UNDP selects next generation of leadership worldwide

New Pool of 126 Resident Representatives is 50:50 Gender Balanced, Geographically Diverse

December 7, 2018

New York  – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) made a significant leap forward in preparing to play a crucial role in the implementation of the Secretary-General’s reform of the United Nations Development System. 

Just four months ago, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner faced a nightmare scenario for any executive: the vast majority of his senior leadership - 126 UNDP Resident Representatives - would be leaving the organization simultaneously on December 31, 2018.    

Today, four months later, following a world-wide search, assessment and selection process, he announced the successful selection of a new pool of world class talent to lead the organization’s development work across the globe.   

“It was a figurative hike up Mount Everest, but it also presented a unique opportunity for UNDP to dramatically reshape the next generation of UNDP leadership in the countries we serve,” said Steiner.  “These new team leaders will direct UNDP’s work at country level across the world to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 – from eradicating poverty to supporting governance and rule of law to accelerating action on climate change.  Getting the right people is a precondition to enabling UNDP to deliver world class, cutting edge advice and support.”

UNDP works in over 170 countries. For nearly 40 years, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative roles have been combined into one position.  That changed in May when UN Member States backed a significant reform of the UN’s development system, separating these roles into two distinct positions. 116 of the 126 Resident Coordinators opted to remain in that role, meaning the same number of UNDP Resident Representative positions would need to be filled by early 2019 to maintain UNDP’s operational capacity.  

“Our new Human Resources Director pulled together a team that embraced partnerships and technology to ensure a rigorous, objective, and transparent process.  This herculean effort succeeded in building an all new talent pool for future UNDP Resident Representatives that is geographically diverse, has a 50:50 gender ratio, and attracted 3,500 applications from highly talented individuals inside and outside UNDP.  I look forward to working with this new generation of UNDP leaders who will lead our team in their endeavors to offer innovative and exciting development solutions to the people and governments we serve.”

This week, Human Resource professionals from across international organizations awarded UNDP’s Human Resources team the “Innovation in Recruitment Prize” for this selection process.

This pool of candidates will now be submitted to the governments in their respective countries for formal approval prior to appointment.

In the same period, Mr. Steiner added 5 new members to his senior leadership team earlier this year: Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa of Nigeria, Ms. Ulrika Modeér of Sweden, Ms. Asako Okai of Japan, and Mr. Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva of Mexico, and Ms. Mirjana Spoljaric of Switzerland.  UNDP’s senior leadership team represents 10 countries from each region UNDP serves and is 50:50 gender balanced.