UNDP Executive Board

Statement to the Executive Board - Sept 2019

September 4, 2019

As prepared for delivery.

Mr. President,
Members of the Executive Board,
Colleagues and friends,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this second regular session of the UNDP Executive Board.

Let us remember it was only two years ago that we met here at the UN to galvanize support for the Caribbean countries so badly hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Over the past two days we have been watching hurricane Dorian devastate parts of the Bahamas, kicking off what could be another season of massive hurricanes in the region. Our thoughts are with the People and Government of the Bahamas at this difficult moment, as we support them in the recovery and reconstruction ahead.

Allow me to take this opportunity to assure all our Caribbean partners that you can count on UNDP and the UN’s support and help in these challenging times.


At the outset, I would like to take the opportunity to introduce some changes in UNDP’s senior leadership team.

Angelique Crumbly has been appointed as the new Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau of Management Services (BMS) and Haoliang Xu, who many of you know well as Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific (RBAP), will lead UNDP’s Bureau of Policy and Programme Support (BPPS).

I warmly welcome Angelique and Haoliang to these important leadership positions.

I also want to thank Abdoulaye Mar Dieye for leading BPPS in the creation of the Global Policy Network and for accepting to extend his collaboration with UNDP in his new role as my Special Adviser.

And I add my heartfelt thanks to Kanni Wignaraja for her dedicated leadership of BMS during this transition period.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As detailed during our Annual Session, UNDP had a good year in 2018. I am pleased to report that this positive trajectory has continued in 2019.

Our progress against the Strategic Plan is good, delivery is on track and the range of innovations introduced last year are already moving at pace and showing early results.

UNDP continues to play a key role in powering UN development System reform – actively engaging and implementing across all reform streams.

Meanwhile, UNDP is going through unprecedented renewal of its senior leadership at country level, a process which should be completed by the end of this year.
Overall, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are driving all of UNDP’s work around the world – this was a finding and strong message coming out of our 2018 Annual Report.

The urgency of stepping up efforts on the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate change cannot be clearer.

On current trajectory the SDG target to eradicate extreme poverty might not be reached by 2030; hunger is on the rise after a prolonged decline; and inequalities are growing.

At the same time, 2018 was the fourth warmest year on record, levels of carbon dioxide concentrations continue to increase, and biodiversity is being lost “at an alarming rate”.

Later this month, Heads of State and Government will gather here at the United Nations Headquarters in New York at the 2019 Climate Action Summit, and just two days later at the first UN Summit on the SDGs since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015.

It is critical that these Summits inject the momentum that is so urgently needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.

For its part, UNDP will be implementing four major initiatives as our contribution to enhancing our support to countries, this includes a Global Outlook Report on NDCs developed in partnership with UNFCCC, UNDP’s Climate Promise that will provide support to 100 countries to enhance NDCs by 2020 and Mission 1.5, a worldwide engagement campaign for all people to make their voices heard on national climate action

UNDP is also “walking the talk” on climate action. Just as our finances must balance, so too must our environmental accounting – at the very least.

While UNDP is climate neutral in its operations, offsetting nearly 80,000 tons of emissions last year, neutral is not enough. To raise our ambition, we have launched a new Greening Moonshot to reduce our emissions by 25 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030 - because we cannot advise over 140 countries on raising the ambition of their Nationally Determined Contributions without doing so ourselves.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What the world needs now are concrete plans, commitments and actions – not merely a collection of promises.

And there are many positive stories to build on – stories of hope and progress in the face of poverty, injustice, environmental degradation, displacement and other global challenges.

As we saw in the close to fifty Voluntary National Reviews presented at the High-Level Political Forum in July, there are many examples of how the 2030 Agenda is driving determined efforts and partnerships to bring about real and positive change.

At the landmark Second High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation in Argentina (BAPA+40), we learned of many examples of how South-South Cooperation is powering development results. The decisions taken at BAPA+40 will help unleash a tremendous potential to tackle global challenges.

And we are also seeing how countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are poised to drive transformational development progress through climate action.

Remarkably, those countries most vulnerable to and least responsible for climate change – such as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – are often taking critical steps to be bold and innovative when it comes to climate action.

It is imperative that we support these countries on their journey, including through the successful implementation of the SAMOA Pathway. UNDP has been supporting the process leading up to the high-level Review of the SAMOA Pathway and is determined to remain a partner of choice for SIDS. Which is why we are currently revising UNDP’s options for enhancing our support for SIDS.

Ladies and Gentlemen

While there is certainly much progress to build on, we must keep asking ourselves: what can we do better, faster, and differently to bring Agenda 2030 more to life? How can we help deliver more and better results to the people we serve? And what do we need to do as an organization to be better equipped to do that?

Against this backdrop, the focus of my statement today is fourfold:

•    First, I will brief you on how UNDP is driving transformational change through integration – as called for explicitly in the General Assembly’s resolution on UN development system reform;

•    Second, I will update you on our growing role in assisting countries to align public and private capital to financing the SDGs - the subject of our interactive dialogue this morning;  

•    Third, I will update you on how we continue to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of UNDP’s institutional backbone – finances, human resources, and business model; and,

•    Lastly, I will look ahead and emphasize the need to support countries in harnessing the digital revolution, as a part of the commitment to leaving no one behind.

Driving transformational change through integration

Today’s development challenges - from climate crisis, to rising inequalities and protracted conflict - cannot be dealt with in isolation. The way countries work and the solutions they develop call for greater integration and ‘whole of government’ approaches.

This is why UNDP is working in a more integrated way, across the SDGs, and, more broadly, across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus.

SDG integration is a systems approach to complex development challenges.

It connects issues across sectors and thematic areas and leverages the creativity and know-how of all of society – from governments and communities to civil society, academia and the private sector – to build solutions that respond to people’s daily realities.

It is good development – the kind of work UNDP has always done when at its best.

And we have many examples to share:

In Egypt, we are supporting the Government to design integrated policies, tackling immediate economic and poverty issues, while targeting deep-rooted challenges including rising poverty, widening gender inequality and jobless growth; in Bolivia, together with UN-Habitat, we are helping to develop a national policy for integrated city management, tackling the sustainable development challenges of rapid urbanization; and, in Moldova, we are partnering with a range of local and regional partners to produce a data platform that will help optimize infrastructure and public services.

To further our SDG integration efforts around the world, we have put in place four dedicated streams of work focused not on individual Goals but on the gaps between them – the missing pieces that make a whole of 2030 Agenda approach possible.

They are #NextGen Policy and Programming, Data and Analytics, Financing, and Innovation and Learning.  

Through these work streams, we offer support to countries and partners – including our UN sister agencies and RCs – to tackle complexity more effectively, and in so doing, speed up development impact.

They draw together both new and familiar tools and approaches to advance integrated results, including the Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) approach, the Multidimensional Poverty Index and Human Development Index, and services provided by the new Finance Sector Hub.

They also leverage the collective strength of UNDP flagship initiatives – the ladders we are building to speed the climb towards SDG achievement.

The UNDP Accelerator Labs, for example, are not only helping our partners to push development frontiers but also changing the way we work as an organization to be more responsive to complexity and embrace innovation.

I am pleased to report that interest in the Labs network continues to be strong, as are the partnerships that made it possible.

Now we are showing that we can deliver – almost all the labs are already operational, identifying new areas where countries need innovative solutions.

In Barbados, for example, the lab will experiment and seek out solutions at the community level to address challenges and opportunities presented by the blue economy; the lab in Vietnam will test out new ways of reducing the use of plastics in Danang; and in Sudan, the lab will work on better understanding how online content on violent extremism is constructed and disseminated.

Another ladder to SDG achievement is UNDP’s Country Investment Facility – an internal mechanism that channelled $20 million for catalytic investments in our work at the country level in 2018-19. A total of 52 country office proposals were funded, including three initiatives developed jointly with UNCDF.

These investments have since catalysed new, innovative initiatives and partnerships with the public and private sectors, targeting areas of visionary interest and ‘next generation’ development ideas that cut across multiple SDGs. For example:

•    In Senegal, working with UNCDF, we are enhancing the role of domestic financial markets in financing the productive economy by developing investment clubs to help mobilize resources from citizens and members of the diaspora for local development;

•    In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the ‘Smart Sarajevo Initiative’, implemented jointly with the City of Sarajevo, is bringing together a wide range of stakeholders to develop innovative ideas for a smart urban economy. 35 technology-based solutions have already been proposed to address key challenges identified by Sarajevo’s residents – including air pollution and public transportation; and,

•    UNDP’s country office in Ecuador is working with the Government and the private sector to develop responsible and inclusive cocoa and tea value chains through the design and implementation of an innovative traceability system using block chain technology.

To make UNDP’s integration services even more accessible, we recently launched a new SDG integration website - a one-stop-shop with detailed information on what UNDP has to offer.

To take forward our work on SDG integration, a new global flagship initiative on SDG integration will be launched, building from our work supporting SDGs, including through MAPS. The global flagship will connect the four key workstreams on SDG integration in a comprehensive programme strategy and technical offer to our partners. We look forward to engaging with our partners on this exciting initiative.

In facilitating integration, UNDP will draw on its hosted assets: the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UN Volunteers (UNV), UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), and the Multi Partner Trust Fund Office (MPTFO), including to support the UN Development System in delivering more coherently and collectively on the SDGs.

Integrated approaches are also critical where humanitarian, development, and peace actors work together to support those most in need.

This fact was very much reinforced in my mind after I visited Yemen in July.  

After four years of violent conflict, Yemen is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. 80 per cent of the population requires some form of humanitarian assistance.

The main objective of my visit was to explore how development initiatives - alongside humanitarian support - can promote peace and to discuss how UNDP, together with partners, can work with all Yemenis to lay the foundation for a future with viable alternatives to war and chaos.

From my meetings with senior leadership and affected communities, and from my visits to Aden, Sana’a and Hodeidah. I could see clearly the need to keep creating bridges between peacebuilding issues and priorities, while safeguarding core humanitarian and development principles.

Indeed, the preservation of Yemen’s human and social capital, institutional capacities and development assets, and their strengthening as foundations for recovery and development, must be our common goal.

Significant work is already being done across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus in Yemen, including resilience interventions integrated in the Humanitarian Response Plan, and considerable development programming focusing on livelihoods, social protection and service delivery.

UNDP is also playing its part in putting the New Way of Working to practice elsewhere.

For example, in Sudan, UNDP works with UNHCR to provide longer-term development solutions for communities hosting large numbers of refugees; in the Central African Republic, UNDP is supporting an integrated humanitarian, development and peace initiative to build durable solutions for IDPs and returned refugees; and in Lake Chad Region, UNDP recently launched during a Boko Haram Affected areas Governors forum, a Regional Stabilisation Facility in support to the implementation of the wider Regional Stabilization Strategy lead by African Union, the Four Countries and the Lake Chad Basin Commission. This ambitious multi-million dollar fund focused on integrated activities with the primary purpose of extending state presence and legitimacy in Boko Haram affected areas will contribute building a strong foundation for the HDP nexus.

But there is much more we can do, in these countries, and beyond.

Overall, the relationship between humanitarian, development and peace efforts needs to be one of complementarity and simultaneity, rather than a linear progression from relief to development.

UNDP remains fully committed to help driving this agenda forward.

The centrality of financing the SDGs

UNDP’s role in financing the SDGs continues to grow.

The challenge of financing the SDGs is not just about mobilizing more money - it is more systemic and much deeper than just closing a financial gap.

The challenge is fundamentally related to effective governance and calls for re-orientation of how public and private actors interact with each other.

The good news is there is no shortage of private capital across the world: global financial wealth increased to $317 trillion in 2018.  Attracting just a small portion of this would allow to start a systemic change across the financial sector.

On 26 September, the UN General Assembly will convene its first High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development since the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. This high-level dialogue on development finance is most timely, as we need to get public and private finance flowing in the right direction.

UNDP is increasingly called on by countries to be a central player in supporting them on SDG Finance.

Responding to this call, we established the SDG Finance Sector Hub drawing together the many exciting strands of our work at the country level to offer comprehensive support to governments to scale up financing for the SDGs and align public and private capital with the global goals.

And we have many exciting initiatives to report on:

•    UNDP has supported over 35 countries conduct Development Finance Assessments. This work, combined with our efforts to help countries align domestic budgets to the SDGs, has enabled UNDP to be a key player in assisting with the development and roll out of Integrated National Financing Frameworks, in partnership with UNDESA, the European Union and RCs – to be launched at the high-level segment of the General Assembly;   

•    Under the auspices of Tax Inspectors Without Borders, UNDP and OECD have supported 36 countries increase their tax collection by $470 million. We are planning to scale up these efforts even further;

•    Through the Lion’s Share the corporate world can now make a financial contribution each time an animal appears in their ads, raising money for wildlife conservation and habitats protection. A pioneering yet simple way to make a powerful difference; and,

•    Through SDG Impact we will offer SDG Impact Practice Standards - a set of global standards for how investors and enterprises manage and measure their impacts on the SDGs. There is currently no defined standard that enables auditors to assure that an investor’s impact management practice is of sufficient quality to be considered “SDG-enabling”. This is critical to drive consistency, comparability and accountability.

We will also make available SDG Investor Maps, which are in-depth reports on SDG-enabling investment opportunities and conditions in target markets and sectors. The pilot report from Brazil has already generated significant interest, providing investors with information on 21 Investment Opportunity Areas, which are in line with the Government’s development priorities, across six priority sectors – all conducive to SDG achievement.

Overall, the SDG Impact is a great example of how UNDP is stepping up its engagement with the private sector to align their priorities with Governments’ SDG plans.

UNDP’s work on SDG finance and private sector is done in partnership with many stakeholders, including UNCDF, UN Global Compact and many others outside the UN system. Including many Members States, as well as the World Bank Group and other IFIs and DFIs.

Allow me to take this opportunity to recognize UNDP’s fruitful partnership with the Turkish Government under UNDP’s Istanbul International Centre for Private Sector in Development. The Centre plays a vital role in supporting the private sector and foundations to become transformative partners in development through research, advocacy, and multi stakeholder-partnerships.

An exciting example of new partnering with the private sector is the new partnership UNDP and Samsung launched last month to boost public awareness of the SDGs. Millions of Samsung’s latest generation of Galaxy phones will carry the Global Goals application that shows users how they can take small actions that contribute towards the SDGs.  

The next segment – our interactive dialogue – will allow us to elaborate in more detail about UNDP’s role in financing the SDGs, and the role of the private sector.

A firm focus on strengthening UNDP’s institutional backbone

For UNDP to be optimally positioned and equipped to deliver more and better for those we serve, we also need to look inwards and strive to be the best we can possible be.

Strengthening UNDP’s institutional backbone – finances, human resource strategy, business model – has been a priority for me since I took office.

As you will have heard during yesterday’s structured funding dialogues, we have achieved some important milestones. The 2018 Annual Review of the Financial Situation highlights:

•    UNDP has re-established financial stability, balancing the institutional budget for the second year in a row, while the $4.6 billion in delivery achieved with over 900 government partners was the highest in five years. Revenue increased by five per cent;

•    UNDP has also become more efficient, enabling 87 per cent of total expenses to be on programme activities, again the highest in five years. The management efficiency ratio improved to 6.69 per cent (2017: 6.93 per cent), meaning that programme delivery went up while institutional expenditures went down - this is below the integrated results and resources framework target of 6.90 per cent for 2018-2021; and,

•    Overall, with net revenues growing by $420 million in 2018, UNDP ended the year in a sound financial position, with a total 15 per cent increase in net assets.

It is important to note that all of this was achieved without drawing upon the special allocation of $29 million set aside by the Executive Board for the institutional budget of 2018.

Indeed, at the start of the year, I decided that the organization needed to take decisive steps to balance the budget, focusing on increasing institutional budget revenue and judiciously reducing institutional budget expenses – to the benefit of our development programming.

While this was tough on the organization, I am convinced that it set us on the right path – as exemplified by the Annual Review of the Financial Situation presented to you yesterday.

We are also pleased that for the 14th consecutive year, the United Nations Board of Auditors awarded UNDP an unqualified (clean) audit opinion for its financial statements (2018).

At the same time, we are firmly focused on improving our audit and oversight performance in relation to repeat audit findings.

To this end, we are identifying root causes, addressing the underlying issues, and taking measures to improve how management addresses risks while working in many challenging environments. As a part of this process, we are also conducting a high-level independent review to help us improve and reduce risks.

An important step in further improving UNDP’s transparency and accountability is the continued strengthening of evaluation as a fundamental quality assurance, oversight and learning function within UNDP.

The revised UNDP Evaluation Policy – to be presented this afternoon – reflects this commitment. It is the result of the collaborative effort between the Executive Board, the Independent Evaluation Office and UNDP management, and we are confident that it will help increase both the credibility and the utility of the evaluation function.

Allow me to take this opportunity to acknowledge Indran Naidoo’s able stewardship of the IEO for close to eight years. This is Indran’s last board meeting – I sincerely thank him and his team for their commitment to the organization and wish him all the best in his next endeavours.

When it comes to human resources, the implementation of UNDP’s new people strategy - People for 2030 – has already begun and will cover 9 strategic priority areas.

We have, for example, taken several important steps to make UNDP a more family friendly workplace, and have introduced new learning and development programmes to foster effective and inspirational leadership.

This is all happening in a context where, over the past months, UNDP has seized the unique opportunity of selecting an entire new generation of senior Country Office leadership, with assessment, recruitment, onboarding, and relocation entailing unprecedented time and efforts for the organization – all-the-while maintaining high levels of delivery on the ground.

Throughout, Gender parity remains a high priority. I am very proud that UNDP has already achieved full parity among its executive leadership team and our Resident Representatives at country level (63 women and 62 men). For our Deputy Representatives, so far 59 women and 64 men have been selected with 16 vacancies still to be filled and a determination to achieve gender parity here also. We have maintained full parity among our staff and are working to increase parity across all members of the workforce (service contract holders, UNVs etc).

But it is not just about numbers of men and women. At the heart of People for 2030 is our commitment to ensure that UNDP’s workplace is inclusive, respectful, family-friendly and free from any kind of bias or harassment.

Importantly, we have made important progress in tackling and preventing sexual harassment. But we must do more to create a culture where staff feel safe and respected. I am very pleased to be partnering with the Ombudsman’s Office on a new pilot programme to put in place Respectful Workplace Facilitators in 25 Country Offices, who will provide guidance and a safe space for staff to discuss their workplace concerns.

The new people strategy will also enable UNDP to invest in a highly capable and efficient workforce that delivers world class services and value for money performance.

In this context, I would like to welcome a new colleague who will play an important role in driving next generation UNDP even further: Robert Opp, UNDP’s first ever Chief Digital Officer.

Robert’s appointment reflects my commitment to bring to UNDP world class talent and expertise to help drive forward next generation UNDP.

Turning to funding.

Nothing of this would ever be possible without the staunch support of our funding partners and programme country governments.

Reflecting the confidence placed in us, 2018 contributions to UNDP grew across all categories of funding. Overall, total contributions increased by 6 per cent from $4.9 billion in 2017 to $5.2 billion in 2018.
I sincerely thank all our funding partners, and, especially those who increased their overall contributions the most in 2018: Australia, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine.
The composition of our funding portfolio - percentage of regular and other resources - remained the same in 2018 as in 2017, at 12 per cent and 88 per cent, respectively.

Whilst the stabilization of the ratio of regular to other resources is welcome, in particular given the previous periods of reduction in core resources, it is clear that more is needed to enable UNDP to fully live up to its development mandate.
Allow me to take this opportunity to thank Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, the Republic of Korea and Sweden for increasing their core contribution in 2018, as well as recognize the strong commitment of the 35 Member States that maintained their steadfast contribution - including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.  

In welcoming your continuing commitment, we also need to signal concern over the impact of currency fluctuations on our bottom line. Hence, to the extent possible, we would like to receive your contributions as early as possible.
Programme countries form a critical component of our funding base, contributing $1.1 billion in government financing in 2018, and $33 million in local office costs, with the latter increasing by $6 million over 2017. This support is a true testament to the value placed in the services we offer.

As emphasized in yesterday’s strategic funding dialogue, we are working closely with all partners to mobilize more core and other resources needed for successful implementation of the Strategic Plan. An important part of this continues to be our efforts to actively expand our network of partners, further diversifying our funding base across and beyond traditional partners. Funding from multilateral institutions and from vertical funds increased in 2018.

Our partnerships with International Finance Institutions (IFIs) keep growing. In 2018 UNDP received $387 million from IFIs, a 36 per cent increase from 2017. This includes $173 million from Germany through its national development bank, KfW, to support initiatives in Indonesia, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Malawi, and $156 million from the World Bank (WB), out of which 97 per cent was for a pioneering partnership in response to the Yemen crisis. We are also working with the World Bank to scale up engagement on SDG acceleration, leveraging climate finance, and preventing and responding to crisis.  

But financial collaboration is only part of the picture.  Our non-financial collaboration with the IFIs is also intensifying, on research and knowledge products; joint analysis and assessments; and joint initiatives through parallel financing.

To further solidify these partnerships, we have signed new corporate agreements with the ADB, EBRD, the German Development Bank KfW and the Italian Development Bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti; and reached new financial template agreements with the World Bank, IADB and KfW.  

Pooled funding instruments are also becoming increasingly relevant - in particular to drive SDG integration and a more coherent UN collaboration on SDG achievement. UNDP has already committed to increasing non-core resources from interagency pooled funds, as reflected in the IRRF.

The UNDP-hosted Multi Partner Trust Fund Office – MPTFO - plays a central role in this regard, offering system-wide support in designing, managing and implementing multi-partner trust funds.

Another important part of the funding picture is cost recovery - a critical way to ensure that core resources are not used to subsidize the implementation of programmes funded by other resources.

The work done by UNDP with UNFPA, UNICEF and UN-Women on cost classification is an excellent example of the transparent and open collaboration that you expect of us. This is fully in line with the Funding Compact, and the call for collective harmonization of efforts in order to help achieve the SDGs through improved transparency, reporting, and simplified negotiation.  

UNDP therefore fully supports the results of the exercise and endorses the recommendations outlined in the joint document on cost classification that was presented to you yesterday. We look forward to your support for this effort, and to help promote it system-wide.

The work on cost recovery continues to also address the very important role of core resources and avoidance of cross-subsidization. This is an important step in the process of the new cost recovery policy.

Over and beyond, UNDP remains fully committed to the efficient and effective use of the valuable resources entrusted to us by our funding partners.

This is an important element of the Funding Compact, which we see as a critical step in generating a virtuous cycle of quality funding, efficient, transparent and accountable systems, and sustainable development results.

And as our finances picture shows, much has already been achieved.

But we remain committed to implementing a range of efficiency measures, both through UNDP’s own internal measures and through committed participation in system-wide efforts under the auspices of the UN Business Innovation Group (BIG) to which UNDP has provided fulltime staff support.

Internally, work is advancing quickly on several fronts:

•    Significant progress has been made in expanding the scope and scale of operational services provided through a ‘shared service’ modality, adapting UNDP’s standard business model to achieve greater service response and efficiencies. The objective is to transition 57 services currently provided by Country Offices to global shared service modality by end 2020;

•    As a major service provider, UNDP has embarked on a Service Excellence initiative, aimed at improving the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of our services.

This includes optimally servicing the RC System, as its main operational services provider. To this end we recently launched a RC System service portal - a single entry point for initiating, processing and tracking service requests. As captured by the portal, which over 120 offices now using, UNDP has received 4.3 out of 5 stars in service rating; and,

•    We are continuously improving our business practices, with over 100 business process revisions, simplifications and clarifications made in 2018 and 2019.

As to system-wide efficiency efforts, we are actively engaged in all the Business Innovation Group’s workstreams. This includes, for example, a key role in development of a Business Operations Strategies (BOS) package, and the development and management of an online tool that helps Country Offices save time and efforts as they develop their BOS.

You can read more about the specific workstreams in our Information Note on UNDS reform implementation, submitted to the Board.

Harnessing the digital revolution for development

The digital transformation of UNDP has begun in earnest through the implementation of the Digital Strategy and the appointment of the Chief Digital Officer.  

This is an important step in ensuring that UNDP is embracing digital transforming both in our own management systems and in our programmes - not only to better respond to today’s challenges, but also to the opportunities of tomorrow.

Many of the emerging development challenges – and opportunities - are arising as a result of new technologies.

For example, at our recent discussion in New York with experts from a wide variety of areas on the future of government and governance in the 21st Century –the digital revolution was highlighted as one of the key influencing factors to consider.

People are engaging with the governance of their societies and the globe in a way that we have not seen before. The space facilitated by tech platforms is being used for the debate and dialogue and building new communities of belonging.

But we have not yet worked out how to mediate and moderate this for the collective good, guard effectively against those who wish to manipulate and distort, as well as understand the risks of holding our societal debates on privately-owned platforms.

A fundamental question facing us is how we harness technology and the energy to build civic communities, rather than reinforce polarisation and discord. The need to support and connect different levels of governance is more urgent than ever. There is also an urgent need to confront issues around the use and ownership of data, while also promoting digital cooperation and technological breakthroughs for development.

We cannot help countries drive development progress by looking in the rear-view mirror only.

UNDP is committed to support countries maximize the opportunities – and mitigate the risks - which the digital revolution presents for the future of development. Digital will be in focus of UNDP’s corporate side event at the UN General Assembly later this month.

I encourage you all to attend.

Country programme documents

We look forward to your deliberation of the three new Country Programmes that will be presented to you today - Angola, Liberia, and Sierra Leone - as well as your consideration of the extensions for the programmes of Madagascar and Yemen.

As per usual, these country programmes have undergone a thorough quality assurance process, ensuring that they are in line with national development priorities and contribute to UNDP’s Strategic Plan’s goals in an effective and efficient manner.

At the same time, we are taking important steps to further align our programming with the new UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. This includes the continued alignment of shared results, repositioning our programme appraisal process, updating our Country Programme Document template and introducing our global best practice certification “Managing Successful Programmes”.

Taken together, all these measures exemplify our commitment to high quality programming done together with our UN sister agencies.


As you have heard, next generation UNDP is in full forward drive, firmly focused on helping to drive SDG progress around the world.

In short: I believe that we have done much of what we have set out to do. And we will continue to do so.

Our progress – and shortcomings - this and last year will be assessed during the upcoming Mid-Term Review of the Strategic Plan (MTR). The review process has already started – including consultations last week with the Executive Board - with the final product to be presented at next year’s Annual Session.

We are adopting the same level of openness and transparency that permeated the entire drafting of the Strategic Plan itself.

We see the MTR as a critical opportunity to take stock of progress, point to areas where we can and must improve and lessons that will pave the way forward in implementing our Strategic Plan, towards the ultimate objective poverty eradication.

Your engagement and feedback in this process will be essential.

On the whole, and based on the findings of the Annual Report, I’m hopeful that the Review will have an overall positive story to tell – the story of an agile, future focused development organization ready to learn, adapt and transform to deliver more and better for those it serves.

An organization determined to live up to its fullest potential.

The continued backing and engagement of the Executive Board is a critical element of this journey as is the commitment and dedication of our staff working in 170 countries and territories, who I would like to thank for what they accomplished during the past year.

We sincerely thank you for your support.