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News
25 Jul 2020

Mongolia has recorded very few cases of COVID-19, less than 300 to date, despite its more than 4,000 kilometre porous border with China. However, the country faces a major economic impact from the pandemic, says Tapan Mishra, the UN Resident Coordinator in Mongolia.

The general picture of the COVID-19 situation in Mongolia is very positive. The Government of Mongolia closed all educational institutions including kindergartens, schools and universities at the beginning of the year. It also introduced strict measures on social distancing, such as a ban on public gatherings, limiting public transportation, closing public spaces such as gyms, and making the wearing of masks in public compulsory. Travel has been very limited, including a complete ban on any international travel by road, rail, or air. 

Mongolia has been very vulnerable to the pandemic, not only because of its physical proximity to China and Russia including close links and dependence for economic interests, but also due to its own inadequate health care system. 

Despite these challenges, there has been no local transmission reported (cases have been limited to patients importing the virus), and I would say that the leadership of the country has dealt well with the pandemic.

Another factor that has helped in making Mongolia’s response a success story, is that the citizens of the country have diligently complied with the government’s directives and regulations. The requirements to wear masks, ensure good hygiene, such as frequent hand-washing, and physical distancing, have been seriously adhered to. Even during the Tsagaan Sar, the Mongolian Lunar New Year in February, they complied with government orders, and did not even visit their extended families and elders, which is a tradition for Mongolian families.

Minimizing the impact

©Global Press Journal/Dolgormaa Sandagdorj
Mongolian students adjust to remote learning

 

Several UN agencies are physically present in Mongolia, with more providing support from outside. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the UN bodies came together under the leadership of the office of the Resident Coordinator, and we have been following the World Health Organization’s response plan, and the UN’s humanitarian and socio-economic response plans. This has involved setting up a socio-economic task force, and identifying the needs and priorities of the most vulnerable people in Mongolian society.

The UN Country Team has utilized well the $1 Million UN Secretary-General's COVID-19 Response and Recovery MPTF (multi-partner trust fund) allocation, for supporting the Government of Mongolia in improving the national testing capacity, and have more supplies of personal protective equipment. We have been also supporting development of the digital learning curriculum to enhance the quality of online learning, as children have not been able to go to school for around six months.

We stand ready to support the Government in every possible way, from their health, humanitarian, and socio-economic response plans, to their longer-term economic recovery. 

The economic fallout

We do not know the full impact the pandemic is having yet, but we know it is significant. For instance, in the first quarter of 2020, the economy contracted by 10.7 per cent, and government revenue fell by 8.6 per cent year on year, whilst expenditure went up 19.3 per cent. 

NCCD of Mongolia
National Center for Communicable Diseases (NCCD) team.

 

Mongolia has a large amount of debt , which means that there is an increased risk of defaulting on debt. According to the IMF, GDP  is also expected to fall sharply to minus one per cent this year, down from 5.3 per cent in 2019.

To bolster the economy, the Government approved economic stimulus packages, worth over 10 percent of GDP, which included several measures to support vulnerable groups, including cash benefits; mortgages, consumer and business loan repayments were deferred; and the mortgage rate was reduced.

Development setbacks

Unfortunately, it is highly likely that the pandemic will set back the progress we have been making in Mongolia. The Government took early, effective action against the spread of COVID-19, but the increased borrowing, amid an economy hit by reduced exports, means that it will be difficulty to recover from the socio-economic impacts of the crisis.

In collaboration with the IMF, World Bank and other partners, we are conducting detailed studies to look at the real impacts, but we are also working with the Government of Mongolia to ensure that the recovery plans do not leave anyone behind. 

I only hope that donors provide the funding that is needed to support the most vulnerable people in Mongolia, and help to ensure that the post-pandemic recovery benefits all members of society.

Originally published https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/07/1068821


22 Jul 2020

7 donor governments commit support for Albania through the UN SDG Acceleration Fund

Governments of Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have jointly pledged to provide 11.65 Euro support to post-earthquake recovery in Albania covering interventions in areas of Education, Community Infrastructure, Social Protection, economic Recovery, Gender Equality and Child Protection.  

The news was confirmed today in a public statement made by the State Minister for Reconstruction Arben Ahmetaj, the UN Resident Coordinator in Albania Brian J. Williams and representatives of donor governments. Four UN agencies, namely, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Women and FAO will run the intervention under the coordination of the UN Resident Coordinator Office in Albania and the UN’s Multi Partner Trust Fund in New York.

Mr. Ahmetaj thanked the representatives of donors and the UN family of agencies in Albania for their support provided to Albania to recover from the damages caused by the earthquake. “We are grateful for your collective and individual commitment to help the people of Albania overcome such a difficult situation for the country that was hit both by the quake and the global pandemic”. – he noted, as he provided details of the overall strategy of Albania’s government to overcome the consequences of the earthquake.

UN’s Resident Coordinator Brian J. Williams said that Albania has the potential and the necessary support to come out from such challenging situation stronger and better. “We are working with the authorities and all local stakeholders that our recovery programmes strive to build back better” - Williams pointed out.  

Contributor/Partner to the SDG Accelerator Fund, Earthquake Window

Commitment

Government of Denmark

2,000,000 Eur

Government of Finland

   300,000 Eur

Government of Netherlands 

3,000,000 Eur

Government of Norway 

    450,000 Eur

Government of Poland

2,700,000 Eur

Government of Sweden

2,000,000 Eur

Government of United Kingdom

1,200,000 Eur

Total

11,650,000 Eur

 

Albania suffered the consequences of a devastating earthquake last November claiming the lives of 51 people, with hundreds of people injured and thousands homeless.

Following the live-saving emergency support since day one from the disaster, the United Nations family of agencies in Albania worked closely with the Albanian Government, the EU, the World Bank and other development partners to support the country’s efforts to fully recover with a special focus of support for those who are most in need.  The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment that was successfully carried out in February presented a clear picture of country’s needs for assistance and receive the support of development partners.

In the area of education,  UNICEF will work to strengthen online education capacities for the earthquake-affected schools. UNICEF will also provide support in recovery plans aimed at strengthening capacity building of teachers, psycho-social assistance and counselling, and introduce disaster risk reduction into education systems. As for the physical learning, UNICEF is working to establish child friendly spaces in pilot creches, kindergartens and schools in the affected areas.

UNDP will be working on reconstruction of community infrastructure damaged by the earthquake while UNOPS will be focused specifically in reconstruction of cultural heritage sites. Meanwhile, building up on its ongoing “In Motion” pilot, UNDP will aim to tackle significant market disruption, loss of livelihoods and employment opportunities in the affected areas, with the overall goal to stabilize livelihoods and improve the social and economic conditions, by addressing productive sectors, services, and the tourism sector, thus providing an opportunity to promote resilience and reduce vulnerability to future crisis.

UNDP’s support will aim to accelerate the recovery including support to the provision of adequate social services to the most vulnerable. Particular focus will be given to people living in tents to ensure that their social needs are covered through a set of integrated social services. 

As for the child protection needs, UNICEF will work closely with the Ministry of Health and Social Protection and other partners to address the in the affected areas, through strengthening the existing child protection system and work force and provide support to the implementation of recovery plans in child protection including psycho-social component with particular focus on issues around abuse, exploitation and violence.

FAO will be working to provide financial advisory services (i.e. linking farmers with financial resources available from banks, micro finance institutions and grant schemes) to support, rehabilitate or introduce micro-enterprise recovery and development, to create employment opportunities and increase farmer’s resilience in the affected areas. Support to strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and relevant agencies to deliver national legislation, policies and strategies on Disaster Risk Reduction, through technical advice, training, and practical tools will be sought.

UN Women will use the earthquake recovery process as an opportunity to strengthen resilience by reducing inequality and the vulnerability of women. It also aims to provide support to the Albanian government to mainstream gender in DRR and crisis response frameworks and ensure the authorities and society are well prepared to address gender-specific capacities and needs of the most vulnerable segments of the population. At the same time, it will be formalizing women’s role in the earthquake recovery process and help allocate roles and resources to affected women for more resilient recovery.

http://www.un.org.al/news/1165-million-euros-albania%E2%80%99s-earthquake-recovery-%C2%A0

 


6 Jul 2020

PRESS RELEASE

Today, the UN’s Joint SDG Fund announces a historical $US60 million grant to close the SDG financing gap.  The multi-year commitment, with an initial disbursement of $29 million being released this month, is considered the largest systemic UN led initiative on SDG financing in its history. With funding to be distributed across all continents, 40% will invest in Least Developed Countries and ten initiatives are to be implemented in Small Island Developing States.

“We have a historic opportunity to advocate for change, to curb inequalities and to invest in building resilience and sustainable development,” stated Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed at the recent SIDA Development Talks, Building back better – Finance and Development Leaders in Joint Ajuction[i].

The Joint SDG Fund is committed to supporting a coherent and cohesive UN system.  The investments in 62 Joint Programmes will offer pragmatic solutions, all assessed as relevant in the context of the COVID-19 crisis: from addressing  reduced fiscal space to align with the SDGs amidst COVID-19 recovery and financial planning to co-creating a new generation of risk-sensitive and responsive Integrated National Financing Frameworks. The results of the investment in SDG financing interventions will begin to materialize in the first quarter of 2021.  

In March 2020, the Joint SDG Fund received 258 proposals to support SDG financing interventions in over 100 countries. The proposals were submitted to co-create a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) financing architecture at the national level and support countries by integrating the SDGs across national public financial systems and more effective public-private collaboration, ensuring that no one is left behind.

Mongolia’s Minister of Finance, Khurelbaatar commented, "The approval of the Joint Programme marks an important milestone in Mongolia's sustainable finance journey. The programme aims to catalyze more financial flows to deliver on the newly approved ambitious Vision-2050 by implementing several reforms that ensure better governance, coordination, and monitoring of integrated national SDG financing strategies. These strategies will also contribute to shaping a post-crisis future for Mongolia - one that is more resilient, inclusive, and ensuring gender equality. We highly appreciate the UN's timely support and partnership on this important initiative that will inspire local, regional and global stakeholders."

The current health and economic crisis are a unique opportunity to make the world more inclusive and sustainable and this unique opportunity will not end here.  The Joint SDG Fund will announce the results of the selection of Component 2, through the funding of catalytic investments able to mobilize financing at scale, in July 2020. This will give more countries an even greater opportunity to recover better.

With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Government of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Monaco, Kingdom of Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Private Sector funding, all continents will receive the historic opportunity to build back better.

Learn more: SDG Financing portfolio.


26 Jun 2020

New York, 26 June, 2020 - The United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed convened and opened the Recover Better Together Action Forum this morning. Over 300 participants, 40 speakers, including Ministers of Finance, International Cooperation and Foreign Affairs, ambassadors and partners from the private sector and civil society shared their experience in dealing with the socio-economic effects of COVID-19 and committed to recover better from the crisis. Heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes and Resident Coordinators leading the UN’s COVID-19 response and recovery on the ground also articulated the UN’s offer across different dimensions of the COVID-19 response and shared early results of the UN’s work with national and local authorities to protect lives and livelihoods.


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