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UN DESA provides capacity development assistance through the Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation (RPTC), the Development Account (DA) and voluntary contributions from Member States. Both the RPTC and the DA are funded by regular budget resources. UN DESA also relies on special voluntary contributions to fund targeted capacity development programmes.

These programmes are designed to help Member States build their capacity to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They cover a wide range of topics, including statistical capacity building, environmental management, and disaster risk reduction. By investing in capacity development, UN DESA is helping Member States to build a better future for all.


Development Account

The goal of the Development Account (DA) is to enhance the capacities of developing countries in priority areas of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Most of the projects focus on multiple countries, often across multiple regions, involving several of the ten Implementing Entities (IEs) and including partnerships with national level Governments, other UN agencies as well as other development partners.

Projects financed from the Account aim at achieving development impact through building the socio-economic capacity of developing countries through collaboration at the national, sub-regional, regional and inter-regional levels. The Development Account provides a mechanism for promoting the exchange and transfer of skills, knowledge and good practices among target countries within and between different geographic regions, and through the cooperation with a wide range of partners in the broader development assistance community. It provides a bridge between in-country capacity development actors, on the one hand, and United Nations Secretariat entities, on the other.

Click here for more information on the Development Account.


Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation (RPTC)

The Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation (RPTC) is a development programme of the United Nations Secretariat aimed at supporting developing countries, least developed countries, countries with economies in transition and countries emerging from conflict in their capacity-development efforts, specifically to formulate and implement policies for sustainable development. 

RPTC Characteristics

This Programme was established in 1946 by the United Nations General Assembly to help meet its objective of supporting and advancing processes aimed at developing Governments’ capacity to formulate and implement policies for sustainable economic and social development. By using the normative and analytic expertise of the 11 Implementing Entities (IEs) of the United Nations, the Programme seeks to disseminate knowledge and promote learning that serves to support and advance national efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Programme allows fast and flexible responses to requests  from Member States for short-term assistance to meet small-scale capacity development-related challenges. RPTC’s shorter term in comparison with longer-term projects, allows for more agile programming and often acts as a catalyst for longer-term assistance, such as the development and implementation of national development strategies and programmes.

RPTC is used for small-scale capacity development activities, such as training, workshops, and advisory services. Training and Workshops are undertaken in response to an identified capacity gap in one or more countries, and upon request by Member States. Workshops and seminars are held at the subnational, national, regional or global level.

The RPTC is a mechanism through which UN DESA provides support to Member States in their efforts to achieve the SDGs. The Programme enables Members States to access DESA analytical and intergovernmental work through the Inter Regional Advisors.

Advisory Services are provided to Governments in response to their requests for expertise in certain sectors relevant to their development strategies and programmes and to assist governments in the formulation and evaluation of programmes leading to the enhancement of national programmes.

The RPTC Progress Report

The RPTC Progress Report provides an overview of the United Nations' Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation (RPTC). The Progress Report summarizes RPTC's activities and accomplishments, along with information on its plans and programmes.   

The latest RPTC Progress Report, The Seventh Progress Report of the Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation, presents information on the RPTC activities of the 11 Implementing Entities (IEs) of the United Nations, and describes the specific achievements of these IEs. 

By encouraging national ownership and continuity, and by transferring knowledge and training to developing countries, IEs strive to ensure the sustainability of their interventions. Due to the nature of the RPTC, which is driven by demand, responds to Government needs, and supports Government-led initiatives, ownership is typically built into the RPTC activities. 

In order to maximize the impact of RPTC activities, the United Nations has been striving for a systematic approach to collaboration between IEs. This approach led to collaboration between IEs within the framework of the UN's Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, through Regional Collaborative Platforms and Issue-based Coalitions, as well as through specific interventions provided by RPTC. The RPTC has also developed strong ties with other funds, with at least 154 interventions being co-funded by United Nations Development Account (DA), extra budgetary resources (XB), or other partners. Also, IEs have been focused on strengthening links with United Nations Country Teams (UNCT) / Resident Coordinator's Offices (RCO) to avoid duplication of effort and to deliver assistance jointly. 

The RPTC Progress Report (2021) includes a cross-cutting analysis of the Programme's effectiveness and relevance as well as its sustainability and its complementarity of action among IEs, with the DA/XB, with RCOs/UNCTs, with other UN entities, and with other stakeholders. 

Click here to consult The Seventh Progress Report of the Regular Programme of Technical Cooperation (2021).


Voluntary contributions

UN DESA receives special contributions from Member States, generally for targeted capacity development purposes. An example of this type of contribution is the UN Peace and Development Trust Fund, which DESA uses to build the capacities of Member States in support of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals adopted by Member States in September 2015. 

These special contributions from Member States are usually used to finance specific projects and programs to provide capacity development support to Member States. A list of the projects can be found here: Projects | Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

By strengthening national capacities, UN DESA plays an important role in ensuring that the 2030 Agenda is successfully implemented.