Our approach

At UNOPS, we aim to help our partners maximize the positive impact and sustainability of their projects, to better serve communities in need. In line with UNOPS strategic plan 2014-17 and in support of national capacity development, our approach is framed by the three dimensions of sustainability:

  • Equitable economic growth

  • Social justice and inclusion

  • Environmental impact

Equitable economic growth

Increasing local capacity is core to UNOPS activities. We support national capacity development by hiring local workers, providing on-the-job and specialized training, and sharing our knowledge, to ensure that the communities we work with continue to benefit long after a project itself is over. We also develop the capacity of government ministries through partnerships, direct training and advisory services. Our extensive experience with procurement, for example, allows governments to benefit from specialized expertise when purchasing commodities such as healthcare supplies and ambulances. We also uphold the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the project cycle.

UNOPS involves local workers in the procurement process, for example when procuring insecticide-treated bed nets in Myanmar, on behalf of the Global Fund. Photo: Global Fund

Social justice and inclusion

UNOPS works closely with local communities to ensure lasting, sustainable outcomes. By engaging all stakeholders, from national authorities to local families, we help deliver projects that actually fit the needs of the people they serve, with particular emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable groups. When building vital infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, for example, consulting with local people helps us create infrastructure that is truly owned by the communities concerned, in line with UNOPS policy for sustainable infrastructure.

By engaging communities, UNOPS ensures projects best serve local needs and have a positive impact. Photo: UNOPS

UNOPS is fully committed to advancing equality between men and women. Gender equality is central to the protection of human rights and is a critical condition for sustainable and inclusive development. We incorporate gender concerns and a human rights-based approach at all stages of our projects, to better the lives of both men and women in the countries where we operate. Many of the facilities we build, for example, include special considerations to help girls and women access essential services such as education and healthcare services. Read more

Environmental impact

UNOPS project managers try to consider environmental factors throughout the entire project cycle. This may include using local materials and renewable resources. We monitor and strive to control the environmental impact of all our infrastructure projects, using our comprehensive Environmental Management System (EMS) to minimize negative impacts on the environment. In 2013, in recognition of this commitment to protecting the environment, UNOPS was awarded ISO 14001 certification, the world's most recognized environmental management standard.​​

UNOPS also strives to increase the resilience of nations and communities by adopting a risk-based culture which builds on and extends EMS across every project we deliver. For a project to be truly sustainable and resilient, we need to consider both sustainability aspects, such as the impact of the project on the environment, and resilience aspects, such as the impact of the environment on the project (or 'external risk context'). This is key to ensuring the resilience of our projects.

With the frequency and intensity of natural events on the rise due to climate change, the need to identify, manage and reduce or eliminate risks, has never been so critical. By reducing or eliminating risk, we can help increase the resilience of nations and communities to these shocks and stresses. In response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for example, UNOPS supported the Brazilian government in building earthquake and cyclone resistant community hospitals, with solar-powered lighting and rainwater harvesting systems, making then not only sustainable but more resilient. Where risks cannot be eliminated, we need to address the remaining risks through strategies associated with preparedness, response and early recovery.


Read more about Disaster Risk Reduction at UNOPS