Sustainable economic
and social development

According to UNDP “People are the real wealth of a nation.” (Photo credit: MOFA)


Saudi Vision 2030 and the SDGs

Saudi Arabia is witnessing tangible economic prosperity and progress in all domains of socio-economic development which produced tangible improvement in all human development indicators such as standard of living, health and education services, environmental conditions as well as potentials of comprehensive development.

In April 2016, the Saudi Vision 2030, an ambitious blueprint for development, was launched. The overall objective of this vision is to transform the economy from its conventional reliance on oil and natural gas to a more diversified economy based on sustainable development. In an effort to build the institutional capabilities required to achieve the ambitious goals of the vision, the National Transformation Programme 2020 (NTP2020) was launched in June 2016 across 24 governmental bodies operating in the economic and development sectors.

Within the framework of the SDGs and the Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy beyond oil exports and create future employment opportunities including development of a knowledge-based economy and geographic diversification of growth and increased share of private sector-generated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) alongside greater effectiveness of local administration.

Men selling antiques at the Thursday Open Market in Qatif (Photo by: Faisal Al-Malki)

Development on the Ground

UNDP has been active in the area of social and economic development. In the past decades, enhancing efforts to improve citizens’ quality of life was one of the priorities. UNDP promotes creating an enabling environment through regulations, infrastructure, and institutional capacity development. UNDP Saudi Arabia has several programmes, projects and initiatives that works to attain a knowledge-based, equitable and sustainable development, leaving no one behind. UNDP continues to strengthen institutions and mechanisms to improve job-matching and introduction of new innovative tools. Through our work with the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage, we provided technical and advisory services that resulted in increasing the capacity of the institution.

The office works on increasing the employment of nationals, with a focus on women and youth, to prepare them for the labor market. Saudi Arabia invests in a new generation of universities to support future employment needs. In this connection, the role of the private sector is evident with increasing contributions in areas such as education, health, and social services. Cooperation with the Government included providing the support to the Public Education Evaluation Commission and the development of targeted education policies and indicators for better performance.

Youth at the Heart of the Nation

Youth are at the heart of UNDP’s work in Saudi Arabia. Over 50% of the Saudi population is 25 years and younger. Through several exchange programmes, Saudi youth were able to exchange knowledge, get exposed to other cultures and visit countries all over the world such as China, Spain, India, and South Korea.

The Misk-UNDP Forum is also one of the outstanding initiatives. It was held on September 15, 2017 with the goal of sparking dialogue on issues of tolerance, peace and sustainability, and providing a platform for young people to contribute to the achievement of Agenda 2030 and the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. Key speakers included UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, Michael R. Bloomberg founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City; Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State of the United States. Through keynote speakers, panel discussions and breakout sessions, the forum focused on the following topics: Tolerance for peace and sustainable development, Preventing violent extremism, Cultural diversity and the power of creativity, Building tolerant and peaceful societies, Social media for bridging divides, Inclusion of Refugees, Never too young to change the world, and Humor for tolerance.

More efforts were done through the collaboration with King Salman Youth Center to develop three globally certified youth indicators, as well as prepare a study about youth in the Kingdom, based on the data of these indicators. In addiiton, UNDP has explored with Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue new ways for reaching and addressing youth through the usage of sports for development; a way that can help curb violence and promote the deep-rooted national identity.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation have been prioritized in the new Country Programme and considered the language of the future, using it to tackle some of the issues such as unemployment and economy diversification. Innovation camps target a wide array of sectors such as social, urban planning, labor, education, and entrepreneurship. In this respect, some avenues are being explored by UNDP to embark on partnerships with key actors to support increasing the SMEs contribution to the country’s economic development. The SDGs calls for “Leaving No One Behind” therefore the support will be extended to include participation of men, women, persons with disabilities throughout the country. This will contribute towards the achievement of SDG 8 “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all,” and SDG 10 “Reduce inequality within and among countries.”

The newly launched UN Youth Strategy also provides a myriad of opportunities for UNDP to engage with youth empowering entities to promote for active youth engagement in sustainable development fora in order to have their voices heard and their ideas for brighter future reflected in decision making processes. 

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