The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
Statement in response to media coverage on UNOPS S3i and related matters
UNOPS accepts there are significant challenges and failures that have occurred in connection to its Sustainable Infrastructure Investments and Innovation Initiative (S3i).
UNOPS takes all allegations of wrongdoing extremely seriously and in December 2021 placed the S3i Chief Executive on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).
- This article was originally published on 17 April 2022, was updated on 10 May 2022, and has subsequently been updated to reflect recent developments.
OIOS has now concluded its investigation. This has been formally issued and handed over to the UN Office of Human Resources Management and the UN Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).
Up-to-date information on UNOPS action plan to address issues related to S3i can be found here.
The United Nations is taking appropriate action with a view to ensuring accountability. The Office of Human Resources Management will review it for disciplinary action. Legal actions may include referral to relevant criminal authorities of one or more jurisdictions.
In respect of any investigations conducted by national authorities, the UN’s long-established policy is to cooperate with such authorities with respect to their actions to facilitate the proper administration of justice.
The UN is not in a position to comment further and does not wish to prejudice any action that might be contemplated or taken by national authorities with respect to this matter.
In addition, UNOPS, in agreement with its Executive Board, has committed to a series of measures to address the current situation. A complete list of decisions backed by Member States and the Executive Board in relation to these matters is publically available here.
Acting Executive Director Jens Wandel provided an update regarding the Executive Board meeting that took place in New York on 6 June 2022, through an open letter to personnel, which is publicly available here.
If any allegations are confirmed, in whole or part, appropriate disciplinary and corrective actions will be made to restore the trust and confidence of our personnel and partners and, crucially, to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of our services across the globe.
Notes to editors
UNOPS is committed to a rigorous and comprehensive process to address any possible misconduct and maladministration claims and will hold all persons responsible to account.
At all stages and on all relevant matters UNOPS has co-operated and complied with the guidance of respective UN oversight authorities, including the UN Board of Auditors, UNOPS Executive Board, the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services, and the UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). UNOPS has also received support from the UN Office of Legal Affairs (OLA), UN Ethics Office in relevant matters.
Prior to December 2021, a number of activities were initiated to address allegations against S3i partners on a proactive basis, including a series of audits and investigations by internal and external parties. As of June 2022, all work by the UNOPS Internal Audit and Investigations Group into partnerships with Sustainable Housing Solutions Ltd, Singapore and We Are The Oceans/Ocean Generation has now been handed over to the OLA to determine next steps. UNOPS will provide all necessary support to OLA but cannot comment on this matter for legal reasons.
Formal efforts for recovery of funds are underway. The OLA leads any formal dispute resolution mechanisms on behalf of the United Nations and UNOPS will support in the recovery of funds in relation to this matter.
UNOPS does not have access to the OIOS investigation report and eagerly awaits to learn the outcome of the review and analysis of its findings by the Secretary-General.
S3i funds are at risk, but to date, no funds have been lost, and UNOPS will pursue all available legal remedies to protect its operations and assets, including the recovery of outstanding payments owed to UNOPS.
The S3i initiative is separate from UNOPS regular project activities. The S3i proof of concept initiative involves eight investments worth $63 million. By comparison, delivery of UNOPS’ regular project activities exceeded $3.4 billion in 2021, through approximately 1,000 projects around the world.
The former Executive Director's resignation was effective as of Sunday 8 May. The Secretary-General appointed a new Acting Executive Director, effective 9 May.
No further comments will be provided at this time.