As the leading UN agency for conflict prevention, democratic governance and environmental protection in the field, with boots on the ground in 170 countries and territories, UNDP has much to offer when it comes to concrete development solutions to bounce back better from the COVID pandemic.
“The past six months have been an extraordinary moment of demonstrating how, with agility and resilience, we have actually been part of the backbone of the world’s response for those countries who rely on external support”. The words of UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner take on their full meaning as the UN stimulates global collective action in the backdrop of the litmus test for multilateralism that COVID-19 represents.
To respond to the multi-dimensional complexity and scale of the crisis, we must innovate and promote a closer cooperation between all actors and segments of society. Recently UNDP has been endorsing this role as the lead technical agency of the UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response. Working with UN Country Teams, UN sister agencies, International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank, Member States, the European Union, private sector and civil society, we have already carried out 117 socio-economic impact assessments and developed 106 integrated socio-economic response plans covering 122 countries and five regions to help governments identify and address impacts of the crisis on the most vulnerable in their societies.
Yet, since participatory, inclusive and “whole-of-society approach” is critical to make these plans happen, we are also working hand-in-hand with local communities and national and local decision-makers to design and implement policies that will promote long-term recovery.
In this context, the “Space for Solutions” of the 2020 edition of the Paris Peace Forum – that we have been a proud partner of since first edition in 2018 – is a perfect place to highlight some of our new flagship initiatives :
· Firstly, our COVID-19 Recovery Needs Assessment (CRNA) methodology, promotes a shared understanding and platform to formulate a comprehensive recovery strategy to address the impacts of the pandemic. Considering the limited human and financial resources available to address the impacts of Covid-19 and designed through a unique partnership between the main global partners involved in crisis response programming, the methodology aims to ensure alignment of the development community behind one government-wide and government-led strategy which can then be converted to common planning and financing outcomes. For instance, in Ecuador, the CRNA was conducted under the leadership of the National Planning Office, with nearly 100 officials involved in assessing the economic effects and social and human impacts of COVID-19 on sectors such as industry, tourism, transport or healthcare and identifying crucial actions for vulnerable groups and to support SMEs.
· Secondly, supporting better digital integration and use of data for decision-making is critical. Working with partners, UNDP has developed a new tool, the Digital Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) that allows rapid and evidence-based decision-making for governments on policy measures to assist vulnerable households and enterprises affected by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. In use in 50+ countries, it can be used to inform government prioritization of resources for relief and recovery and to support sector and macro level assessments such as the CRNA.
· Thirdly, beyond socio-economic impacts, COVID-19 also poses important threats to democracy, notably with the postponement/cancellation of elections and the impacts of strict lockdowns and state-of-emergency measures on the enjoyment of human and political rights. The UNDP-European Commission (EC) project on Early Warning Early Response systems therefore aims to support social cohesion and conflict prevention efforts, by setting up inclusive platforms to identify potential risks of violence, that may be compounded by the pandemic. The project is currently being implemented in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Zambia, as part of UNDP-EC ongoing electoral assistance projects, with expansion planned for upcoming elections in Ethiopia and Central African Republic.
In these uncertain times, working together is critical to achieve improved coordination and greater coherence and to promote a shared vision to leave no-one behind and “recover forward better” from COVID-19. We look forward to engaging with all of you in November, in person or virtually, to ensure that the world emerges as a more resilient place in the aftermath of the pandemic.