Defending Development in a Time of Cuts—my Conversation with UNDP’s Helen Clark

The Center for Global Development sits down with the head of the UN's development agency.

By Masood Ahmed

On the day the Trump Administration proposed considerable cuts to the US international affairs budget, including US funding for the UN, CGD hosted the outgoing head of the UN’s largest agency, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark. As she prepares to step down after eight years in the post, she will leave behind a UN system facing serious questions about its future capabilities and financing. That idea, in fact, informed the title of our event Facing Future Challenges on Uncertain Ground, the video of which you can watch here.

Our wide ranging conversation covered the challenges facing both UNDP and development assistance more generally, but she has clearly been thinking seriously about how the UN system generally – and UNDP in particular – could respond to looming financial constraints. Click on the video below to hear more of her thoughts on US budget cuts to the UN.

Helen’s tenure at UNDP has had some major achievements. As an organization, UNDP has moved to align budgets with a more focused strategy, diversify its funding sources in the face of declining contributions from some traditional donors, improved its financial transparency and achieved gender balance in staffing two years ahead of its goal. So, kudos to Helen Clark for her leadership on these fronts.

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