have achieved together. There is still much to be done until 2030. But for many people across the region, the EU-UNDP partnership has made a difference. We have changed lives, particularly for the most vulnerable. This has been a week of fruitful discussions and I look forward to accelerating our collaboration with the EU on key areas like climate resilience and digital transition, boosting the SDGs to leave no-one behind,” said Dr. Khalida Bouzar, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Arab States, during a EU-UNDP high level strategic dialogue on the partnership in the region.

“The word that could describe our collaboration with UNDP and our partners in the Arab States is “determination”, wrote Koen Doens, Director General for International Partnerships, and Maciej Popowski, Acting Director General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, European Commission, in their joint foreword to the publication. “Over the past five years, a key theme has emerged: the link between fostering economic resilience and improving the well-being of vulnerable populations through support to rebuilding and sustaining livelihoods. From ensuring inclusive economies to promoting decent jobs, from advancing universal health coverage to supporting healthcare systems, from establishing more participatory decision-making processes to promoting equality and human rights, there are many opportunities to contribute to the leave-no-one-behind agenda.”

A high-level discussion on the report, Pathways for Recovery, the final in the Impact of War in Yemen trilogy, was also held.  The report identifies key points and recommendations for a successful recovery in the country – including empowering women, making investments in governance, the economy, agriculture and human capabilities. It projects that by combining these, hundreds of thousands of additional lives will be saved and Yemen will be positioned to surpass its pre-war Sustainable Development Goals trajectory by 2050.

Complementary to the positive, forward-looking perspective of the Pathways for Recovery report, UNDP created and showed an hour-long documentary aptly named “From Yemen with Love”. The sold-out screening featured a discussion with the film’s producer to add an understanding of the difficulty of the filming process. The film showcases Yemen positively – highlighting culture, history and people – and has been extremely well received.

Posters featuring results of the EU-UNDP partnership in the Arab States region – in particular in countries such as Yemen, Iraq and Somalia – were prominently displayed in Brussels metro railway stations and the international airport. These will run for one and two weeks, respectively, and will be seen by at least half a million people.

UNDP and the European Union partner in nearly 140 countries worldwide in the area of crisis and fragility, governance, and climate change.