Institutional sustainability: at what price? UNDP and the new cost-sharing model in Brazil

By the turn of the twenty-first century, UNDP had embraced a new form of funding based on ‘cost-sharing’, with this source accounting for 51 per cent of the organisation’s total expenditure worldwide in 2000. Unlike the traditional donor - recipient relationship so common with development projects, the new cost-sharing modality has created a situation whereby UNDP local offices become ‘subcontractors’ and agencies of the recipient countries become ‘clients’. This paper explores this transition in the context of Brazil, focusing on how the new modality may have compromised UNDP’s ability to promote Sustainable Human Development, as established in its mandate. The great enthusiasm for this modality within the UN system and its potential application to other developing countries increase the importance of a systematic assessment of its impact and developmental consequences.