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Increasing UNDP’S visibility and impact from Bonn

In 2021, the City of Bonn celebrated its 25th anniversary as Germany's United Nations City. Fittingly for this anniversary, Bonn was able to welcome precisely the 25th UN entity in the course of the year: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) opened its premises in Bonn.

We spoke to Michael Leutert, Director of the new representation office, about UNDP’s work in general and the special tasks that will be performed from Bonn.

Michael Leutert

Mr. Leutert, could you briefly outline UNDP’s work for our readers?

The climate crisis compounded by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are dramatically depleting the world’s natural resources and widening poverty and inequality. This is a critical moment for the world, and for development.  It is predicted that up to one billion people could be living in extreme poverty by 2030 unless we seize this opportunity for a decisive push towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  UNDP’s new Strategic Plan (2022-2025) seeks to support the implementation of the 2030 agenda across 6 signature solutions: tackling poverty and inequality, supporting good governance, strengthening resilience, investing in renewable energy, and promoting gender equality. We work in 170 countries and territories to help countries develop strong policies, skills, partnerships and institutions so they can sustain their progress.  We play a particularly important role in fragile and crisis settings by helping countries identify and address structural causes and by supporting prevention and resilient recovery.

What are the main tasks that the new UNDP Germany representation office will be performing from Bonn?

In recent years Germany has emerged as the most important contributor to UNDP, based on a highly complementary agenda.  In order to further strengthen this partnership, UNDP opened a representation office in Bonn in 2021, with a satellite office in Berlin, where I am based.  The bulk of our team is in Bonn, under the leadership of my deputy.  Our main objective is to further deepen collaboration with the German Government but also to expand our partnerships with a broad range of counterparts, including Private Sector, civil society, academia, research institutes, think tanks, foundations, etc.  We are also seeking to increase the visibility of UNDP’s role and the results and impact we have achieved, especially thanks to the important German support we receive.

From your perspective, what are Bonn’s special assets?

UNDP has greatly appreciated the warm welcome and the generous support we have received locally in regard to the provision of office space within the UN Campus.  The proximity to key German partners such as the Foreign Office, BMZ, the German Development Institute, GIZ and, a bit further afield, KfW, as well as our UN sister organisations greatly facilitates our work and ability to work in a more coordinated manner.  In addition, Bonn is such a family friendly city with a high quality of life that provides excellent schooling and a host of cultural and recreational activities for the families of our staff, within the city and its beautiful surrounding area.

As we are all uniting efforts for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, are there partners that you will be working with from Bonn?

On the UN side, we will work particularly closely with the SDG Action Campaign in order to increase the visibility of UNDP’s efforts but also the overall impact of the UN towards the advancement of the SDGs.  UNV is also a natural partner for us, given their many dynamic and promising volunteers that provide such important support to UNDP Country Offices around the world.  Also UNFCC and many of the other UN entities and Secretariats present in Bonn are close partners for UNDP.  As for key German counterparts, we appreciate the good relationships with BMZ and the Foreign Office but also GIZ, DIE and the Mayor of Bonn and look forward, through our local presence, to build even closer ties.

What are some of the upcoming highlights you are working on?

At the moment we are busy preparing for the visit of our Administrator, Mr Achim Steiner, who will be attending the Munich Security Conference.  In this context, he will take advantage of this opportunity to also meet high level members of the new Government.  We will also be launching a new publication, the Human Security Report, that outlines new threats and how around the world people are feeling more insecure than ever before.  We are also preparing for the launch of an important report on the situation in Yemen that presents a pathway out of this protracted crisis.  A key priority is also the preparation of our annual strategic dialogue with the Government, this is the occasion at which we formally review our collaboration and seek new and interesting ways to work together towards the achievement of common objectives.