UNDP slated by its own board

January 16th, 2013 at 8:43 am by David Farrar

Michael Field at Stuff reports:

Former prime minister has been hit with a devastating critique of her United Nations Development Programme () in an official report saying much of its annual US$5.7 billion (NZ$6.8 billion) budget is only remotely connected to ending global poverty. The densely worded report by the UNDP’s executive board – Clark’s bosses since she became secretary-general in April 2009 – amounts to a stinging performance review. US media reports say she is leading a counter-attack claiming the study misses the point behind its work.  But the report paints a striking picture of a confused organisation seemingly unable to bring significant change to the world’s 1.3 billion poor people despite spending US$8.5 billion on fighting poverty between 2004 and 2011.

Anyone who knows the UN won’t be totally surprised by this critique. What is surprising is that it comes from the UNDP’s own executive board, which suggests major discontent internally.

A longer story is at Fox News, along with the full report and the management response.

Bottom line: after spending more than $8.5 billion on anti-poverty activities between 2004 and 2011—and just how much more is something of a mystery– UNDP has only “limited ability…to demonstrate whether its poverty reduction activities have contributed to any significant change in the lives of the people it is trying to help.”

Those devastating conclusions come in a densely worded, official “evaluation of UNDP contribution to poverty reduction,” which will be presented to the agency’s 36-nation supervisory board at its next meeting, which begins on January 28 in New York.

Among other things, the document casts significant doubt on the extent to which UNDP is actually living up to its declared identity as “the United Nations anti-poverty organization—a world partnership against poverty,” a claim the report says was made by UNDP’s then-chief—James Gustave Speth—in 1995.

Moreover, it lays a significant part of the blame for that failing on the way that UNDP has spread itself across a growing range of activities in the name of promoting “development” –from environmental projects to trade promotion and border management—that “dilute” its anti-poverty effort.

The normal problem of bureaucratic empire growing rather than focusing on actually achieving things.

I love the buzz words in the management response:

Towards the goal of transformational change in the context of poverty reduction, the UNDP theory of change represents a holistic, pragmatic and consistent approach that impacts the lives of people, particularly the most vulnerable. The theory of change presents an end-result of an empowered, resilient and equitable society. 

UNDP must be stuffed full of management consultants!

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55 Responses to “UNDP slated by its own board”

  1. rouppe (915 comments) says:

    The theory of change presents an end-result of an empowered, resilient and equitable society.

    Well that’s the theory… What about the reality?

    UNDP has only “limited ability…to demonstrate whether its poverty reduction activities have contributed to any significant change in the lives of the people it is trying to help.”

    Well it seems clear to me…

    The theory isn’t working!

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  2. Kiwi Dave (71 comments) says:

    If the theory isn’t working, then reality must be wrong. :-)

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  3. BeaB (2,057 comments) says:

    Who better than a former NZ Labour PM to lead UNDP – an expert in spending other people’s money with no accountability.

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  4. queenstfarmer (743 comments) says:

    Interesting to see the NZ reporter say:

    The conservative Fox News says…

    Nice of Michael Field to flag that for his readers. I wonder if Mr Field will be, shall we say, fair and balanced and start referring to “the liberal Guardian” etc – or is it only “conservative” outlets that get flagged?

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  5. Pete George (22,784 comments) says:

    The report covers 2004 and 2011, Clark started there in 2009. Apparently she has already responded point by point to the report summary.

    It will be interesting to see if there is much sign of change since her tenure began – if there has been change it will probably mostly have happened after the reporting period.

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  6. bereal (3,137 comments) says:

    Thus proving the, “Peter Principle” once again.

    Helen Clark has risen to her level of incompetence.

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  7. RRM (9,435 comments) says:

    I reckon there are some powerful synergies between the aspirations of poverty reduction and strategic arms control programmes, that could work together holistically to achieve some really transformational change.

    If the Northern powers nuked the sh!t out of sub-saharan africa, overnight you would see a big reduction in world poverty.

    And the ICBMs are already fuelled up ready to go, firing them has got to be a lot more economical than dismantling them.

    Troughers in NYC would probably be unaffected though, job security for those that truly deserve it and all…

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  8. david (2,535 comments) says:

    RRM – Many a true word spoken in jest

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  9. david (2,535 comments) says:

    In pure logic terms agree but ooooohhhh the humanity

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  10. db.. (79 comments) says:

    A control freak in a hostile environment. End game follows.

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  11. calendar girl (1,172 comments) says:

    Field’s story on Stuff includes: “US media reports say she is leading a counter-attack claiming the study misses the point behind its work.”

    The study of UNDP’s performance was issued in executive summary form by UNDP’s Executive Board. If the US media reports are correct in their assessment of Clark’s “counter-attack” tactics, she seems to be claiming that she knows best the purpose and effect of UNDP’s work – certainly better than the Board that commissioned such work and approved its not inconsiderable budget.

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  12. Yoza (1,530 comments) says:

    I don’t understand how spending such a meagre amount, “…annual US$5.7 billion (NZ$6.8 billion) budget…” will go anywhere near “… bring[ing] significant change to the world’s 1.3 billion poor people…”. This amounts to around $4.38 per person.

    Forcing the owners of vulture funds into repudiating the debt owed to them in the International Criminal Court would be a more effective means of alleviating global poverty.

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  13. flipper (3,544 comments) says:

    This is the same mob that has been pushing for a world wide AGW/CC tax regime (adminstrered by them), and new world taxes on oil, phosphates,other minerals, and fish etc. – all administered by them.

    Helen Clark, Moon and their followers want to create a multi-billion dollar fund that will, in UNDP’s words, “correct the immorality [sic] of the current world economic order”. Yeah, right ! :)

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  14. smttc (690 comments) says:

    Oh the irony. Same woman who spent over a billion dollars on so-called “closing the gaps” and was unable to demonstrate that that policy had made any difference. In fact with all the whinging in this country about poverty and the standing of Maori, I think we can safely conclude it made no difference at all.

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  15. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    Interesting that you Neolibs view Fox News as a credible source of information.

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  16. Manolo (13,341 comments) says:

    Poor comrade Clark. Acknowledged as a failure, but pocketing close to 500,000 US dollars for the task.
    Just pass the Chardonnay, please.

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  17. david (2,535 comments) says:

    Don’t forget the “tax free + perks” Manolo. For instance we still supply a Crown limo at the airport whenever she jets it to address a LP branch meeting

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  18. calendar girl (1,172 comments) says:

    If you’re including me, hamnida, I don’t know what you mean by the label “Neolibs”, and I’ve never watched Fox News in my life. But keep spraying it about, hamnida – Clark would expect that kind of defence by her faithful imperial guard.

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  19. david (2,535 comments) says:

    hamnida- unless you can provide evidence that Fox selectively edited the report that was linked to and which many have read, it doesn’t matter a jot whether it was accessed through Fox or PBS or any other pathway.

    Perhaps you should think twice, and remove the blinkers before engaging the finger synapses on the keyboard,you might save yourself from posting such gob-smacking drivel.

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  20. hamnidaV2 (247 comments) says:

    david – Fox selectively editing a report, I’d never suggest such an obscene move from the World’s most trustworthy news organisation.

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  21. Manolo (13,341 comments) says:

    Is hamnidaV2 Peter Davies, her faithful “companion”?

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  22. dime (9,399 comments) says:

    deflect deflect deflect lefties.

    her department is a shambles.

    what sweet job will the govt give her once she resigns from the UN?

    how much did it cost us to get her into this job again?

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  23. howdarethey (32 comments) says:

    Thank goodness the world’s leaders can see what NZ voters apparently could not – that Helen Clark is a player, out for herself. Clark has clearly been positioning for the UN General Secretary job, and that began while she was NZ’s PM – remember her negative comments about then-President Bush? How she packed the government sector with new jobs, to make the country’s unemployment figures look good?

    Unfortunately for her, to win at the game she’s playing takes doing the right thing for the people she serves – that is, the world’s poorest people. THE UNDP Report shows her style for what it is – a lobbying campaign for her next job.

    I am pleased about that. All Clark’s ever done is play dirty for her own ends. She’s selfish, the world needs a better leader than that.

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  24. Paulus (2,499 comments) says:

    Clark could never get the UN General Secretary’s job. The applicant must be able to speak French as laid down in the UN Charter.
    Listening to her it is sometimes difficult to believe that she speaks English, often in liguistic riddles.
    Not long after her start I penned here that from a senior friend in UN in NY that she trod on many toes and many of the existing senior staff left.
    This was to allow her personal friends (H2 and others of their ilk) to get jobs.

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  25. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    Clark, ineffective …. following a failed ideology …. who would have guessed that robbing Peter to pay Paul was doomed to failure ….

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  26. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    Well that’s what happens when you push do-goody slogans and your strongest message is how the middle class needs less tv’s so the poor can somehow magically get ahead.

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  27. howdarethey (32 comments) says:

    On world leadership generally, it is so hard to imagine how the UN can become the organisation needed by us, the world’s peoples, instead of being an organisation serving the strongest. You might know something of the process establishing the UN. One account I’ve read focused on the personal aspirations of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin. Roosevelt had apparently enjoyed the company of Chiang Kai Shek and his wife when they had visited the US, so was predisposed to including them in the Big Five. Churchill was obviously motivated by his fear of Soviet Union so insisted on France. De Gaulle apparently nearly blew things for his country by his arrogance towards the other leaders. Purposefully arriving late for meetings, insisting on the French language being used.

    We instinctively look after ourselves first and others second, that’s the trouble with people.

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  28. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    You know, you can’t bag HC completely. She will have started out with good intentions. Her biggest fault is being an extremist but her right wing counterparts, Shipley and Richardson were extremists as well. Clark racheted up the taxes and rooted the economy but Shipley and Richardson failed to see the fertile ground for socialism that their slash and burn policies laid down. Bolger washed his hands of arichardson.
    However, It escapes me how the left wingers still bleat on about how awful Key and co are, when over the last 30 years, it has been a Labour government at the helm 2/3rds of the time – 18 years to 2014. 84-91 and then 1999 to 2008.

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  29. howdarethey (32 comments) says:

    Like your work Monique.

    I think with Clark, she was shaped by her earlier years in parliament, when she was the target of some atrocious behaviour on the part of the male MPs, and this toughened her. When PM, Clark was quoted as saying she hates the National Party and everyone in it. Really? For a leader to have such a stereotypical attitude towards a large part of her electorate was disturbing then and revealing now. However, as a man I hate the behaviour of the MPs around in Clark’s early days, who made her life so much more difficult and unpleasant than it should have been.

    You’re right, people enter politics with the right intentions. When Guyon Espiner moved on from political reporting he was asked about his impressions of politics. He said how disappointing it was to see good people having to do bad things to survive.

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  30. tvb (4,200 comments) says:

    I do not feel Helen Clark has had her heart in this job. I bt she finds it a great lumbering bureaucracy where staffers are on a gravy train milking it for all they can get. I doubt Clark will know how to get on top of this. I assume she operates with integrity. But there are many forms of corruption and taking a salary for no discernible results is a form of corruption.

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  31. Rex Widerstrom (5,257 comments) says:

    calendar girl says:

    …she knows best the purpose and effect of UNDP’s work – certainly better than the Board that commissioned such work and approved its not inconsiderable budget.

    If this were a corporation and its board had issued a scathing review of the CEO’s performance; or even if this were a Crown entity and the Minister felt sufficiently concerned to issue a detailed critique of the work of its head, then generally the person in the top job would feel they had to resign.

    That would apply even if they believed they were right and the others wrong, they’d take the view that it’s not their organisation, it belongs to whoever the board (or Minister) represents and that clearly the two views were incompatible. Rarely does someone in that position mount a counter-attack, and even then they usually eventually succumb to the pressure and resign – the last “fightback” I can recall was the Australian department store CEO accused of sexual harassment; he lasted, I think, a few months.

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  32. PaulL (5,872 comments) says:

    @howdarethey: politics is dirty business. I don’t agree with it, but I’d note that many in Labour still like to do things like asking Nick Smith whether he’s taken his pills today when he stands up. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but I’m also not overly keen to point out the misdeeds of only one side.

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  33. BeaB (2,057 comments) says:

    Having worked on UNDP projects that were little more than slush funds for national coffers, I am unsurprised by this report. Helen Clark has clearly not changed anything. Today her defenders are saying ‘forces within the UN’ are at work to undermine her. Surely not.

    She could of course pout and chuck it in and come home to enjoy her ex-PM pension and perks and fat UN pension. But why give up the fat salary, New York apartment etc etc?

    Just no more lavish overseas skiing holidays with Chris Carter in tow at our expense. (Funny how John Key’s beach holidays at his own expense enrage the Left far more than her taxpayer-funded extravagance over years and years!)

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  34. RF (1,265 comments) says:

    Hamnida – Hambone the Hobbit Hater using its new word – Neolibs. Any messages from the Kremlin that you would care to pass on ?

    You dear wee useless twisted soul.

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  35. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    I assume she operates with integrity.

    Why would you assume that, given her total lack of it in NZ ?

    She is deeply corrupt and one of the most vile people this country has ever produced. She came into power during a time of economic property with talk of “closing the gaps” & making things right with Maori. I thought it was a return to traditional labour party values, and even voted for her, once ! Then I saw her true nature.

    What she did was to make the gap between rich & poor the biggest in our nations history. Maori were put so off side by her that they left her party and formed a race based political party. Our economy and race relations reached an all time low.

    This not because she is incompetent, it is because she is rotten and is a social misfit who has never been able to identify with humanity. She is a natural fit for the corrupt and useless UN, where she is doing globally the same damage she has done locally.

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  36. RF (1,265 comments) says:

    Kea. Having seen her close up and watched her operating she is nothing but pure evil with a heart of ice. I was once told by a Labour MP that she is a ruthless tactician. Although he would not admit it, I could see that he was scared of her.

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  37. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    RF, she was indeed a ruthless woman and extremely controlling. When she went to the UN, the European press could not believe what they had struck. She had to approve all the questions, the reporter and be in control of aspect. This was reported on, along with various other issues, but not in NZ. Funny that.

    She is a typical product of the far left, a bully, a thug and a power crazy authoritarian.

    She has never fitted in and hates humanity. She wants to distort the world into a place where social freaks like her are held in awe. Well it ain’t going to happen bitch.

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  38. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    RF

    You saw her up close and didn’t turn to stone ! – astounding.

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  39. RF (1,265 comments) says:

    Burt

    I avoided eye contact and held garlic in both hands. My bowels turned to water but I lived. I did notice during a quick glance at her face.. Not the eyes… that she is in serious need of dental repairs.

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  40. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    RF

    No way – I saw the billboard pictures and she is young, has awesome teeth and is beautiful !

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  41. RF (1,265 comments) says:

    Burt.. You silly bugger. You looked into her eyes. She has your soul now and will appear as a beautiful young virgin whenever you see her old hag photos.

    We will have to put you down.

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  42. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    So all it is supposed to take to end world poverty is $1B a year from UNDP? Just $1B a year?

    That is less than .7% GDP for many of the nations that promised this much aid to combat poverty back in the 1970′s. Less than .7% of the GDP of Japan or UK or France or Germany.

    Much much greater amounts than $1B pa from UNDP have been provided to reduce poverty.

    And failure to do this without some means to quantifying what it is achieving has to change?

    And how much office cost is there in quantifying the value of various aid programmes. Formulating the methods, carrying out the evaluation and writing up the reports etc etc.

    Unless the UNDP gets enough money to do this properly, it’s not worth it. The UNDP is a low level pretence that the UN is involved in this work – in reality national governments control aid programmes worth a lot lot more and they often have national interests in play.

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  43. Bob R (1,336 comments) says:

    Governments should withdraw from this ridiculous organisation. It is a bloated parasite on the productive world.

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  44. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    And we don’t need a WTO for trade rules, we don’t need a WHO, we don’t need an International Criminal Court, nor a World Bank or IMF, or …

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  45. CharlieBrown (900 comments) says:

    “UNDP has spread itself across a growing range of activities in the name of promoting “development” –from environmental projects to trade promotion and border management—that “dilute” its anti-poverty effort.”

    Wow, they mean to say they didn’t expect comrade clark to involve her department in more than it is meant to… they couldn’t have picked a worse person for the job then. Perhaps they should have looked at the increase in presence of the NZ government of NZ’ers life before employing a lady that has never did anything outside of being a freaking political leach her whole life.

    Shit – we couldn’t even have a shower or buy bread without her trying to involve her government and regulate the experience.

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  46. CharlieBrown (900 comments) says:

    RF (583) Says:
    January 16th, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    “Burt.. You silly bugger. You looked into her eyes. She has your soul now and will appear as a beautiful young virgin whenever you see her old hag photos.”

    At least one part of the apparition you describe is probably true.

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  47. duggledog (1,343 comments) says:

    Has the U.N. ever successfully intervened and resolved any international conflicts? I can’t think of any apart from Timor.

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  48. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    Charlie Brown, any assistance from UNDP in support of concepts like trade aid are useful, it’s the fishing rod rather than the fish approach.

    Environment projects could be sustainable management of resources or clean energy projects – both empower a reduce dependence – provide long term economic gain.

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  49. Monique Watson (1,062 comments) says:

    @Dd. No. From the Urban Dictionary:
    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=UN

    “An ever-increasingly irrelevant group of nations whose widespread corruption is coming to light.
    The UN’s time is passing. Can you say “Oil-For-Food”?”

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  50. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    dd, South Korea’s continued existence?

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  51. CharlieBrown (900 comments) says:

    SPC – The problem with the UNDP getting involved in trade is it is not dealing with the countries that prevent trade. Teaching Ethiopians to trade with Kenyans isn’t going to make a huge difference. Getting the French to stop being protectionist fools for their agriculturalhorticultural products and open up their markets to the Kenyans and Ethiopians will make a difference.

    Clean energy is just a fad. Efficient energy is a better way to help with bringing countries out of poverty.

    But regardless, it sounds like Helen has overstepped her departments brief by a long way… if Fox news’ source can be believed.

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  52. burt (7,797 comments) says:

    So if the antics of the last Labour government teach us anything. Look where the UNDP is making unusually large donations to forecast where Clark will move to next.

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  53. grumpy (240 comments) says:

    It’s all here….

    http://undpwatch.blogspot.co.nz/

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  54. Floyd60 (87 comments) says:

    Hi dave

    ‘$8.5 billion on anti-poverty activities between 2004 and 2011′.The cumulative global GDP was $US570 trillion during that period dave. What change could she bring about on just $8.5b? Soft as usual dave.

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  55. Floyd60 (87 comments) says:

    Hi dave

    ‘$8.5 billion on anti-poverty activities between 2004 and 2011′.The cumulative global GDP was $US570 trillion during that period dave. What change could she bring about on just $8.5b? Soft as usual dave.

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