published on devpolicy.org, 11.05.2023
Halfway into the 2030 Agenda, with progress on several Sustainable Development Goals stalling, is a good moment to ask about the effectiveness of the UN’s development support. From UN country programme evaluations emerges a critical picture of the UN's performance towards sustainable change. The most common and arguably worrisome deficit is that UN development work lacks an orientation towards sustainability and effects at national level – the kind of change that moves the needle on SDG progress. This and other deficits point to “projectitis”, an organisational style characterised by decentralised, ad-hoc responses that are insufficiently integrated with, or informed by, the policies, purposes and overarching responsibilities of the UN. Better institutional safeguards against opportunistic behaviour are needed. Rather than the size and growth of the budget, performance towards mandates and effects should distinguish a UN entity.