UNDP: Influencing the Global Development Agenda

By Srimal Fernando

23 January 2020

The establishment of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ushered a new era during the course of United Nations (UNs) exemplary journey.   In September 2000 at the Millennium Summit the world leaders pledged to reduce poverty by 2015 focusing on the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

(Photo credit Pixabay)

After all, the UNDP has been able to take the lead in accomplishing global impact on humanitarian priorities.  As a result of this effort the UNDP played a pivotal role in taking a billion people out of extreme poverty by reducing global poverty by half over the last 30 years. 

This was closely related to the UNDP’s visionary leadership reshaped the future of the global sustainable development agenda in the shortest possible time. Over the years UNDP projects have had measurable success in protecting the environment. For example the UNDP allocated over US$ 5600 million supporting   nearly 4600 new projects worldwide (UNDP, 2019).  Of this the largest recipients in 2019 were Afghanistan, with an estimated total of US$ 530 million.  The recent initiatives implemented by the UN development agency will begin to impact systematically and begin to grow in magnitude touching all aspects of human life over the coming decades.

One of the most important components of the UNDP journey was the Human Development Report (HDR) that paved the  way  to  discuss  the meanings and measurements of human development that can enlarge people’s choices.  Speaking at the launch of 2019 Human Development Report on 11 December 2019 the current   Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme Achim Steiner said, “In terms of productivity, the report shows that the growing market power of employers is linked to a declining income share for workers. It argues that anti-trust and other policies are key to address the imbalances of market power”.    It is note worthy to mention after more than five decades of global outreach the UN development agency seeks to adopt a strategy addressing inequality and social exclusion, preventing and mitigating conflicts and disasters, economic recovery, development planning and inclusive sustainable growth.
 
Globally climate change has been a concern in the recent years. Renewable energy is considered to be one of the alternatives that can combat global warming and stabilise the climate. Roughly US$2.5 billion has been provided to 140 countries for climate change initiatives and the UNDP was the largest implementer in combating climate change globally.

Another major area of worldwide concern was the displacement of people due to armed conflicts.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Global Trends report findings shows conflict and violence have forcibly displaced 65.3 million people globally. The adoption of conflict and development analysis (CDA) tools designed by the UNDP   for building practitioners aims to strengthen peace and security in war and in post-war countries. However the UNDP remains committed to successfully strengthen democracy and good governance through transparent institutionalizing process in developing nations. Infrastructures for Peace can be an important tool to prevent conflicts.  By laying a  solid foundation for Peace initiative designed by UNDP to strengthen the capacity and to manage conflict is one such successful programme. Today the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) plays a fundamental responsibility with worldwide communities to address global, regional and national challenges. Since its inception the United Nations development agency has made significant solutions to world's most pressing problems.

Srimal Fernando is a Doctoral Fellow at Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA), India and Global Editor of The Diplomatic Society for South Africa. He won the 2018/2019 Best Journalist of the Year award in South Africa.