The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is a United Nations agency tasked with helping countries eliminate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth and human development. Headquartered in New York City, it is the largest UN development aid agency, with offices in 170 countries.
The UNDP emphasizes developing local capacity towards long-term self-sufficiency and prosperity. It administers projects to attract investment, technical training, and technological development, and provides experts to help build legal and political institutions and expand the private sector.
The UNDP operates in 170 countries and is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from UN member states. Also, UNDP is governed by a 36-member executive board overseen by an administrator, who is third-highest ranking UN official after the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General.
The UNDP was founded on 22 November 1965 with the merging of the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA) and the Special Fund in 1958. The rationale was to “avoid duplication of [their] activities”. The EPTA was set up in 1949 to help the economic and political aspects of underdeveloped countries while the Special Fund was to enlarge the scope of UN technical assistance. The Special Fund arose from the idea of a Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development (SUNFED) (which was initially called the United Nations Fund for Economic Development (UNFED).
Countries such as the Nordic countries were proponents of such a United Nations (UN) controlled fund. However, the fund was opposed by developed countries, especially by the United States who was wary of the Third World dominating such a funding and preferred it to be under the auspices of the World Bank. The concept of SUNFED was dropped to form the Special Fund. This Special Fund was a compromise over the SUNFED concept, it did not provide investment capital, but only helped to bring pre-conditions for private investment.
With the US proposing and creating the International Development Association within the World Bank’s umbrella, the EPTA and the Special Fund appeared to be conducting similar work. In 1962, the United Nations Economic and Social Council asked the Secretary General to consider the merits and disadvantages of merging UN technical assistance programs and in 1966, the EPTA and the Special Fund merged to form the UNDP.
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