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Brief on UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), a specialized agency of the United Nations since 1985 (established as a Division in 1966), aims at supporting the developing countries attain sustainable industrial development.

UNIDO currently has 170 Member States. The Member States of UNIDO meet once every two years at the General Conference (GC), which is the supreme governing body of UNIDO. The General Conference also elects representatives to the other two governing bodies of UNIDO i.e. the Industrial Development Board (53 seats each with a four year term) and the Programme and Budget Committee (27 seats with a two year term). The Industrial Development Board (IDB) reviews the implementation of the work programme and budget and makes recommendations to the General Conference on policy matters.

A Director General heads the UNIDO Secretariat. The current Director General is Dr. Gerd Muller of Germany, who succeeded Mr Li Yong of China who headed the organization for 8 years. Since its foundation in 1966, this is the first time that a person from developed West has contested and gotten elected as DG.

UNIDO’s mandate is fully recognized in SDG-9, which calls to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”. However, the relevance of ISID, applies in greater or lesser extent to all SDGs. Currently, UNIDO is providing thought leadership to the international discourse on Circular Economy, Green Economy, Industry 4.0, De-carbonization of industries etc.

Accordingly, UNIDO’s programmatic focus is structured, as detailed in the Organization's Medium-Term Programme Framework 2018-2021, in four strategic priorities:

  • Creating shared prosperity
  • Advancing economic competitiveness
  • Safeguarding the environment
  • Strengthening knowledge and institutions


India - UNIDO

India is a founder Member of the UNIDO. It is both a recipient as well as a contributor to the programmes of UNIDO. India contributes to the regular budget of UNIDO. In addition, India also makes an annual voluntary contribution to the Industrial Development Fund (IDF) of UNIDO. India hosts UNIDO’s 2nd largest technical cooperation (TC) programme. UNIDO’s country programme for India is largely funded through GOI’s own budgetary resources and/or through Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The UNIDO Regional Office for South Asia, set up in New Delhi on 1st January 2000, covers seven countries – India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Afghanistan.

 India has been represented almost continuously in the UNIDO governing bodies – Industrial Development Board (IDB) and Programme and Budget Committee (PBC) and is a current member of both these bodies.

UNIDO has been delivering technical cooperation services in India since its establishment in 1966. In the late 1960’s and 1970’s, the country needed to establish small industries and a manufacturing base that could produce basic goods and generate jobs. The 1970’s saw a shift towards light industries and agro-industries, for which UNIDO provided such services as metrology, testing and quality control, research and development, marketing and export promotion. In the 1980s and 1990s the Indian economy moved towards deregulation. UNIDO’s interventions shifted towards enhancing productivity and efficiency and increasing avenues of investment for small enterprises and manufacturing units. As environmental protection had come under the spotlight, UNIDO expanded its services into areas such as waste and effluent treatment, pollution control, waste minimization and cleaner production and transfer of environmentally sound technologies. Year 2001 marked the transition to a programmatic approach for the UNIDO services in the country. During 2001-2007, UNIDO worked in four thematic areas: strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through technology-led interventions; promoting foreign direct investment (FDI); promoting cleaner and environmentally friendly technologies and policies; and alleviating poverty and promoting industrial growth in less developed areas. The 2008-2012 programme was directed towards inclusive growth.

The recent 2013-2017 country programme had two thematic components in India, namely: promotion of green industrial development; and inclusive economic development, and a crosscutting priority outside India on South-South Industrial Cooperation. During the period 2013-2017, the country programme consisted of 24 projects with the budget of USD 96 million including Project Support Costs (PSC) and has mobilized USD 377 million in co-financing by the Government and private sectors in India, making the total portfolio size of around USD 473 million.

UNIDO - INDIA Country Program - 2018-22 for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID)

UNIDO’s India Country Program 2018-22 is aimed to further forge and strengthen the partnership between UNIDO and the Govt. of India to initiate and facilitate the transition towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development, in particular sectors, regions and value chains. The CP includes the following four Key Results Areas (KRAs):

  1. Productive and resilient Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)
  2. Solution for Climate, resources and environment
  3. Inclusive and Responsible Value Chains and Businesses
  4. Strategic policy for industrial transformation

Facility for International cooperation on Inclusive & Sustainable Industrial Development (IC-ISID)

In April 2021, India and UNIDO signed an agreement to establish a Facility for International Cooperation on Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (FIC-ISID). The Facility is the successor of erstwhile International Centre for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (IC-ISID), a joint initiative of the DPIIT and the UNIDO.

The Facility will create and share knowledge, build capacity and facilitate projects and partnerships on inclusive and sustainable industrial development under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 by enhancing productivity and innovation in the Indian manufacturing segment.

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