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5 - Moving beyond Mandates

The Role of UNDP Administrators in Organizational Expansion*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 February 2024

Helge Jörgens
Iscte – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal
Nina Kolleck
Universität Potsdam, Germany
Mareike Well
Freie Universität Berlin


This chapter focuses on the United Nation’s largest development entity, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and asks: When and why has it integrated climate adaptation into its mandate? It traces UNDP’s evolving adaptation mandate from 1990 to 2015, drawing on over fifty interviews and an extensive analysis of primary documents. It argues that UNDP Administrators, rather than states, played a critical role in mandate expansion. Administrators decided whether and how to integrate adaptation into UNDP’s mandate and subsequently lobbied states to endorse any expansion. It also suggests that UNDP’s expansion was facilitated by its early access to multilateral climate trust funds. This chapter makes an important contribution to existing theories of international bureaucracies, which often assume that organizational change is state-driven (statist explanations) or that bureaucracies will always seek to expand (principal–agent and constructivism). Overall, it suggests scholars should look at how leaders navigate financial, ideational, and normative environment to understand change and influence in international institutions.

International Public Administrations in Environmental Governance
The Role of Autonomy, Agency, and the Quest for Attention
, pp. 107 - 130
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024
Creative Commons
Creative Common License - CCCreative Common License - BYCreative Common License - NCCreative Common License - ND
This content is Open Access and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Climate change threatens to increase the frequency and severity of natural disasters – which have already cost the global economy $2 trillion over the last twenty years…. Small Island Developing States are seeing the encroachment of sea water on their lands and ground water, and are threatened by more intense storms, as we have seen this year in Vanuatu, Bahamas, and Dominica. In drought-prone regions like the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, food insecurity and poor harvests become more frequent.

– Helen Clark, as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP 2015)

5.1 Introduction

Climate change is threatening developing states, as Helen Clark’s remarks emphasize, and many do not have the capacity, or finances, to adapt. Adaptation costs for developing countries are large, and global estimates vary between USD 19 billion and USD 429 billion annually by 2050 (Watkiss et al., Reference Watkiss, Baarsch, Trabacchi and Caravani2014). Although states have established various new bilateral and multilateral climate adaptation funds, they have not established an international adaptation organization for implementing climate adaptation projects. Rather the assumption is that existing development and humanitarian institutions will integrate climate adaptation into their mandates (Hall Reference Hall2016b). Yet many international development and humanitarian organizations were established in the aftermath of World War II with no mandate for climate change or the environment. This provokes an important question: How are existing international development institutions responding to climate change? Are they integrating climate adaptation into their mandates?

This chapter focuses specifically on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nation’s largest development entity, and examines how and why it moved beyond its original mandate to engage with climate adaptation. In doing so, this chapter takes a different approach from other authors in this book, as it focuses on an international development organization, which is not commonly identified as a core part of the climate change, or any environmental, regime. Although scholars in this book, and elsewhere, have examined the autonomy and effectiveness of international environmental bureaucracies, they have not sufficiently examined how nonenvironmental international organizations are addressing climate change and its effects (Biermann and Siebenhüner Reference Biermann and Siebenhüner2009; Jinnah Reference Jinnah2014).Footnote 1 It is critical to study how a wide range of institutions are engaging with climate change, as it has implications for health, gender equality, and human rights. Furthermore, UNDP is an important case to study given its presence in over 120 states and influence across the UN system. However, states neither established nor intended UNDP to focus on the impact of or climate change.

This chapter examines how an international service-orientated bureaucracy adapted its own mandate through “self-directed action” (Park and Weaver Reference Park, Weaver and Oestrich2012). It is a relevant comparative case for this book, which largely focuses on the influence of international secretariats, as mandate change in UNDP also involves interstate negotiations at the UNDP Executive Board. The difference is that these negotiations do not produce an international agreement – such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement – but rather set the direction for UNDP. This chapter suggests that successive executive heads have set their own vision for UNDP, lobbied states, and influenced mandate expansion.

Section 5.2 examines two existing theoretical explanations for mandate change: state-driven and agent-driven. It puts forward an additional elaboration of principal–agent theory: that organizations may not always seek to expand and maximize their scope. Rather, executive heads make decisions about whether and when to expand depending on material, ideational, or normative changes to their external environment.

Section 5.3 traces mandate change in UNDP. It draws on over fifty interviews carried out between 2009 and 2013 with states and international organizations in Geneva (where UNDP has an office), in New York (UNDP headquarters), and at the (UNFCCC Conference of the Parties [COP15] held in Copenhagen in 2009). Interview participants were selected on the basis that they had worked on climate change for the UNDP and/or had a senior role overseeing UNDP’s work (as a state representative and/or an international bureaucrat).Footnote 2 Interviews were semistructured and lasted for approximately forty to sixty minutes. They were used to identify the timeline of, and reasons for, UNDP’s engagement with climate change. Participants were also asked to identify other potential interviewees (“snowball” interviewing) and official documents, which are cited wherever possible throughout this chapter rather than interviews.

The chapter also draws on an extensive analysis of UNDP board meetings’ decisions and administrators’ speeches from 2000 to 2016. The author searched these public documents and distinguished whether these documents (i) identified climate change as a problem, (ii) mentioned briefly UNDP’s role in addressing climate change, and/or (iii) elaborated a substantive role for UNDP in addressing climate change. The author, as directed by interviewees, also examined other significant UNDP strategic documents, evaluations, and reports that elaborated UNDP’s climate change policies. These documents, triangulated with the interview transcripts, are the basis for the case study of UNDP’s engagement with climate change.

Section 5.4 finds that organizational change, when it occurred, was led by UNDP Administrators, and not by states. It suggests that administrators decided whether and how to expand into a new issue area and then lobbied states to endorse this expansion. This is an important contribution to existing theories of international bureaucracies, which often assume that mandate expansion is state-led or that bureaucracies always seek to expand.

5.2 Explaining Mandate Change in International Organizations

States set, adjust, and monitor the mandates of international organizations and are also responsible for funding these organizations to realize their missions. Realist scholars have emphasized the power of hegemonic states in determining international organizations’ actions (Mearsheimer Reference Mearsheimer1995). The United States, for instance, nominates the head of the World Bank and has veto power on its executive board and so can directly influence its activities. States may even eject leaders who do not follow their will: The United States, for example, ousted the executive head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), when he insisted that the OPCW should be allowed to inspect the United States as thoroughly as it did other signatories of the Convention on Chemical Weapons (Simons Reference Simons2013). These are state-driven explanations of international organizations’ behavior.

Yet even the most powerful states do not determine all that goes on in an international organization. As principal–agent scholars have noted, states do not typically delegate in detail every task they expect an institution to carry out but rather expect an organization to use its expertise to respond to new issues or circumstances appropriately. Scholars – and practitioners – understand that international organizations have room to interpret their mandates, as the exact parameters are often ambiguous.

In fact, a common assumption of principal–agent theory is that international bureaucracies seek to maximize their autonomy from states. These scholars are interested in so-called agency slack – when an agent (international organization) strays from their principal’s (member states) preferences (Hawkins et al. Reference Hawkins, Lake, Nielson and Tierney2006). Scholars have sought to explain why organizations expand by looking at the degree of delegated discretion to an organization, the strength of member state preferences, the degree of consensus within the executive board, voting structures, and the costs of monitoring an organization (Hawkins et al. Reference Hawkins, Lake, Nielson and Tierney2006). States for instance, may establish institutional checks and sanction an institution by controlling the budget and/or overriding decisions. States face a trade-off between the costs of monitoring an agent and the benefits they derive from leaving an agent to implement its mandate more autonomously. Although principal–agent theory offers important insights, scholars tend to assume that international bureaucracies have an inherent interest in maximizing their budget, tasks, and autonomy, as they are “competence-maximizers” (Pollack Reference Pollack2003: 39). In this view, international organizations’ preferences are somewhat fixed, and any variation in organizational expansion is determined by the nature of delegation and states’ interest or ability to monitor their agents.

Here I suggest that executive heads have a critical role in deciding whether they want to pursue mandate expansion. The preferences of international organizations are not fixed but may evolve in reaction to changes in the external environment. Scholars have already demonstrated how executive heads have influenced the direction of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR; Betts Reference Betts and Oestrich2012), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP; Ivaanova Reference Ivaanova2010), and the World Bank through “self-directed action” (Park and Weaver Reference Park, Weaver and Oestrich2012). In fact, Cox (Reference Cox1969: 205) argues that “the quality of executive leadership may prove to be the most critical single determinant of the growth in the scope and authority of international organizations.”

Scholars have also explored variation in executive heads’ influence (Woods et al. Reference Woods, Kabra and Hall2015). Biermann and Siebenhüner (Reference Biermann and Siebenhüner2009: 58), for instance, argue that international environmental bureaucracies are more influential when they have strong leadership, which they define as “charismatic, visionary, and popular as well as flexible and reflexive.” Meanwhile, Hall and Woods (Reference Hall and Woods2018) have explored how executive heads can overcome legal-political, bureaucratic, and financial constraints. Public opinion, the personality and skills of individual leaders, and the nature of the problem they seek to address may also be important (Park and Weaver Reference Park, Weaver and Oestrich2012). Drawing on this international relations scholarship, I suggest that executive heads deliberate over expansion, and will not always seek to expand and maximize their scope. They will consider the financial opportunities and ideational and normative reasons for expanding.

Firstly, international organizations are reliant on funding to implement their mandates. Furthermore, they operate in an increasingly competitive and complex marketplace with scarce resources. Core funding for UN institutions has decreased over time and donors increasingly favor earmarked financing (funding that is targeted for certain regions, topics, or projects). In 2014, for instance, USD 14.2 billion of the UN system’s funding (65 percent) was earmarked while only USD 7.5 billion was allocated to the core budget.Footnote 3 Earmarked financing gives executive heads less discretion than core funding. Although there are multiple new sources of financing for multilaterals – private actors (such as Bill and Melinda Gates) and multilateral trust funds (such as GAVI) – there are also an increasing number of development actors trying to secure this funding. Executive heads have considerable scope to look beyond their executive board for funding but must consider the quantity of funding and also the quality (core or earmarked) (Graham Reference Graham2015). Resource dependency theory scholars would argue that executive heads will be driven by the supply of external material resources (Pfeffer and Salancik Reference Pfeffer and Salancik1978). An executive head may decide to take on new issue areas, and expand their organizational mandate, to increase their chances for financing.

In addition, an increasing awareness of how issues are interconnected may facilitate mandate expansion. Scholars have suggested that international organizations will tend to expand in both size and scope as staff “try to square their rationalized abstractions of reality with facts on the ground” (Barnett and Finnemore Reference Barnett and Finnemore2004: 44). This is because “conscientious bureaucrats very quickly recognize that to accomplish a great many ambitious social tasks they need to reach outside the narrow compartments in which we place them” (Barnett and Finnemore Reference Barnett and Finnemore2004: 44). Executive heads, and their staff, are likely to take on new issues – such as climate change – when they see a logical connection to the organization’s established expertise. For expansion to occur in this case, executive heads would need to perceive an issue linkage, or causal connection, between their mandate and the new issue (Hall Reference Hall2016b). For example, scientific research suggests that climate change causes natural disasters, which in turn undermines development efforts. Thus, there is a logical rationale for a development agency to engage with the effects of climate change.

Alternatively, expansion may be driven by normative reasons: Executive heads may see a critical role they should play in a new issue area. Even if an issue linkage is not strong or present, they may look to forge one. This may be the case for many UN agencies that have a normative agenda to protect human rights. For instance, international bureaucrats may argue that climate change has human rights implications because their core concern is to protect human rights, even if there has not yet been independent scholarship outlining these links.

These three factors (financial, ideational, and normative) can be complementary and mutually reinforcing. This chapter advances a nuanced, dynamic understanding of institutional influence, by looking at individual preferences. It does not assume that preferences of states, international institutions, or executive heads are constant across time. It enriches principal–agent literature and sociological institutionalism by examining how leaders navigate external opportunities and constraints (Hall and Woods Reference Hall and Woods2018). It suggests that we must also look at the evolving preferences of executive heads within a changing environment, and leaders may respond differently to these circumstances. It builds on resource dependency theory by suggesting that executive heads are influenced by their environment and can influence it (Pfeffer and Salancik Reference Pfeffer and Salancik1978).

This chapter will explore these theoretical arguments in the context of UNDP’s expansion into climate adaptation. For the realist argument to hold we would expect to see powerful states instructing – and even delegating – UNDP to work on climate adaptation. In contrast, if executive heads led UNDP’s climate adaptation engagement, they would take the lead and lobby member states at the executive board to prioritize climate adaptation. The UNDP Executive Board is chaired by a rotating state representative (the president), and the UNDP Administrator participates but does not have voting powers (United Nations 2011). Identifying exactly who made the first move is challenging – particularly as the author does not have access to the records of bilateral meetings between UNDP and states. Thus, it is hard to ascertain whether member states in private pushed UNDP to engage with climate change. The chapter relies on interviews with state and international bureaucrats, alongside the official and public records, to understand who drove UNDP’s climate adaptation work.Footnote 4

5.3 UNDP and Climate Adaptation

UNDP’s Evolving Environmental Mandate (1965–1999)

The United Nations General Assembly established UNDP in 1965 “to enhance coordination of the various types of technical assistance programs within the UN system” and foster economic development in developing countries (Stokke Reference Stokke2009: 187). UNDP was the merger of two UN entities: the Expanded Programme for Technical Assistance and the United Nations Special Fund. At its inception UNDP had no mandate to address any environmental issues in developing country contexts. This is not surprising – after all, the UN environmental agenda began in 1972 with the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, and the concept of sustainable development was elaborated in 1987, in a report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, “Our Common Future” (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). During its first twenty years UNDP was a development fund that channeled assistance from donors to UN specialized agencies. It was also a program that directly delivered support to 130 governments to build capacity and develop agricultural and industrial sectors and funded natural resource extraction. UNDP supported, for instance, the development of Ghana’s gold extraction industry.Footnote 5 By the early 1990s it had evolved into a development agency that did “everything” but had no core specialization or focus (Murphy Reference Murphy2006: 232). It had neither a target population (e.g., for the United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF] these are children) nor a sectoral focus like other UN agencies (World Health Organization and health). In fact, James Gustave Speth (UNDP Administrator, 1993–1999) stated that it “lacked a clear substantive profile, a focus in development policy terms and a profiled strategy” (Klingebiel Reference Klingebiel1999: 104).

In the 1990s two consecutive UNDP Administrators sought to build UNDP’s role in the environment and sustainable development. William Draper (UNDP Administrator, 1986–1993), a former Wall Street banker, was aware that environmental degradation was occurring and would become more of an issue in the future.Footnote 6 He also saw the environment as an area for future business for UNDP, as over 100 world leaders met in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly referred to as the Rio Earth Summit, to discuss environmental issues.Footnote 7 At the Rio Earth Summit, states officially launched the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), a new fund dedicated to address global environmental issues (Mingst and Karns Reference Mingst and Karns2016: 216). The GEF channeled grants from developed to developing states to address biodiversity, climate change, ozone layer depletion, and international waters (Young Reference Young2002). UNDP, UNEP, and the World Bank worked together to establish the legal and constitutional framework for the GEF.Footnote 8 At the outset, UNDP was one of only three agencies that had access to the GEF, worth USD 1.2 billion (Murphy Reference Murphy2006).

The creation of the GEF signaled the beginning of UNDP’s work on climate change, in contrast to its prior main focus on energy demand, supply, and conservation. UNDP, through the GEF, had access to a stream of financing to develop environmental activities, separate from member state contributions. It subsequently used the GEF to assist developing countries to fulfill their requirements to the UNFCCC on mitigation – so-called enabling activities. During his time in office, Draper established UNDP’s first environmental unit: the Energy and Natural Resources Unit, which became the main UNDP interlocutor with the GEF.

In 1993, Draper was replaced by Speth. Speth, an active environmentalist, had played a central role in world environmental conferences, including the 1992 Rio Conference, and was a founder of the World Resources Institute. He sought to integrate the concept of sustainable development into UNDP, drawing on the 1987 “Our Common Future” report. In Speth’s first speech to all UNDP staff, he outlined his concept of sustainable human development.Footnote 9 He arrived with a clear vision that environmental issues were an important priority for UNDP to grapple with and encouraged member states to reorientate its mandate. In 1996 UNDP’s executive board endorsed this new vision and the UNDP mission placed “sustainability” at its center (Klingebiel Reference Klingebiel1999: 106–107). This was a significant reorientation of UNDP and built on the success of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in making environmental issues mainstream. Sustainability is a broad concept, and notably Speth did not focus UNDP’s mandate specifically on the impacts of climate change in developing countries. This is not surprising as in the 1990s many were still debating whether and how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and few policymakers focused on adaptation (Hall Reference Hall2016b).

Speth renamed the Energy and Natural Resources Unit the Sustainable Energy and Environment Division and focused its energies on securing GEF projects and developing policies on sustainable development. The GEF work dominated the division and brought in the vast majority of its funds. Between 1994 and 1997 UNDP received more than USD 150 million from the GEF, three times the core funding of its programs (Murphy Reference Murphy2006: 271). However, the environment division had little engagement or influence over the rest of UNDP’s programs as it did not operate with core funding (Young Reference Young2002: 85). The Sustainable Energy and Environment Division could operate regardless of support from the executive board as it had a separate stream of accessible funding earmarked for the environment. Thus, by the late 1990s a number of environmental projects were developed and implemented, some of which focused on climate change mitigation, but these were not part of UNDP’s mandate or strategic objectives. This shift occurred as a result of the new financing opportunities and Draper’s and Speth’s acknowledgment of the importance of sustainable development for UNDP.

Mark Malloch-Brown and the Environment (1999–2005)

In 1999 Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, a former World Bank vice-president, became UNDP Administrator. UNDP was in a financial crisis: The organization’s core funding was low. Malloch-Brown (Reference Malloch-Brown2011: 119) put it simply: “UNDP was poor and the World Bank was rich.” He diagnosed that UNDP had attempted to compete across too many areas of development, stretching its expertise too thin. It had agriculture and education experts, public health and forestry units, urban planning expertise and much more, even though the United Nations had other specialized agencies in each of these areas (Malloch-Brown Reference Malloch-Brown2011: 121). In response, he sought to create “a highly focused” (UNDP 2001: 2) organization and downgraded the environment and natural resource management “as having little to contribute to the core UNDP mandates of poverty and governance” (UNDP Evaluation Office 2010: vii).

Malloch-Brown made major structural changes to the Environment and Energy Group. He disbanded the forestry program, reduced the number of staff working on the environment, and decentralized the Environment and Energy Group. The UNDP Administrator also discontinued positions in sustainable livelihoods, transport, and sustainable development (UNDP Evaluation Office 2008: 11). He sought to reduce the number of staff in the Bureau for Policy Development, of which the Environment and Energy Group was part, from 250 to fewer than 120 staff members at headquarters, with 98 staff redeployed to the field by 2001 (Malloch-Brown Reference Malloch-Brown2011: 2). Malloch-Brown’s decentralization and restructuring caused a sharp decline in the number of environment staff positions at headquarters, and a number of the senior environment and energy staff left after his arrival.Footnote 10

UNDP lost much of its environmental policy work, and its environmental staff would be asked at non-GEF environmental meetings, “why are you here?”Footnote 11 Yet while the rest of UNDP was facing major cuts, the GEF unit continued to have access to earmarked financial resources for the environment through the GEF. In 2001 UNDP’s environmental activities were almost exclusively GEF-funded and there was no core funding (from the executive board) for climate change activities.Footnote 12 Staff were encouraged to develop the maximum possible number of projects likely to be approved by the GEF.Footnote 13 Thus, UNDP’s environment and energy portfolio became even more dependent on the GEF. Malloch-Brown supported climate change activities as long as they were financially self-sustaining, through the GEF or other multilateral funds, and did not drain core resources. Although UNDP did develop some climate mitigation projects during this time, they were not aligned with Malloch-Brown’s strategic focus on poverty reduction and good governance.Footnote 14

The UNDP board was broadly supportive of Malloch-Brown’s downsizing of the Environment and Energy Group. In 2000 the executive board decided to discontinue environment as a core priority within UNDP’s multiyear funding frameworks (UNDP Evaluation Office 2012). Although the environment was reinstated as a priority in 2002, it did not have “status as a core priority supported by core funds” (UNDP Evaluation Office 2012: 12). There was almost no mention of climate change in the official summary of decisions adopted by the executive board between 2000 and 2005, which suggests that climate change was a priority neither for states nor for UNDP officials. Climate change in UNDP did not need to be a high organizational priority as it received funding through the GEF, during a period of declining core contributions to UNDP. UNDP’s overarching goal was poverty reduction, and other agencies, such as UNEP, had a greater mandate and expertise in the environmental sphere (Executive Board of the UNDP/UNFPA 2004; UNDP Evaluation Office 2012: 12). In short, under Malloch-Brown UNDP deprioritized the environment and climate change, and this area of work continued only because of the GEF funding.

Kemal Derviş and Climate Change (2005–2009)

In 2005 Kemal Derviş took over as UNDP Administrator. He was a former Turkish minister of economic affairs and had previously worked as the World Bank’s chief economist. According to one staff member, he was a “very intellectual and solid economist and always demanded that policy decisions be rigorously backed by empirical evidence whenever possible.”Footnote 15 This may have influenced his outlook on climate change, particularly at a time when many governments were reluctant to admit climate change was anthropogenic and did not see climate adaptation as a development priority. When Derviş arrived, UNDP was still in the process of elaborating its positions on climate change.Footnote 16 Derviş spent a “considerable amount time guiding the organization” and his senior managers through intellectual discussions to develop a UNDP position.Footnote 17 He demanded of his staff rigorous analysis on how mitigation and adaptation issues would impact development trajectories and how the burden of climate change, including financing, should be shared among states.Footnote 18 During his first year in office, while these internal discussions took place, he delivered no major speeches on climate change.

In fact, an evaluation of the Environment and Energy Group stated that the environment was not a “core priority for the new administrator” and was critical of the climate related activities taking place (UNDP Evaluation Office 2010: ix). The evaluation argued that “the fit between UNDP’s poverty reduction and the GEF objective of mitigating global climate change has been less than convincing” (UNDP Evaluation Office 2010: x). It argued that adaptation was a “more natural area for UNDP to engage in than mitigation, where the benefits are largely global” (UNDP Evaluation Office 2010: x). It noted that there was a high level of dependence on the GEF and emphasis on “going after available money rather than allocating core resources to sets of activities that are consistent with the UNDP mandate” (UNDP Evaluation Office 2010: x). The Environment and Energy Group continued to be supported and driven by the GEF’s priorities. Derviş was not initially a strong advocator for UNDP engaging with climate change and neither were states. In the summary of decisions taken by the UNDP Executive Board between 2005 and 2007, there is no mention of climate change.

In 2006 Derviş, and his associate administrator Ad Melkert, began to speak about climate change as a development issue. They both highlighted a new UNDP initiative – the Millennium Development Goals Carbon Facility, which offered developing states financing for carbon emission reductions. Derviş (Reference Derviş2006) explained that it was “formulated to assist developing countries in addressing the challenge of climate change while at the same time using carbon financing opportunities to generate alternative and additional financing for reaching the Millennium Development Goals.” These speeches correlated with an increased global, and mainstream, interest in climate change. In 2006, the UK government released the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change. The report was extremely influential and highlighted the detrimental effect of global warming on the world economy. It claimed that climate change was the greatest and most wide-reaching market failure ever seen and that climate change represented a “grave threat to the developing world and a major obstacle to continued poverty reduction across its many dimensions” (Stern Reference Stern2006: vii). In addition it noted, “Adaptation will cost tens of billions of dollars a year in developing countries alone, and will put still further pressure on already scarce resources. Adaptation efforts, particularly in developing countries, should be accelerated” (Stern Reference Stern2006: vii). In 2007 the release of the fourth IPCC report, the UNFCCC summit in Bali (COP13), and Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, motivated further global awareness of climate change.

Derviş responded to the increased global awareness of climate change and its impact on developing countries. He stated that “global warming can’t be looked at as an environmental issue anymore: it is undoubtedly a threat to human development as a whole. All development strategies must therefore account for climate-related risk” (Derviş Reference Derviş2007b). He made climate change a central part of his speech to the executive board in 2007, where he outlined UNDP’s three-pronged approach to climate change. This involved: (i) mainstreaming climate change into UNDP’s core activities; (ii) creating conditions that allow markets and the private sector to “provide effective solutions to sustainable development and climate change mitigation” (Derviş Reference Derviş2007c); and (iii) increasing the capacity of developing countries to incorporate resilience into national plans. The speech was important as it signaled to the executive board the central importance of climate change to UNDP.

In 2007 UNDP also published its first major report linking climate change to human development. The Human Development Report Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World (2007: vi) argued that climate change was a development issue as “development progress is increasingly going to be hindered by climate change. So we must see the fight against poverty and fight against the effects of climate change as interrelated efforts.” The report forged a strong conceptual linkage between climate change and human development, stating that climate change threatens human development by eroding “human freedoms and limiting choice” (UNDP 2007: 7). It emphasized that developing countries would be the worst hit by climate change, and had the lowest carbon footprints, and thus the international community should assist them in adaptation. It also stated that “human development itself is the most secure foundation for adaptation to climate change” (UNDP 2007). The Human Development Report’s main contribution was to identify how climate change would impact on the poorest and those in the Global South.Footnote 19 This report was a “very important catalytic moment” according to one UNDP staff member, as until then climate change was not well understood in UNDP outside of the Environment and Energy Group.Footnote 20

Derviş continued to emphasize the links between development and climate change in 2007, 2008, and 2009. He stated that “should the pace of [climate] change accelerate further, development and adaptation could well become synonymous” (Derviş Reference Derviş2007a). Immediately before the Bali UNFCCC summit Derviş (Reference Derviş2007d) published an Op-Ed on climate change and development where he stated that a “failure to act on climate change will have grave consequences for human development in some of the poorest places in the world and it will undermine efforts to tackle poverty.” He used public speeches to position UNDP as an agency with expertise in climate change and development. He showcased the UNDP’s expertise in climate assistance to member states at the executive board, stating that it was “one of the largest sources of technical assistance for climate change related actions in the world, with an on-going portfolio of about US $2 billion [from GEF]” (Derviş Reference Derviş2007c).

In addition to the Human Development Report, UNDP published a Climate Change Strategy in 2008 aimed at staff and member states. It outlined how to integrate climate change across UNDP and justified why UNDP was the best-positioned agency to work on climate change within the UN system. The strategy built on the Human Development Report, stating that UNDP’s overarching goals were “to align human development and climate change management efforts by promoting mitigation and adaptation activities that do not slow down but rather accelerate socio-economic progress” (UNDP 2008a: 7). This goal would be realized through mainstreaming climate change in UNDP’s development policies as well as through the UN, national, regional, and international programs and policies. Climate change mainstreaming within UNDP would be led by the Environment and Energy Group and a “cross-practice steering group” of governance, poverty reduction, capacity development, and gender experts who would develop programming tools in each area (UNDP 2008a: 20). The Climate Change Strategy and Human Development Report elaborated an issue linkage between climate change and human development and thus a rationale for UNDP’s engagement with climate change.

In 2008 member states officially endorsed UNDP’s new role in climate change adaptation and mitigation. UNDP renegotiated with the board its multiyear strategy, to replace the previous multiyear funding framework for 2004–2008. The resulting strategy document (UNDP 2008b) listed four key sectors where UNDP had a mandate to deliver policy advice and technical assistance. These were poverty reduction, democratic governance, crisis prevention and recovery, and environment and sustainable development. “Promoting climate change adaptation” was listed as a subset of the UNDP’s environment and energy areas (UNDP 2008b: 34–35). Member states endorsed the strategic plan and thus gave UNDP a clear and official focus on adaptation. Up until then UNDP had no adaptation service line (UNDP 2008b: 34–35).

Although UNDP was mandated to work on climate adaptation it was not always highly prioritized by the organization. Meanwhile, during this period “funding exploded” for climate change adaptation outside of the GEF.Footnote 21 New international funds for climate change adaptation emerged, and demand from recipient countries multiplied.Footnote 22 This funding provided a strong incentive for UNDP to expand its climate change portfolio between 2008 and 2011. From 2008 onward there was a marked increase in the number of staff working on climate change in the Environment and Energy Group, outside of the GEF-financed projects. Bilateral donors funded UNDP to establish new programs on adaptation, deforestation, and carbon financing.Footnote 23 UNDP crated new teams at headquarters to manage these programs. In 2008, for example, the Japanese government gave UNDP USD 92.1 million to implement adaptation programs in twenty African states between 2008 and 2012. This was a major grant that UNDP, in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UNICEF, and the World Food Programme, used to establish the African Adaptation Programme, its largest adaptation program at the time. UNDP established a team to manage the program in Senegal with oversight provided by its headquarters in New York.Footnote 24 One staff member explained that “there’s a lot more climate change capacity in the Environment and Energy Group and less and less in the other areas.”Footnote 25 The Environment and Energy Group shifted from being predominantly GEF-reliant to a more even split between GEF and other funding.

In addition, divisions outside of the Environment and Energy Group began to establish their own climate change experts. The gender unit, for instance, established a team of three people to develop policies to link gender and climate change and advocate for gender equality in the UNFCCC negotiations and the climate funds.Footnote 26 UNDP also established a climate change focal point system at the regional headquarters and country office level. Each regional center was assigned several “qualified people” on climate change.Footnote 27 Staff expertise shifted from “environment and energy, to climate change, and now to climate change mitigation and adaptation separately.”Footnote 28 The Environment and Energy Group sought to train “almost every single staff member from UN resident coordinators to the environmental coordinators on the UNFCCC negotiations and carbon financing.”Footnote 29 UNDP’s expansion into climate change included a reorientation of staff expertise and was enabled by increased climate finance. Derviş’ views on whether and how UNDP should engage with climate change evolved over his tenure, in reaction to the changing financial environment, increased demand for normative leadership, and growing awareness of how climate change affected developing countries.

Helen Clark and Climate Change (2009–2017)

In 2009 Helen Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand, became the new administrator of UNDP. Clark arrived the year of the high-profile UNFCCC summit in Copenhagen. She stated from the outset that climate change should be one of UNDP’s top priorities, alongside the Millennium Development Goals. In her first speech to the executive committee in April 2009 she argued that it is “critical” to bring in the “climate change challenge into the center of the way in which we think about development” (Clark Reference Clark2009b). Clark’s position built on Derviş’: She reiterated that climate change undermined development efforts and hit the poorest worst. In addition, she outlined a role for UNDP as the “UN agency with a climate and development mandate” as it had “significant expertise in the areas of climate change and sustainable development” (Clark Reference Clark2009d). Clark (Reference Clark2009d) had a clear view of UNDP’s priorities within its mandate: UNDP was mandated to work in four areas; two of these – promotion of democratic governance and crisis prevention and recovery – were stepping stones to their other priorities, poverty reduction, the Millennium Development Goals, and environment and sustainable development.

Clark positioned UNDP as the UN climate change and development agency, partly with the hope of securing additional funding. She viewed the Copenhagen summit as an opportunity to establish new climate funds,Footnote 30 and she lobbied governments to reduce emissions and commit new, additional, resources to cover adaptation costs of developing countries (Clark Reference Clark2009e). She argued for a “development deal” at Copenhagen, which would benefit developing countries as well as UNDP. She stated:

What could be achieved at Copenhagen, including through finance mechanisms being worked on, has significant implications for development. These mechanisms could become a major new and additional source of development financing, complementing, and at some point possibly even surpassing the significance of ODA [overseas development assistance]. A new development paradigm could be in the making.

She maintained that UNDP should have a role to play in dispersing this new climate financing, agreed upon by states at Copenhagen and Cancun UNFCCC summits.

Clark secured member state support to make climate change a top organizational priority. At the 2009 executive board meeting she stated, “Making the links between Millennium Development Goals achievement and sustainable development has also led me to prioritize UNDP’s support to program countries on climate issues and the ongoing negotiations for a new agreement. Development and the impact of climate change and variability cannot be treated as distinct issues. They are inextricably linked” (UNDP 2009). UNDP (2009) also reported on its climate change adaptation expenses (a total of USD 11.7 million) for the first time. In the 2009 Annual Report, Clark asserted that combating climate change was one of UNDP’s top mandated priorities (UNDP 2009: 15). This was a remarkable claim to make and a significant shift from UNDP’s position in 2000. Donors in 2010 endorsed its position and “called upon UNDP to continue playing a central role in linking climate change to development and helping developing countries to take mitigation and adaptation measures” (UNDP Executive Board 2010: 3). Member states were overall supportive of UNDP’s engagement with climate adaptation in the publicly available executive board documentation, but there is no evidence that they initiated this shift.

Significant structural change also occurred under Clark between 2009 and 2011. In 2009 UNDP outlined the need for a “surge” in staff capacity to its executive board (Melkert Reference Melkert2009). Associate Administrator Melkert (Reference Melkert2009) argued that climate change was an area of “extraordinary demand” due to preparations for Copenhagen and the hoped-for future agreement on mitigation and adaptation. He stated that there will be “with no doubt the need for substantial extra capacity to support in particular the least developed countries and small island states” (Melkert Reference Melkert2009). UNDP established climate focal points in the regional bureau at headquarters and at regional and country levels. At headquarters each regional bureau established a climate change focal point. For example, the Regional Bureau for Africa had a climate change advisor reporting directly to the bureau’s director.Footnote 31 UNDP also sent twenty-six climate change focal points to country offices in least developed countries.Footnote 32 This was part of a concerted effort to put more staff on the ground, develop climate change programs, and mainstream climate change across UNDP’s work. The creation of these new positions represented a significant investment of resources and locked in previous rhetoric and policy changes. These staff changes institutionalized climate change as a central priority for UNDP.

Clark also lobbied states to increase their climate financing at annual board meetings and international summits – from the UNFCCC in Warsaw, Poland (December 2013), to the United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa (September 2014). She advocated for financing for “climate-integrated development strategies” and state commitment to operationalize and adequately finance the Green Climate Fund (Clark Reference Clark2012b). She argued that more was needed to meet states’ commitments at Copenhagen to raise USD 100 billion annually by 2020, as only USD 50 million had been pledged for seed funding to the Green Climate Fund. She reiterated that climate financing should be additional to current development financing.

In parallel to these changes, UNDP also expanded its adaptation operations considerably. In the early 2000s it had no adaptation projects but by October 2013 it had 193 underway (UNDP 2013; UNDP EEG 2013a, b).Footnote 33 In fact, in 2012 Administrator Clark highlighted that UNDP was “the largest implementer of programmes in the UN development system, with more than US $500 million in annual delivery,” which translated to support for 140 countries to address climate change in 2011 (Clark Reference Clark2012a). UNDP’s adaptation projects were mainly funded through two sources: the multilateral climate funds (namely, the Special Climate Change Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund, GEF’s strategic priority on adaptation, and the Adaptation Fund) and the Japanese African Adaptation Programme. Under Clark’s leadership UNDP established a strong issue linkage between climate change adaptation and human development and secured state support to refocus the organization’s efforts on climate change. This was facilitated by an increase in climate finance for mitigation and adaptation.

5.4 Explaining Organizational Expansion

The United Nations Development Programme was not established with a mandate to work on climate adaptation, sustainable development, or the environment. Moreover, states did not explicitly instruct UNDP to address climate adaptation as state-driven explanations of organizational change might expect. There is no evidence of states’ desire to shift UNDP into climate adaptation in the publicly available official records of the executive board meetings. Furthermore, no interview candidates highlighted the role of states in encouraging UNDP to engage with climate adaptation. Rather, the evidence suggests that successive UNDP Administrators reinterpreted and expanded UNDP’s mandate for normative, financial, and ideational reasons. It is worthwhile briefly examining how this external environment evolved in the 1999 to 2015 period, before comparing the particular responses of individual executive heads.

Financing for climate change began with the GEF, and was initially targeted solely at mitigation. It was only in the 2000s that grant financing specifically for adaptation was available. In 2000 at the sixth annual UNFCCC summit, as the negotiations over Kyoto became difficult, the European Union agreed to establish an annual climate change fund of USD 15 million to target adaptation as well as mitigation. Subsequently at the next COP in Marrakech in 2001, three multilateral funds were established: the Special Climate Change Fund, based on voluntary donations to facilitate technology transfer from developed to developing states; the Least Developed Countries Fund for least developed countries to develop National Adaptation Programmes of Action; and the Adaptation Fund, which was financed by a 2 percent levy on the Clean Development Mechanism. The establishment of these three climate funds offered new financing opportunities in adaptation as well as mitigation. Then at the UNFCCC in Copenhagen in 2009 states agreed to establish a new Green Climate Fund. They also pledged to mobilize USD 30 billion in total (USD 10 billion per annum) by 2012 and up to USD 100 billion by 2020 for both mitigation and adaptation. As of June 2017 states had pledged USD 10.4 million to the Green Climate Fund from forty-three countries.Footnote 34 Thus by the mid-2000s there were strong financial incentives for development institutions to work on climate adaptation, and these incentives became stronger over time as more financing was pledged and delivered.

In terms of ideational links, in the 1990s climate change was seen almost exclusively as an environmental issue (much like the ozone hole and its Montreal Protocol). It was only in the mid-2000s that academics, developing countries, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) highlighted how climate change would have disastrous impacts on developing countries, undermining their chances of development. As noted earlier, the 2006 Stern Review was a key part of building this connection between climate change and the economy. Development NGOs, developing countries, and other experts built strong issue linkages between development and adaptation over the early 2000s. By 2009 it was more commonly accepted that climate change would impact not just polar bears but also people in developing countries (Hall Reference Hall2016b). Furthermore, adaptation became increasingly intertwined with development efforts. Thus by 2009 there were strong ideational reasons for development actors to develop policies to address adaptation.

Alongside this, there was also greater global, mainstream, awareness of the moral urgency of climate change. It is difficult to pinpoint an exact moment: Perhaps it is 2005 when climate change was one of the top agenda items at the G8 summit in Gleneagles.Footnote 35 From then on climate change became a regular agenda item on the G7/8 and G20 agenda. It could also be dated to the release of Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, in 2006, which brought the perils of climate change to a broad global audience. There was also significant public and political debate about the cause and the scale of climate change as well as the appropriate global and national policy responses. Nevertheless, by the mid-2000s climate change was accepted by many states as a major global challenge, and it is no surprise that UN institutions felt a need to respond. In fact, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, requested all UN agencies to establish change focal points and develop a united UN climate policy in the lead-up to Copenhagen. The United Nations Secretariat launched an initiative to mitigate their emissions, “Greening the Blue.”Footnote 36

Reflecting on these three external factors – financing, ideational, and normative – we would expect UNDP Administrators to expand into climate adaptation from the mid-2000s onward. Previous to that there was little incentive for UNDP to take on climate adaptation – as there was no ideational, monetary, or normative rationale. However, there were financial, ideational and normative reasons to engage with a broad range of environmental issues under the umbrella of sustainable development. As we saw, Draper, a venture capitalist, saw that environmental change was an important global challenge (normative), which related to development concerns (issue linkage), particularly in the lead-up and aftermath of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Draper also saw financial opportunities for UNDP through the GEF. His successor, Speth, was a strong environmentalist and elaborated a vision for UNDP in sustainable development (normative) and in doing so connected environmental concerns to its development mandate (ideational). UNDP continued to work through the GEF on climate mitigation and other environmental issues. By 1996 it had a mandate to work on sustainable human development, but not explicitly on climate adaptation.

However, UNDP’s new environmental mandate was not set in stone. The following administrator, Malloch-Brown, deprioritized the environment in the late 1990s and early 2000s as he did not see a core role for UNDP in this issue area (issue linkage) and was concerned that the organization had spread itself too thinly across many issue areas. As a result, there was little engagement with climate change between 2000 and 2007, beyond UNDP’s implementation of GEF projects. This is an excellent example of how executive heads may interpret their external environment differently and limit their mandates accordingly.

In contrast, Derviş and Clark both prioritized climate change and spoke frequently about the connection between climate change and human development. They were driven by normative, ideational, and financial opportunities. Derviş echoed a growing view at the time that climate change would have disastrous effects on the economies of developing countries who were most vulnerable (normative and ideational). Under his term UNDP published the 2007 Human Development Report, the Climate Change Strategy, and the 2008 UNDP Strategy, which made climate change an institutional priority. UNDP’s expansion into climate change operations was also enabled by an expansion of financing opportunities from multilateral trusts and from bilateral donors. It is unlikely UNDP would have invested so many staff resources or developed almost two hundred adaptation projects if new climate financing was not available. It is significant that much of this financing was earmarked, and often from multilateral trust funds, and was not core funding from the executive board. In 2010 member states endorsed climate change as a mandated goal for UNDP. Clark also outlined a strong normative role for UNDP as the “UN agency with a climate and development mandate” based on an issue linkage between climate change and sustainable development. She also saw great financial opportunities for UNDP through new climate financing mechanisms. Overall, UNDP Administrators set the strategic direction of UNDP and official documentation suggests that the executive board tended to follow their lead. The board endorsed Malloch-Brown’s shifting away from the environment and Derviş and Clark’s prioritization of climate change.

This chapter found that UNDP Administrators developed their own visions for UNDP’s role in addressing climate change. These views evolved as normative, ideational, and financial opportunities changed, and based on their own assessment of UNDP’s role in global governance, as this chapter has traced. A more fine-grained analysis of the early years of UNDP’s work and interviews with more members of the former staff could explore whether particular UNDP staff, or NGOs, influenced UNDP Administrators’ positions on climate change and the environment. Normative entrepreneurs within or outside UNDP could have driven mandate expansion. There is certainly evidence in other international institutions that senior managers and innovative bureaucrats played a strong role in driving organizational expansion. Some staff in the International Organization for Migration (IOM), for instance, pushed the issue of climate change and migration, even when IOM’s Director-General was not fully engaged (2016b). Another potential explanation is that staff may have steered UNDP away from climate adaptation. This was the case in UNHCR, where many staff were initially reluctant to engage in debates over so-called “climate refugees” (Hall Reference Hall2016b). Further research should also focus on how states’ views of UNDP’s role changed over time. It would be useful, for example, to interview all the UNDP board members over the 2000–2015 period and have access to their internal records of bilateral meetings with UNDP Administrators.

5.5 Conclusion

Executive heads of international bureaucracies play an important role in determining whether and how to expand an organization’s mandate. The chapter found that two administrators played a central role in shifting UNDP toward the environment (Draper and Speth), and two others in prioritizing climate adaptation (Derviş and Clark). However, one administrator (Malloch-Brown) deprioritized environmental issues within UNDP. Leaders who favored expansion often did so when they saw a confluence of normative, ideational, and financial reasons. During Derviş’s and Clark’s leadership, climate change became an increasingly accepted and important global concern (normative). They also saw an issue linkage between climate change and UNDP’s development mandate (ideational). It was not enough to see climate change as an urgent global issue if they did not see a role for UNDP in addressing it (this was Malloch-Brown’s position). Derviş and Clark often referred to this issue linkage in their speeches, and justified UNDP’s expansion. Thirdly, UNDP was able to support developing countries with climate adaptation because of new multilateral and bilateral climate funds (financing). This created a strong incentive to develop expertise on adaptation. Overall, this chapter emphasized the importance of executive heads in mandate expansion. In particular, it suggested that how UNDP Administrators perceive the financial, ideational, and normative opportunities will influence their decision to expand into a new issue area.

Further research is needed to increase the generalizability beyond UNDP and climate adaptation. Scholars could look at why and how other international organizations expanded into climate change. Scholarship exists on the expansion of UNHCR and IOM but not on other important organizations such as UNICEF, UN-WOMEN, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Comparison should also be extended to how international organizations have engaged with other issue areas such as gender equality or indigenous rights. We also need a broader understanding of global adaptation governance and in particular what role the UNDP Administrator and the UN Secretary-General played in encouraging other UN entities to engage with adaptation (Hall and Persson Reference Hall and Persson2018: 540–566). After all, the UNDP Administrator chairs the United Nations Development Group, which gathers thirty-two UN funds, programs, specialized agencies, and other bodies that work to support sustainable development.Footnote 37 Staff of international organizations may not only expand their own organizational mandates but also influence bureaucrats in other institutions to expand theirs.


* This chapter draws on Hall (Reference Hall2016b).

1 An exception is the literature on the World Bank’s environmental reforms; see for instance Nielson and Tierney (Reference Nielson and Tierney2003).

2 The author interviewed UNDP staff in the Energy and Environment Group (EEG); Human Development Report Office; the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery; Bureau for Policy Development; African Adaptation Programme; Small Grants Programme; Gender Equality Team; and the African Regional Team. She had discussions with previous UNDP administrators, Gus Speth, Helen Clark, and Achim Steiner. She also interviewed donor and developing state representatives to UNDP; officials working in the Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team; and the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination.

3 UNDP has one of the highest proportions of earmarked budgets in the UN system. Almost 60 percent of their budget was tightly earmarked in 2016 (Schmid, Reitzenstein, and Hall Reference Schmid, Reitzenstein and Hall2021), 446.

4 It is also possible that organizational expansion was driven neither by member states nor the administrator but by UNDP staff.

5 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, June 4, 2012. Note that UNDP also carried out programs in renewable energies in the 1980s. For instance, it supported China in the development of clean coal technology and helped initiate national energy conservation efforts in Peru.

6 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, June 4, 2012.

7 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, June 4, 2012.

8 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, June 4, 2012; Interview with UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, May 22, 2012, New York.

9 Telephone Interview with former UNDP administrator James Gustave Speth June 14, 2012.

10 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group staff member, October 18, 2010.

11 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, June 4, 2012.

12 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, June 4, 2012.

13 Telephone interview with former UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, June 4, 2012.

14 Reliance on GEF funding for environment and energy initiatives meant that global environmental issues took precedence over national objectives and concerns such as pollution and water supply. The 2008 UNDP Evaluation Office was particularly critical of the GEF unit in UNDP for this reason. See UNDP Evaluation Office (2008).

15 Interview with UNDP official, October 7, 2010, New York.

16 Interview with UNDP official, October 7, 2010, New York.

17 Interview with UNDP official, October 7, 2010, New York.

18 Interview with UNDP official, October 7, 2010, New York.

19 Interview with former UNDP Human Development Report official, June 12, 2012, Oxford.

20 Interview with UNDP Energy and Environment Group senior official, May 22, 2012, New York.

21 Interview with UNDP Environment and Energy Group senior official, May 22, 2012, New York.

22 Interview with UNDP Environment and Energy Group senior official, May 22, 2012, New York.

23 UNDP, FAO, and UNEP initiated the UN-REDD program in 2008. REDD, or REDD+, is a financial incentive mechanism under the UNFCCC and stands for Reduction of Emissions due to Deforestation and forest Degradation in developing countries. The UN-REDD program is funded by four major donors including the Norwegian government. The UNDP staff comprises twelve technical and policy staff at the global level (based in New York, Oslo and Geneva), two regional technical advisers for the Asia-Pacific region, and one regional adviser each in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. The program is worth around USD 119 million. Interview with UNDP Environment and Energy Group official, October 21, 2010, New York.

24 UNDP, Africa Adaptation Programme website, Interview with UNDP Environment and Energy Group official d, October 6, 2010, and May 21, 2012, New York. Telephone interview with UNDP official, June 1, 2012.

25 Interview with UNDP official, October 7, 2010, New York.

26 Interview with UNDP gender official h, October 21, 2010, New York. The gendered impacts of climate change were included in a number of speeches by the administrator and the deputy administrator. See Melkert (Reference Melkert2008).

27 Interview with UNDP official, October 12, 2010, New York.

28 Interview with UNDP official, October 12, 2010, New York.

29 Interview with UNDP Environment and Energy Group senior official b, May 22, 2012, New York.

30 She highlighted this in conversation with the author at the UNFCCC summit, Copenhagen, 2009. She later stated, “Where I want more focus and action now is on … environment and sustainable development. This is particularly important … as the climate change negotiations enter an intensive period with considerable potential to benefit development” (Clark Reference Clark2009c).

31 Interview with UNDP Climate Change Focal Point in Regional Bureau for Africa, October 21, 2010.

32 Interview with UNDP Climate Change Focal Point in Regional Bureau for Africa, October 21, 2010.

33 UNDP also developed an on-line database of all their adaptation projects: the ‘Adaptation Learning Mechanism’,

35 One could also argue we are seeing another wave of mainstream awareness of climate change with today’s #FridayforFutures strikes, initiated by Greta Thunberg, and also the Extinction Rebellion protests. See Hall (Reference Hall, Sosa-Nunez and Atkins2016a and 2022)


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  • Moving beyond Mandates
  • Edited by Helge Jörgens, Iscte – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal, Nina Kolleck, Universität Potsdam, Germany, Mareike Well, Freie Universität Berlin
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  • Moving beyond Mandates
  • Edited by Helge Jörgens, Iscte – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal, Nina Kolleck, Universität Potsdam, Germany, Mareike Well, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Book: International Public Administrations in Environmental Governance
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  • Moving beyond Mandates
  • Edited by Helge Jörgens, Iscte – Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal, Nina Kolleck, Universität Potsdam, Germany, Mareike Well, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Book: International Public Administrations in Environmental Governance
  • Online publication: 22 February 2024
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