As the United Nations relies more heavily on private sources of financing from foundations and corporations, it is important to look at how these changes affect the world body’s development aid channel. A new report examining how private donations to activities of the UN Development Program reveals both advantages — better management, for example — and concerns, such as “distorted priorities.”
In fact, “noncore” contributions to UN development organizations have grown faster than donations to “core” funds; that is, money contributed directly by member nations with few, if any, strings attached. In the report, based on an evaluation by FUNDS (the Future UN Development System), a research project of the City University of New York’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, the emerging picture presents questions about the nature and purposes of the UN’s future work in development.
Indeed, can the UN adapt to the increasing demands inherent in private financing, given that this is a trend most likely to continue? The FUNDS study, titled “Can the UN Adjust to the Changing Funding Landscape?” looks at the preconceptions of those working in the UN development system toward the changes afoot while underscoring the benefits and challenges of operating with noncore funds.
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Asmita Naik is a consultant who specializes in international development and human rights and has worked in the United Nations system for several of its constituent organizations. She was a core member of the evaluation team that carried out the United Nations Development Program evaluation done by the Future United Nations Development System, or FUNDS, which is a project of the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.