UNDP FOR BEGINNERS
A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO THE UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT
It has been a longstanding wish for the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) to establish a brief yet concise overview of the
organization`s multifaceted structure, its intricate jargon and its
ongoing transformations. To respond to this need the UNDP JPO
Service Centre prepared a UNDP Guide for Beginners in 2004. The
Guide was updated in 2006 and 2008, and this is the fourth edition of
As a large, multilateral organization, the United Nations Development
Programme is a complex structure. Internal jargon and the use of
abbreviations also make it difficult for outsiders to understand what
UNDP does and how it does it.
This Guide for Beginners is written to give you a snap-shot of where
UNDP stands now, as well as to provide an overview of the basic
structures and systems of UNDP. It targets new staff members and
people who work with UNDP, and it is intended to make it easier to
understand the basics of the organization.
Naturally, an introductory guide is necessarily selective and therefore
subjective. However, we tried to provide hyperlinks for those who
want more information. This overview is for guidance only, and may
not necessarily reflect the views of UNDP.
The UNDP JPO Service Centre would like to thank Thomas Winderl, a
former JPO who drafted and updated the guide, and the JPO alumni
network for reviewing earlier drafts of the Beginner`s Guide.
For suggestions and/or updates, please send us an email to:
UNDP JPO Service Centre Copenhagen, Denmark www.jposc.org UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 2
WHAT DOES UNDP DO?
What is the UN?
What is UNDP?
What does UNDP want to achieve?
HOW DOES UNDP DO IT?
Providing policy and technical support
Promoting coordination, efficiency and effectiveness of the UN
WHO IS DOING WHAT IN UNDP?
The global structure
The Country Offices
HOW DOES UNDP MANAGE WHAT IT DOES?
What are UNDP's principles?
What are UNDP's tools?
How does UNDP manage knowledge?
How does UNDP manage its staff?
HOW DOES UNDP FUND ITS ACTIVITIES?
Local resources UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 3
What does UNDP do?
What is the UN?
The United Nations
is a unique international organization of
192 sovereign states established in 1945. Its goal is to maintain international
peace and security, to develop friendly relations among nations, and to promote
social progress, a better living standard and human rights. Its member states are
the UN Charter www.un.org/aboutun/charter/
, an international treaty that spells out the rights
and duties of member states.
Although best known for peacekeeping, peace building, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance,
there are many other ways the United Nations and its system (specialized agencies, funds and programmes)
affect our lives and make the world a better place. One of the central mandates of the United Nations is
the promotion of economic and social development
What is UNDP?
The United Nations Development Programme
the UN's global development network
. UNDP is currently present on the
ground in 166 countries, working with them on their own solutions to global and
national development challenges.
UNDP emanated from the merging of the United Nations Expanded Programme
of Technical Assistance, created in 1949, and the United Nations Special Fund,
established in 1958. UNDP, as we know it now, was established in 1965
General Assembly of the United Nations.
UNDP`s headquarters are located in New York. UNDP has liaison offices in Geneva, Brussels, Copenhagen,
Tokyo, and Washington D.C. Further, UNDP has Regional Centres in Bangkok, Bratislava, Cairo, Colombo,
Dakar, Johannesburg, Panama and Suva.
What does UNDP want to achieve? The history of UNDP
Human Development UNDP's mandate is human development.
UNDP supports national processes to accelerate the progress of human development
. It aims at eradicating poverty
development, equitable and sustained economic growth, and capacity
development. Ultimately, UNDP wants to achieve real improvements
in people's lives and in the choices and opportunities open to them
The Millennium Declaration
and other summits provide a solid set
of values for UNDP`s work. The Millennium Development Goals
The United Nations Development
including the overarching goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015 - have
Programme - A Better Way?,
Craig N. Murphy, Cambridge 2006
set the benchmarks for concrete levels of progress to be achieved by
2015. UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 4
The Millennium Development
Goals The Millennium Development Goals
In 2000, the members of the United Nations set the
international agenda for the beginning of the new
century. The resulting Millennium Declaration www.un.org/millennium/
is a broad commitment of
all UN member states. The declaration applies the
principles of the UN Charter to a new world and a
The Millennium Development Goals www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
extract and refine
those elements of the Millennium Declaration which
are related to development. The goals are time-
bound, starting in 1990 and to be achieved by 2015.
The first seven goals stress the responsibility of developing countries
to undertake policy reforms
and enhance good governance. Goal eight focuses on
the responsibility of developed nations
debt, increase aid and give developing countries
better access to its technologies and markets.
The Millennium Development Goals include 21 targets
for the eight goals. One goal is normally
defined by one or two targets. For each target, a
number of indicators make progress measurable.
There are 60 indicators
Guided by the UN Core Strategy, UNDP's work on
the MDGs www.undp.org/mdg/
coordinating global and local efforts:
Campaign and mobilise for the MDGs through advocacy;
Share the best strategies for meeting the MDGs in terms of innovative practices, policy and
institutional reforms, means of policy implementation, and evaluation of financing options;
Monitor and report progress towards the MDGs; and
Support governments in tailoring the MDGs to local circumstances and challenges.
Poverty, Governance, Crisis Prevention,
Environment UNDP's Strategic Plan
The Strategic Plan is UNDP`s comprehensive corporate planning
UNDP uses a global strategic
instrument which outlines the vision and mission
of the plan
covering four years to set
the overal direction for UNDP
organization, as well as the concrete goals and objectives
operations. The current strategic
pursued over the four year cycle to support programme countries in
plan covers the period 2008 -
achieving national development objectives.
2011. The plan defines the areas
in which UNDP wil work based
on its mandate and comparative
For the 2008-2013 period, UNDP organizes its work along four focus
areas: www.undp.org/execbrd/ UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 5
Achieve the MDGs and reduce human poverty
Foster democratic governance
Support crisis prevention and recovery
Manage energy and environment for sustainable development
UNDP's four areas of work
UNDP works to make real improvements in people`s lives and in the choices and opportunities open to them.
Guided by the Millennium Declaration and its key benchmarks for measuring progress - the Millennium
Development Goals - UNDP promotes inclusive development and works to reduce poverty in all its
As part of this effort, UNDP is a trusted development partner, and co-sponsor of UNAIDS, helping countries
put HIV/AIDS at the centre of national development and poverty reduction strategies, working to prevent the
spread of HIV/AIDS and reduce its impact. UNDP also helps build national capacity to mobilize all levels of
government and civil society for a coordinated and effective response to the epidemic and protect the rights
of people living with AIDS, women, and vulnerable populations. Because HIV/AIDS is a world-wide problem,
UNDP supports these national efforts by offering knowledge, resources and best practices from around the
More countries than ever before are working to build democratic governance (also called good governance
or just governance). Their challenge is to develop institutions and processes that are more responsive to the
needs of ordinary citizens, including the poor. UNDP helps countries strengthen their electoral and legislative
systems, improve access to justice and public administration, and develop a greater capacity to deliver basic
services to those most in need. www.undp.org/governance/ Crisis Prevention and Recovery
Conflicts and disasters can erase decades of development
and further entrench poverty and inequality. UNDP works
around the world to restore the quality of life for men,
women and children who have been devastated by
natural disaster or violent conflict. UNDP helps countries
prevent and recover from armed conflicts and natural Global Environmental Facility
UNDP is one of three Implementing Agencies Environment and Sustainable Human
of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Development
The GEF was established to forge
international cooperation and finance actions
Energy and environment are essential for sustainable
to address critical threats to the global
development. The poor are disproportionately affected by
environmental degradation and lack of access to clean,
The GEF provides grants to support projects
affordable energy services. These issues are global as
in the areas of biodiversity, climate change,
climate change, loss of biodiversity and ozone layer
international waters, land degradation,
depletion cannot be addressed by countries acting alone.
phase-out of ozone depleting substances,
UNDP helps countries strengthen their capacity to address
and persistent organic pol utants.
these challenges at global, national and community levels. www.undp.org/energyandenvironment/ www.undp.org/gef/
UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 6
UNDP bases its operations in these four areas on the following principles: National ownership
UNDP activities are based on full national ownership.
This implies that governments
have the primary responsibility for the development of their countries and for establishing and leading the
national development agenda. Human rights
Because development, peace and security and human rights are interlinked and mutually
reinforcing, UNDP includes human rights
in all its planning and operations. To do that, UNDP follows a
human rights -based approach (HRBA) with its partners in the UN Country Team. www.undg.org/?P=221 South-South Cooperation
South-South Cooperation is about developing countries working together to
find solutions to common development challenges. www.undp.org/poverty/topics8_south_south.shtml Gender equality and women's empowerment
are human rights that lie at the heart of development
and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This is why UNDP integrates gender equality
and women's empowerment in its four main areas of work. www.undp.org/women/ UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 7
How does UNDP do it?
Capacity Development What is capacity
If human development is what UNDP does, capacity development development?
UNDP does it.
UNDP defines capacity
development as the process
To accelerate human development and develop capacities, UNDP
through which individuals,
fulfils two roles at the service of the international community,
organizations and societies
Member States and society at large:
obtain, strengthen and maintain
the capabilities to set and achieve
their own development
UNDP provides policy and technical support
working on and advocating for poverty reduction,
democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, www.undp.org/capacity/
and environment and sustainable development.
UNDP promotes the coordination, efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations system
at the country level.
UNDP`s policy and technical support, advocacy, and contributions to strengthening coherence in global
development are based on seven key principles:
1. National ownership and leadership;
2. Credible link to development results aiming for real improvement in people`s lives and in the choices
and opportunities open to them;
3. Flexibility to respond to national (changing) priorities;
4. Development and use of national capacities, mechanisms and systems;
5. Strengthen national implementation;
6. Efficiency, accountability, results and transparency;
7. Simplified procedures aligned with national procedures.
Providing Policy and Technical Support
- Managing for Results -
UNDP plans, runs and monitors the policy and technical support on three levels: 1) the UN Country
for all UN agencies in a country, 2) the UNDP Country Programme
in a country, and 3)
specific UNDP projects
Each level follows a cyclical process of planning and defining, running, and evaluating a programme or
project. This is called the programme or project cycle
. UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 8
The UN Agencies in a country regularly analyze progress and assess key development needs. This can take
the form of a joint UN Common Country Assessment
(CCA), and forms the basis of the UN`s work in a
Based on the analysis of the country situation, the UN agencies subsequently set out the collective priorities
of the UN agencies in a given country. The UN Country Programming Cycle is concerned with setting and
measuring results in achieving a country`s Millennium Development Goals with the government and all UN
development agencies. The results expected from members of the UN country team, including UNDP and its
Associated Funds and Programmes, are identified. This common UN framework is called the United Nations Development Assistance Framework
Planning steps for the UN and UNDP in a country
UN Common Country
On the basis of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, UN agencies draw up country
programmes. The UNDP Country Programme
describes in more detail how UNDP will achieve outcomes
described in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework. It defines a limited number of outcome
targets to be achieved over the next years. UNDP`s Country Programme is reviewed and approved by
UNDP`s highest body, the Executive Board.
In addition, a UNDP Country Programme Action Plan
(CPAP) refines the approach taken by the UNDP
Country Programme. It is the operational master plan that guides the development and delivery of projects
on an annual basis. The UNDP Country Programme Action Plan details the programme, the major results
expected and the strategies for achieving these results. It also clarifies the arrangements for project
implementation and the management of projects. Special development
Through UNDP Projects situations
In certain special development
Projects generate the concrete outputs identified in the UNDP
situations, the UNDP Resident
Country Programme Action Plan. The project cycle for UNDP projects
Representative can designate a
consists of five steps: crisis situation for up to three months
. Justifying a project
Operations in crisis mode should
ensure a rapid response
A project idea must be in line with UNDP's planning
like the United Nations Development
Assistance Framework and UNDP Country Programme. A
UNDP`s normal procedures are
project idea must contribute to the results expected from temporarily suspended
business processes shortened.
UNDP`s operations in the current programme period. It
must also be a correct response to the country`s needs, be
in line with UNDP`s global business plan and be suitable
development situation beyond
for UNDP support.
three months, approval by UNDP`s
Regional Bureau and the Associate
Administrator is required. UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 9
Defining a project
The next step is to analyze if the scope of the project What are Results?
is realistic for UNDP to deliver. It also defines how
clear and obtainable results can be delivered in the
is a describable and measurable
development change resulting from a
most cost-effective way. A project document
cause-and effect relationship.
(sometimes called prodoc`) is drafted containing
information about the project scope, the objectives,
Results are outputs, outcomes
and the management arrangements. It must be impact
of a development intervention.
approved by a Project Appraisal Committee
and signed by the parties involved. Inputs
are financial, human and material
resources used for development
interventions Initiating a project
UNDP further defines the operational details
project. It defines the structures and approaches
taken to effectively monitor
the project. All Activities
processes and results to which UNDP is contributing
are actions taken through which inputs
are mobilized and produce specific
must be monitored regardless of budget and
duration. Running a project Outputs
When running a project, UNDP focuses on achieving
are tangible, time-bound products,
project outputs as defined in the approved Project
goods and services that result from
Document through implementation and monitoring.
The plan to achieve results for a given year is
articulated in the Annual Work Plan
Fundamental responsibility for this process lies with
the Project Manager
as a representative of the Outcomes
are short-term and medium-term
effects of an intervention`s outputs Closing a project
UNDP formally ends and closes the project Impact
operationally and financially. The focus is on
is an actual or intended change in
assessing the overall performance of the project,
human development as measured by
people`s wel -being. It is an
evidence of completion, lessons learned, and
improvement in people`s lives.
The details of UNDP`s approach to projects are explained in the (publicly accessible) Programme and Project Management
section of UNDP`s Programme and Operations Policies and Proced
describes the minimum requirements used within UNDP to successfully manage processe
s to produce
development results. content.undp.org/go/userguide/results/
What are Evaluations?
An evaluation is a rigorous and independent assessment
of a completed or ongoing activity. An
evaluation determines the extent to which UNDP`s objectives are being met.
Evaluations attempt to answer the following questions:
Did it work or not, and why? How could it be done differently for better results?
What can we learn? How can we apply this knowledge to other contexts?
Is UNDP doing the right things? Is UNDP doing things right? Did UNDP do what it said it would do?
Evaluations can apply to many things, including an activity, project, programme strategy, policy, topic,
theme, sector or organization. www.undp.org/evaluation/ UNDP for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the United Nations Development Programme 10
- What does UNDP do?
- How does UNDP do it?
- Who is doing what in UNDP?
- How does UNDP manage what it does?
- How does UNDP fund its activities?