2017 Organisation and Management of Aid Analysis

Sweden’s Financing of UN Funds and Programmes: Analyzing the Past, Looking to the Future

Stephen Browne, Nina Connelly, Thomas G Weiss

Assistance channelled through the United Nations should be seen in the context of the broader development landscape, which is undergoing constant change. Donor’s funding of UN Funds and Programmes has become increasingly earmarked over the last decade. The degree of earmarking now stands close to 80%, to be compared with 58% in 2007. The amount of core resources has subsequently declined.

This study was initiated to examine the practical implications of this shift in funding patterns have on the ability of the organisations to live up to their mandates and understand what conclusions Sweden, as a proponent of core resources, should draw for its future financing of the UN Funds and Programmes. The study examined nearly all the UN’s funds and programmes. In addition, the authors conducted face-to-face interviews to expand upon a questionnaire.

The report was presented during the seminar Financing the UN Funds and Programmes: is Sweden being taken for a ride?


  • Sweden should sponsor a new Independent International Commission on UN Funding (IICUNF).
  • Sweden should press for clearer and more uniform definitions and nomenclature for the various UN funding categories.
  • Sweden should request that all UN organizations improve their messaging around the importance of core funding.
  • Sweden should prioritize its non-core support to UN funds and programmes which, in its judgment, are the most effective in articulating clear and credible corporate strategies.
  • Sweden should lead discussions on more predictable financing of essential normative activities.
  • Sweden should press for standard ways of measuring and justifying overhead costs
  • Sweden should increase its contributions to pooled and core funding for humanitarian relief.
  • Sweden should withdraw its non-core funding from UNDP with the aim of encouraging it to emphasize its original central funding and coordination role within the UNDS rather than its role as an operational competitor within the system.
  • Sweden should consider withdrawing funding from its favored enclaves in individual UN organizations

Stephen Browne, Co-director, Future United Nations Development System (FUNDS), CUNY Graduate Center
Nina Connelly, Research Associate, Ralph Bunche Institute, CUNY Graduate Center
Thomas G. Weiss, Presidential Professor, CUNY Graduate Center