United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the lead UN agency on international development. It works in 170 countries to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and ensure that no one is left behind. As such, UNDP is one of the leading organizations working to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It works with partners to elaborate and support  projects that will help make the SDGs a reality.

UNDP works with LRGs and supports local governance processes to foster the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where it matters most: at the local level. “From gender equality and climate action to quality education and health care, subnational authorities are best positioned to respond to the communities’ priorities and needs, serving as a natural integrator where socio-economic issues, the environment, and cultures interlink.” (source: UNDP)

The UNDP Office in Geneva contributes to UNDP’s mission through:

  • Leveraging the presence of the humanitarian, human rights and development communities in Geneva to enable the organization to deliver, in concrete and measurable ways, to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals,
  • Engaging substantively with a wide range of partners across Europe, in the public, private and non-governmental sectors, to mobilize resources the means and make progress across several thematic areas (see here:

To accelerate the localization of SDGs, UNDP’s programming leverages its close partnerships with LRGs and their associations across the world. SDG localization requires a ‘whole of government’ and a ‘whole of society’ approach.

In particular, some relevant areas of work on support to local action include:

  • Local innovation platforms
  • Locally-led climate action
  • Support to Multi-level governance/Integrated local action
  • Circular Economy
  • Foresight and risk-informed management systems
  • Social cohesion, women and youth participation
  • Participatory planning and monitoring for the SDGs at local level
  • Area-based/local economic development
  • Inclusion of migrants and displaced people
  • Digitalisation of public services
  • Financing of local development and local public finance management.

Some concrete examples below show how UNDP, through its work and its partnerships, contributes to empowering LRGs, as well as assists them in their efforts of international relevance.


Innovation and local governance


  • In the Asia-Pacific region, UNDP works with national and local governments to help them innovate and strengthen their governance systems to enhance their capability to address mega trends and complex issues (i.e.: such as plastic pollution; access to water, disaster risk reduction, change in demographic patterns; urbanization; etc.).”
  • The “Mayors for Economic Growth (M4EG) Facility” aims to enhance economic inclusive growth and job creation in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries by strengthening capacities of local governments, creating inclusive innovation processes for the design of investable projects, and investing in portfolios of projects, in a way that bring tangible benefits to citizens. Cities in the M4EG network are supported to develop a new generation of Local Economic Development Plans (LEDPs), strategic thinking and building urban resilience. Local authorities also benefit from new capabilities and access to funding addressing issues related to green recovery after the pandemic crisis – by integrating urban planning, gender responsiveness and innovation at the local level.


Facilitating concrete city-to-city partnerships


In 2023, Agi Veres, UNDP Geneva Director and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed a new cooperation agreement, dedicated to identifying concrete collaboration opportunities and to support knowledge exchanges between local peers.

UNDP also has several global platforms to support the role of the local and regional governments in advancing high-impact projects accelerating the progress on SDGs : SDG Local Action


Supporting cities hosting refugees


Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, Switzerland and UNDP support local communities welcoming refugees in Moldova.


Local Governance and Environmental Planning


UNDP has developed a participatory environmental planning and monitoring tool in Colombia, Mongolia and MozambiqueEnvironmental Governance Programme –  contributing to highlight important gaps in the capacities of local authorities, detect drivers of conflict, raise awareness on rights-based approaches (including inequality, exclusion, poverty in the governance of natural resources), and develop action plans to strengthen rights based management of natural resources at multiple governance levels.


UNDP contact persons



April 1, 2024