UNDP was the first UN agency to open its office in Azerbaijan in the fall of 1992. During its first years of activity in Azerbaijan, UNDP operations focused on the coordination and provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected by the conflict in and around NagornoKarabakh and an early recovery programme.
In the late 1990s, UNDP helped the Government to establish the Azerbaijan Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency, which has been responsible for coordinating reconstruction activities and supporting the resettlement of IDPs and refugees. In 1999, UNDP, in partnership with various donors, played a leading role in the establishment of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) to clear war-affected territories from mines.
UNDP has been publishing National Human Development Reports since 1995 to track progress with Azerbaijan’s development and to highlight major development issues. UNDP introduced a Human Development Course to the universities of Azerbaijan, helping young people to broaden their perspective on development issues.
Over time, UNDP’s role in Azerbaijan has shifted towards longer-term socio-economic development in line with the country’s evolving needs. Since the early 2000s, UNDP has increasingly focused on poverty reduction, the introduction of information and communication technologies, human rights promotion, environmental management, gender equality and HIV/AIDS prevention.
UNDP worked together with the international development community to support the Government’s poverty reduction efforts, in particular, the design of the country’s first national poverty reduction strategy known as the State Programme on Poverty Reduction and Economic Development (SPPRED) for 2003-2005. UNDP also helped the Government to nationalise the Millennium Development Goals and made a major contribution to the development of the long-term State Programme for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development (2008-2015), which was aligned with the MDGs. UNDP has also been the Government’s long-standing partner in implementing the National Employment Strategy (2006-2015).
In the mid-2000s, when Azerbaijan’s oil contract with the international consortium of foreign oil companies started to generate oil revenues, UNDP redefined its mission in the country. Together with the Government of Azerbaijan, it began to champion the conversion of “black gold“ (oil revenues) into “human gold” (human capital), in other words, promoting the investment of the country’s oil revenues into human development.
UNDP’s e-governance programme in Azerbaijan is an excellent example of leveraging ICT in reforming customs service, pension system, civil service and the justice sector. It has contributed to greater efficiency and transparency of public institutions by automating business processes, eliminating human interference, reducing waiting time and costs and giving online access to information.
In recent years, UNDP has been actively engaged in the field of environment and climate change. UNDP helps to introduce sustainable land management practices, reduce climate change risks in the flood-prone areas of Azerbaijan, mitigate greenhouse emissions in the oil and gas sector, and improve management of the marine ecosystem of the Caspian Sea.
UNDP promotes gender equality as a cross-cutting issue in its programmes. UNDP supports rural women’s participation in economic and social life, and builds the capacity of national actors to mainstream women’s concerns into public policies.
Last but not least, UNDP facilitates South-South cooperation through knowledge sharing in the areas where Azerbaijan has accumulated expertise such as the delivery of public services and mine action.
Currently, UNDP is working closely with the Government of Azerbaijan to align the latter’s national development plans with the global Sustainable Development Goals. It is helping to build the capacity of the National Coordination Council for Sustainable Development, established in 2016, to put Azerbaijan on the path towards sustainability by 2030.
Global website: www.undp.org
Local website: www.az.undp.org