UNDP support to the digitalisation of public services

Management response statement delivered by Marcos Neto, to the evaluation of UNDP support to the digitalization of public services at the first regular session of 2024 UNDP Executive Board Evaluation Session, UN HQ, New York.

January 31, 2024


Distinguished Members of the Executive Board and Member States

On behalf of UNDP management, I would like to thank Director Isabelle Mercier Director and her team at the Independent Evaluation Office for this evaluation of UNDP’s support to the digitalization of public services. 

Digitalization is a key enabler for sustainable development and is a priority for UNDP’s strategic programming investment. It is explicitly identified as an enabler across our Strategic Plan and is fundamental to our efforts to improve public service delivery across diverse country contexts. 

UNDP support to the digitalisation of public services  

As acknowledged in the evaluation, UNDP has played a crucial role in enhancing digital public infrastructure, which is critical for digital transformation across public services. UNDP's support to establishing and improving critical databases and registries, advancing digital identification systems, enhancing system interoperability, and promoting digital financial services has played a pivotal role in helping countries navigate key phases of their digital transformation journey. 

The importance of digital legal identity as foundational to Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) and, hence, digitalization of public services in ways that leave no one behind, is also underlined. 


Distinguished Members of the Executive Board and Member States

UNDP welcomes and accepts all recommendations, and we will work on three fronts going forward. First, we will continue to develop the Digital Public Infrastructure approach as an important means of bringing strategic coherence to our work on digital transformation; second, we will continue the work on the governance of digitalization to ensure that digital transformation is inclusive, rights based, gender sensitive and leaves no one behind; and third we will build a stronger digital and data ecosystem ready for future challenges, including through the development and deployment of Artificial Intelligence in the delivery of public services. 

Let me now give you additional highlights of our management response.

Recommendation 1. Advance user-focused design and streamlined digital offerings for key digitalization drivers such as digital legal identity, digital financial services and data interoperability. 

UNDP will continue building on its whole-of-society perspective, emphasizing a human rights-centered and inclusive foundation for its digital public infrastructure framework, ensuring efficiency and equity for all. 

Our key actions include convening two global advocacy events to bolster ongoing efforts in strengthening digital public infrastructure and collaborating with the United Nations Legal Identity Agenda Task Force to engage the private sector and civil society in advancing user-focused design at global, regional, and country levels.

Recommendation 2. Engage with comprehensive programme options to enable sector-wide holistic digital transformation including digitalization efforts at the local government level.

UNDP will build on our efforts to enable sector-wide holistic digital transformation and strengthen ‘whole-of-society’ approaches that include engaging national and subnational leaders, companies and digital innovators. 

To address this, UNDP, in collaboration with the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, is establishing under the High-Impact Initiative on public sector capabilities, FutureGov, a platform that facilitates comprehensive policy and program support for inclusive digital public services. 

Additionally, UNDP will launch a version of its Digital Readiness Assessment focused on local governments, using the UNDP whole-of-society Digital Development Framework.

Finally, UNDP will continue disseminating guidance for holistic sector-wide digital transformation and last-mile implementation of digital services.

Recommendation 3. Strengthen efforts to enable development financing for sectoral efforts and digital transformation at the country level.

UNDP will continue to leverage its global leadership on development to steer global financing from government donors, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to areas of demand from countries, including playing its strategic role as the integrator and public platform for financing flows to countries for digital transformation projects.

Specifically, we will review the incorporation of digital transformation financing in national financing frameworks and Sustainable Development investor maps, as well as provide guidance to governments on utilizing these frameworks to expand investment in digital transformation, including attracting private investments.

Recommendation 4. Engage with comprehensive programme options to enable sector-wide holistic digital transformation including digitalization efforts at the local government level. 

UNDP will develop a decision framework, shaped by insights from the Doha Programme of Action and LDC+5 Conference, highlighting differentiated approaches for supporting digital public infrastructure and regulatory frameworks in LDCs.

UNDP will also collaborate with the Digital Public Goods Alliance and partners to launch the 50-in-5 campaign focusing on digital public infrastructure, with the aim of supporting at least 10 LDCs through this initiative.

UNDP has developed a DPI playbook of experiences from thought leaders in DPI and offers a hands-on compilation of ‘plays’, techniques, self-assessment tools, and example blueprints. We will continue organizing advocacy events for the DPI playbook in at least three countries, all LDCs, to foster collaboration across identity, payments, and data exchanges to address development challenges in key sectors.

Recommendation 5. In the LDCs, adopt a targeted approach to strengthening digital public infrastructure and regulatory frameworks for improving public services and economic development.

UNDP will continue strengthening South-South Cooperation by serving as a core partner in the mentioned 50-in-5 campaign, and by offering learning exchanges and network opportunities in the Global South with the Data to Policy Network, in partnership with the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation. 

And the FutureGov platform I have already mentioned will support South-South and triangular cooperation, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange among countries.

Recommendation 6.  Support data privacy and legal identity management at the country level and incorporate the rights dimension in its legal identity support.

Human Rights is at the centre of UNDP’s approach to digital transformation and outlined as a Guiding Principle in the UNDP Digital Strategy.

UNDP will develop a model governance framework for data exchanges to enhance data security, emphasizing rights dimensions in the interplay between digital legal identity, digital financial services, and data interoperability across key thematic areas in countries.

Additionally, we will support the use of the Digital ID Governance Framework in at least five countries, sharing insights with UNDP communities of practice and external networks like ID4Africa.

Recommendation 7. Strengthen support to bridging the digital gender divide at the policy level and clarify resources that will be made available for implementing corporate gender strategies for an inclusive digitalization of public services.

UNDP will execute the corporate resource mobilization strategy, prioritizing flexible funding through core resources and leveraging thematic funding windows to support the implementation of the corporate gender equality strategy.

Furthermore, we will strengthen the gender funding window, highlighting UNDP's comparative advantage in gender equality and digitalization to attract partner funding. 

Finally, we will incorporate a comprehensive gender-focus in the digital public infrastructure safeguards initiative, ensuring access and safeguards for women.

Recommendation 8. Advocate to strengthen digital government measurement frameworks to assess e-service uptake and use.

UNDP will advocate for enhanced indices and build on the Communities of Practice and experiences of countries, to review and update programming guidance across various sectors supporting the digitalization of public services.


Excellencies, we are committed to implementing the evaluation’s recommendations. Thank you again for this opportunity.  I will stand ready to answer any questions you may have. With this, I conclude my remarks. 

Thank you.