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40 years of transparency and accountability in UN procurement

Marking its 40th edition, the 2023 Annual Statistical Report on UN Procurement details how 32 UN organizations spent $24.9 billion on goods and services last year.

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The 2023 Annual Statistical Report on UN Procurement is published by UNOPS on behalf of the UN system. It analyzes the combined annual UN spending on goods and services and presents an analysis of key trends in UN procurement.

“The United Nations oversees the spending of billions of dollars every year – on medicines, safety equipment, vehicles, and other goods and services,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“It is essential that this money is spent efficiently, effectively and sustainably, and contributes to our efforts to be more agile and responsive,” he added.

This year’s report marks a significant milestone – the 40th year of the UN system reporting on its procurement activities through the Annual Statistical Report.

For the past 40 years this annual report on UN procurement has detailed exactly what we spend, where we spend and what we buy. It is an important contribution towards accountability, transparency, sustainability and collaboration across the entire UN system.

António Guterres - United Nations Secretary-General

Sustainable procurement continued as a key trend last year – with almost all agencies reporting on the inclusion of environmental, social and economic considerations in their procurement activities. These organizations accounted for a significant portion of UN procurement, representing around 96 per cent, or $23.9 billion, of the total spend in 2023.

“Sustainable public procurement is at the heart of the UN’s mission to advance the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Anne-Claire Howard, UNOPS Director of Procurement.

Over 80 per cent of UN organizations reported having a formal procurement policy integrating sustainability considerations, while the number of organizations with dedicated sustainable procurement strategies increased from 11 in 2022 to 17 in 2023.

“The increasing number of UN agencies reporting on sustainable procurement activities and integrating sustainable policies and criteria into their procurement processes is a very positive and important achievement,” added Anne-Claire Howard.

With the aim of increasing efficiency, reducing prices and ensuring better services through economies of scale, all reporting UN organizations continued to use collaborative procurement approaches, recording a total of $1.1 billion in 2023.

Goods and services from LDCs

In 2023, procurement from least developed countries reached $5 billion, representing more than 20 per cent of total UN procurement.

Health was once again the largest procurement category, despite a $3.1 billion decrease from 2021, reflecting a return to pre-pandemic procurement levels following the heightened response to COVID-19. In total, the 32 reporting UN agencies procured $4.8 billion worth of health-related goods and services in 2023. UNICEF remained the largest procurer in the sector with $2.9 billion of procurement in total.

Asia was the largest region of UN procurement in 2023, followed by Europe. Africa increased its share of total UN procurement and represented one-fifth of the global total. The growth was concentrated in Central and East Africa.

Procurement from least developed countries reached $5 billion, representing more than 20 per cent of total UN procurement. Yemen was the largest supplier country among least developed countries, followed by Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

Procurement from landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) reached $2.9 billion in 2023, while procurement from suppliers in small island developing states (SIDS) stood at $627 million.

Building capacity among local goods and service providers, and fostering local employment and economic development opportunities in LLDCs and SIDS, is essential to advance sustainable development and climate action in these countries.

Anne-Claire Howard - UNOPS Director of Procurement

While 9 of the 10 largest supplier countries saw a decrease in UN procurement in 2023, Ukraine recorded a significant increase compared to 2022, moving the country into the top 10 supplier countries for the first time. That growth was attributed largely to the purchase of goods and services supporting UN response and recovery efforts in the country.


About the Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement

The Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement provides an overview of the procurement of the UN system in support of its operations, projects and programmes. The report breaks down procurement by UN organization, category of goods and services procured, and supplier country. Introduced in 1984, it has been compiled and published by UNOPS since 2008 on behalf of the organizations of the UN system and in cooperation with the United Nations Global Marketplace, where the data is published.


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