How UNDP is positioning itself in a growing donor environment

Haoliang Xu, assistant secretary-general of the U.N. and director of UNDP’s Asia-Pacific Bureau talks to Devex.

As the international development finance landscape continues to grow with the emergence of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS’ New Development Bank, what role does the development arm of the world’s largest intergovernmental organization see itself playing?

As an integrator of knowledge and resources, according to Haoliang Xu, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and director of the U.N. Development Program’s Asia-Pacific regional bureau.

Speaking to Devex at the inaugural Global Transformation Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Xu explained that the entry of more donors into an otherwise financially strapped development community landscape signals the need for solutions that can maximize value and effectiveness.

“Financing for development is now a very broad issue … we see ourselves now as an integrator of knowledge and resources. We're going to position ourselves as the provider of development solutions,” he said in an exclusive video interview. “But that puts pressure on us to come up with the best solutions.”

UNDP has to “behave as an equal partner of governments,” said Xu, “making our best efforts to provide relevant, high-quality development solutions.”

The need for development finance has never been more glaring. The Asia-Pacific region requires more than $800 billion for infrastructure investments alone each year — an amount even the combined capital pool of traditional donors including the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank cannot fulfill. Added to this figure are issues and programs necessary to address poverty reduction, health, education and environmental sustainability, among others, that would require many more billions in financing and technical expertise.

Xu, who previously worked in the private sector as an engineer, explained that aside from the emergence of various multilateral institutions, we should not ignore the potentially significant contributions that the private sector, corporate foundations, nonprofit organizations, and crowdfunding, among others, can make towards development finance.

Watch the above exclusive video interview to gain an insight from Xu on the growing development finance landscape, the Sustainable Development Goals, and how a focus on green GDP — not just green growth — can help provide a more sustainable future for all.

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About the author

  • Lean 2

    Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.