Human Rights and Sustainable Development Systems Integration

Promoting and protecting human rights is essential for ensuring sustainable development outcomes. Progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development also furthers human rights.

“Prosper under the sun” | UNDP Peru, Anette Andresen

“Prosper under the sun”

UNDP Peru, Anette Andresen

Over 90 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets correspond directly with human rights obligations and commitments. Yet, sustainable development and human rights efforts are often approached separately at national, regional, and international levels. This has resulted in the creation of a myriad of distinct institutions, offices, mechanisms, organizations, and ways of working that make up complex systems for both sustainable development and human rights.  

By leveraging synergies and promoting coherence across efforts to advance human rights and sustainable development, UNDP supports Member States to reduce duplication, maximize resources, and create better outcomes for both human rights and sustainable development, people and planet.  A key entry point for this work is through the exchange of relevant data and information between the Universal Periodic Review and other human rights mechanisms with the Voluntary National Review process. This can help to improve the quality of monitoring and evaluation efforts of both human rights and development as well as implementation.

In its convenor role and with decades of experience providing development assistance through a human-rights based approach and targeted programming to address human rights challenges inhibiting sustainable development, UNDP brings together diverse stakeholders to build connections across these agendas within governments, communities, the UN system, and beyond. These connections spark new ways of thinking and working to comprehensively address immediate human rights and development challenges and create the systemic changes needed to sustain progress over time.  

UNDP OHCHR Partnership to Advance Human Rights and Sustainable Development 


In 2021, to harness synergies across the human rights and sustainable development agendas and improve effectiveness, UNDP and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), launched a partnership to support UN systemwide strategic engagement with human rights mechanisms to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In line with the UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights, the partnership seeks to support Member States to place rights at the core of sustainable development by strengthening coherence between human rights and sustainable development systems and approaches at the country level and capturing the needed expertise to advance human rights and sustainable development around the world.

With support from the UN Human Rights Mainstreaming Fund this partnership was piloted at global, regional, and national levels in 2021, leading to the following results:

  • Strengthened integration of human rights and sustainable development systems and approaches in six countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Tunisia and Uruguay.
  • Enhanced engagement of NHRIs in SDG monitoring, reporting and implementation in 10 countries: Albania, Colombia, Egypt, Jordan, Moldova, Mongolia, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda and Uganda.
  • Increased thought leadership in human rights and development policy in four key areas: (1) Practical knowledge and experience sharing on how the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) supports sustainable development; (2) applying a human rights perspective to Voluntary National Review processes; (3) strengthening UN action in situations where NHRIs face acts of intimidation or reprisals; and (4) operationalizing human rights indicators and a human rights-based approach to data.

These efforts have served as a ‘proof of concept’ that strengthening coherence between human rights and SDG systems helps to boost efficiency and effectiveness of efforts to advance human rights and sustainable development. Recognizing that integrated human rights and SDG efforts are essential for ensuring rights-based and risk-informed development approaches to leave no one behind in the long-term, the partnership seeks to provide sustained support to countries to foster systems level change in the years ahead. 

Focal points

Sarah Rattray 
Senior Advisor on Human Rights

Chelsea Shelton 
UNDP Human Rights Programme Specialist

Brian Migowe 
UNDP Human Rights Programme Analyst 

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Human Rights
2019 ROLHR cover