UNDP AND EC in Turkey

01 Feb 2008


One of the largest and longest joint projects of UNDP and European Commission (EC) in Turkey has been concluded successfully at the end of 2007.

New Horizons - That was the Small and Medium Enterprise Development in Southeastern Anatolia. UNDP Turkey Office and EC Delegation in Turkey has been joining forces in several other projects and areas recently to help Turkey to achieve its development targets in the way to EU membership. New Horizons asked Ulrika Richardson-Golinski, UNDP Deputy Representative in Turkey, about the linkages between EC and UNDP programming in Turkey, and the lessons learned from this partnership. Here is what she says:

Ulrika Richardson-Golinski: As a development organization, our mission in Turkey is to support national priorities. In this context, Turkey’s EU accession is central to our thinking of development priorities in this country. Therefore, we work with national and local authorities and civil society to assist their efforts to align their practices to EU norms. We work with other UN colleagues to identify areas that require further attention from authorities. For example we have done and continue to do sector assessments in areas that are relevant to the political criteria. They include security sector assessments as well as new work in the justice sector. New areas also include working with the legislative (committees in the Parliament) and the executive to make legislation be more consultative and particularly involve civil society. Related to this, we are also facilitating multi-stakeholder consultation processes which are important for pluralistic decision and policy making processes. We further support local authorities and civil society as well as private sector to deliver EC programs more effectively. Most recently, we are supporting local authorities in Şanlıurfa to align their industrialization practices to international norms.

We also give support to some regional projects of the EC. “Accelerating CSR Practices in the New EU Member States and Candidate Countries as a Vehicle for Harmonization, Competitiveness and Social Cohesion in the EU” programme is an example of this. “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Turkey” Baseline Report has been prepared with the help of a Turkish organisation, the Corporate Social Responsibility Association, which is an important partner to UNDP Turkey for a long time. The report, a comprehensive analysis of CSR practices in Turkey, is part of a wider EU funded programme in this region. In this context a regional study report titled “Baseline Study on CSR Practices in the New EU Member States and Candidate Countries” has already been published by UNDP. 

New Horizons: What kind of programmes has the UNDP been involved with to date?

URG: One of our longest standing involvements in European Commission programming has been in the Southeast Anatolia region. In this region, we have supported the implementation of EC’s large regional development program by delivering business development services to small and medium scale enterprises. The EC program impact has been growth of the regional economy and the creation of over 1000 jobs. More recently, we cooperate with our European colleagues in the implementation of EC programs in the field of public administration reform, human rights, women's empowerment, gender and sustainable development.

NH: What are the lessons learned from UNDP’s involvement in EC programming?

URG: We have always known the importance of coordination among donors as a way to increase the impact and efficiency of our work. But knowledge does not always translate into action. In the past few years, we have seen the benefits of coordination with briefings and information sharing events organized together with our EC colleagues. That way we are able to map our programs more strategically, avoid duplication and promote synergies.

The second lesson learned is that we need to focus on capacity development in order for our national and local partners to participate in international programs. The UNDP is not a funding agency; hence it is even more important that we are able to advise our partners of the broader funding environment for their initiatives. We are very pleased for instance to note that some of our local partners in areas such as Bayburt or Erzurum end up applying for EC funds following the training and capacity building support we have given them within the context of our own small programs. We are very glad to see that many youth initiatives are springing up and applying for EU programs such as Leonardo or Erasmus. A lot of these initiatives have had their first exposure to international projects through our work with youth councils and city councils within the context of our Local Agenda 21 program. Based on this experience, we see a lot of value added in the UNDP’s projects with local authorities and civil society where we build their institutional capacity so that they themselves pursue their own goals and participate in EC programs.

NH: How do you see the future of EC and UNDP cooperation?

URG: There is the fact that UN agencies are coordinating more among themselves. For example, UNDP is involved with UNFPA, UNICEF, UNESCO, UN Environment Program and FAO in joint programs in different fields ranging from adaptation to climate change in Çukurova region, gender equality to cultural heritage promotion in Kars in Eastern Anatolia. The ILO, UNFPA, IOM, UNICEF and UNDP cooperate in a joint gender program in 6 provinces across Turkey. The experience of joint programming shows that local authorities and the government are pleased to benefit from the different strengths and expertise of different UN agencies under a more coherent UN program, “One UN”.  I therefore see a future where the collaboration with the EC, to a greater extent, is one in which we partner as “One UN” and more strategically use the individual strengths and expertise of each UN agency.

In the short and medium term I think we will see a more substantive discussion with the EC and the Government in the design of the projects, benefiting more from UNDP’s extensive network and presence in the country in areas such as capacity and institution building for a more sustainable and democratic society. 


For decades, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) have been working together to promote human development around the globe. It is not surprising to see that two have built such a strong partnership and have recorded successes in a variety of fields. They are an inextricable part of each other because the European Community – when first established – directly took UN values and objectives as a roadmap for its activities. In other words, the 1957 Treaty of Rome that established the European Community clearly stated Europe’s commitment to the objectives of the United Nations. The UN and EU are linked to each other with many other treaties.

For example, during the Millennium Declaration in 2000, world leaders adopted the values that are necessary for international relations in the 21st century. Accordingly, freedom in other words a world free from hunger, fear of violence, oppression or injustice, equality among all, solidarity, tolerance to different cultures and beliefs, respect for nature and shared responsibility became the core values of the international community. These values have motivated and shaped the extensive partnership that exists today between the UN and the EU. In this context, the European Commission (EC) channels significant financial resources to support UN’s work, thus making UN a key partner for the implementation of the EU external assistance. In 2006, the Commission’s support for joint activities amounted to about 1.3 billion Euros.

The UN and the EC implement their programmes in 105 countries. Although fields of work vary, the ultimate goal behind each programme is human development. In this context, the two partners uphold human rights and international standards, save lives and protect people in emergency and humanitarian crisis, work for the prevention and recovery from conflict and natural disasters, invest in health, education, water and sanitation, promote sustainable livelihoods and food security, strengthen governance and state capacities. In 2006 for example some of the fields of cooperation between UN and the EU were the administration sector in which good practices were exchanged for internal management and administration including planning, budget, human resources etc, the agriculture and rural development sector, education and culture sector, employment, equal opportunities, statistics in which the aim was to coordinate among international organizations regarding economic statistics, fisheries and maritme affairs, consumer protection, information society and media as well as justice, research, transport and energy.

On the other hand, the Millennium Development Goals also represent a cornerstone of the EU’s relationship with the UN. They are a guiding framework for the cooperation of the European Commission and United Nations Development Programme. The target of their activities are usually least developed and/or developing countries and focus on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combatting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other dieseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing global partnerships for development.

Today, the EU and the UN have a well-established regular dialogue and organize bi-annual meetings for the EU-UN Steering Committee. Through their partnership, the UN and the EC have made a tangible difference in the lives of millions of people, and have translated their values into action.