Executive Board of the United Nations Development

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United Nations


Executive Board of the
United Nations Development
Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the
United Nations Office for
Project Services

Distr.: General

2 August 2013

Original: English

Second regular session 2013

9-13 September 2013, New York

Item 2 of the provisional agenda

UNDP strategic plan, 2014-2017
UNDP Strategic Plan, 2014-2017

Changing with the World

Helping countries to achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequalities and exclusion


II. Our overarching vision, outcomes and approach 3

III. Redesigning our main areas of development work 5

IV. Revitalizing South-South cooperation, partnerships and coordination 11

V. Transforming institutional effectiveness 14

Annexes (available on the Executive Board website)

Annex I. Matrix on follow-up to the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review

Annex II. Integrated Results and Resources Framework

I. Our strategic setting

  1. The world is going through an unprecedented transition. The global balance of power is shifting, extreme poverty has dropped to historic lows, more people than ever before now live in cities, and new technologies are revolutionising social behaviours and entire industries. Risks are rising as well. Inequalities are widening within countries, violent tensions are making some societies vulnerable to crisis and even collapse, and competition is intensifying around scarce natural resources. Many societies are also struggling to bring women and youth into the circle of prosperity. The gaps are glaring despite progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Women and girls still make up a high proportion of people living in income poverty and deprived of education, health, voice and other non-income dimensions of well-being. Progress in closing gender gaps in education has not led to the removal of inequalities in labour markets.  Norms that exclude women from the public sphere remain strong in many places and gender-based violence is a significant issue. Against this broad backdrop, climate change may have potentially catastrophic consequences, most of all for the poor.

  2. But there are grounds for optimism. It is now possible to eradicate extreme poverty, halt and reverse growing inequalities and achieve universal access to basic services, bringing everyone above a minimum threshold of well-being. With more countries moving towards democratic political systems and responding to growing public demand, the room for voice and participation can expand now to an extent unthinkable before. At the same time, new knowledge and experiences are making it possible to pursue economic growth, environmental sustainability and social equity simultaneously. Making the most of this momentum, while putting in place measures to mitigate risk and prevent loss of gains made when a crisis strikes, will be a major task of development in coming decades. Success will depend on finding ways of fighting poverty and inequality, deepening inclusion and reducing conflict, without inflicting irreversible damage on environmental systems, including the climate.

  3. This challenges us to rethink development. Sustainable development (SD) offers a way forward. As described in the Outcome Document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (‘Rio+20’), ‘….poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development,’ (General Assembly resolution 66/288, annex, para. 4). SD is complemented and reinforced by the concept of human development (HD), which focuses on the process of enlarging people’s choices, looking both at the formation of human capabilities and the use people make of their acquired capabilities1.

  4. Another part of the response lies in a United Nations development system (UNDS) equipped to help programme countries address new realities. There are valuable system-wide assets to build on such as universality, legitimacy, a strong normative foundation, and an unparalleled worldwide presence. UNDP itself has particular strengths. These include an up-to-date intellectual outlook, a proven ability to influence policy and build capacity, and a long-standing role as a trusted partner working across sectors and with multiple stakeholders, often on sensitive issues. A large country network and a core coordination function within the UNDS reinforce UNDP’s strengths. These strengths have not kept pace, however, with changing demands due to some key gaps in skills, diminished speed of action, rising costs and declining core funding. If we are to remain valued and effective in a dynamic world, then UNDP must rebuild its strengths and funding. More change in the organization will be needed to help programme countries achieve stronger results either through UNDP-specific action or through partnerships with others, from the global through to the local level. We must aim for a sharper focus that makes sense to programme countries and donors alike. The outcome of continuing change must be higher quality advice, more effective and efficient operations, and a more knowledge-driven, innovative and open institution. In making these changes, we must build upon our legislative foundations.

  5. The Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR)2 offers a clear direction to the UNDS (see annex I). It identifies five key development issues: poverty eradication as the greatest global challenge, sustainable development, gender equality and women’s empowerment, transitions from relief to development, and resilience, the latter two being particularly relevant in disaster and post-conflict settings. The QCPR also draws attention to several other issues: capacity development as a core function of the UNDS; the need to mainstream South-South and triangular cooperation; the value of continuous improvements in Delivering as one (DaO), where this has been adopted by countries; and better cooperation on regional issues. The resolution also emphasizes that the ‘….resident coordinator system, while managed by the United Nations Development Programme, is owned by the United Nations development system as a whole and that its functioning should be collegial and mutually accountable within that system,’ (General Assembly resolution 67/226, para. 122). On financing, the QCPR stresses the importance of core resources while noting the significance of non-core resources. Furthermore, it requests a definition of ‘critical mass of resources’ by the end of 2013 and implementation of full cost recovery in 2014. This Strategic Plan shows how UNDP proposes to contribute to the priorities set in the QCPR, within the broader setting of the UNDS.

  6. In addition to the QCPR, important guidance comes from the Outcome Document of ‘Rio+20’ where Heads of State and Government clarified the objectives and requirements for SD and set out guiding principles for green economy policies (resolution 66/288, annex, paras. 56 and 58). Additional policy guidance is available from a number of other United Nations international conferences. These include the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs): 2011-20 and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
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