Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei Darussalam
UNDP’s technical assistance programmes date from the country’s independence in 1957. It began in the late 1950s, earlier than the 1961 establishment of its physical office in Kuala Lumpur. 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:
(i) inclusive growth and economic development
(ii) poverty eradication
(iii) gender empowerment
(iv) promoting good governance and anti-corruption
(v) sustainable and resilient development
(vi) strengthening renewable energy and energy efficiency approaches
(vii) mainstreaming environmental management and protection
(viii) rationalizing public sector reform
(ix) 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.
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.