Welcome to the United Nations

Home > Action Areas > Development effectiveness > Effectiveness of the United Nations system

Effectiveness of the United Nations system

The effectiveness of United Nations system operational activities for development is reviewed by the General Assembly and ECOSOC through the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (QCPR). Every four years, the General Assembly adopts a resolution to guide, monitor and assess the operational activities of the United Nations development system with the aim to improve its effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and impact. 
 
ECOSOC reviews the implementation of the QCPR on an annual basis, which is informed by an annual report of the Secretary-General prepared by UN-DESA. The report includes a monitoring and reporting framework, which measures progress of the implementation of the mandates contained in the QCPR resolution through a set of indicators. For the latest data, information and analysis, see here.
 
Total contributions for United Nations operational activities for development amounted to $26.7 billion in 2015, representing an increase of 3.9 per cent in real terms compared to the previous year. (There is no commonly agreed definition of the terms “the United Nations development system” and “operational activities for development”.  Analysis here draws on the classification used in QCPR, see A/71/292/Rev.1, foot note 1). Since 2000, real-term growth of funding for operational activities for development has generally been positive, both for development and humanitarian assistance-related activities.  Non-core funding for both development and humanitarian activities contributed to this overall growth. The growth in funding for development-related activities has slowed in the past few years.  Since 2010, such funding has increased by only 7 per cent, in real terms, while funding for humanitarian-assistance activities grew by 59 per cent.
 
 
The United Nations spent over $10 billion on operational activities for development in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in 2015. Generally, about half of all UN country-level expenditures are spent in LDCs.  This share was below 50 per cent in 2014 and 2015 in large part due to the humanitarian crises in the Syrian Arab Republic and Iraq, which led to an increase in UN expenditures in these middle-income countries as well as neighbouring countries affected by these crises. 
UN expenditures in LLDCs reached an all-time high of $6.3 billion in 2015, which represented 29 per cent of total UN country-level expenditures.  The three largest UN programme countries which belong to the LLDC group were Afghanistan ($1,098 million), South Sudan ($1,040 millon) and Ethiopia ($781 million).
UN expenditures in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) show a decline since 2010 both in total volume and as a share of total country-level expenditures by the UN development system.  However, this is entirely due to Haiti where expenditures were particularly high in 2010 and 2011 due to the Haitian earthquake. UN expenditures in other SIDS (excluding Haiti) have actually increased from $316 million in 2010 to $411 million in 2015.