For the first time in history, the world may see the end of extreme poverty—as soon as the next generation. But worrisome gaps and risks remain. Stark inequalities persist, and many of those who have escaped poverty are vulnerable to setbacks. As one of the world’s largest multilateral development agencies, present in over 170 countries and territories, UNDP is on the frontlines of anticipating, understanding and acting on today’s opportunities and risks. Our 2014-2017 Strategic Plan articulates our vision. We help countries eradicate extreme poverty, and roll back inequalities and exclusion. We act on three fronts to achieve development that is sustainable, inclusive and resilient. First, UNDP encourages a shift to sustainability, where economic growth benefits poor and marginalized groups, and avoids irreversible environmental damage. Second, we support democratic systems to become inclusive and accountable, and able to meet expectations for participation, services and security. Third, we back efforts to systematically identify and prevent big risks to development, and to help countries and communities with quick recovery, and greater resilience to crisis.
UNDP has nearly 50 years of experience leading the UN’s development work, providing knowledge, practical expertise, and a legacy of trust. Partnership has always been at the core of what we do, but now, more than ever, we are fostering South-South cooperation among developing countries—they have learned many useful lessons through experience. Countries that are already developed also have deep reservoirs of expertise. The imperative is to help link many sources of knowledge and widen the circle of opportunity for all. Through 2015, one of UNDP’s primary responsibilities is supporting countries to make a final, accelerated push to reach the Millennium Development Goals, both in our own programmes and through our leadership of the UN development system. We are also closely engaged in deliberations on a new post-2015 development agenda; our Strategic Plan already aligns with its general directions. We see a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient world within reach, and are fully committed to our role in achieving it.
Expanding democracy and some of the world’s fastest growing economies are the hallmarks of a new African era. Yet sobering challenges remain, including sharpening disparities between those who benefit from growth and transformation, and those who do not. UNDP helps reduce exclusion, especially for the poorest people, by working to open opportunities—such as to vote, find a job, and access basic, highquality services.
Plans to end poverty in Niger
One of the world’s most impoverished countries, Niger confronts regular droughts and food crises. A better future—and the lives of its people—depend on skillful, stable management of fragile resources. UNDP has backed a national development plan that gives a central role to effective governance in delivering services and solutions to the problems Nigeriens face. This emphasis helped convince international donors to close the plan’s nearly $5 billion funding gap. Among other recent signs of progress: a major programme targeting food security and accelerated actions to achieve the MDGs have boosted irrigated agriculture and reduced malnutrition.
Asia and the Pacific
Asia-Pacific is the world’s fastest growing region as its economic miracle continues to unfold. But this success, while laudable, is vulnerable. Economic growth has not produced enough decent jobs, for example, and natural disasters are more likely to strike here than anywhere else. UNDP helps countries protect and extend development gains.
Recovery and resilience in the Philippines
When Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines, it became the strongest recorded storm ever to hit land. More than 6,000 people perished; over 14 million suffered losses in one of the country’s poorest areas. UNDP took immediate action to help restore essential infrastructure, livelihoods and public services—65,000 people earned income clearing debris, including from 1,000 kilometres of roads. We also aided national and local governments to manage the response, and, as one of the best precautions against future severe storms, to initiate disaster risk and response mechanisms.
The Arab States stand at a crossroads between progress and crisis. UNDP recognizes the region’s many vulnerabilities, and in the face of these, aims to reduce risks and build resilience. Our support includes measures to improve struggling economies, mitigate fallout from instability, and encourage governance that meets expectations for representation and responsive public services.
An inclusive transition in Tunisia
The 2014 passage of Tunisia’s Constitution was a triumph after months of intensive bargaining. It quickly became known for its landmark human rights protections. UNDP helped make the process inclusive through mass public consultations: 80 members of Parliament met with over 6,000 Tunisians citizens in all 24 provinces. Training for over 200 civil society groups facilitated engagement with another 24,000 people. Political leaders agreed that these contributions, amid national transition, were instrumental in forging a consensus that will define the future of the country.
Europe and the CIS
Despite economic crisis, many countries in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States have kept their development on track. But progress has been uneven, with living standards for some groups failing to meet their aspirations. UNDP helps countries pursue development responsive to all citizens, with a sustainable balancing of human and environmental priorities.
Green energy in Kazakhstan
Renewable energy was once a hard sell in Kazakhstan, with its huge fossil fuel reserves. But long-term UNDP advocacy has prompted an embrace of a greener economy. By 2050, half the country’s energy must come from alternative sources; recent changes in national legislation will expedite new investments in renewables. UNDP has helped develop a nascent wind energy industry with enormous potential, and encouraged efforts to green transportation and buildings. Energy efficiency is now central to the $5.8 billion National Programme on the Modernization of Housing and Municipal Infrastructure.
Latin America and the Caribbean
A decade of progress has transformed Latin America and the Caribbean. Still, growth and the reduction of inequalities are slowing, and opportunities are not equal for all groups such as women, youth, and people of African and indigenous descent. UNDP assists countries to probe and cut the roots of persistent disparities. We encourage broad, meaningful participation in development choices as key to both prosperity and stability.
Pathways to peace in El Salvador
Criminal gangs have given El Salvador some of the world’s highest homicide rates. This plague of violence has complex roots encompassing poverty, scarce jobs, social fragmentation and a history of brutal conflict. UNDP supports solutions on many levels, both to stop crime and open doors to productive development. With our assistance, the national Government has adopted its first policy on justice, security and a peaceful coexistence. New systems track crime statistics, and guns laws have been tightened. Job programmes reach at-risk youth, helping them see that a safe, more hopeful life lies within reach.