Foreword by the Administrator

For UNDP and the entire United Nations system, 2015 is a year of historic milestones. It is the 70th anniversary year for the UN—founded in 1945. It is also the year in which the 15-year quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals concludes, and a new era of global development commitments is expected to be launched with the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals by world leaders in September.

UNDP played a central role in devising, promoting and helping countries to achieve the MDGs, and is now working with its national partners to prepare for the SDGs. We are helping to integrate the SDGs into national development planning, and are providing data-based support for measuring progress toward the new goals, both locally and globally.

The new goals are likely to include completing the unfinished business of the MDGs, with the eradication of poverty being a central objective. Despite impressive progress on poverty reduction in recent years, there are still 1 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day.

We also have an obligation to protect our planet for the sake of future generations and to safeguard today’s hard-won development gains. In December, climate change COP21 in Paris is scheduled to reach a new global climate agreement. UNDP, with its $1.3 billion portfolio of climate change projects in 140 countries, is a leader of UN efforts to combat global warming.

UNDP’s unique capabilities were evident in responses to the many crises which affected our world in 2014. In Syria, UNDP helped to create emergency livelihoods and provide support for essential services to communities affected by the conflict, and is helping neighbouring countries that are providing sanctuary and services to millions of Syrian refugees. We are supporting the Central African Republic at a time of grave national crisis by providing electoral assistance and support for political dialogue between groups and regions. During the devastating West African Ebola outbreak, UNDP worked to ensure that Ebola response workers were paid, and supported community awareness campaigns and the provision of basic services.

Through its work in developing countries around the world in 2014, UNDP created nearly 1 million jobs in low-income communities, and helped to boost earnings and strengthen livelihoods for millions of others. UNDP’s work on HIV ensured that antiviral medication was provided to some 1.4 million people infected with the virus, and helped to combat the further spread of the pandemic through raising awareness of how the virus spreads. In its extensive electoral support programmes, UNDP helped to register 18 million new voters, including nearly 4 million in Afghanistan alone.

UNDP’s new strategic plan, now in its second year, is focusing our resources and expertise on three critical priorities: sustainable development pathways, democratic governance and building resilience to shocks. We are improving the way we plan, design, monitor and implement, ensuring that we deliver results effectively and efficiently. Staff positions at UNDP’s headquarters in New York are being reduced by around 30 percent, with more staff moving out to regional hubs to be closer to the countries we serve.

We have improved our project quality and social and environmental impact standards, and committed to high standards of transparency. In 2014, UNDP was ranked at the top of the annual Aid Transparency Index of development agencies.

We are confident that UNDP’s expertise in poverty reduction, MDG implementation, democratic governance and crisis response and recovery will continue to make it a highly effective partner for developing countries as they strive to achieve the SDGs and tackle climate change. Yet, ultimately, our effectiveness depends on close working relationships with our partners in developing and developed countries alike. For UNDP, maintaining and strengthening our partnerships is a very high priority as we work to build an inclusive and sustainable future for all.

Helen Clark


2015 - UNDP for People and Planet

Voices around the world are demanding leadership and action in 2015 on poverty, inequality and climate change.

These universal challenges demand global action, and this year presents unprecedented opportunities for achieving the future we want. This is the year that world leaders gather at the United Nations in New York to adopt a new agenda for sustainable development. The new global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will guide policy and funding for the next 15 years, beginning with a historic pledge to end poverty. Everywhere. Permanently.

Sustainable development and climate change are two sides of the same coin. Impacts of climate change threaten to undermine decades of development gains and risk future development paths. Many of the main drivers of poverty in developing countries are intertwined with climate change, such as increased droughts or more erratic storms. Member States have a key opportunity to act on slowing the destructive pace of climate change this year with the potential for a new, meaningful and universal agreement to reduce carbon emissions and adapt: this would be major step toward helping build climate-resilient communities and a sustainable future.

The SDGs must finish the job that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) started, and leave no one behind. This is the deadline year for the MDGs, which rallied the world around a common agenda to tackle the indignity of poverty. The MDGs established measurable, universally agreed objectives for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, preventing deadly but treatable disease, and expanding educational opportunities to all children, among other development imperatives.

The MDGs drove progress in many important areas: on income poverty, access to improved sources of water, primary school enrolment and child mortality. Yet the job is unfinished for millions of people – we need to go the last mile on ending hunger, achieving full gender equality, improving health services and getting every child into school. Now we must shift the world onto a sustainable path. The new development agenda should apply to all countries, promote peaceful and inclusive societies, create better jobs and tackle the environmental challenges of our time – particularly climate change.

Unprecedented collaboration

In preparation for this new development agenda, UNDP helped facilitate the largest global conversation that has ever taken place on long-term development issues and priorities.

UNDP designed a consultation process that was taken forward by scores of UN country teams and the entire United Nations Development Group (UNDG). UNDP was also a founding partner of the UN’s unprecedented MY World survey, which has drawn responses from 7 million people in every region of the world. Together with hundreds of face to face meetings with people living in poverty and marginalized groups, MY World has allowed people everywhere to provide direct input into the design of the new agenda.

UNDP led the preparation of a detailed report on these global consultations. A Million Voices: The World We Want, A Sustainable Future with Dignity for All was a key point of reference for the Secretary General’s December 2014 synthesis report to the General Assembly on the post-2015 agenda. In collaboration with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the rest of the UN system, UNDP has also worked to support the UN Statistics Commission in identifying measurable indicators of progress for the new goals and their targets.

Looking forward to 2016 and beyond, UNDP and the entire UNDG team are preparing to work with national governments, civil society, the private sector and other partners to see how the new SDGs can be most effectively integrated into existing national development strategies. UN country teams and national governments will collaborate on efforts to strengthen partnerships, accountability mechanisms and timely data monitoring, with UNDP poised to play a central role, drawing on our long-established local relationships and intergovernmental convening ability.

In most developing countries, the UNDP Resident Representative serves as the UN system’s Resident Coordinator, working with all UN agencies, funds, and programmes in a Delivering as One UN country team. This requires forging close collaboration with governments, development partners and UN country teams on policy advocacy, while supporting national development priorities through United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs).

To carry out these UN leadership responsibilities, UNDP relies on the proven development expertise of a deeply committed international staff, and provides institutional encouragement for innovation. Our reputation for thought leadership is ultimately what gives UNDP our greatest added value as a development partner.

That reputation isn’t new – it’s part of UNDP’s institutional DNA. And it is a continuing tradition.

New thinking

For the past 25 years, UNDP’s Human Development Report has brought innovative and influential new thinking to many major development issues. Our Human Development Index (HDI) has become the most widely accepted alternative to narrow macroeconomic measures of national progress, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The official incorporation of HDI data and analysis in policy planning in dozens of developing countries—with support from UNDP—has helped raise health and education standards for millions of people worldwide.

Groundbreaking regional Human Development Reports continue to prompt important policy dialogues and reforms in Africa, Asia, the Arab States, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean, on issues ranging from civic engagement and climate change to food security and criminal justice reform. The 2014 global Human Development Report—“Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience”—shed important light on challenges facing all of us as we prepare for the new post-2015 development agenda and our promise to leave nobody behind. The Report showed that while overall human development trends are positive, people in all countries remain vulnerable to a variety of risks and that some still suffer much more than others when adversity strikes, and recover far more slowly.

In recent years, UNDP has also been at the forefront of efforts to introduce greater accountability and transparency in the use of public resources, beginning with our own projects and programmes. One of the hallmark innovations in this area is the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), which has supported more than 300 multilateral, bilateral and private philanthropic aid donors in publishing regular online reports about their projects, financial contributions and related information of public interest.

Transparency is core to UNDP’s mission, and UNDP is committed to working in the open to accelerate the development of a sustainable future for all. In 2014, UNDP was ranked the top performer in the Aid Transparency Index, in an evaluation of 68 agencies worldwide. Information and data about UNDP’s activities, funding, results and stories are now more open and more accessible than ever.

Strong leadership and global action are required to deliver an agenda that reflects the hopes and aspirations of the world’s peoples. UNDP will continue to unite nations and communities for the benefit of the most vulnerable and excluded, and work to transform human development in the years to come.


“2015 is a year of global action,” the Secretary-General said as the year began. “With the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, with a set of sustainable development goals and a universal and meaningful climate change agreement by December this year in Paris, I think we can set our lives, our world, on course for a better future.”

THROUGH THE 2014-2017

Working towards a new sustainable development framework and achieving the SDGs require new ways of working. The UN itself will be transformed to meet these challenges, and UNDP is actively reorganizing to be fit for purpose in the new post-2015 landscape.

That restructuring effort is now well underway, with tangible results. In 2014, the first year of our new 2014-2017 Strategic Plan, UNDP took important steps to streamline operations and use resources more effectively, with an emphasis on lasting and measurable development impact.

Highlights of the Strategic Plan’s implementation to date include:

  • Organizational restructuring, with fewer headquarters personnel and costs, and more staff and resources for UNDP’s regional and country programmes;
  • Refocusing UNDP’s resources and energies on three critical, interconnected priorities for development action - sustainability, democratic governance, and crisis response and prevention - rather than thematically and bureaucratically separated ‘practice areas’;
  • Realigning national and regional UNDP operations with the Strategic Plan, and rigorously assessing results, including through the new Results-Oriented Annual Report;
  • Forging new development partnerships, from UNDP collaboration with civil society and the private sector to interagency and South-South cross-border cooperation;
  • Putting a premium on transparency and accountability, with UNDP setting an example through our own pioneering online disclosure policies and open-data platforms; and
  • Strengthening UNDP’s country-level UN coordination so UN agencies can work together as one on the new sustainable development agenda, with special emphasis on the eradication of extreme poverty and reduction of inequalities and social exclusion.

For decades now, UNDP has demonstrated great effectiveness in influencing policy and building capacity as a trusted partner of diverse stakeholders at the national, regional and global levels. Yet UNDP recognizes that it must do all of this better to meet these post-2015 challenges, with a sharper focus that will continue to make sense to programme countries and donors alike.

Much is at stake. As the UN’s lead development agency, UNDP funds and manages hundreds of local initiatives aimed at eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities and social exclusion. We do so by helping countries to develop their own policies, leadership skills, institutional capabilities, and greater societal and environmental resilience to accelerate and sustain development progress.

UNDP’s restructuring will produce more efficient operations, better advisory services for our partners and a more open, innovative and effective institution. More importantly, the results of this internal improvement will be felt directly in the daily lives of the many millions of people UNDP works with and on behalf of more than 170 countries and territories, in every part of the world.

Making development sustainable

Under the desert sun: Solar power brightens outlook for health, education and employment

In Mali, barely one village in a hundred has electric power-a pattern typical of many less-developed countries with large territories but limited national infrastructure.

Yet Mali and neighboring countries have a free but mostly unexploited natural resource: bright and abundant sunlight, almost every day of the year.

A central challenge of sustainable development is to maintain progress in living standards for people everywhere -especially for those who today are the most deprived- without further imperiling our shared natural environment. Yet this can be achieved. As technology advances and costs decline, clean, renewable, economical energy sources can now deliver light at night and power by day to even the most remote low-income communities.

This transformation requires outside technical assistance and funding support. Yet once the first projects are up and running, their examples can be studied and their success can be replicated elsewhere. With UNDP’s help, this is already happening in many countries.

In Somalia, most small towns and villages lack basic electric power connections. One consequence is poor health care. Hospitals require uninterrupted electricity to operate medical equipment and refrigerate medicines and emergency blood supplies. Reliable lighting is essential, around the clock, for medical personnel and patients alike. Dependence on oil-fueled electric generators is expensive however, and fuel supplies are often unavailable at any price- further exacerbating the difficulties of daily living in an impoverished conflict zone.

In 2014, UNDP’s Somalia office began installing solar power systems in four rural hospitals -a pioneering project with remote monitoring facilities to ensure their effective operation. The Norwegian Emergency Preparedness System (NOREPS) and the Government of Japan contributed funding, and the contracted firm mobilized a team of international experts to oversee installation and operations. After completing this pilot project, UNDP and NOREPS will work together to determine where this approach can be adapted to meet similar needs in other rural communities, in Somalia and elsewhere in the region.

The systematic introduction of efficient solar power systems could make a quick, significant difference in the lives of people in many other low-income communities in isolated arid areas of the world, from the Sahara and the Sahel to the Central Asian steppes and the coastal deserts of South America. In Botswana, where UNDP is also promoting solar projects, the new availability of electric power has freed women from the time-consuming daily task of gathering firewood for cooking- a practice which also harms the environment, through deforestation, and people’s health, through smoke inhalation inside the home.

Moroccan girls

In another innovative example, UNDP supported the installation of advanced solar power systems in isolated desert towns in Morocco as part of the country’s new 'sustainable oases' programme for climate change adaptation. This renewable-resources initiative also includes modernization of traditional oasis irrigation systems to reduce water loss from runoff and evaporation, and increase supplies of purified drinking water.

The project, starting in the small town of Fezna in the southeastern province of Errachidia, received international recognition in 2014 as a recipient of the prestigious Golden Apple Award from the Green Organization, which promotes ecologically beneficial public-private partnerships. One immediate result: Fezna residents can now enjoy well-lit nighttime strolls under the 200 solar-powered LED lamps illuminating their formerly dark streets.

Further south, in rural Mali, another UNDP-backed project is helping families to install solar panels on their own homes, where they are used to boil water for cooking and run pumps for vegetable gardens. Beneficiaries also have inside electric lighting for the first time in their lives. UNDP provides financial support and manages additional contributions to the project, which relies on a local work force. Village blacksmiths were trained to make solar dryers, cookers and water heaters, and young volunteers learned to install and maintain solar panels.

An estimated 30,000 people in more than 50 remote Malian villages have already benefited from the project. For the many women who run both households and small family businesses, the change is especially dramatic -which is why solar power is now the focus of Mali’s decade-old UNDP-backed National Programme for Renewable Energy for the Advancement of Women.

“Ever since we had the solar panels installed, women haven’t been buying charcoal or kerosene for their household chores,” says Nana Sangaré, a mother of seven and the deputy mayor of her small northern Mali town. ”We water our plants with the solar pump, and our market gardens have become much more profitable.”

Responding to crisis, Building resilience

The Ebola Challenge: Saving lives and working towards recovery

In early 2014, three of the world’s poorest, most fragile countries —Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone— appeared to be emerging from political crisis or decades of conflict into a new era of stability and economic recovery.

Then the three West African neighbors were hit by a new and completely unforeseen crisis: the deadly Ebola pandemic, which swept across borders and has claimed more than 10,000 lives. Among the victims were scores of local doctors, nurses and other health care workers who contracted the disease while working bravely to combat it.

Normal life came to a halt. Public gatherings were banned. Travel was stopped in and out affected communities. Millions of schoolchildren were shut out of classrooms as authorities closed schools to slow further spread of the disease. Entire hospitals were placed under quarantine. National governments, international aid agencies and donor governments scrambled to deploy emergency health services and personnel in all three countries.

The most urgent priority was to locate infected people and get them treated and removed from contact with others, while communicating to people at the community and national levels about how to deal with this new and frightening disease.

In Liberia, UNDP recruited 1,300 local volunteers to go door to door to identify people with Ebola symptoms and ensure that they received immediate help. Among those ‘Active Case Finders’ was Boyardee Gee Play, from Popo Beach on the outskirts of the capital, Monrovia. One of the first cases he identified was his own niece. “My niece was just six, and she got a fever and wasn’t feeling well,” he recalled. “I saw the signs and called headquarters so they could arrange for her to get to the clinic. She struggled for two weeks but eventually she died.”

Boyardee quickly arranged for other family members to be placed under quarantine. “I wanted to make sure that if any of them showed any signs they could access treatment straight away,” he said later. “I also told them that it was important that they stay inside, because we will only get rid of Ebola for good if we are strict about quarantine.”

Ebola volunteers

In all three countries, UNDP communications specialists worked with local media and community groups on public awareness campaigns, targeting vulnerable populations and stressing the importance of sanitation and the avoidance of physical contact with people who contracted the disease. In Liberia, rap singers and local theater troupes helped spread the message. UNDP distributed solar-powered radios so people in remote areas could follow national news and health advisories about the disease. In Sierra Leone, UNDP trained motorcycle-taxi drivers to talk with their passengers about Ebola prevention. People with disabilities were reached through radio programmes, public talks with sign-language interpreters and brochures in Braille. In N’Zérékoré, the second largest city in Guinea, UNDP organized a large inter-faith gathering with Muslim, Catholic and Protestant leaders, educating 3,500 women, men and children on how to protect themselves and their families from the epidemic.

The Ebola crisis also put an abrupt end to the region’s recent economic growth, shutting down foreign trade, paralyzing the critical agriculture and mining industries, and devastating local retail businesses, from urban department stores to village vegetable markets. In just a matter of months household incomes plunged by an estimated 20 percent in Sierra Leone and 25 percent in Liberia.

Governments were suddenly short hundreds of millions of dollars in anticipated tax revenue - at a moment when demands on government had never been greater. UNDP stepped in, coordinating emergency aid flows and managing direct salary payments to thousands of health workers, police officers, and other essential public workers.

It also provided targeted aid at the local level. In Liberia, for example, UNDP organized cash payments to compensate hundreds of market vendors who were ordered to stop sales of their dried ‘bush meat’ - believed by epidemiologists to be a possible source of the virus. UNDP helped restore treatment for people with HIV, most of whom stopped receiving care during the Ebola outbreak because of fears and isolation and the immense strain on national health services.

Thanks to dedicated national health care workers and international support from the UN and many others, cases of new infection were reduced almost to zero in Liberia, and are diminishing steadily in Sierra Leone and Guinea as well.

But the epidemic is far from vanquished, and its economic and psychological scars will be long lasting in all three countries and the West Africa region. Women remain disproportionately at risk. As family and community caregivers, they are continually exposed to possible infection. And with medical facilities overwhelmed, expectant mothers have been left without pre-natal care or basic obstetric services, endangering both the mothers and their newborns.

Going forward, the Secretary-General has tasked UNDP with leading the initiatives of the United Nations system on Ebola-related recovery. As part of this effort, UNDP has four priorities: promoting employment, rebuilding the health sector, preparing for future Ebola outbreaks and supporting continued political stability.

As UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said after visiting the three countries during the epidemic, “Now is the time to lay the foundations for sustained economic and social recovery, by building resilient institutions and systems and improved services, and by prioritizing human development and citizen empowerment.”

Strengthening Democratic Governance

Legal Aid for the marginalized: Helping indigenous people get access to justice

Elena de Paz, a Mayan Ixil woman from a small village in Guatemala’s western highlands, did something extremely courageous and unusual recently.

She walked into a courtroom and publicly testified about the horrors she had witnessed and had been victim to many years earlier, when army troops occupied her town. It was 1982: the soldiers killed her mother, along with many other villagers. Elena was brutally raped, but left alive. She was 12 at the time.

More than 200,000 Guatemalans were killed and more than 50,000 disappeared during a 36-year-long internal armed conflict between 1960 and 1996. With UNDP and sister agencies’ help, the country has been trying to heal the deep wounds left by those decades of conflict. Working with the Government of Guatemala and civil society UNDP is supporting the national efforts to build a more peaceful and secure country for all Guatemalans.

The testimony from Elena and nine other Ixil women who suffered sexual violence during the conflict marked the first time that accounts of these atrocities were placed on the public record. Their statements were part of 97 testimonies heard by national courts as evidence for Guatemala’s historic war crimes trials, where army commanders and a former president have been charged with crimes against indigenous peoples and opposition groups.

“Getting to know other women who endured what I did gave me more strength and courage, because I didn’t have to go through this alone,” Elena said after she testified.

Elena de Paz

Many victims of violence in that period have yet to tell their stories to these tribunals, in part because of economic, geographic and cultural barriers. While 83 percent of victims recorded by the Truth Commission belonged to indigenous Mayan groups, hearings are held in the capital, far from the mountain communities where the violations occurred and most of the witnesses still live. They are conducted in Spanish, a language which is not understood by many of the 6 million Guatemalans who are native speakers of indigenous languages. People remain fearful of coming forward.

To overcome these obstacles, UNDP’s Transitional Justice Programme promotes the rights to truth, justice, integral reparations for victims and a culture of peace to prevent the recurrence of atrocities. Elena is among the indigenous victims of human rights abuses that received legal assistance, psychological counselling and logistical aid. UNDP also ensured that their testimonies would be protected and preserved. Guatemala’s UN-brokered peace accords called for thorough investigations and full disclosure of the country’s experience and cases of human rights violations.

With UNDP’s technical assistance and resources from the Governments of Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States of America, the Basque Country, Catalonia and the UN Peacebuilding Fund, more than 17 million documents from the archives of the former national police are now accessible to all Guatemalans. Hundreds of exhumations have been performed and, as a result, more than 2,000 victims have been identified for proper burial. Annually, more than 20,000 family members of victims have received legal and psychological counselling while searching for their loved ones.

Helping indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups get access to justice is a priority of UNDP democratic governance programmes in other parts of the world as well.

In Bangladesh, UNDP has worked with local authorities and legal assistance groups to help indigenous peoples get fairer representation in the courts. As elsewhere, indigenous groups in remote areas are often at a financial, linguistic and legal disadvantage when dealing with national authorities. UNDP’s country office spotlighted the case of 67-year-old Juddho Chandra Chakma, one of the two million tribal people from Bangladesh’s mountainous Rangamati region, who was accused of illegal slash-and-burn farming in protected forests. Juddho faced steep fines and possible jail time, though he adamantly denied the charges. He was summoned to court in a town that was three days away by bus. Hearings were summarily postponed without notice, requiring more costly travel. He could not afford a lawyer or understand the proceedings. Through UNDP-backed legal aid programmes, Juddho was able to contest the charges and avoid imprisonment.

Many nomadic and itinerant groups around the world have been left unrepresented or undefended by their national judicial systems, a problem often rooted in historic patterns of discrimination. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNDP is working to protect the social and economic rights of Pygmies, whose traditional nomadic livelihoods are vulnerable to competing land claims. In Eastern Europe, UNDP has pioneered projects with local authorities to raise the living standards and legal status of the Roma people.

Securing fair and equal legal treatment for marginal groups helps safeguard the human rights of all people -today and for generations to come. “It’s important that justice is done,” said Elena de Paz after her day in court, “because I don’t want my children to go through this, and I don’t want this to ever happen again.”


Provisional April 2015

expenditure graph

Source: Development Impact Group / Bureau of Management (UNDP)

Sub-Saharan Africa

Building Resilience, Securing Development Gains

In 2014, Africa entered the final stretch of its efforts to achieve the MDGs and began preparations for the next set of global and national development goals, which will be adopted by world leaders in September 2015. The first of the proposed new SDGs is the eradication of extreme poverty by 2030, with sub-Saharan Africa a focus of that shared international objective.

This ambitious anti-poverty drive is being launched against an encouraging backdrop of economic growth across much of the continent. Africa’s share of global GDP is on pace to triple by 2050, sccording to African Development Bank calculations. School enrollment and life expectancy are also on the rise throughout the region. Democratic governments are now the regional norm, with 15 national elections expected in 2015 alone.

Programme priorities

  • MDG achievement
  • Poverty eradication
  • Preserving ecosystems
  • Civic engagement
  • Capacity building
  • Post-conflict recovery
UNDP on the ground

United to overcome challenges


Yet Africa still faces many challenges, as demonstrated by the deadly Ebola epidemic and its aftermath, which affected countries in West Africa in 2014, and continuing political instability and conflict in parts of the Sahel and central Africa. Countries that are falling short of achieving the MDGs are disproportionately concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. Rates of HIV infection and maternal mortality remain the world’s highest.

In 2014, following a consultative process in which UNDP provided technical support, African countries adopted a common position on the post-2015 agenda -the only region of the world to do so. To continue and strengthen this collaboration, UNDP and the African Union (AU) signed an agreement in September 2014 to work together on efforts to achieve these goals over the next 15 years. This new strategic framework agreement identifies eight priority areas of cooperation with the AU: Inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development; democratic governance; the rule of law and accountability; conflict prevention; disaster risk management; capacity to build resilience; climate change; and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

Efforts underway


As stressed in Africa’s Common Position on the post-2015 agenda, no single factor is more important to the continent’s long-term progress than peace and stability. In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, UNDP is a key partner in continuing post-conflict recovery efforts, working to rebuild institutions, promote civic engagement, and help provide pathways to sustainable development and inclusive, responsive governance.

  • In Central African Republic, a third of the country’s 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes -half of them as refugees in neighboring countries and half as internally displaced persons. UNDP is actively supporting the transitional Government’s efforts to pursue political dialogue and national reconciliation, including the organization of elections for an inclusive new government. In 2014, UNDP helped to conduct a nationwide survey that mapped out the most urgent needs for infrastructure and services, and worked with the UN Peacebuilding Fund and the World Bank to resume payment of salaries to public employees who had been working without pay for months. UNDP has also promoted bridge-building across ethnic and religious lines in the country.

  • men working
  • In South Sudan, UNDP is providing support for crisis prevention and recovery through multiple initiatives across the country, focused on building the young state. In one ambitious training project funded by Norway, UNDP brought in 200 experienced civil servants from neighboring Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda to spend up to two years in the country working alongside their South Sudanese counterparts in 22 government ministries and other agencies at the national, state and county levels.

  • In Burundi, UNDP is working with local authorities to reintegrate vulnerable border-area communities back into national life, with new economic opportunities and greater chances for civic participation, while in Nigeria, 150 survivors of armed conflict in Plateau State graduated from a UNDP-backed vocational training programme that is now being expanded to benefit victims of violence in other northern states. Abdulkareem Musa, a 20-year-old who lost friends and family property in his home state’s violence, mastered tailoring skills in the programme. “For now,” he said, “we will perfect our skills of making clothes, so that we can make enough money to help us go to school and help our families.”

The threat of climate change

Old refrigerators being removed


One of the gravest challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa is the threat posed by climate change. No region of the world is more vulnerable to the risks of rising air and water temperatures, with increasingly acute droughts and other extreme weather patterns, and a huge rural population dependent on subsistence agriculture and small-scale fisheries. This challenge can only be addressed with coordinated regional and global policy initiatives aimed both at slowing the pace of global warming and mitigating its local impact.

In 2014, UNDP’s Africa Bureau supported the implementation of the Africa Adaptation Initiative in Burkina Faso, Niger, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, helping those countries to improve data, manage information, measure climate risk and attract climate finance. UNDP carried out climate finance readiness assessments in Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia, and assisted the sub-resional Southern African Development Community in preparing a green economy action plan, with an emphasis on low-emission and climate-resilient growth strategies for the region.

These regional efforts are complemented by targeted local initiatives. Some examples:

  • Charcoal, the most widely used cooking fuel in rural sub-Saharan Africa, contributes to deforestation and air pollution -and also to respiratory disease when used indoors. In Côte d’Ivoire and other countries, UNDP is working to introduce more efficient charcoal production techniques, with reduced carbon emissions, better forest management practices and economic alternatives for women whose livelihoods depend on charcoal sales.

  • In the Seychelles, UNDP provided technical and legal advice for the expansion of national parks and protected marine reserves in the country, which are under threat from rising sea levels. This work focuses on two World Heritage Sites: the remote and environmentally unique Aldabra Reserve -the world’s second largest coral atoll- and the widely visited Vallé de Mai National Park. Increased tourism revenues now make the park self-sufficient and are a crucial source of funds for Aldabra.

  • In Ghana, in one of the most innovative sustainable development initiatives undertaken anywhere, UNDP worked with local authorities to collect inefficient old refrigerators from homes throughout the country and replace them with new refrigerators which use less electricity while keeping food fresh longer. The result: lower household electric bills and reduced energy consumption nationally.

Up Close

Supporting fair and transparent elections,
and boosting women's participation

Too often overlooked in news coverage of the continent is the fact that most sub-Saharan African countries today regularly hold open, vigorously contested democratic elections, with some of the highest voter turnouts of any political systems in the world. In 2015, a record 15 national elections are scheduled to take place across the region.

Providing technical assistance to national election authorities has long been a UNDP priority. In 2014, UNDP worked to support major elections in several African countries -including Guinea Bissau, Malawi, and Zambia- and helped local electoral bodies in a number of others to lay the groundwork for 2015’s elections. As always, UNDP’s goal is to help ensure that elections are carried out fairly, credibly, and transparently, in an atmosphere of peace and security, with a commitment to social and political inclusion.

logo 15 national elections in 2015

In Guinea-Bissau that assistance helped achieve a voter turnout of 88 percent in the first round – the highest in the country’s history. In Malawi, UNDP helped to register 7.4 million people to vote. In Sao Tome and Principe, UNDP assisted the National Electoral Commission with new biometric technology to enroll thousands of voters, many of them women who had never previously cast ballots. In Mali, where UNDP helped authorities restore public services and reopen courthouses and town halls in the recently turbulent Timbuktu region, our local election specialists also helped lay the groundwork for the next cycle of municipal elections -a key step towards restoring public trust and security.

At the regional level, UNDP worked with the AU’s Democracy and Elections Assistance Unit to train and deploy AU election observers in countries throughout the continent.

UNDP also helped advance AU efforts to ratify the landmark African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

A special emphasis of UNDP’s electoral assistance work is to increase women’s participation in voting, campaign debates, and ultimately in government as decisionmakers. The Inter-Parliamentary Union estimates that just 22% of the members of today’s parliaments are women. Africa is moving ahead of the curve: the world leader is Rwanda, where women now hold 64 percent of the seats in parliament, while Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Seychelles, and South Africa all have shares of 40 percent or better. But some African countries still lag far below the one-out-of-five world average. In Nigeria, for example, UNDP helped to organize training programmes for more than a 100 first-time women candidates at the state and national levels.

To build bonds among Africa’s growing corps of women lawmakers, UNDP brought women parliamentarians from the Great Lakes and Sahel regions to meet women Members of Parliament in Rwanda and share ideas on gender equality and women’s empowerment. And in Addis Ababa, UNDP convened a pan-African gathering of prominent women parliamentarians to discuss challenges they face in the region. Commented Ozonnia Ojielo, UNDP’s Team Leader for Governance and Peacebuilding in Africa, “By building a critical mass of female African parliamentarians, we can ensure that future debates and policies will reflect gender views, which benefits society as a whole.”


Civic Engagement and Conflict Response

Although the Arab States region has made great strides in areas such as school enrollment and health standards, UNDP is working with governments to help the region do better in translating its considerable potential into commensurate development gains. Maternal mortality rates, for example, remain high when compared to other regions with similar incomes.

Only 25 percent of Arab women participate in the labor force -half the average for developing nations- and women still face legal and social obstacles in many countries when seeking equal rights and full participation in national civic life. Youth too lag far behind their potential throughout the region.

Programme priorities

  • South-South cooperation
  • Assistance to electoral systems
  • Work & shelter
  • Women's empowerment
  • Capacity building
  • Crisis response
UNDP on the ground


Elections in Sudan

Throughout the region, UNDP has made a priority of advancement of gender equality, for example through expanding access to health services for 27,000 women in Somalia, supporting over 300,000 women in Egypt to obtain national identification cards for the first time and training over 500 women in Jordan to work in competitive industries. In 2014, UNDP also introduced a new women’s empowerment programme, called Mosharaka -'participation' in Arabic- aimed at strengthening women’s empowerment through legal and policy reforms and increased representation in government. To support this effort, UNDP signed an agreement in 2014 with the Arab Women’s Organization for joint action in policy proposals and advocacy to reduce gender gaps and promote regional dialogue on peace, security and women’s rights.

UNDP’s commitment to women’s full participation in civic affairs is a central component of its support for fair and inclusive electoral systems. That support also includes technical advisory services for national election authorities.

In 2014, as part of this democratic governance program, UNDP published the world’s first trilingual lexicon of words and phrases commonly employed in elections management -in Arabic, French and English- with clear explanations of key concepts and terms used in different electoral systems.

This new ‘electoral lexicon’ is designed primarily for election oversight bodies, which work closely with UNDP in many countries of the region. The Arabic translations take into account regional language variations in the eight participating countries: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen. The book also takes into account the wide range of electoral practices, experiences and legal systems in the Arabic-speaking world. This has often meant that different terms in Arabic are used in different countries to refer to the same electoral functions, issues, posts or activities. This Lexicon is a pioneering effort to bridge those gaps and deepen a shared commitment across the region to fair, transparent and inclusive national election processes.

Challenging times

Despite recent advances in democratic governance, political strife and armed conflict continue to impede human development progress across the region, from Libya and Somalia in northern Africa to Palestine and the escalating Syria crisis. UNDP is working with local and international partners in all these places to promote reconciliation, resilience, recovery and the resumption of development.

Recovery in Palestine


In Palestine, nearly a quarter of Gaza’s 1.8 million people fled their homes during the 2014 fighting and artillery bombardment, which claimed at least 2,200 lives, an estimated 1,500 of them non-combatant civilians. Nearly 20,000 apartments and houses were destroyed. Public utilities suffered crippling damage.

UNDP, through its longstanding Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP), took the lead in removing debris and restoring safe passage through Gaza’s bombed and rubble-blocked streets and reconnecting electricity, water and sewage services. In cooperation with the Islamic Development Bank, UNDP is also now helping to rebuild damaged housing for displaced Gaza families. And it continues to promote income opportunities for the rising numbers of unemployed, from small business grants to support for Gaza’s struggling small fishing industry.

To help guide longer-term recovery, UNDP carried out the first detailed survey of damage to Gaza’s economy and infrastructure, cataloguing losses in manufacturing and agricultural capacity and the destruction of school, hospitals, power generators, telecommunications towers, sewage treatment plants and other essential services. Government estimates that damage to infrastructure and in the water and sanitation alone was nearly $35 million.

Rebuilding is already underway: in early 2015 UNDP broke ground on a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant in the Khan Younis district, a $58 million project PAPP is managing with support from Japan and Kuwait. The innovative plant will provide waste water to area farmers, while putting an end to the environmentally destructive discharge of raw sewage into Gaza's coastal waters. UNDP is also leading on a $21.2 million project by the Qatar-based Al Fakhoora rebuild schools and universities, and youth employment to benefit some 600,000 people.

Advancing the role of women in Somalia


In Somalia, UNDP has been working in recent years to increase women’s participation in public institutions and civic life, providing young women with university scholarships and paid internships in government ministries and the judiciary -opportunities that until recently were available exclusively to men.

One of the most accomplished graduates of this UNDP support program is Aswan Jibril, a lawyer and one of the first female prosecutors in her country’s history. In her native Somaliland, the semiautonomous province in the country’s north, Aswan now counts at least 75 female colleagues in the local legal community, up from just four or five when when she was finishing law school a few years ago.

“In the past, only men did this job,” Aswan said. “I see this as a step forward for women, because we were looked down upon, and people used to think we could not hold these positions.”

Many Somalis like Aswan are contributing to transformational change in their country, creating better prospects for stability and development than Somalia has seen for more than a generation. UNDP is working with partners throughout the country to support the recently signed Somali Compact, with concrete goals focused on political representation, security, justice, economic growth and public services. Increasing opportunities for women is an integral part of that process.

Professional women like Aswan continue to face challenges. “The women in the office have become targets,” she says. “We cover our faces on the street. We do this out of fear.” But she remains committed to the task of building a trusted, fair legal system in her country: “I have a dream of becoming a senior prosecutor.”

Up Close

The Syrian Crisis:
Aiding refugees, host communities, and the internally displaced

Since 2011, fighting in Syria has pushed the country from middle-income status to one in which over 10 million people have been displaced and four out of five people are living in poverty. The crisis has also placed enormous strains on neighboring countries which are hosting record numbers of refugees while to maintain their own development pathways..

UNDP is leading on the response in Syria and in neighboring countries through a resilience-based approach that seeks to restore livelihoods, expand access to basic services, create jobs and maintain social cohesion.

Within Syria, UNDP organized scores of local projects to aid more than two million people in the country’s worst-hit districts, creating 20,000 temporary jobs, providing emergency medical help to people suffering from disease and restoring a sense of dignity among many hit hard by this devastating crisis.

In neighboring Lebanon, the Syrian refugee population surpassed 1.2 million in 2014, putting enormous strain on public services in a country with 5 million people of its own. Most of these recent arrivals are living in poorer neighborhoods and rural border towns, with only limited support from refugee assistance programmes.

To raise public awareness about their plight, UNDP helped leading Lebanese print and broadcast news organizations to collaborate on several jointly produced reports about the crisis. Syrian journalists also contributed to these special reports, which were distributed in three major national newspapers and covered widely in television and radio news.


At the same time, UNDP worked with community leaders in Beirut’s suburbs and the Bekaa Valley to improve communications with Syrian refugee groups and participate in conflict resolution programmes to monitor and respond to the situation. An NGO 'Peace Building in Lebanon' coalition created with UNDP support produced an online interactive map tracking protest rallies, community confrontations and other incidents of local friction or mobilization generated by the refugee crisis.

In Jordan, where more than 700,000 Syrians have fled since 2011, and in Iraq, with an estimated 250,000 Syrian refugees, UNDP worked with national government and UN partners to improve living conditions and mitigate the impact on refugee-host communities, including through support for youth employment. As in Lebanon, the refugee crisis threatens reverse years of hard-won development, straining the capacity of government budgets and services, aggravating unemployment and discouraging investment and trade -with a resulting reduction in the financial resources needed to cope with the influx. In Iraq, this work is supplemented with support for refugees themselves, with a particular focus on legal empowerment for women.

This work in Arab countries is also supported by Turkey, which has given shelter and aid to the largest number of Syrian refugees —more than 1.7 million to date, only 15 percent of whom reside in organized refugee camps. In the country, local schools, hospitals and other public services are also severely challenged. In this setting, UNDP primarily targeted the local service delivery capacity of the emergency response and municipal services, and supported interventions to strengthen new job opportunities in the most impacted provinces.

Binding these interventions together is the focus on resilience, an approach that brings the United Nations system together in recognition that in times of crisis, people need both immediate live-saving support and maintenance of their livelihoods, while also preserving a sense of social cohesion. This approach has made inroads with the international community and local actors, most recently at the Third International Pledging Conference for the Syria Crisis, in Kuwait on 31 March, 2015, where donor interest in investing in resilience was strong. However as the Syria crisis continues unabated there is a need for ever stronger engagement at this region’s great time of need.

Asia and the Pacific

Closing the Gaps

The Asia-Pacific nations have led the world in economic growth and poverty reduction in recent decades, with their overall share of global economic output almost doubling since 2000 to more than 25 percent today. By 2030, the deadline year for the SDGs, an estimated two thirds of the global middle class will be found in the Asia-Pacific region.

Within this vast area, embracing more than half the world’s population, East Asia has achieved the highest human development levels over the past decade. South Asia has registered the fastest progress, making great strides in life expectancy and school enrollment as well income. At the same time, the Asia-Pacific region is home to three fifths of the world’s poorest people -those living on $2 a day or less. This extreme poverty is found in many parts of the region, but is disproportionately concentrated in South Asia. Lifting those families permanently out of poverty will be the highest priority for UNDP and area governments over the next 15 years.

Programme priorities

  • Climate change response
  • Gender equity
  • South-South cooperation
  • Disaster prevention and recovery
UNDP on the ground

Women's Empowerment


Countries with the highest incidence of acute poverty also have the highest ratios of gender inequality. Development experience throughout the world tells us that reducing former will require reducing the latter. Investing in women and girls is the most effective strategy for overall human development progress -and an integral component of UNDP’s poverty eradication programmes.

There is perhaps no country where women’s rights are more central to national development priorities than Afghanistan. With young girls now getting better educational opportunities and women becoming more active in political life, the country has made great strides in recent years. Yet much more needs to be done: vigorous efforts are still required to improve women’s status. Women are still severely under-represented in most public institutions, including law enforcement. Recent UNDP-backed efforts to recruit police officers have doubled the ranks of female police personnel, to almost 2,000 -but that is still only 2 percent of the national police force. Through the UNDP-managed Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan, these new women are getting training in self-defense, gender-based violence prevention, crime investigation and mediation skills. At same time, UNDP is working with the Attorney General’s office on new specialized units for investigating and prosecuting of violence against women. UNDP is also actively promoting programmes to provide free legal services to Afghan women, which began operating on a pilot basis in four Afghan provinces in 2014.

In neighbouring Pakistan, UNDP is supporting efforts to enroll millions of unregistered women in national voting registers and to recruit more women to stand as candidates in local and national elections. Legal rights for Pakistani women are also being strengthened through UNDP access-to-justice projects, including scholarships and other support for women lawyers and paralegal aides working at free legal clinics. In 2014, more than 30,000 Pakistanis -half of them women- sought advice at these clinics. “As a paralegal, I feel extremely satisfied assisting women on issues of domestic violence and inheritance rights”, said Elizabeth, one of the UNDP-trained professionals working at the clinics. “They see me as their sole access to justice.”

Disaster prevention and recovery


Responding to national disasters and helping to anticipate and mitigate the impact of future crises is central to the UNDP's mission. In the Philippines, for example, 2014 was a year of recovery from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, which claimed an estimated 6,000 lives and left nearly 2 million Filipinos homeless. UNDP’s work with the Philippines Government in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan not only helped with the massive recovery effort but also sought to further strengthen coordination in preparing for and responding to disasters -an investment that helped to avoid loss of life when Typhoon Hagupit hit the archipelago nation in December 2014. One million people were evacuated from the path of the storm, which destroyed thousands of homes, yet claimed fewer than 30 lives.

Ten years before Hagupit, the Indian Ocean tsunami flooded coastlines in 15 countries and killed 230,000 people -many of whom could have been saved by warning and evacuation systems. In Aceh, Indonesia, one of the areas hardest hit by the 2004 tsunami, UNDP has helped since to create early warning networks and evacuation plans, with special emphasis on schoolchildren. The preparations paid off: when two major earthquakes struck Aceh in 2012, schools were swiftly evacuated and coastal residents received immediate tsunami alerts, with few resulting deaths and injuries.

Social inclusion and democratic governance


In many countries people with disabilities cannot fully participate in society due to mobility difficulties, communication barriers, inadequate public services, and the misconceptions and prejudices of their fellow citizens. Overcoming this exclusion has long been a focus of UNDP’s human development work. In Cambodia, one pioneering UNDP-supported project features a unique radio programme by and for the disabled -the Voice of Persons with Disabilities, an hour-long call-in show heard throughout the country’s main population corridor, from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The show spotlights often overlooked challenges for the estimated 700,000 Cambodians with disabilities -including many now-elderly landmine victims. “They may have disabilities in their bodies but not in their thinking, consciousness and intelligence,” said Phoum Leakhena, the show’s host, who is herself disabled.

Another common but formidable barrier to social inclusion and civic engagement is geography, with isolated rural villages cut off from national political life. In the past two years, UNDP’s electoral assistance projects have helped register some 17 million new voters in countries across the region, many in remote mountain and forest areas. In Bhutan, where it takes days for parliamentarians to reach distant constituents over the Himalayas, a UNDP-supported video-conferencing service connects them virtually, while in the islands of the Maldives, UNDP is testing a new web-based platform for citizens to report needs for better public services such as street lighting, waste management, coastal erosion, parking and graffiti removal.

Up Close

Environmental sustainability:
Looking for practical solutions

One of the region’s greatest challenges is maintaining the pace of human development progress while achieving environmental sustainability. Sea levels are rising; glaciers and forests are shrinking; air quality and water supplies are diminishing; and climate change to accelerate all these worrisome trends. UNDP is working with its partners on practical solutions to these problems today and needed policy changes for long-term sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. Some recent UNDP initiatives:

  • China, the largest and fastest growing economy in the developing world, is also its biggest producer of electronic waste —the millions of obsolete or damaged computers, printers, cell phones and other devices that can cause lasting environmental damage if carelessly discarded. In 2011 alone, China produced over 3.5 million tons of this 'e-waste', a UN report estimated. To solve this problem, UNDP worked with a Chinese software company to develop a mobile phone app linking owners of used electronic hardware to legally certified e-waste companies for safe disposal and recycling. Users take a cell-phone photo of their unwanted device and the 'Recycle App' identifies it by name and estimated scrap price. Launched in August 2014, the UNDP-backed app had already been used by more than 100,000 people by the end of the year, with nearly 5,000 old electronic devices successfully collected and disposed.
  • logo
  • In a partnership with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy in India, UNDP installed a model solar heating system in a century-old Chennai boarding school for orphaned and destitute boys. From sunlight alone, the system now provides hot water to students and power to the kitchen, where 3,000 meals are cooked daily. Solar cooking systems like those at the Chennai mission school are now providing more than 10 million meals.

  • Thailand is one of the world’s biggest per capita exporters and consumers of chicken. But the more than 1 million hectares of maize needed to keep those chickens fed have created serious environmental problems, from soil erosion and the loss of forest reserves to water contamination from fertilizers and pesticides. UNDP convened gatherings of maize farmers, chicken ranchers, retail buyers, environmentalists, and Thai officials, who agreed to begin working together to find more efficient, environmentally sustainable ways to grow the maize and raise the poultry needed to satisfy consumer demand.

  • The Marshall Islands are an idyllically beautiful archipelago of 34 tiny islands averaging barely four meters above sea level at their highest points. This South Pacific paradise is now facing an existential threat from rising seas and prolonged droughts—both the consequences of climate change. To make more efficient use of scarce water supplies, the UNDP-backed Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Programme is working to improve rainwater storage in island reservoirs and to install solar water purifiers in smaller outlying islands. On Majuro, the capital and most populous island, the airport runway is the largest paved area, making it an ideal surface to collect rainwater. The water is now treated and piped into a reservoir that is lined and covered to cut losses from seepage and evaporation. Majuro’s fresh water reserves were previously enough for just a few weeks, but now the city could survive a drought of up to four months. Yet prospects for lasting solutions are few, national leaders warn, as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise, and rainfall patterns become steadily more erratic.

Europe and the CIS

Transformation Through Innovation

The region covered by UNDP’s Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) ranges from Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova to western Balkans, Turkey, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

This diverse region of mainly middle-income countries has seen tremendous progress since the 1990s. Some countries are on the path to integration and accession to the European Union (EU) while other countries are working within the framework of the Eurasian Customs Union. Countries in the region have by and large reached the MDGs and have set new ambitious targets for their development. Some are also becoming active donors and are keen to share their experience through South-South cooperation. However, the region continues facing many shared challenges, from rising income inequality to the quest for environmental sustainability. Its 18 programme countries and territories include some of the world’s most carbon-intensive economies and the economic crisis has affected some of the countries disproportionately. A few countries continue to face increasing HIV and tuberculosis epidemics. Repercussions from past conflicts present obstacles to progress in much of the region. The aspirations of ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups for deeper social inclusion in many countries remain unmet.

Many of these issues will be addressed by the new SDGs, which will guide policy on the national as well as global level for the next 15 years.

In collaboration with local partners, UNDP convened a series of intensive national consultations on the post-2015 development agenda. Detailed reports summarizing the conclusions of these consultations —such as ‘The Moldova We Want’ and ‘The Montenegro We Want’— have already helped shape post-2015 strategies at both the local and international levels.

Programme priorities

  • Early recovery
  • Civic engagement
  • Youth employment
  • Sustainable growth
  • Social inclusion
  • Biodiversity and alternative energy
UNDP on the ground

Building resilience

Women talking to the elderly

A key focus of UNDP’s work in all parts of the world is to help countries strengthen their capacity to anticipate and withstand the impact of natural disasters and other sudden shocks, and to help speed recovery from these crises. Following the devastating ‘floods of the century’ in June 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina received immediate financial support from the EU. Thanks to UNDP's implementation capacities and strong partnerships with other international partners -especially local authorities- recovery assistance quickly reached the affected communities. These joint efforts succeeded in restoring public services and infrastructure, rebuilding homes and revitalizing livelihoods in affected areas, with direct impact on the quality of life of more than 1.5 million people.

More than a million people fled the fighting in eastern Ukraine in 2014. UNDP worked with national and local authorities to help find adequate shelter and essential social services for internally displaced families. Special emphasis was placed on the needs of children, the disabled, and other especially vulnerable groups. UNDP has also implemented employment and business development programmes for internally displaced persons.

The joint UNDP-UNHCR project ‘Mitigating the Impact of Syrian Crisis on Host Communities in Southeast Turkey’ helped to strengthen the resilience and livelihoods of communities affected by the conflict in Syria. The programme is part of supporting the local emergency response and solid waste management capacities and create employment opportunities in the affected municipalities.

Protecting the environment


Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and preserving fragile ecosystems are urgent priorities for sustainable development and central to the region’s post-2015 agenda. UNDP is actively engaged throughout the region in support of this economic and transformation.

One example is the EU-UNDP biomass project in Moldova, which is almost totally dependent on imported energy. By 2020, Moldova plans to generate one fifth of its from local renewables and reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent.

The EU-UNDP partnership has demonstrated the potential of biomass, helping to install biomass heating systems in 144 public institutions and more than 600 private households, thus reaching more than 90,000 people throughout the country. The benefits were immediately apparent: buildings were comfortably heated through the winter, and greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 30,000 tons of CO2 annually. New business and jobs were created in the production of biomass-based heaters and the supply of biomass.

UNDP is also working with governments to protect marine biodiversity. In a major initiative backed jointly by UNDP and the government of Turkey, and with funding and technical support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), more than 200,000 hectares of Turkish coastal waters were added to the country’s growing network of protected maritime sanctuaries. This meant a 45 percent increase in marine protected areas of the country. Regulations ban fishing in critical sites for species preservation, including in the newly expanded Gökova and Datça-Bozburun Special Environmental Protection Areas- a major contribution to the long-term protection of fish stocks in the eastern Mediterranean basin.

Access to justice


UNDP works with national partners throughout the region on judicial reform and access to legal services, with an emphasis on strengthening legal protection for the poor and other marginalized groups. These initiatives are part of a broader UNDP emphasis on national and international human rights observance, by supporting independent judicial bodies and human rights institutions, and implementing core human rights conventions, with a particular regional focus on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Examples of UNDP-supported access to justice initiatives can be found in:

  • Georgia, where free legal assistance now offered to the vulnerable, including the displaced, residents the mountainous regions and ethnic minorities;
  • Serbia, where UNDP used online crowdsourcing surveys as well as face-to-face meetings with judges, prosecutors and lawyers to identify ways to improve services for women, minorities and people with disabilities;
  • Uzbekistan, where UNDP helped the Supreme Court set up the e-justice system (E-SUD) for increased accessibility to court information, transparency and efficiency of civil justice; and
  • Croatia, where a recent UNDP project helped close to 18,000 people with disabilities to regain the right to vote after they were removed from the national electoral register for being placed under legal guardianship.

Up Close

Building bridges, overcoming bias:
Europe's Roma communities

No European minority group is more marginalized than the nearly 9 million Roma. UNDP surveys of Roma communities in the region have consistently revealed significantly lower health, education and income levels than the population at large. Nine out of ten Roma live below national poverty lines—most in substandard housing. Just a third report regular paid employment of any kind.

A disproportionate percentage of Roma report severe health problems, which are often compounded by inadequate access to regular health care. Barely half of Roma children attend pre-school or kindergarten, including in countries where such schooling is otherwise nearly universal. Only 15 percent graduate from secondary school or equivalent vocational training programmes.

UNDP has been on the forefront of regional efforts to improve living standards and legal protection for the Roma, and to change the prejudice they often confront. While half of the Roma interviewed for a 2011 UNDP survey said they had experienced recent incidents of discrimination, fewer than half were aware of national laws prohibiting ethnic discrimination in employment or service provision.


In Albania, an EU-UNDP Roma community project trained 100 artisans in 2014 alone, helping them to improve their technical skills and to establish their own small businesses. Many of the beneficiaries were Roma women, whose successes in making marketing their own handmade products helped to elevate their standing in local communities. The project works with Roma civil society organizations on social awareness projects to combat prejudice and promote respect for cultural diversity. Prominent Albanian cultural figures serve as Cultural Diversity Goodwill Ambassadors in support of the traditionally marginalized Roma population. In Albania as in neighbouring countries, Roma projects have also embraced the related but culturally distinct Ashkali and ‘Balkan Egyptian’ communities.

A UNDP project in Montenegro registered hundreds of Roma for improved access to social and employment services. In neighbouring Serbia, UNDP supported the establishment of Roma coordinators in more than 50 municipalities across the country, enabling direct communication between local authorities and Roma communities. This has improved data collection at the local level by capturing over 1,500 narratives in Roma settlements, informing policy making for social inclusion.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Securing hard-won gains

The Latin American and Caribbean region has made enormous development strides in recent decades, from the consolidation of democratic governments and continued advances in health and education to more recent progress in protecting the environment and reducing inequality. By the 2015 deadline, the region as a whole will have met the majority of the MDGs -a historic achievement.

However, the recent economic downturn brings about new challenges, including a slowdown in reducing inequality and an increase in the number of poor people —for the first time in a decade.

Even if the region’s economy continued to grow in the course of the next few years at the same pace as the last decade -3.9 percent annually— UNDP estimates that fewer people would be lifted from poverty than in the previous decade.

For UNDP, economic growth alone will not build resilience or increase the ability to absorb external shocks—financial crises and natural disasters —without major setbacks.

Therefore, we work with governments, civil society groups and the private sector so countries can focus on ‘multidimensional progress’. This includes reducing gender, racial and other historic inequalities, investing in skills for better education and employment opportunities, and improving financial systems to prevent over-indebtedness.

We partner with countries as they prepare to adopt—and ultimately achieve— the post-2015 SDGs. Progammes range from increasing civic engagement and citizen security to slowing and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Programme priorities

  • Inclusive economic growth and social protection
  • Natural resource management and climate resilience
  • Poverty and inequality reduction
  • Political participation of women, youth, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants
  • Citizen security
  • South-South cooperation
Up Close

Providing locally generated Hydropower


Throughout the region, 24 million people still lack access to electricity. But with appropriate technology and investment, the region can provide sustainable energy for all by 2030. In the Dominican Republic—where 400,000 people live in villages without electricity—a UNDP-supported rural energy project is providing clean, locally generated hydropower throughout the country. Funded by the national Government, the EU and the GEF/Small Grants Programme, the first 23 of these new power-generating dams are already supplying electricity to more than 3,000 families, with more dams on the way.

Reforestation to protect water supply and well-being


Deforestation accelerates climate change and poses an immediate threat to water resources and livelihoods, especially for low-income communities within threatened woodlands. To reverse this trend, in rural Nicaragua, UNDP partners with local governments in a Government of Switzerland-financed initiative to boost climate resilience and reforestation, which also brings potable water supplies to more than 6,100 people. In addition, more than 2,000 Nicaraguans have been trained— including community leaders and local government authorities—on sustainable water management and biodiversity protection.

In Haiti, which has suffered the most severe deforestation in the Western Hemisphere, UNDP is working on climate change adaptation and strengthening the management of watersheds and protected areas. During 2014, 150 environmental monitoring officers were deployed to Port-au-Prince and protected areas in the west. In southern Haiti, under the coordination of the local government, a Norway-funded UNDP programme led to the production of 5.5 million seedlings planted on 5,000 hectares of land between 2010 and 2014. During the same period, UNDP projects have planted 10 million trees and reinforced over 4 km of riverbank.

Reducing inequalities


Reducing social and economic inequalities is a major challenge in the region. In addition, historical inequalities within countries —between states and cities—reveal disparities often masked by national averages. In Brazil, UNDP partnered with the national economic research institute and a local foundation to map human development trends in over 5,500 municipalities, 27 states and 16 metropolitan areas. Funded by some of the country’s biggest companies and a local bank, the information was made available in an online portal. Policymakers at the national and local levels have been using the municipal HDI—UNDP’s composite measure of life expectancy, education and income— to tailor public policies that target those with greater needs. For example, the Ministries of Education, Health and Social Development have all used UNDP’s tool, including for nationwide programmes such as ‘More Doctors’ and ‘Light for All’. In addition, the state of Maranhao created the ‘More HDI Programme’ seeking to improve lives in the 30 lowest HDI municipalities.

Focusing on protection


Citizen insecurity hinders development in Latin America and the Caribbean, which ranks the highest in homicide rates worldwide, according to UNDP’s 2013-2014 Regional Human Development Report. In El Salvador, through a Government of Spain-financed initiative, UNDP convened dialogues and consultations with representatives from affected groups, including youth, women, business owners, community members in the most affected areas, political parties, civil society organizations, academia, the private sector and religious groups. Consultations and insecurity perception surveys have been used to prepare recommendations for the National Security Plan. In addition, more than 120 officials, including from the National Assembly, electoral agencies and political parties were trained on how to boost women’s political participation. This also enabled UNDP to assist the Legislative Assembly in designing seven law reform proposals on domestic violence as well as the penal, criminal procedure, family and labour codes.

More than 1,000 flourishing businesses


In Colombia, peace talks hold out the hope of ending armed conflict and reducing criminal violence, which has led to the second largest internally displaced population in the world: 6 million. Providing income opportunities for so many families who were forced to leave their homes is essential to safeguard their futures and to strengthen social stability. UNDP and the Government of Colombia partnered with the private sector in an innovative microcredit programme to boost small business creation by these internal exiles, based on similar UNDP initiatives pioneered in Mexico, El Salvador and Haiti. More than 1,000 businesses in 25 cities are involved, and over 250 of them are owned by those displaced by violence, with women among the top new entrepreneurs.

Up Close

Natural disaster need not be deadly:
Sharing caribbean preparedness expertise

Over the past three decades, Caribbean countries have suffered 170 major natural disasters, from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to devastating hurricanes and flooding, taking thousands of lives and costing $140 billion in property damage and lost income.

Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 storm widely known for its devastating tidal flooding in northeastern USA, swept through the Caribbean first, taking 80 lives and causing $2 billion in damage across the region; in the Dominican Republic alone 25,000 people were displaced. Four years earlier, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike swept across the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba, leaving many casualties, thousands homeless and at least $8 billion in economic losses in their wake.

Cuba suffered the most from those two 2008 hurricanes, leaving 63,000 homes destroyed and 3.1 million people evacuated from storm-ravaged areas. Yet the Cuban death toll of seven—while tragic for those directly affected—was minimal for a disaster of that scale, a fact noted by others in the region as further evidence of Cuba’s capacity for disaster preparedness.

Casualties from hurricanes have become comparatively rare in Cuba, even when scores have been killed by the same storms on neighboring islands. This is largely attributed to Cuba’s decade-old network of Risk Reduction Management Centres, which give top priority to prevention and monitoring of vulnerabilities. These centres provide support during response and recovery, promoting a culture of disaster risk reduction through training and information to community members, with special emphasis on early warning systems in vulnerable communities. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are targeted for special support.


The Cuban model is now being adapted elsewhere in the region. UNDP in Cuba and our Caribbean Risk Management Initiative facilitated the model’s adaptation and implementation in five Caribbean countries: the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

This South-South cooperation initiative brought disaster management specialists from the five countries to Cuba to learn about the centres and set up similar programmes of their own through courses, workshops and study tours. Training materials, methodological documents, and procedural guidelines were developed for pilot implementation. Moreover, Cuban experts traveled to the pilot countries to support the adaptation of the risk-reduction model with technical assistance and exchange.

All five pilot municipalities now have their own risk-reduction management centres, equipped with risk maps, early warning systems and trained personnel to help local governments take risk-informed decisions, serving as models for other communities.

In Saint Catherine Parish, southeastern Jamaica, hazard-prone fishing villages now host the country’s first such centre. Cubantrained specialists are mapping vulnerable areas and working with community leaders on disaster preparation and risk reduction.

One of them is Ida Northover, 78 years old, a disaster-preparedness-trained community leader. “We don’t know when the next hurricane will hit but we are prepared,” she says, confidently explaining how she calls on community members to evacuate to a nearby shelter when local authorities send her the warning signal. She also stresses that the training gave her a new and important role in the community as a well-respected leader.

Strengthening local capacity and resilience is a sound investment. In addition to saving lives, every $1 spent on risk reduction and disaster preparedness saves an estimated $7 in recovery costs after a disaster strikes.

UN Volunteers

Volunteering for Peace and Development

In the field and Online

three people studying

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development globally through advocacy, innovative partnerships, mobilizing volunteers and mainstreaming volunteerism into national development programming. Motivated by a sense of service towards peace and sustainable development as well as a shared vision, UN Volunteers use their experience, skills and talent to support various initiatives and programmes.

In 2014, 6,325 UN Volunteers worked to advance development and peace in 121 countries, often in challenging circumstances; 1,871 worked with UNDP, while 2,604 served with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs, and the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). More than four fifths were from developing countries. Another 10,887 assisted UN missions remotely through the UN Online Volunteering programme.

What sets UNV apart is that it achieves development impact by bringing people together to engage globally through volunteering. 2014 marked the first year of UNV’s Strategic Framework, under which UNV targets maximum impact and output for tackling the most pressing development issues. UNV efforts are now being aligned under five priorities: access to basic social services; community resilience for environmental and disaster risk reduction; peacebuilding; youth and national capacity development; and innovation and knowledge.

Strength after crisis

Typhoon Haiyan

One of UNV’s greatest assets is its ability to strengthen UN resources in crisis situations. After Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, for example, UNV mobilized UN Volunteers to assist in recovery. Following the initial emergency phase, specialized UN Volunteers provided technical assistance on disaster risk reduction, livelihood development and waste management. From afar, UN Online Volunteers supported recovery efforts by geo-tagging thousands of Twitter messages and images from storm-damaged areas to pinpoint people’s most urgent needs.

Containing the Ebola Epidemic

UNV’s contributions to containing the Ebola epidemic in 2014 provided a further demonstration of its unique capacity to supplement the UN’s emergency response capacity. UNV set up a special recruitment campaign for the rapid deployment of volunteer doctors, nurses, public health experts, laboratory technicians, field crisis managers, coordination experts, data collectors and other highly skilled specialists. These volunteers were trained to provide critical professional help on a range of essential tasks, from awareness raising on disease control measures to hygiene training, midwifery and the emergency distribution of food, soap, chlorine and medical supplies.

UN Volunteers were quickly mobilized on the front lines of the epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia to support Ebola awareness and prevention measures, and assist distribution of food and medical supplies. UNV provided volunteers to UNMEER’s Ghana office, which coordinated the UN response, with UNV establishing a field unit in Accra to support the recruitment, training and management of specialized UNMEER volunteers. Hundreds of UN Online Volunteers worked to contain the Ebola outbreak through remote geomapping, producing and updating maps of Ebola-affected areas in Sierra Leone and Liberia. UN Online Volunteers also created infographics, posters, flyers and websites to raise awareness about Ebola throughout West Africa.

UN Capital Development Fund

Unlocking private and public finance for the poor

three people studying

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) is a UN organization with a unique capital mandate to help least-developed countries pursue inclusive growth.

UNCDF uses its resources (official development assistance) to unlock and leverage public and private domestic resources; it promotes financial inclusion, including through digital finance, as a key enabler of poverty reduction and inclusive growth; and it demonstrates how localizing finance outside capital cities can accelerate growth in local economies, promote sustainable and climate resilient infrastructure development, and empower local communities.

To test ways of unlocking private finance for potentially transformative infrastructure projects, UNCDF developed the Local Finance Initiative (LFI), a global programme supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). As of 2014, LFI was being implemented in Tanzania and Uganda, with expansion plans for Senegal, Benin and Bangladesh.

LFI identifies small and medium-sized infrastructure projects with significant local transformation potential, such as feeder roads, bridges, transport hubs, agro-processing plants and small hydro-power projects, which fall below the radar of impact investors and development and domestic banks. UNCDF structures public/private partnerships, supplements these with targeted credit enhancements, risk mitigation strategies and capacity-building interventions, and helps to ready them for private investment. This increases investor confidence by reducing perceived risk of investing in the local economy, and attracts in domestic and other private capital. It also stimulates new relationships between local public and private actors, and builds durable capacities in the public, private and banking spheres to achieve multiplier effects for local economic investment.

Infrastructure in Tanzania and Uganda

In 2014, LFI closed its first deal by mobilizing $2.6 million from a private investor for a much-needed customs depot, warehouse and truck parking area in a cross-border community in Uganda. In Tanzania, a $250,000 seed investment and technical support for last-mile transaction costs for three hydropower projects will leverage $15 million of domestic resources from local banks in 2015, benefitting thousands of families.


UNCDF also uses adapted financial services provision to show how official development assistance can unlock public and private finance for inclusive growth.

Savings-led micro-finance services have a strong impact on improving the resilience and livelihoods of poor households. UNCDF supports over 100 private financial service providers globally to mobilize domestic savings ‘out of the mattresses’ into the formal financial system, providing greater protection to households and turning ‘sleeping capital’ into dynamic resources for re-investment in the economy.

As of 2014, financial service providers supported by UNCDF doubled their deposits from $823 million to more than $1.6 billion, giving poor people a safe place to save and providing new credit sources for local small businesses.


UNCDF’s MicroLead programme is another excellent example of how UNCDF leverages its funding to catalyse private capital and domestic savings: starting with its own initial contribution of $6.8 million, UNCDF mobilized another $20 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These funds were then invested in local financial service providers, which invested a further $100 million of their own capital into product development. Within five years, these providers had attracted more than $645 million from 1 million local depositors, creating a major new source of local investment capital.

The MicroLead Expansion programme, supported by the MasterCard Foundation, is now halfway through implementation, working with a variety of providers to reach an additional 1.3 million clients with savings and other financial services, while moving further into rural markets with demand-driven, responsibly priced products.

Results at a glance


UNDP funding is provided entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States, mulitlateral organizations, and other sources.

These contributions are provided as either core resources, often refered to as regular resources, or other resources earmarked for specific purposes.

In 2014, 56 countries contributed a total of $793 million in core resources to UNDP, compared to $896 million in 2013. Additional donations for specified projects and countries totaled $3.8 billion in 2014—the same level of support in that category that UNDP received in 2013. Governments contributed $2.3 billion for earmarked purposes in 2014, while multilateral donations provided another $1.5 billion.

Development is a long-term process that requires a clear strategic focus and the ability to respond to immediate crises, emerging challenges and opportunities. In today’s fast-changing development environment, UNDP continues to work towards expanding and diversifying its resource base in order to implement its 2014-2017 Strategic Plan and strengthen its development services and partnerships.

* The contributions of Canada and India to 2014 core resources were received in 2015.
** Excludes Australia's contribution of $18,154,657 to core resources received in 2014 since it was intended for 2013.

Core Resources

Core Support: UNDP's Central Pillar

As the UN’s lead development agency, UNDP oversees a nearly $4-billion portfolio of specially funded initiatives, from partnerships with the GEF and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) to thematically focused and country-specific projects and trust funds managed by UNDP for the international community.

Yet it is the regular, continuing ‘core’ support from partner countries—totalling $793 million in 2014—that makes all these other initiatives possible. It is also essential to UNDP’s ability to respond to development emergencies. Core contributions made it possible for UNDP to react immediately to the Ebola epidemic in 2014, sending in trained professionals and providing essential management support. Those core funds also helped UNDP to deliver urgently needed aid to Syrian refugees in programme countries.

These emergency interventions depend in turn on UNDP’s continuing collaboration with national partners in programme countries, including its crucial role as coordinator for all UN operations in most of the developing world. That too is funded largely from core support, which covers 75 percent of the operating costs of the UN Resident Coordinator system, providing leadership for the entire UN development system at the country level.

In 2014, 90 percent of UNDP’s core resources went to low-income countries—and every $1 from UNDP’s core budget in those countries leveraged a further $5 of development aid from additional sources. And while only 10 percent of UNDP’s core resources were spent in middle-income countries (MICs), every one of those dollars helped raise another $25 for local development use in MICs.

Core funds also enable UNDP to meet its commitments to the highest standards of quality control and rigorous, detailed public reporting on all its projects and finances, at both the local and international levels. Most importantly, this regular funding is what makes UNDP a reliable, effective partner in all our programme countries every day of every year. All of us at UNDP are grateful to our core partners for their continued confidence and support.

“We have an obligation to protect our planet for the sake of future generations and to safeguard today’s hard-won development gains.”

-- Helen Clark
UNDP Administrator