The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)


Statement in response to media coverage on UNOPS S3i and related matters

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UNOPS accepts there are significant challenges with 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 ongoing investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). OIOS has concluded its investigation and the Secretary-General will decide on all appropriate corrective actions. UNOPS will implement these actions in full and cannot comment any further at this time.

  • This article was originally published on 17 April 2022 and has been updated to reflect recent developments.

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.

UNOPS does not have access to this investigation report and eagerly awaits to learn the outcome of the review and analysis of its findings by the Secretary-General.

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.

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 S3i initiative is separate from UNOPS regular project activities.

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.

Under the circumstances, UNOPS will propose an accelerated independent comprehensive evaluation of S3i for its Executive Board, rather than as originally planned at the end of 2023, to determine the future of this initiative.

Notes to editors

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, and 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, 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.

In 2020, the UNOPS Internal Audit and Investigations Group also launched reviews into partnerships with Sustainable Housing Solutions Ltd, Singapore and We Are The Oceans/Ocean Generation. We are unable to comment at this time for legal reasons.

Formal efforts for recovery of funds are underway. The UN Office of Legal Affairs (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

With respect to recent leaks and dissemination of confidential ongoing legal concerns and misinformation, UNOPS is taking legal advice. We can also confirm that a number of members of current and former personnel have alerted management that fake social media accounts in their names have been used to add to misinformation.

The former Executive Director resignation was effective as of Sunday 8 May. Please see the following statement. The Secretary-General appointed a new Acting Executive Director, effective 9 May.

No further comments will be provided at this time.

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