United Nations Development Programme UNDP

The UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) is the UN's development agency specialised in fighting poverty, promoting sustainable development and crisis prevention.  In developing countries, one person in five is still living on less than USD 1.25 a day. To overcome poverty in all its forms, the UNDP supports developing countries in formulating long-term, socially responsible and sustainable development strategies.

Children standing in a classroom, holding up posters that illustrate the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UNDP is an ideal instrument for deploying Swiss expertise in those places where it can assist the most disadvantaged people. © UNDP

In this capacity the UNDP plays a key role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Thanks to its presence in 170 countries, the UNDP has the largest international network of any UN agency and is the SDC's most important UN partner. The UNDP supports developing countries in formulating strategies and solutions for sustainable development, strengthening their institutional capacities, adapting to climate change, overcoming crises and promoting democratic governance. Through its partnership with the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the UNDP has in addition an instrument at its disposal that offers the poorest people access to financial markets and local development financing systems. The UNDP works in particular towards Sustainable Development Goals 1 (No poverty), 10 (Reduced inequalities) and 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions).


Despite past progress in fighting poverty, some 800 million people around the world are still living in extreme poverty. The World Bank forecasts that 60% of the world's poorest people will be living in fragile or conflict-affected situations by 2030. In addition, climate-related disasters, which are increasing in number and scale, are endangering development gains.

The causes of poverty, crises and environmental disasters are closely related to each other. Since the 2030 Agenda was adopted, the UNDP has been tasked with ensuring coherence and efficiency among development agencies active in the implementation of the agenda. Through its wide network, which extends to 170 countries, the UNDP is an ideal instrument for deploying Swiss expertise in areas such as democratic governance and building strong institutions in those places where it can assist the most disadvantaged people.

The UNDP's aims

The UNDP's aims are summarised in its Strategic Plan 2018–21, as follows:

  • Eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions;
  • accelerating structural transformations for sustainable development, in particular by supporting sustainable development policies and programmes in more than 170 countries;
  • strengthening the resilience of individuals and state institutions to natural disasters and armed conflicts, and
  • coordinating the efforts of UN development agencies in implementing the 2030 Agenda and providing operational support for UN leadership on the ground.

The UNDP's results

In the period from 2014 to 2017, the UNDP's projects created over two million new jobs and improved the quality of life for 25 million people. The UNDP promoted in 58 countries – including important Swiss partner countries such as Sudan, Georgia and Tanzania – the establishment of coordination mechanisms for providing disaster relief and a total of 240 new early warning systems in preparation for extreme natural events. It has been actively involved in conflict prevention together with the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) in 50 countries, including in West, Central and East Africa and Central Asia. UNDP projects supported electoral processes in 90 countries. For example, in Nepal in 2016, the UNDP enabled the registration of half a million people eligible to vote in a biometric electoral roll. Overall, its projects helped 75 million voters to register for the first time and almost 300,000 women to stand as candidates. At the same time, it strengthened 50 parliaments, 34 constitutional bodies and 41 electoral authorities in the exercise of their official functions, through training local personnel.

Switzerland's commitment

Swiss priorities

The priorities of the UNDP are in line with Switzerland's objectives: Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24 defines the prevention and management of crises, disasters and fragility as a key objective of international development. Other objectives are strengthening the rule of law and democratic participation.

For these reasons Switzerland supports the UNPD in its work on the following points:

  • in conflict prevention, the rule of law and the strengthening of state institutions;
  • in efforts to improve the resilience of people and institutions to natural and man-made disasters;
  • in efforts to improve access for the poorest population groups to inclusive financial markets and local development financing systems;
  • in the institutional effectiveness of the UNDP itself, by focusing on evaluation, financial sustainability and gender equality within the organisation;
  • in the reform efforts of the UN's pillar for development.

Switzerland's contributions

Switzerland is represented on the UNDP's Executive Board under a rotation system. This provides it with an opportunity to play an active role in key decision-making. Thanks to its expertise, Switzerland is able to make its concerns heard.

For the period from 2018 to 2020, Switzerland is contributing a total of CHF 156.4 million. This breaks down into CHF 147.4 million over the three years for the UNDP and CHF 9 million for the UNCDF. Payments are made annually, i.e. just over CHF 49 million a year to the UNDP and CHF 3 million to the UNCDF. At country level, Switzerland also makes project-related contributions to the UNDP.

The UNDP plays a decisive role in the implementation of the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These goals are in line with Switzerland's interests, and reduce inequalities, poverty, conflicts and other threats that have ramifications extending far beyond the developing countries. As a strongly globalised and economically interconnected country, Switzerland relies on international stability for its security and prosperity.