COPENHAGEN - Procurement of goods and services by the United Nations reached $14.5 billion in 2010, up 5.4 percent on the previous year, as the UN responded to natural disasters, medical emergencies and the global food crisis.
The 2010 Annual Statistical Report on UN Procurement, compiled by UNOPS on behalf of the UN system, shows the largest sums were spent on food, pharmaceuticals, transport and construction, such as building schools and hospitals.
The largest purchasers overall were the United Nations Procurement Division, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UNOPS, in descending order.
The report reveals a positive increase in UN procurement from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This accounted for 58 percent of total UN procurement in 2010, compared to 55 percent in 2009 and 51 percent in 2008.
Among the 10 countries who were the largest suppliers to UN organizations in 2010, four were developing countries or countries with economies in transition – India, Sudan and Afghanistan, and for the first time this year, Pakistan. Procurement from Pakistan increased dramatically following the floods in July and August, as UN organizations purchased the goods and services needed to help the victims.
These consisted primarily of food supplies, bought by WFP, shelter, tents and field equipment, bought by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and fertilizers and seeds, bought by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Overall, the largest countries of supply were the USA, accounting for $1.52 billion, followed by Switzerland at $841.4 million (both countries with large UN offices) and then Afghanistan at $669.2 million.
Between 2005 and 2009 United Nations procurement rose from $8.3 billion to $13.8 billion, with much of the increase due to more spending on services. The 2010 data reverses this trend with UN organizations increasing their procurement of services by only $66 million and of goods by $681 million. A large proportion of the jump in spending on goods can be attributed to the amount of medicines and vaccines bought, up from $1.18 billion in 2009 to $1.7 billion in 2010, in response to a rise in the threat of pandemics.
The amount of spending on food bought also increased from $1.31 billion in 2009 to $1.62 billion in 2010, the majority of which came from WFP. This was despite a nine percent decline in the amount of food bought by the agency since 2009 – a clear indicator of the impact the global food crisis is having on food prices.
Other large categories of spending include transport services, at $2.39 billion, and construction, engineering and architectural services, at $1.15 billion. Almost a quarter of all UN spending on these building services came from UNOPS, as the lead UN body for reconstruction in post-conflict situations, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.
The volume of procurement with registered Global Compact vendors increased again in 2010, reaching 17.9 percent of contracts of $30,000 or more, up from 16.2 percent in 2009. The Global Compact is signed by companies who are committed to corporate social responsibility, particularly in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.
For the third year running the report also features a thematic supplement on a key issue in procurement. This year, the supplement focuses on using procurement to promote the Millennium Development Goals. It includes an introduction from Ban Ki-moon, a lead article from Professor Jeffrey Sachs and a range of articles and case studies covering the international debate on the subject.
Both the supplement and the full report are available for download from the UNOPS website and the United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM).