Statement by Grete Faremo, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNOPS, to the UNDP / UNFPA / UNOPS Executive Board Second Regular Session – September 1, 2021 – World



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Madam President, honorable representatives,

It is a pleasure to join you today to present the UNOPS strategic plan for 2022-2025.

Today more than ever, our world needs new approaches, renewed ambition and strong action, in order to respond to the immense scale of the needs and demands of our time. This is the subject of our new strategic plan.

We remain active and present in Afghanistan, Haiti and Myanmar to help our partners respond to critical humanitarian needs on the ground. And our new strategic plan sets out our ambitions on how we help build a better future, supporting national priorities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at scale.

Our work at UNOPS is based on partnerships – that’s how we add value. Our current strategic plan has been successful as it has paved the way for a significant increase in demand for our services.

We intend to build on this success and continue our journey to improve, refine and enhance the quality of our services.

You have already received the full version of my speech. Today I will focus on the key points.


Let me first provide an update from UNOPS on the pandemic.

Like many of you, we cried. We have now lost eight colleagues.

Once again, my sincere condolences go out to all who have been touched by the impact of the pandemic, especially those who have lost loved ones during this devastating time.

I am so proud of the dedication of all of our colleagues, who continue to work in extreme and unpredictable situations to help the nations and communities we serve.

Our work continues:

  • Provide vital health infrastructure and strengthen health systems

  • To purchase medical supplies and equipment

  • And to support vaccination deployment programs

Especially in the most difficult places, we must redouble our efforts to tackle the pandemic and the inequalities it has exacerbated.

Without control, COVID-19 and its dire consequences will be with us for a long time.

UNOPS Strategic Plan, 2022-2025

Distinguished Members,

Now let me share more details about our 2022-2025 strategic plan.

This plan is firmly anchored in our mandate, the current global context and Agenda 2030.

Based on lessons learned from COVID-19 and the climate emergency, it focuses on how we can better support national priorities and further strengthen national capacities to achieve the SDGs, including closing the funding gap and reducing inequalities.

Three main areas guide the direction of our new strategy.

They are:

(1) Quality infrastructure

(2) Improvement of public procurement

(3) And our Sustainable Investments in Infrastructure and Innovation initiative (S3i)

Let me expand on these.

Quality infrastructure

The infrastructures offer vast possibilities:

  • Helping countries get back on track to achieve the SDGs

  • Mitigate and adapt to climate change

  • And to accelerate the recovery after the pandemic

Today more than ever, in the face of a climate emergency, we need sustainable, resilient and inclusive infrastructure.

By improving our offering to our partners – including the United Nations family – we can better contribute to system-wide initiatives. In collaboration with the University of Oxford and the United Nations Environment Program, we have conducted groundbreaking research on the influence of infrastructure on the defining issue of our time: the climate emergency.

  • This research – soon to be published – reveals that infrastructure is essential for tackling climate change and fundamental for mitigation and adaptation efforts.

  • Without a radical change in the way infrastructure is planned, delivered and managed, we will not meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.

As the explicitly mandated United Nations organization in infrastructure, we are committed to supporting climate action and tackling the climate emergency. Later this year, at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), UNOPS will renew its call for resilient infrastructure that works for our climate.

Public markets

Scale is important for successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Therefore, our work continues to help our partners harness the unique opportunities that public procurement offers to:

From Guatemala and Honduras to Argentina and Mexico, we work to help national and local institutions fight corruption, build better public services, and accelerate progress towards the SDGs at scale while saving money. hundreds of millions of dollars, which in turn can be reinvested in priorities.


I now come to our third area of ​​intervention.

As the Secretary-General has underlined, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda depends on innovative partnerships with the private sector. Significant increases in private investment are needed to bring most initiatives to fruition. climb.

Our ambitious S3i initiative is specifically designed to meet this challenge. By facilitating public and private funding for large-scale infrastructure projects and making our own seed investments where necessary, S3i is helping to meet critical national needs for affordable housing, renewable energy and health.

In this work, we will focus on the need for scale, so that large populations will benefit.

I am truly honored to be joined by the respective Ministers of Ghana, India, Pakistan and Nigeria, who will share with the Board details of their national priorities and how UNOPS can support them.

Additionally, since our last discussion on S3i, we have taken two significant milestones in the field of renewable energy in India, bringing new partners to this exciting and ambitious initiative.

First, through a landmark investment agreement to build a solar farm, with partners including the Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries, we will help deliver clean energy to around half a million people. in western India. And in the coming days, we intend to sign a second agreement with local partners and the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd (FINNFUND) to provide energy to more than 350,000 people in northern India. .

Our priorities

Honorable members,

Our commitment to human rights, gender equality, diversity and the inclusion of the most vulnerable guides our operations.

In this, we will build on the success of one of our main corporate priorities over the past 3 years: the issue of gender parity.

When UNOPS began its gender parity journey in 2018, 38% of our workforce was women. Today, I am happy to confirm that we have achieved gender parity at UNOPS: today, regardless of the type of contract, the gender balance at UNOPS is 50% of women and 50% men. Women currently occupy 46 percent of our leadership positions.

This is an important achievement in a short time.

We have set our ambitions high and through a lot of hard work and dedication we have kept our promises.

Yet we will not be complacent. Our next step is to broaden our approach towards greater diversity and inclusion, taking into account forms of diversity such as disability, ethnicity and race, economic status, LGBTQI + identities, youth and many more. others as we move forward into our new strategic plan period.

Business model

Distinguished Members,

Our self-funded nature is unique to the UN. We do not receive any core funding from governments or others. We provide services for a fee.

To survive, we must provide our partners with quality solutions, effective and efficient services that truly benefit the people we serve.

Our new strategic plan will continue to focus on digitization, to ensure that our systems and processes are optimized and fit for the future.

The new plan will continue to drive efficiency gains, working hard to reduce costs and deliver value for money to our partners, without affecting the quality of our work.

Over the past few days, we have received many welcome comments from Member States, noting the transparency of our discussions on the self-financing character and operational reserve of UNOPS. I would like to thank the Member States for a productive and fruitful dialogue on this subject.

We want to continue to take a prudent approach in managing our finances, to reassure our partners that we can keep our commitments.

This strongly aligns with the findings of a recent review of UNOPS by the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN), kindly sponsored by the governments of France and the United States.

In 2021, we have already delivered more than our annual total of just a few years ago and signed new agreements exceeding $ 2 billion, demonstrating the confidence of our partners in our ability to deliver, even under difficult circumstances. extraordinary.


In closing, I want to say the following:

Our ambition is to take UNOPS to the next level. We want to meet the growing demand with better quality services, better risk management, more efficient and cost-effective approaches.

This is the subject of our new strategic plan. I encourage you, honorable members of the Council, to endorse this approach.

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