EU-UNDP partnership: Helping rebuild lives and strengthen capacities in the Arab Region

By Hoda EL Nahlawy & Fatma Yassin

The world is more interconnected than ever. The 2030 Agenda is universal and calls for action by all countries — developed and developing — to ensure no one is left behind.

The SDGs can only be realized through strong global and national partnerships and cooperation, between governments, the private sector, and civil society.

The European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have jointly championed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a global plan of action for “people, planet and prosperity”, including in the Arab States region.

With only a decade left to meet commitments of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development to eradicate poverty, build social cohesion and strengthen universal peace, the EU-UNDP partnership for the SDGs in the region is critical. Across the region, The EU and UNDP have worked together on to promote peace and stability, build capacities to respond to crises and strengthen resilience — laying foundations for long-term economic development and supporting livelihoods and fostering climate action.

On #EuropeDay, we review key highlights of this partnership.

Supporting Algeria during COVID-19

Photo: PNUD Algérie

The EU-UNDP Partnership has supported the government of Algeria’s response to COVID-19 and mitigating its effects — providing medical equipment, early detection materials, such as antigen and PCR tests, and protective gear to secure healthcare personnel. The Project has received 400,000 antigen tests, 20,000 PCR tests and two screening devices.

Supporting COP27 in Egypt

In Egypt, the EU Partnership with UNDP supported the country’s presidency of the 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), held in Sharm El Sheikh last year — supporting efforts to convene a multitude of necessary negotiation meetings throughout the COP process, pre-, during and post- including critical African negotiators meetings.

The partnership supports the city’s green initiatives by banning single-use plastic and installing solar PV in hotels, the convention center and the airport, with a total capacity of 280 MW. The partnership has contributed to the renovation of marine environments by Nabq and Ras Mohammed protectorates, achieving new levels of eco-tourism.

Rebuilding lives in Iraq

Photo: UNDP Iraq

During the COVID-19 crisis, ‘Let’s Beat Corona’ campaign helped raise people’s awareness about the symptoms, hand washing, hygiene and protection from the virus.

The EU and UNDP in Iraq have helped Iraqis recover post-conflict through 190 rehabilitation projects, benefitting 1.36 million Iraqis. Efforts extended to key health centers by providing health services to citizens and essential training and equipment to the most vulnerable. Moreover, 50 women across Dohuk were taught beekeeping and the necessary tools to kickstart their own honey businesses.

Promoting local economic development in Jordan

Photo: UNDP Jordan

Local economic development is an integral part of Jordan’s national agenda, with a focus on improving living conditions and creating sustainable jobs in Jordan’s communities. UNDP Jordan works with the Ministries of Interior and Local Administration and the EU to promote local economic development and local governance in Jordan by encouraging accountability and effective policymaking. With EU’s support, young entrepreneurs were also supported to run their small businesses.

Strengthening long-term resilience Lebanon

Photo: UNDP Lebanon

In Lebanon, the impact of the Syrian crisis has reached an unprecedented scale in the history of displacement-driven emergencies, with the country hosting an estimated 1.5 million refugees, a quarter of the total Lebanese population.

The refugee crisis places tremendous pressure on Lebanon’s services and resources, further compounded by the current economic and financial crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the devastating Beirut port explosion of August 2020. UNDP Lebanon and the EU worked together to strengthen the long-term resilience of subnational authorities, host communities, refugees, and displaced persons affected by the Syrian crisis by supporting different municipalities hosting refugees.

EU works also with partners in Lebanon, the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark, and the Korean International Cooperation Agency “KOICA” to advance the anti-corruption agenda in Lebanon.

It also played an integral role in strengthening institutions and processes for the conduct of transparent and inclusive elections in Lebanon as well as fostering clean energy transitions.

Strengthening local capacities in Libya

Photo: UNDP Libya

Recovery and resilience of local communities are key to building an inclusive Libya.

UNDP Libya worked with the Ministry of Local Governance, and the EU to strengthen local capacities for resilience and recovery to provide better services to six municipalities in Greater Tripoli, restore security, and provide essential services delivery and livelihood opportunities.

Supporting local governance in Somalia

Photo: UNDP Somalia

In Somalia, our mission is to support the establishment of strong, resilient local governments and communities.

The EU-UNDP partnership supported the local governance programme in Somalia to strengthen service delivery through incentivizing good governance reforms in institutional capacity building, policy frameworks (decentralization, procurement, human resources, municipal finance, planning) and inclusive politics.

Enhancing mental health support in Syria

Over a decade of war has profoundly affected people’s physical and mental well-being, and resilience in Syria. With EU’s support, UNDP Syria has helped thousands of vulnerable Syrians nationwide to access psychosocial support from professionals to help them through difficult times.

Photo: UNDP Syria

In Syria, UNDP removed around 17,000 tons of solid waste and 9,258 tons of debris and created around 1,500 temporary job opportunities per month for women and men workers under the UN Joint Programme on Urban and Rural Resilience (JP) in Dara’a and Deir ez-Zor, funded by the EU, Italy and Norway.

Simultaneously, UNDP is rehabilitating 36 industrial and crafts workshops and has supported the revival of around 180 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, improving livelihoods and resilience. Vocational training for 180 beneficiaries has also been an essential part of this effort.

UNDP also provided prosthetic services and psychosocial support to 113 persons with disabilities and is rehabilitating two health centres, resulting in more space for patients and outpatient clinics.

Enhancing capacity of crisis-affected communities in Yemen

Photo: UNDP Yemen

Community resilience represents the ability of a community to pursue its goals effectively and sustainably in the face of adverse events and shocks.

UNDP Yemen worked with the EU to enhance the capacity of crisis-affected communities to manage local risks and shocks for increased resilience and self-reliance. This effort has enhanced the creation of sustainable livelihoods as well as improved resilience, food security and access to basic services in five vulnerable governorates in Yemen: Hajjah, Hodeidah, Lahj, Abyan, and Taiz.

Moreover, the Floating Storage and Offloading (FSO) “Safer” which is currently moored approximately 8 kilometers off the coast of Yemen and 50 kilometers northeast of the port of Hodeida poses a substantial threat of spilling oil due to leakages, an explosion from the accumulation of volatile explosion gases, or a strike from a floating sea mine.

With the generous contribution from EU and other countries, the UN and UNDP will be able to work to prevent a catastrophic oil spill from the FSO Safer and save tens of billions of dollars in cleanup costs and trade losses.

Developing cultural tourism in the State of Palestine

Cultural heritage and diversity are crucial enablers for achieving the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinians cooperated with the EU and Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, Jericho Governorate and other relevant stakeholders in the tourism sector to transform the Maqam Nabi Musa in Jericho Governorate into a fully-functioning guest house and tourist centre for both religious and mainstream tourism after rehabilitating the pathways, building elevations and basic infrastructure networks, development of the exterior courtyard and landscaping. This didn’t only revive history. It has generated over 25,500 workdays for skilled and unskilled laborers.

Valuing UNDP-EU long-standing partnership

The Arab States, as a region at the forefront of global challenges and with great potential, has seen its people make tremendous strides towards realizing the SDGs.

The EU is working side-by-side with UNDP in many countries in our region to turn this potential into results on the ground. On Europe Day, we celebrate those achievements together and look forward to furthering partnership opportunities that help us leave no one behind.




البرنامج الإنمائي

‏‏شعوب متمكنة، أمم صامدة -الحساب الرسمي لبرنامج الأمم المتحدة الإنمائي في المنطقة العربية. UNDP official account in the Arab States