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Statement On Recent Media Coverage

Posted November 29, 2020

In response to recent media coverage UNDP would like to state the following:


The UN Development Programme (UNDP) partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), along with several other partners, is critical for supporting countries with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At present, 704 projects funded by the GEF spanning 137 countries are under UNDP’s oversight. This portfolio supports more than 74 million people in those countries, approximately 413 million tons of CO2-eq emissions are being avoided or reduced and more than 583 million hectares across land and sea are directly impacted by another cohort of projects, among many other results. The portfolio is an important platform for countries supported by UNDP to realize their priority goals on climate, nature and energy.


UNDP takes all cases of financial mismanagement and other irregularities extremely seriously, and works continuously to improve our oversight both to prevent instances of misconduct from occurring in the first place, and to rigorously pursue and resolve them when they do occur, including through recovery of funds, disciplinary sanctions against staff members up to and including dismissal and, in appropriate cases, further action in coordination with national authorities.


In this respect, UNDP’s policies and procedures on transparency and accountability are robust and effective.


All allegations of misconduct, which can be submitted to UNDP’s independent Office of Audit and Investigation (OAI) by anyone - staff, contractors, partners or the general public, are reviewed thoroughly and where appropriate are fully investigated.


OAI has received and investigated several allegations of misuse of funds related to projects financed by Vertical Funds, including some financed by the GEF. These complaints affect a fraction - some 1.4% - of UNDP’s GEF-funded project portfolio.


Furthermore, the UN Joint Inspection Unit has reported that external and internal oversight bodies have repeatedly highlighted that the level of reported fraud across the UN System is low.


OAI has found evidence of misconduct in several of these cases and identified the persons or parties responsible. Information about all substantiated cases of misconduct is reported to UNDP’s Executive Board and updates on GEF funded cases are shared with the GEF Secretariat and Council.


The GEF portfolio managed and overseen by UNDP is one of the most closely monitored portfolios in UNDP. The portfolio, the majority of which is implemented by national and sub-national institutions, civil society organizations as well as other UN organizations, is subject to an intricate system of regular reviews, independent assessments and audits.


At the same time, our organization’s policies and systems must be held to the highest standards. For this reason, improvements are always necessary, and UNDP has a system in place to identify and understand where weaknesses exist and why, and action is taken immediately to address emerging gaps. These systems are continuously assessed both internally as well as via the independent OAI. These findings, and actions taken, are made public without exception.


Moreover, whenever concerns have been raised and a determination of validity that warrants further investigation is made, the GEF Council as well as Member States governing UNDP are kept informed. Transparency on these issues is a fundamental hallmark of UNDP’s approach to stamp out misappropriation.


UNDP proactively engages with Member States and the GEF Secretariat to ensure that critical and material updates are provided to all stakeholders.


UNDP acknowledges that there are instances where our high standards are not met or adhered to - be it by staff, partners or subcontractors. However, given the nature of UNDP’s global operations in 170 countries and with a project portfolio of 3,000 concurrent projects, the number of projects that have been flagged for closer scrutiny are low both in absolute terms and when compared to other development organizations.


UNDP continuously strives to minimize risks and apply lessons learned where and whenever we find that we have not met the standards we set for the Organization. We hold ourselves as well as our staff, partners and subcontractors fully accountable.