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Since the 1940s, the Kingdom of Denmark has played an active and valuable role in global efforts to eliminate poverty, promote democratic governance and build resilience through sustainable development. In the 1950s, most of the country’s development assistance was channeled through the United Nations. In 1963, the Danish International Development Agency, DANIDA was born, and the country began also supporting developing countries directly through its bilateral development assistance programme.

Today, most Danish development assistance, both direct and that channeled through international organizations like UNDP, supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals through the country’s official strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian action.  The strategy, known as The World 2030 was adopted in January 2017 by a broad political majority in the Danish Parliament.  Denmark is one of the top donors to Official Development Assistance, and in 2019 contributed U.S. $2.55 billion, making it the 15th biggest donors in terms of contribution amount. When you translate that into a per capita basis its contribution in 2019 was $447 per person – putting it in 4th place behind Norway, Sweden and Luxembourg.  These four countries, along with the United Kingdom, were the only ones that year to reach or surpass the promises of developed (OECD/DAC) countries to provide 0.7 percent of their gross national incomes to international aid.

Denmark also is an engaged, active, and vital partner to UNDP in countries around the world. Thanks to the generosity of Denmark, millions of people around the world have improved living conditions, live in democratic societies where their human rights are respected, and are better able to recover from crises. Danish support to UNDP totaled more than $86 million in 2020, with roughly 2/3 of that ($62 million) going to specific projects enables us to help nearly 170 countries to implement the 2030 Agenda and reach the SDGs. In addition to funding, Danish leaders in government, business and academia regularly volunteer their time and expertise to fulfil the promise of a more prosperous and fairer world.

In the words of our administrator, Achim Steiner, “We greatly value (Denmark’s) commitment to strengthen democratic governance and resilience building, climate action and addressing the root causes of conflicts to build sustainable peace.”

In Denmark’s Strategic Partnership Agreement for 2020-2022  for engaging with UNDP, Denmark says it supports the organization because:

·        it has a unique mandate in efforts to build sustainable peace and resilience, including through conflict prevention;

·        it helps rebuild or strengthen critical democratic governance structures; and because

·        it’s programming and mandate addresses key Danish priorities and interests relating to curbing violent extremism, irregular migration, human rights, empowerment of women and addressing extreme poverty.

Denmark’s commitment to Ukraine

In the eastern part of the country, Denmark has been an important partner in helping the crisis-torn communities of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts recover and build forward better from conflicts there – a challenge that has been particularly difficult in recent years as the violence continues. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, Denmark has been there by our side as our teams in the region work tirelessly to ensure the area does not fall back from the development gains it has made in recent years.

Youth engagement and empowerment is another key and important area of Danish cooperation with UNDP in Ukraine.  It also is a high priority for the Danish Minister for Foreign Affairs Jeppe Kofod, who in August 2021 said: “Ukraine is …a country with an enormous potential and a people struggling for a free, democratic and peaceful future. Denmark resolutely supports this. We must recognize the importance of youth engagement in the development of our societies…” Ole Egberg Mikkelsen, the Danish Ambassador to Ukraine, acknowledges that his country and Ukraine have long been close friends and partners. “Denmark is a strong supporter of Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty,” he has said. “If you’re not safe we’re not safe: we need to be safe together.”

Mikkelsen has said Denmark is committed to supporting Ukraine’s development in a number of key areas, including strengthening civil society, empowering youth, protecting human rights, creating conditions for attracting investment, improving energy efficiency, maintaining environmental balance, ensuring cyber resilience, and more.

Furthermore, Denmark very much views Ukraine as a neighbour, and its current engagement with UNDP in the country is based on its Danish Neighbourhood Programme (DANEP), which contributes to the support of democratic development and reform through support for projects under two thematic objectives: 1) Promoting human rights and democracy; 2) Strengthening sustainable and inclusive economic growth.  The ethos of DANEP is based on the understanding that a peaceful and stable Europe with freedom and progress for its citizens depends heavily on attaining the goals of building democratic societies, with accountable governments, vibrant civil societies, free media, well-functioning markets, and sustainable economic growth. 

The overall budget for the Danish Neighbourhood Programme 2017-2021 is EUR 115 million, of which approximately 70 percent goes to Ukraine – making the country one of the biggest in the Danish development portfolio. 

One of Denmark’s signature bilateral initiatives in Ukraine involves the development of clean energy.  The Scandinavian country has extensive experience in renewable technologies and advises the Ukrainian government on energy efficiency. To this end, the Ukrainian-Danish Energy Centre has been operating in Ukraine since 2015, dealing with sustainable energy supply, strategic energy planning, energy efficiency and creating a favourable environment for investment in sustainable energy in Ukraine. Furthermore, the State Statistics Service of Ukraine (SSSU) and the Danish Energy Agency last year launched a database covering three decades of previously disconnected energy data. By documenting developments in energy supply and consumption, the database is playing a crucial part in creating innovative ways to reach Ukraine’s renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy independence targets.

Recovery and Peacebuilding

Denmark is one of 12 important partners in a comprehensive effort to bring lasting peace and sustainable development to the conflict-affected eastern region of Ukraine, with their “Good governance and citizen’s engagement for justice, security, environmental protection and social cohesion in eastern Ukraine 2018-2021” project, to which Denmark contributed $9.2 million on a cost sharing basis. The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, supported by UNDP and three others UN organizations, is working to strengthen community security and social cohesion, support the economic recovery of conflict-affected communities, and further the implementation of decentralization and healthcare reforms in the government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, in addition to Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv and Zhytomyr oblasts (provinces).

Aside from Denmark, the other funding partners include the European Union (EU), the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the governments of Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Good Governance, Civil Society Development and Youth Engagement

While continuing their long-term partnership in the areas of civil society development and human rights, UNDP and the Government of Denmark are expanding their support to democratic governance in Ukraine. Since 2013, Denmark has provided over $8.6 million for initiatives aimed at ensuring civil society and civic organizations have a measurable impact on reform, and are able to contribute to more inclusive, democratic and rights-based governance, through enhanced capacity, better coordination and networking. As an example, with the aid of Danish Funding, UNDP is supporting the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine to empower young Ukrainians to take leadership roles in their communities. This area of cooperation is enabling UNDP to implement several innovative social and advocacy initiatives to help ensure that all citizens of the country are able to meaningfully participate in decision-making.

Human Rights

One of the most recent fruits of this nexus of shared values and goals between Denmark, Ukraine and UNDP is the “Human Rights for Ukraine” (HR4U) project, launched in March 2019 to further promote ongoing processes of democratization in the country, with a prime focus on human rights and access to justice.  The five-year project, with funding of $4.5 million from Denmark, is designed to foster inclusive and sustainable human development in Ukraine.

Through this initiative, UNDP is working with key national partners and stakeholders ­– such as the National Human Rights Institution, national and local authorities, civil society, and human rights defenders – joining efforts to promote human rights across Ukraine and improve access to justice, especially for vulnerable groups. Working in synergy with other United Nations agencies and international partners fostering human rights, this initiative actively engages and empowers civil society organizations and human rights activists so they can monitor and report on any human rights violations. The project also addresses the needs of the conflict-affected population to exercise their rights, including conflict-affected men and women, internally displaced people, and other vulnerable groups.

Shared values

UNDP shares Denmark’s desire to see Ukraine develop as an independent, prosperous, and modern state, committed to the principles of good governance, democracy, rule of law, and sustainable development, with justice and human rights for all, and with no one left behind. It turns out that as close friends and partners, Ukraine, Denmark and UNDP have a lot in common.

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