Geneva, October 22 – The UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Achim Steiner, travelled to Geneva from 19 to 22 October to meet with humanitarian partners, UN agencies, and Member States to strengthen the response to the crisis in Afghanistan.

During his mission, Mr. Steiner promoted a “Humanitarian plus” approach, emphasizing that, beyond the critical life-saving short-term assistance, broader investments to support livelihoods, basic services and social safety nets are needed to prevent an economic and human catastrophe in Afghanistan. This resonates with the findings of the latest UNDP study that shows that 97% of Afghans could plunge into poverty by early 2022.


Mr. Steiner engaged with Heads of various Geneva-based UN agencies and other international organisations, presenting the new UNDP’s Area-Based Approach for Development Emergency Initiatives (ABADEI) programme for Afghanistan. To accompany ABADEI, a new UN Special Trust Fund for Afghanistan was also launched, which will serve to finance joined-up responses and complementary interventions across UN agencies.


Responding to questions from the press, Achim Steiner noted that the Fund “constitutes a key conduit for the international community to reach directly the people of Afghanistan and maintain the local economy alive, stepping up support to women-led activities, youth and farmers before the start of the winter season.” He also announced the initial contribution to the Fund of € 50 million euros from the Government of Germany, calling other donors to join forces to save Afghan peoples’ livelihoods.


Mr. Steiner met with the Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Peter Sands, and with the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros, to find ways to ensure the continuity of access to critical health services in Afghanistan. He also exchanged with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi, and with the Director-General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Antonio Vitorino, to strengthen support for refugees, internally displaced people and host communities in the region. Engaging with the President of the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC), Peter Maurer, and with the Secretary-General to International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Jagan Chapagain, he explored opportunities for local partnerships in the country.

The mission also provided an opportunity to engage with Member States and the International Geneva community, including key private sector actors, to promote innovative and whole-of-society approaches to build forward better from the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to make progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. Mr. Steiner met with the World Economic Forum, CEO, Borge Brende, and discussed the importance of private-public-partnership especially in the area of digitalization, climate change and energy. He also met with the representatives of Geneva‘s financial sector community to explore scaled up opportunities for mobilising private sector capital  for SDG aligned investments.


At the UN office at Geneva, Mr. Steiner exchanged with Member States to present UNDP’s broader directions of work to build resilience, in the context of its recently adopted Strategic Plan 2022-2025, providing further reflections on the future development and how UNDP is working with partners to address interconnected, multidimensional and systemic development challenges -including in the areas of climate, digital or governance-  by tapping in the unique ecosystem present in the International Geneva.

With the host state, Administrator Steiner valued the importance of the UNDP-Switzerland cooperation and discussed new partnership opportunities around innovation, democratic governance and response to fragility, notably with the Swiss Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Jurg Lauber, and with the Director of the Geneva Center for Peace and Security (GCSP), Ambassador Thomas Greminger.


Concluding his mission, he reaffirmed that the COVID-19 crisis offers an opportunity to think about development differently, encouraging ambitious policy choices and new innovative ways of actions to support a fairer and greener future, re-emphasizing the critical role that the United Nations system and UNDP in particular play as a platform for partnerships with all parts of society.


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