Our Mission, Our People: Pioneering Change for a Brighter Future

Quarter 1 of Implementation Reflections

April 11, 2024

Quarter 1 UNDP South Africa staff meeting

UNDP South Africa

In the realm of development, the pace of change can be relentless and the scope of work, overwhelming. Yet, amidst these challenges, our team at the UNDP has demonstrated exceptional dedication and resilience, driving impactful initiatives that are shaping a better world.

Over the past three months, we have achieved remarkable milestones. We’ve broadened internet access, providing low-cost solutions to bridge the digital divide in South Africa—a crucial step toward empowering communities and fostering inclusive growth. This initiative alone has the potential to transform millions of lives by connecting them to opportunities that were previously out of reach. We have facilitated critical discourse on how to successfully strengthen inclusive coalition governance and transformative service delivery at local government, and raised awareness around youth participation in democratic processes with our “We Are Voting” campaign. 

Thanks to the drive of our media team and those amongst our staff who picked the call: our media presence has significantly strengthened, with impactful campaigns like “Beyond The Desk” that bring to light the passionate individuals behind our projects. This initiative not only informs but inspires, highlighting the human spirit that powers our mission.

As we address the urgent challenges posed by climate change, our focused discussions on platforms like CNBC remind us of our responsibility towards future generations. The reality that some schools in South Africa must close due to extreme weather conditions is a call to action for all of us. It underscores the need for sustainable solutions that safeguard our environment while ensuring that every child has access to safe and uninterrupted education.

The upcoming elections in South Africa represent another critical area where our governance team is actively preparing to support free and fair processes. Misinformation stands as a formidable barrier to democracy, and our commitment to truth and transparency is more vital than ever.

Moreover, the honour of hosting the global and regional retreats for UNDP’s senior leaders is not just a ceremonial role. It is a profound responsibility that speaks to the trust and respect we have earned on the international stage. These events are opportunities for us to lead by example, showcasing the innovative and principled leadership that defines the UNDP.

In all these endeavours, our staff are the true champions. Each member of our team plays a pivotal role, bringing their unique skills and unwavering commitment to the forefront of our efforts. 

We are preparing to support South Africa during its G20 presidency and host influential global forums, with our role extending beyond facilitation. We are shaping the global economic dialogue, influencing how nations prioritise development and social equity in their agendas. This is a testament to our deep commitment and a reflection of the international community’s trust in our capabilities.

In one of our meet-ups with staff, I was reminded by Atle (one of our dedicated drivers) why the work that we do matters, and we must win; his wife is expecting. And he wishes for a world where his newborn will enjoy life in the safety, comfort and wealth South Africa can offer. “Every achievement is a stepping stone towards greater goals, each effort a link in the chain of progressive change. The work we do is not just a job—it’s a commitment to making the world a fairer, more just, and sustainable place for all. Together, we are not just participants in this journey; we are leaders paving the path forward.

He is right. 

As we move forward, each project, and each initiative, carries the potential to redefine the landscapes of development, governance, and economic inclusion. Let it be an opportunity to renew our commitment to the values we hold dear and to the goals we strive to achieve.

by Maxwell Gomera, Resident Representative, UNDP South Africa