The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

What did the United Nations buy last year?

Detailed report analyzes where $17.7 billion was spent on goods and services by the UN in 2016.

  • The Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement examines the combined spending on goods and services of 39 UN organizations, a record number of reporting organizations.
  • More than $17 billion was spent in 2016 with increases in food procurement attributable to Level-3 emergencies in southern Africa and Nigeria.

Without the provision of goods and services, attempts to address the world's problems would be impossible.

Grete Faremo - UNOPS Executive Director

Repeated resolutions have called for the UN to increase opportunities for suppliers from developing and transitioning economies. 

This year, UN funding spent $10.3 billion in developing and transition economies. As a proportion of total UN spend, this has remained consistent at 59 percent of the UN's total spend for its operations around the world.

"Procurement is simply a reality of nearly every UN activity: every global goal, every mission, every operation," said Grete Faremo, Executive Director of UNOPS. "Without the provision of goods and services, attempts to address the world's problems would be impossible."

The report compiled by UNOPS on behalf of the UN system, found that health-related purchases made up 22 percent of overall spending, the third year in a row when it appeared as the top category.

There was an increase in purchase from countries in Asia, driven by purchases in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, the Republic of Korea and Jordan. For the first time, Turkey joined the top 10 countries of supply in 2016 with a procurement volume of $649 million, largely due to spending related to the emergency responses in southern Africa and Nigeria. The increase in the Asia region can be further explained by procurement supporting the refugee crisis, with purchases on food, fuel, shelter equipment and construction services.

The report provides categories and descriptions of goods and services purchased by UN organizations. A new section on collaborative procurement has also been incorporated into the report to highlight inter-agency procurement activities.

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