Global partners for sustainable development: UNIDO AND EU

Extreme poverty, rapid population growth and inefficient use of scarce resources are a threat to us all. With the global partnership, the United Nations Industrial Organization (UNIDO) and the European Union (EU) foster inclusive sustainable development in more than 100 countries all over the world.


In the last ten years, the EU became UNIDO’s largest donor of voluntary contributions, with US$175 million provided by the European Commission and US$215 million supplied by the EU member states.[1] The successful cooperation for development was officially recognized by the Relationship Agreement, signed on 13 January 1993, which established founding principles of the EU-UNIDO’s global efforts in various thematic areas: private sector, trade, employment, environment, health and consumer protection, regional integration, research, innovation, as well as capacity building.[2]

The establishment of the UNIDO Brussels Liaison Office in 2006 further linked European internal and external development objectives, boosting the cooperation and dialogue with the European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Council, the EU External Action Service, and European Investment Bank. The intensified collaboration and increasing policy synergy between UNIDO and the EU resulted by acknowledgment of some of the following key aspects:

  • International industrial cooperation has a profound impact on global poverty eradication;
  • Knowledge and technology sharing are of immense importance for empowerment and integration of developing countries into the world market;
  • Industry and the private sector play an essential role in job creation, therefore international framework conditions, standards and norms must be substantially improved.

Advancing the economic opportunities, competitiveness and creating a shared prosperity by Aid-for-Trade and Private Sector Development is among the most crucial characteristics of the EU-UNIDO partnership. Taking into consideration the global needs, the partners jointly established interregional, regional and country projects, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa (53%), Asia and Pacific (23%) and Southern Mediterranean region (9%).[3] Since 2012, UNIDO and the EU organize High-Level Review Meetings to control progress, strategize and scale-up the cooperation.

In 2016, the EU and UNIDO jointly established, among other projects, a new framework that aims to reduce irregular migration flows in northern and central Ethiopia by 2019. The objectives are to be achieved by the joint creation of greater economic prosperity and higher employment opportunities by investments in the agro-industry, such as leather, textile, edible oil production, etc. The project is associated with following SDGs: 1, 5, 8, 9, 10, 17.[4] More specifically, it refers to the goals of achieving zero poverty, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, sustainable industry, reduced inequalities, and global partnerships.

The Post-2015 Development Agenda, commonly known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, provides new opportunities for the EU-UNIDO cooperation, and as LI Yong (Director General of UNIDO) highlights: “together, we can contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, eradicating poverty and delivering prosperity and sustainability for all.”[5]


[1] More detailed information are to be found at:

[2] More details at:

[3] For further reading on EU-UNIDO cooperation:

[4] Read more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals at:

[5] The statement has been cited from the following source: *Photo courtesy of the United Nations and the UN specialized agencies.*

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Aleksandar Bogdanovic

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