Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei Darussalam

About Us

A long history of supporting Malaysia’s development goals

UNDP’s technical assistance programmes date from the country’s independence in 1957. Began in the late 1950s, earlier than the 1961 establishment of its physical office in Kuala Lumpur was realized. For the last 5 decades UNDP’s assistance has been in stride with Malaysia’s own five-year national development plans, strategic agendas and policy priorities encompassing inclusive growth and economic development, poverty eradication, gender empowerment, promoting good governance and anti-corruption, sustainable and resilient development, strengthening renewable energy and energy efficiency approaches, mainstreaming environmental management and protection, rationalizing public sector reform, as well as promotion of South-South Cooperation for global development.

In the early years, assistance focused largely on capacity building in technical education and training, as well as health and nutrition. Consistent with this, UNDP supported projects that expanded the physical and social infrastructure, modernised and diversified the agricultural sector, increased manufacturing activities and promoted foreign investments. Up until 1972, UNDP’s involvement was on a project-to-project basis, responsive to sectors and areas of priority as determined by the Government. Since then, UNDP’s matching development assistance has been in stride with Malaysia’s own five-year national development plans. Over the next three decades, assistance was aimed at expanding and deepening the industrial base and promoting industrial dispersal to less developed states. Apart from helping to formulate the Industrial Master Plan, UNDP assisted in establishing the first technology park in the country. This was to develop vocational education to support growing industry needs.

As manufacturing activities expanded, UNDP assisted in programmes to develop new technologies and the commercialisation of Research and Development (R&D). In other areas, access to clean water supply and health services in rural areas improved significantly. Improvements in the educational system and greater access to education saw advances in educational and literacy levels with more students schooled in the Sciences. New training and vocational institutes also increased the country’s skilled manpower resources to support the continued growth of the economy. As the economy developed and pressures on the environment became evident, UNDP cooperated with the public and private sectors to develop a comprehensive and holistic approach to environmental management and the development of environmentally sound technologies to support the economy.

Delivering programme-based and policy support

Through this partnership and the successful implementation of hundreds of projects, UNDP has helped to strengthen the technical capacity of key national institutions, provided critical policy inputs, piloted innovative development projects, and contributed to significant progress in promoting human development in Malaysia.  Over the years, Malaysia's progress has been impressive where the country has achieved or is on track to attaining the SDGs at aggregate level by 2030. 

In line with its position as an upper middle income country, the country office is fully focused on upstream policies in supporting the design of Malaysia’s national development priorities and the implementation of national medium and long-term development plans (12th Malaysia Plan 2021-2025) and sectoral development policies and strategies. In addition, UNDP also strengthens the development of strategic upstream policy initiatives through downstream pilot projects and enabling on the ground realities to inform national policy development with credible and quantifiable evidence base data, innovative approaches, digitalization, analysis, stakeholder feedback and policy options.  Policy and programmatic strategies are identified jointly with the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department and implemented by over 15 ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions, think-tanks and the private sector. The office also serves as a liaison for UNDP offices worldwide in their engagements with the Government of Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

Our role today

UNDP Malaysia is currently preparing its next CPAP 2022-2025 which is in inline with the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) to support the Government of Malaysia. UNDP’s priority areas will be also inline with the UNDP Strategic Priorities 2022-2025 and with the country’s medium and long-term national development framework, including the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030) and the Twelfth Malaysia Plan (12MP).  

UNDP’s focus in the next CPAP will be on the following pillars:  

I. People- Vulnerable and at-risk populations living in Malaysia benefit from more equity-focused and high-quality social services as well as a social protection system that ensures all have an adequate standard of living;  

II.  Planet - Environmental sustainability and resilience are mainstreamed as priorities within the national development agenda, across all sectors and levels of society;

III.  Prosperity - Malaysia is making meaningful progress towards an economy that is inclusive, innovative and sustainable across all income groups and productive sectors; and

IV.  Peace - Malaysia has strengthened democratic governance and all people living in Malaysia benefit from more cohesive society, strengthened governance and participation.