icon twittericon facebookicon youtubeInstagram

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

UNDPI. Core Areas

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network, connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. The Programme, led by an Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, has a field presence in 166 countries and offices in 134 countries. The priority areas of focus of the Programme include democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, energy and environment, as well as HIV/AIDS. Since the adoption of the Millennium Declaration and launching of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, key programme areas are approached from the MDG perspective for more coordinated, coherent and focused action at the national level.

The institutional structure of UNDP includes offices for each region of the world (connected to national UN offices in their respective regions), extensive research arms including the offices of the Human Development Report and Development Studies, and several departments including the Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships (BRSP), the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, and the Bureau for Development Policy (BDP). The structure also includes United Nations Volunteers (UNV), the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and a technical cooperation unit.

II. Engagement with External Actors

UNDP has national and international level engagement with a range of civil society organizations as well as private sector actors relevant to its areas of work.

Civil Society

At the international level, the CSO Division,1 housed in the Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships, leads the engagement with civil society organizations. In close collaboration with the Bureau for Development Policy and the regional Bureaux, the Division supports strategic processes of civic engagement at local, regional, and global levels. The CSO Division is responsible for strengthening UNDP policies and procedural methods to collaborate more effectively and systematically with CSOs as well as the capacity of UN country offices to work with CSOs.

CSO engagement is founded on five principles and commitments:
* Partnership founded on horizontality (equality), trust, inclusion and mutual capability;
* Recognition of obligations as a duty-bearer;
* Negotiation and mutual agenda-setting with individual accountability;
* Desegregation, selection and intellectual differentiation; and
* Macro-micro coherence and balance: connecting upstream and downstream.

A CSO Advisory Committee, composed of 16 CSO leaders, provides a mechanism for mutual agenda-setting, policy debate, individual accountability, and ease of access for exchanges between senior managers and civil society leaders on future directions for UNDP. The committee members are selected based on their expertise on a set of mutually agreed issues including: poverty reduction and sustainable debt; inclusive globalization—democratizing trade and finance; conflict prevention and peacebuilding; human rights and human development; and private sector engagement. There are structured dialogues between the CSO Advisory Committee and the UNDP Executive Board on issues relating to policy options and perspectives on trade, poverty reduction, monitoring the MDGs, human-rights based approaches to development, and gender mainstreaming.

In addition to policy level engagement, UNDP has several funding support arrangements involving CSOs,4 including:
* Thematic Trust Funds: Through the Bureau for Development Policy, these funds cover a range of themes from poverty reduction and HIV/AIDS to governance and energy. Each fund outlines strategic services related to engaging with CSOs and often includes them as one of the key stakeholders in a multi-partner initiative.
* Partnership Facility: Through the Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships, this facility provides small grants to UNDP country offices to support innovative partnership initiatives.
* Small Grants Programme: Through the Bureau for Development Policy, these grants support community-based initiatives, which in turn have policy impact at the district, regional or national levels. At present, two such mechanisms exist at headquarters: the small grants window of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Local Initiative Facility for Urban Environment (LIFE), which seeks to strengthen community-based organizations, NGOs and local authorities, empower the poor and women, and promote their participation and integration in development and local governance processes.

Extent of Collaboration

A number of special programmes also exist to support and reinforce partnerships with CSOs in specific areas, such as:
* Capacity 2015: Based on the success of Capacity 21 created to achieve Agenda 21 goals, Capacity 2015 focuses on supporting decentralized initiatives at the community level on MDGs.
* Human Rights Strengthening Programme (HURIST): A joint programme between UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to identify best practices and learning opportunities in the development of national capacity for promoting and protecting human rights and in applying a human rights approach to development programming.
* Africa 2000 Plus Network: Previously the Africa 2000 Network, this programme provides institutional support to foster environmentally sensitive poverty reduction policies that improve livelihoods and resource management of rural communities in Africa.
* Community Water Initiative: This initiative is a funding mechanism for community-based water supply, sanitation and watershed management.
* Equator Initiative: This initiative aims to reduce poverty through conservation and the sustainable use of biodiversity in the equatorial belt by fostering, supporting and strengthening community partnerships. The initiative promotes and recognizes the local achievements, fosters South-South capacity development, and shares knowledge through publications and the media.

Private Sector

The Division for Business Partnerships, also in the BRSP, coordinates UNDP’s overall relationships with the private sector. It advises UNDP offices and units on cooperating with business, while building and managing relationships and partnerships with businesses and their organizations. The Division also coordinates UNDP’s overall participation in the Global Compact.

UNDP recognizes that the private sector has an important role to play in achieving the MDGs, in eradicating poverty and in bringing sustainable human development. The world needs a private sector that creates jobs, generates tax revenues, and provide services and goods to the poor. Therefore, UNDP is working with the private sector to create ‘inclusive markets’ – markets that work for the benefit of the poor. In this regard, UNDP aims to:
* Establish the Policy and Institutional Infrastructure. UNDP will support governments that wish to promote the development of rule based, non-discriminatory and inclusive markets.
* Facilitate Pro-Poor Value Chain Integration. UNDP will support the development of integrated value chains in market sectors that allow poor producers to access markets that offer realistic prospects for sustainable, employment-intensive growth and mobility to higher paying jobs.
* Broker Investments in Pro-Poor Goods and Services. UNDP will facilitate research and development that leads to the identification of viable ‘bottom-of-the-pyramid’ investment opportunities and business models.
* Foster Inclusive Entrepreneurship. UNDP, in conjunction with other UN agencies, development partners and the private sector, will promote investments in human capital and foster the entrepreneurial skills of the poor.
* Encourage Corporate Social Responsibility in support of Inclusive Market Development and the MDGs. UNDP advocates for new forms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that leverage ‘core business’ investment to provide sustainable benefits to the poor.

A number of specific area or issue-based partnership programmes with business exist and they include initiatives such as:
* Public Private Partnership for the Urban Environment (PPPUE): The partnership brings together governments, private businesses and civil society to pool resources and skills to improve basic services at local and municipal levels.
* Growing Sustainable Business (GSB): Looking beyond social investments and philanthropy, the GSB mechanism is a service offered to companies that seek to develop commercially viable business projects within their core business or value chain with a view to increasing profitability and/or engagement in new markets.
* Growing Inclusive Markets (GIM) brings together a broad range of partners from developed and developing countries to analyze how businesses, governments and civil society can eliminate barriers to inclusive growth and give the world’s poorest people greater freedom of choice both as consumers and producers.

Indigenous Peoples

UNDP’s programming also has a focus on indigenous peoples that is not carried out by a single office but rather managed as a cross-cutting issue throughout programme activities. The engagement with indigenous peoples is extensive, especially at the country level. Since the inauguration of the UN International Year of Indigenous People in 1993, many UNDP small grants, as well as its regional and national programmes, have involved indigenous peoples’ communities. These initiatives have focused on poverty eradication, environmental conservation, conflict prevention and resolution, and cultural revitalization.

In addition, UNDP has supported projects under the Indigenous Knowledge Programme in order to promote indigenous knowledge through targeted capacity building and direct support for projects formulated and implemented by Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations (IPOs). A cross-cutting area gaining attention in the engagement of this sector is the role of indigenous peoples in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

A Practice Note on Engagement of UNDP with Indigenous Peoples provides the framework for engagement. The Note is the result of a series of consultations with IPOs worldwide as well as with UNDP staff. UNDP’s efforts in this area emphasize fuller understanding of indigenous peoples’ development perspectives, through internal training, sensitization and capacity building for staff, NGOs and local and regional government officials.

Projects that incorporate indigenous peoples fall under the category of small grants programmes, several of which are global in scope. These programmes are designed to promote consensus-building and participatory decision-making processes. They are formulated and implemented in a decentralized manner; and participatory management structures are an integral component of these kinds of initiatives. IPOs, among others, can seek funding through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme, which supports small-scale activities conducted by NGOs and community groups that address environmental problems.

Extent of Collaboration

Examples of specific programmes include:
* Indigenous Knowledge Programme: It aims to conserve and promote indigenous knowledge worldwide, through a Steering Committee composed of a General Coordinator and eight Regional Coordinators, each representing local IPOs. This Programme is jointly supported by UNDP, the International Development Research Centre and the Swiss Development Cooperation.
* Regional and National Programmes involving Indigenous Peoples: These programmes focus on areas such as improvement of living standards; economic and technological development; preservation of natural resources and environmental conservation; and cultural revitalization.

III. Organizational Resources

Focal Point

Civil Society

Name: Ms. Bharati Sadasivam
Title: Director, CSO Division, UN Development Programme
Address: Two UN Plaza, Room DC2-2608, New York NY 10017, United States
Telephone: +1-212-906-6232
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Private Sector

Name: Mr. Christian H. Thommessen
Title: Director, Private Sector Division
Address: One UN Plaza, Room DC1-2380, New York NY 10017, United States
Telephone: +1-212-906-5078
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IV. Information Resources

* UNDP Engagement With Civil Society and Civic engagment
* UNDP and Civil Society: A practice Note on Engagement
* CSO Advisory Committee
* Poverty Thematic Trust Fund (PTTF)
* UNDP Life Programme
* Capacity 2015
* Community Water Initiative
* Equator Initiative 
* Public Private Partnerships for the Urban Environment 
* Growing Sustainable Business
* UNDP Inclusive Market Development
* Indigenous People related information
* A Practice Note on Engagement of UNDP with Indigenous Peoples 

The UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) is an inter-agency programme of the United Nations mandated to develop constructive relations between the UN and civil society organizations.


YouTube Channel

Visit https://www.youtube.com/unngls for many more!


Featured UN-NGLS Reports

UNDS review NGLS civil society consultation summary website cover


Regional Recommendations 217px


UN NGLS Decent Work Fair Globalization Guide featured



OHCHR Report: Safe & Enabling Environment for Civil Society

OHCHR Civil society report2