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Have You Read the UNDP Digital Strategy for 2022-2025?

By Wayan Vota on May 3, 2022

undp digital strategy

Digital technology is a fundamental force for change in this century, reshaping economies, government, and civil society – thereby impacting almost every aspect of development. The profound consequences and exponential pace of digital transformation demands both local action and global leadership to reimagine development in a digital age.

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UNDP launched its first Digital Strategy in mid-2019 to harness digital transformation within the organization. Building on a long history of project-level digital support for partners, the strategy represented a systematic and corporate driven transformation process to reimagine the way UNDP serves its partners and operates its systems and processes. The first Digital Strategy proved to be prescient given the incredible acceleration in digital transformation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNDP has changed significantly since the adoption of the 2019 strategy, developing new capabilities in digital programming and strengthening its digital capabilities. UNDP will continue to accelerate these efforts in response to growing demand from partner governments. UNDP will also continue to support our development partners to ensure that the arc of future digital transformation protects human rights and leaves no one behind.

UNDP Digital Strategy

UNDP Digital Strategy 2022-2025 is intended to maintain and accelerate the momentum that has already been generated across UNDP and among its partners. Indeed, many of the components are already in place such as the Accelerator Labs, the Digital Advocates Network, a comprehensive IT transformation, and the Chief Digital Office.

Continuing to build the capabilities of UNDP’s workforce to imagine, plan, and implement integrated digital approaches has the potential to truly generate a multiplier effect on its support to partners.

This Digital Strategy is structured in three main parts:

  • Part 1 – Guiding principles and value proposition: Overview of UNDP’s approach to digital transformation.
  • Part 2 – Setting the course: Vision, objectives, and outcomes towards which UNDP will continue evolving over the next four years.
  • Part 3 – Strategy implementation approach and measuring results: High-level approach to implementing the strategy.

The new UNDP Strategic Plan 2022-2025 highlighted the importance of digital as one of the key enablers. This renewed Digital Strategy builds upon the Strategic Plan, and puts forth a vision whereby digital is an empowering force for people and planet.

To achieve this vision, three objectives are outlined: two programmatic and one operational, in a continuation of the bimodal approach of the first Digital Strategy.

  • To use digital to amplify UNDP’s programming work.
  • Strengthen inclusive digital ecosystems.
  • Transform UNDP into a digitally native organization, fully equipped with the digital skills, processes, and data necessary for UNDP to continue as the development partner of choice for the digital age.

This strategy is anchored in the Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation as well as the framework presented by Our Common Agenda, articulating the unique role of UNDP within the UN System in countries and globally. It is directly aligned with, and intended to support, the UNDP Strategic Plan 2022-2025.

The strategy also provides a complementary framework for the UNDP IT Strategy 2020-2023 and the UNDP Data Strategy 2020-2021, as well as several other corporate and regional efforts such as the Accelerator Lab Network and the work of the Strategic Innovation Unit.

Digital Strategy Guiding Principles

UNDP commits to the following principles in its approach to digital technologies:

  1. UNDP puts human rights at the centre
  2. UNDP promotes inclusive- and gender-sensitive approaches that leave no one behind
  3. UNDP contributes to shared global standards and frameworks that protect people’s rights
  4. UNDP advocates for open digital standards to unlock scale, reusability and interoperability.
  5. UNDP works to strengthen local digital ecosystems
  6. UNDP leverages strategic partnerships to catalyse inclusive approaches to digital development

Digital Strategy Value proposition

UNDP’s role and positioning in the digital development space, and therefore its ability to deliver on this strategy, stem from several defining features of the organization:

  1. Broad mandate and integrator role in the UN System
  2. Longstanding expertise in supporting governments on digital transformation
  3. Rights-based, intentionally inclusive, approach
  4. Proactive consideration of potential risks of digital technology
  5. Unparalleled country presence

Digital Strategy Vision and Objectives

This renewed Digital Strategy is grounded in UNDP’s longstanding commitment to eradicating poverty and supporting countries in their progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement, and the approach outlined in the previous section.

UNDP’s long-term vision is to help create a world in which digital is an empowering force for people and planet.

To make progress towards this long-term vision, UNDP will continue to evolve its two pathways to change, which reflect the programmatic and operational capabilities needed to achieve the following mutually reinforcing objectives:

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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One Comment to “Have You Read the UNDP Digital Strategy for 2022-2025?”

  1. Ibrahim Mohammed says:

    That’s wonderful, interesting and illuminating. Thanks.