The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

2020 Overview

Words by Grete Faremo

Under-Secretary-General and UNOPS Executive Director

Download our 2020 sustainability report

A year of resilience,
of coming together

2020 was a truly remarkable year, forever to be viewed through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lives and livelihoods were lost, economies were disrupted at unprecedented levels, and the progress made under the 2030 Agenda came under threat. 

But 2020 was also a year of resilience, of coming together to find solutions, and responding to our biggest challenges. Our focus remains resolutely on implementation, offering our expertise in infrastructure, procurement and project management for a sustainable world. As we look to the future, the lessons of 2020 will be paramount in our minds.

Now more than ever, we need to work together to build a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient world. Together, we can build a better future for all.



2020: in numbers

  • +80
    Countries
    WHERE WE WORK

    UNOPS supports projects in more than 80 countries around the world.

    Find out more here.

  • $2.2B
    total delivery in 2020
    THE PROJECTS WE SUPPORT

    In total, UNOPS delivered $2.2 billion in peace and security, humanitarian and development projects in 2020.

  • $900M
    in COVID-19 response and recovery projects
    COVID-19 RESPONSE

    In the midst of the global pandemic, we agreed around $900 million worth of projects in support of the response, helping countries address their most pressing needs and mitigating the long-term impacts of the pandemic.

  • 3M
    days of paid work created for beneficiaries
    THE JOBS WE CREATE

    Our commitment to sustainability is underlined by the jobs we create in the communities where we work.

  • $600M
    to local suppliers
    BUILDING LOCAL ECONOMIES

    One of the most reliable ways we help develop local economies is through our expertise in procurement. We encourage local procurement across all of our projects and track these results.

  • 2.3K
    kilometres of roads constructed or rehabilitated
    CONNECTING COMMUNITIES

    Roads are an essential means of transporting items between communities. In 2020, our work has helped improve access to markets, essential services and economic opportunities.

  • 114
    schools constructed or rehabilitated
    ADVANCING EDUCATION

    UNOPS works with partners around the world to ensure children have better access to education.

  • +$1.3B
    worth of goods and services were procured for our partners
    WORKING TOGETHER

    UNOPS is dedicated to supporting its partners by providing services that increase the effectiveness of peace and security, humanitarian and development projects worldwide.

  • 850K
    days of paid work created for women
    THE JOBS WE CREATE

    Of the 3 million days of paid work created for beneficiaries in 2020, almost 850,000 of these days were undertaken by women.

Our Projects

Our Projects

Our Projects

We're on the ground to help build the future – with infrastructure, procurement and project management services.

The pandemic has exposed deep-rooted inequalities in our societies. It has led to the loss of lives and livelihoods, and put a huge strain on public health systems and economies. The most vulnerable have been the hardest hit.

Grete Faremo - UNOPS Executive Director

From Mexico to Micronesia, explore some of our projects

  • Mexico

    Faced with widespread medicine shortages, UNOPS is procuring billions of dollars worth of medicines and medical supplies for the people of Mexico.

    Read more

  • Pacific

    Marshall Islands. Micronesia. Palau. Papua New Guinea. Samoa. They span the Pacific Ocean and face a unique set of challenges in this pandemic.

    Read more

  • Western Balkans

    When the pandemic hit, Western Balkan governments raced to source emergency supplies and equipment to slow the spread of COVID-19.

    Read more

  • Yemen

    Across Yemen, restoring access to critical services – such as electricity – is desperately needed to improve health services and basic living conditions.

    Read more

  • Zimbabwe

    Cyclone Idai brought strong winds and heavy rainfall to south-east Africa – and left a trail of destruction and devastation in its wake.

    Read more

Our Priorities

Our Priorities

Our Priorities

Delivering on the 2030 Agenda during the Decade of Action

Standing together: COVID-19

Pandemic response

A timeline of our activities over the past 12 months.

For billions of people across the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic brought life as they knew it to a stop. At UNOPS, our ways of working changed too. But our focus remained resolutely on saving and improving lives. In the midst of the global pandemic in 2020, we agreed around $900 million worth of projects in support of the COVID-19 response, helping countries address their most pressing needs and mitigating the long-term impacts of the pandemic.

Across the world, UNOPS colleagues have worked hard over the past year to help our partners prepare, respond and recover. The determination and commitment of UNOPS personnel continue, as we all work together to defeat this virus.

Honoré Dainhi - Director, Regional Portfolios

Explore our COVID-19-related work


BOLD IDEAS: TOWARDS
A BRIGHTER FUTURE

In 2020, we contributed ideas, actions and solutions aimed at addressing some of the world's biggest challenges.

Read through a selection of the initiatives

  • The future of public spending: Responses to COVID-19

    Research by The Economist Intelligence Unit, supported by UNOPS, explores how the COVID-19 crisis presents a unique opportunity for governments to ensure public procurement is more inclusive, sustainable and transparent in the future.

    Read the report here.

  • Infrastructure for Small Island Developing States

    The report highlights ways SIDS can harness their unique resources to help islands overcome vulnerabilities, advance development and reap long-term benefits from infrastructure investments.

    More here.

  • Infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women

    The report calls on the global community to change the way infrastructure is planned, delivered and managed to empower women and girls and take us one step closer to realizing the 2030 Agenda.

    Publication available here.


Our climate

UNOPS has been climate neutral since 2012. In 2020, UNOPS operations emitted 9,316 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the common unit for describing greenhouse gas emissions. This is 4,812 less than 2019.

SUSTAINABILITY

Sustainability is at the forefront of UNOPS work around the world. We aim to help our partners maximize the positive impact and sustainability of their projects, to better serve communities in need.

How we measure our success

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework measures the impact of UNOPS work on the environment and the societies in which we work, underscoring how our operations contribute to sustainable development around the world.

Through GRI, we speak a common reporting language to both those inside and outside of the United Nations. Here, we reaffirm our commitment to measuring ourselves against international standards.

Discover more

OUR PARTNERS

We're dedicated to supporting our partners by providing services that increase the effectiveness of peace and security, humanitarian and development projects worldwide.

To advance the 2030 Agenda and support the achievement of the SDGs, we aim to engage in collaborative partnerships with a focus on sharing our expertise in infrastructure, project management, procurement, human resources and financial services.

UNOPS support to governments in 2020 represented $750 million of our portfolio, demonstrating a clear demand for our services. Government partners included Argentina, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Norway, Peru, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Within the UN family, which represented 25 per cent of our portfolio, our largest partner was the UN Secretariat, specifically the Department of Peace Operations, to which we provided a range of services.

Read more about UNOPS partnerships

A word from our partners

  • Government of Antigua and Barbuda

    “UNOPS vision to expand its development programme to the islands of the Caribbean is perfectly aligned with the region’s vision for economic, social and cultural prosperity, driven by knowledge, excellence, innovation and productivity.”

    – Gaston Browne,
    Prime Minister, Antigua and Barbuda

    © Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Antigua & Barbuda

  • Government of Ecuador

    “I am well aware of the important role UNOPS plays to support the transparency, relevance and effectiveness of highly complex projects in different neighbouring countries. I am pleased that the municipality and the Ministry of Transport and Public Works are relying on UNOPS to implement the tramway project.”

    – Lenín Moreno,
    President, Ecuador

  • Government of Ghana

    “I believe we are all well aware of the challenges Ghana, and most of Africa, faces when it comes to the provision of decent, well-planned and organized housing for our citizens […] I believe that with the signing of this project agreement [with UNOPS], we shall be ushering into existence a new dawn for Ghana and our citizens.”

    – Nana Akufo-Addo,
    President, Ghana

  • Government of Guinea

    "This S3I project constitutes an important support for the programme of affordable housing championed by the government, which is both intensive in labour and in capital, thus representing an economic stimulus that will have a positive effect on reducing unemployment in the country.”

    – Dr. Ibrahima Kassory Fofana,
    Prime Minister, Guinea

  • Government of Honduras

    “We made great savings with the implementation of the new procurement systems through the United Nations and UNOPS, and this is a breakthrough in the prevention of corruption that never existed before."

    – Juan Orlando Hernández,
    President, Honduras

  • Government of Kenya

    "We are focusing on financing and investment frameworks that will unlock private sector financing. We are very excited about this project [with UNOPS] and we look forward to unlocking similar partnerships that will allow us to fulfil our duties as leaders and pave the way for adequate, decent and affordable housing for Kenyans.”

    – Uhuru Kenyatta,
    President, Kenya

  • Government of Mexico

    “We want UNOPS to help our government make sure that those who participate in tenders are prestigious companies with an ethical dimension.”

    – Andrés Manuel López Obrador,
    President, Mexico

  • Government of Pakistan

    “This groundbreaking housing initiative is not just a regular project but a massive undertaking that has my full support, and will undoubtedly change for the better the lives of millions of people."

    – Imran Khan,
    Prime Minister, Pakistan

Our Mission

Our Mission

Our Mission

To help people build better lives and countries achieve peace and sustainable development.

HOW WE WORK

We are focused on implementation, committed to UN values and private sector efficiency. We are the only part of the UN not receiving core funding. Our partners call on us to supplement their own capacities, improve efficiency and transparency, reduce risks, boost cost-effectiveness and increase quality.

Our services

Each of our service lines has a focus on sustainability and national capacity development. Our financing model promotes lean, effective delivery.

Our flexible structure and global reach means that we can quickly respond to partner needs while gaining the benefits of economies of scale.

We tailor support to the needs of our partners, delivering a key element of a project, offering expert advice, or managing entire projects or programmes.

Find out more about our areas of expertise

Today’s world requires new approaches and partnerships that harness the potential of technological change. UNOPS, with a mandate in infrastructure, is a vital part of this future.

António Guterres - United Nations Secretary-General

HOW WE CONTRIBUTE

UNOPS contributes to broader efforts to help partners realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through three focus areas:

Enable partners to do more with less

Enable partners to do more with less through efficient management support services, delivered locally or as global shared services.

For example, UNOPS supports mine action, humanitarian, stabilization and explosive management activities, as well as capacity-building on national actors and United Nations missions, and the weapons and ammunition management work of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and partners in 19 countries and territories around the world. Totalling around $240 million, UNOPS helped its main partner, UNMAS, deliver a range of results, including:

• In the Central African Republic, 23 armouries and temporary storage kits were constructed and rehabilitated and training was provided to 52 officers in weapons and ammunition management and explosive ordnance disposal.

• In Iraq, over 1,000,000 m² of land was cleared by rendering safe 766 units of explosive ordnance, 27 improvised explosive devices, 289 victim-operated improvised explosive devices and 78 explosive remnants of war.

• In Libya, technical assistance and specialized training was provided to national authorities on physical stockpile management and countering the proliferation of illicit weapons.

• In Somalia, specialized training was delivered to almost 4,500 troops of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on subjects ranging from IED threat awareness to search and detection.

Help people achieve individual, local, national and global objectives

Help people achieve individual, local, national and global objectives through effective specialized technical expertise grounded in international norms and standards.

In Senegal, as part of the $30 million World Bank-funded Saint-Louis Emergency Recovery and Resilience Project, UNOPS is implementing the $2.3 million Relocation of the Displaced Populations of the Langue de Barbarie Project, in partnership with the government. As part of the project, more than 400 shelters will be built which will provide housing to more than 1,400 people, as well as serve as a temporary school and be used for offices. Together with the government, UNOPS has developed designs for a permanent settlement for the people displaced from the Langue de Barbarie. In 2020, 62 per cent of UNOPS infrastructure projects reported an output enabling equal access, 57 per cent enabled equal access for women, and 26 per cent enabled equal access for persons with disabilities.

Support countries in achieving the 2030 Agenda

Support countries in expanding the pool and effectiveness of resources available to achieve the 2030 Agenda. UNOPS is working to further partnerships between the public and private sectors. One way we do this is by partnering with private sector organizations whose resources and expertise can complement our work in countries and regions around the world.

For example, UNOPS continued to develop its Sustainable Infrastructure Impact Investments (S3I) initiative and explore opportunities for collaborative partnerships to mobilize alternative funding sources for the 2030 Agenda, particularly in the areas of affordable housing, renewable energy, and water and sanitation.

In 2020, UNOPS S3I committed to building more than 250,000 sustainable and affordable homes in Guinea and Ekiti State, Nigeria, working closely with the respective governments. The homes will incorporate green technology and will be built using local skills and equipment, providing thousands of new employment opportunities for local people and contributing to local economic development. UNOPS has committed to help build more than 1.3 million homes over the next decade, in Kenya, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and across the Caribbean.

The knowledge we bring

We contribute to social sustainability and national capacity by passing on technical skills and experience to the people we work with on the ground.

We take pride in the fact that our expertise is grounded in international best practices. In 2020, we provided over 38,000 days of technical advice to stakeholders across a range of our projects.

Our People

Our People

Our People

We work hard to recruit and retain the best expertise.

42%
leadership roles held by women
Achieving parity

We recognize that we have work to do to achieve gender parity at UNOPS and we are committed to addressing this situation.

GENDER BALANCE

Our partners rely on our professionalism, skills, expertise and innovative ideas to successfully complete projects in some of the most challenging locations around the world.

As members of the UN family strive towards gender equality, we report our personnel data and turnover rate by gender. This helps us to better identify issues and take targeted steps to improve.

In December 2018, 39 per cent of UNOPS personnel were women. At the time of this report, 47 per cent of UNOPS personnel are women. We still have progress to make in our journey to being a more equal organization, but this represents a significant achievement, even if long overdue. Moving forward, we want to ensure a broader, more diverse, and more inclusive approach.


INSIGHTS

Ideas, analysis and solutions from our UNOPS experts. Read more articles from the #UNOPSInsights series here.


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