United Nations Office for Project Services
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|Type||Independent self-financing member of the United Nations family|
|Grete Faremo – Executive Director|
|United Nations System|
The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is an operational arm of the United Nations, dedicated to implementing projects for the United Nations System, international financial institutions, governments and other partners around the world. The organization's global headquarters is located on the UN City campus in Copenhagen, Denmark.
UNOPS implements more than $2 billion worth of peace and security, humanitarian and development projects for its partners every year, operating in more than 80 countries. Its activities have ranged from managing the construction of schools in Afghanistan, to building shelters in Haiti, to procuring ambulances to support the Ebola response in Liberia.
UNOPS is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group and works particularly closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) and the World Bank.
UNOPS was established in 1973 as part of the UNDP. It became an independent, self-financing organization in 1995. The UNOPS vision is to "advance sustainable implementation practices in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding contexts" in some of the world's most challenging environments. UNOPS concentrates its support in areas where it has a clear mandate and expertise: infrastructure, procurement, project management, human resources and financial management services.
UNOPS is a fully self-financing organization. It covers direct and indirect costs by charging a fee on each project supported. UNOPS pricing policy outlines how the organization aims to finance its projects. UNOPS is not-for-profit, and meets the highest international standards of accountability and transparency in all its transactions.
UNOPS often works in post-disaster and peace and security settings, developing countries and economies in transition. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan designated UNOPS as the lead United Nations entity for complex infrastructure projects in peacekeeping settings.
In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly reaffirmed UNOPS mandate "as a central resource for the UN system in procurement and contracts management as well as in civil works and physical infrastructure development, including the related capacity development activities."  At the official opening of the UNOPS headquarters in Copenhagen in May 2009, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described UNOPS as a member of the UN family with a "critical role in providing management services for our life-saving peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations […] setting countries on course to a more stable future by helping them to build roads, schools and clinics, to remove landmines, to prepare for democratic elections, and much else".
Current UN Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted UNOPS important role in providing meaningful expertise to countries in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change: “In countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Somalia and Colombia, UNOPS technical support to UN agencies in procurement and other specialized areas has expedited the provision of relief services to millions of people in need, and in doing so, contributed to more stable and secure societies.”
UNOPS offers implementation, advisory and transactional services in its five core areas of expertise:
- Project Management
- Financial Management
- Human Resources
UNOPS provides specialized services to a range of partners, including: the United Nations, its agencies, funds and programmes; international financial institutions; governments; intergovernmental organizations; non-governmental organizations; foundations; and the private sector.
In 2016, UNOPS created more than three million days of paid work for beneficiaries. The organization supported its partners with the construction, design and/or rehabilitation of more than 3,000 kilometers of roads, 50 schools, and 74 hospitals and 278 health clinics, among others. UNOPS also procured and/or distributed more than US$900 million worth of goods and services for its partners.
UNOPS formed a group to work on applications of blockchain for international assistance.
- Health: RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Stop TB Partnership, Defeat-NCD Partnership
- Nutrition: Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement
- Water and sanitation: Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (since 2009)
- Sustainable urban development (Cities Alliance)
- Disaster displacement (Platform on Disaster Displacement)
In addition, the UN-Water Secretariat is administered by UNOPS.
Transparency and accountability
UNOPS accountability framework outlines the organization's commitment to clear and open communication with partners and stakeholders. This is part of the organization's commitment to increase its transparency and accountability, in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). UNOPS joined the initiative in 2011 and was "the first organization to publish fully geocoded information" in IATI format. UNOPS also publishes details on projects on its public website and the data.unops.org platform.
In 2008, UNOPS adopted a governance structure in line with General Assembly resolutions. Since then, the Executive Director reports directly to the UN Secretary-General and the Executive Board, and has the authority to apply United Nations staff rules and regulations to UNOPS staff. Since 2009 the Executive Director has been able to sign host country agreements with governments, and direct service agreements in consultation with a Resident or Humanitarian Coordinator, as well as having the authority to directly appoint UNOPS representatives in the field.
Quality and operational excellence
UNOPS believes in measuring its work against international best practice. In line with UNOPS strategic plan, the organization strives for external certification of core management functions, processes and personnel – in order to ensure its business practices reflect leading international standards.
This work resulted in UNOPS gaining the ISO 9001 quality management system certification in June 2011, becoming the first UN organization to be certified for its global quality management systems. In 2013, UNOPS was awarded ISO 14001 certification for its commitment to protecting the environment, becoming the first global organization to receive the four most prestigious project management certifications available.
UNOPS is also the first UN body to have been awarded the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply's Certification in Procurement Policies and Procedures. The CIPS certification demonstrates that UNOPS has sound procurement policies, processes and procedures, verified and monitored by an independent body. In 2015 and 2016, UNOPS achieved gold level in sustainable procurement from the Institute.
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