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United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) – Definition

Cite this article as:"United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated May 19, 2019, last accessed November 26, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/united-nations-industrial-development-organization-unido-definition/.


United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Definition

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development in developing as well as transitioning economies in order to reduce poverty and foster inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability. UNIDO s a member of the United Nations Development Group and is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.

A Little More on the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

The primary objective of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID). UNIDO engages in interventions in order to reduce poverty and inequality, while, at the same time, conserving energy and protecting the environment. The organization has played an active role in propagating the concepts of science, technology and innovation in the poorest of economies. UNIDO has unveiled its new strategy of strengthening knowledge and institutions as part of its medium-term programme framework (MTPF) for the period 2018–2021. The MTPF has four distinct strategic priorities that seek to complement its thematic focus areas:

  • Striving for shared prosperity.
  • Promoting economic competitiveness.
  • Protecting the environment.
  • Enhancing the knowledge base and strengthening institutions.

UNIDO campaigns for structural transformation as well as sustainable industrialization of Africa. The organization has championed the implementation of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III).

UNIDO has formulated its own ISID promotion vehicle, known as Programme for Country Partnership (PCP). PCP is currently active in Ethiopia, Peru, Senegal, Morocco, Cambodia and Kyrgyzstan. It is expected to be implemented in four more countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Rwanda and Zambia, in the foreseeable future.

UNIDO Statistics

As of April 2019, UNIDO has a membership of 170 countries. Member nations hold regular discussions in order to determine UNIDO’s guiding principles and policies. The UNIDO headquarters located at the Vienna International Centre has an employee strength of about 670. In addition to this, UNIDO has field representatives in around 80 nations worldwide. The organization also enlists the services of approximately 2800 specialist professionals annually, half of which are drawn from developing economies. These professionals include both national as  well as international experts that are assigned various projects around the world. Between the period 2012–2013, UNIDO operations cost an estimated €460 million, of which technical cooperation delivery alone amounted to $189.2 million for the year 2012.

UNIDO’s Areas of Focus

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization has three thematic focus areas. They are:

  1. Reducing poverty through productive undertakings.
  2. Building trade capacity.
  3. Conserving energy and the environment.

Reducing Poverty through Productive Undertakings

The UNIDO acknowledges the significant role played by private sector industries in driving economic growth and creating employment opportunities. A direct outcome of such economic growth is the reduction of poverty as well as the attainment of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of 2015, as outlined in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. The industrial development brought forth by private sector industries is a major step in setting poorer economies on the path of sustainable economic development. As such, UNIDO has streamlined its own services in such a way as to facilitate job creation as a means of eradicating poverty in developing countries. UNIDO’s services include:

  • Counseling regarding industrial policy.
  • Development of entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
  • Promotion of investment and technology.
  • Formulation of rural energy strategies for productive uses.

Building Trade Capacity

To establish international trade relations with other economies, developing countries need to acquire the capability to produce export-grade products that are compliant with international standards. UNIDO plays a vital role in this regard by offering the following services:

  • Counseling and technical collaboration pertaining to market competitiveness.
  • Collaboration in areas such as industrial modernization and upgradation.
  • Guidance with respect to compliance with international trade standards, testing procedures and metrology.

Conserving Energy and the Environment

UNIDO has identified several factors that have been subverting the prospects for a long-term robust economy, especially in poorer regions. These are:

  • Pollution
  • Climate change
  • Destruction of habitat
  • Over-exploitation of natural resources

As such, UNIDO has prescribed certain rudimentary changes in the methods of production and consumption  in order to negate the effects of the factors mentioned above. The organization actively promotes sustainable means for industrial production and consumption as a way of ensuring that economic growth does not lead to environmental degradation. UNIDO actively advocates the use of renewable energy sources and offers services for enhanced energy efficiency among industries. The organization also supports developing economies in executing multilateral environmental agreements, while at the same time, achieving their economic as well as environmental targets.

References for United Nations Industrial Development Organization

Academic Research on United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

Governmental initiatives: the UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization) TEST approach, Jasch, C. (2015). Journal of Cleaner Production, 108, 1375-1377. This article scrutinizes the correlation of current information systems with common recommendations pertaining to Input/Output balancing. The author samples data on Small and Medium Sized Companies (SMEs) operating in developed and transitional economies. The paper advocates for achieving a balanced Input/Output in the company’s accounting and stock management system before partaking in more complex procedures.

The response of international organizations to the environmental challenge: the case of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Baark, E., & Strahl, J. (1995). Development and Change, 26(3), 441-468. This paper scrutinizes UNIDO’s activities pertaining to the promotion of environmentally sustainable developmental activities in developing economies. Several factors, both internal as well as external, influence the process of integration of environmental concerns into UNIDO’s undertakings. The authors specifically highlight those factors that have hindered their progress in these countries.

UNIDO: The United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Plasil-Wenger, F. (1971). J. World Trade L., 5, 188. This paper offers a comprehensive analysis of the formation and future evolution of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). UNIDO was established in 1966 as a result of the General Assembly resolution 2152 (XXI). The principal motive for the establishment of such an organization was to formulate an efficient mechanism to address the issues of industrialization.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the Consultation System, and Health, Phelps, J. R. (1984). Food Drug Cosm. LJ, 39, 469. This paper provides an insight into the role played by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in ensuring good health in Third World nations. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) is the agency of the United Nations that is primarily involved in issues pertaining to public health, the UNIDO has also been playing an important role in this mission by involving itself in economic activities pertaining to the pharmaceutical sector.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Nam, V. (2012). This paper evaluates UNIDO’s support to the Vietnam National Cleaner Production Centre (VNCPC) in the period 1998 to 2010. The VNCPC is a constituent of the National Cleaner Production Centers (NCPCs), which, in turn, is jointly supported by UNIDO and UNEP. The primary objective of the NCPCs is to promote sustainable industrial development on a global scale.

United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Klarer, M. J., Tran, M., Chi, M., & Marchich, M.  The primary objective for the formulation of the Cleaner Production (CP) concept is to infuse efficiency in the various production processes and enterprises in order to turn them into competent forces in the international market. The CP application seeks to achieve this by bringing about a more efficient use of services, resources and production processes. This concept promises benefits such as conservation of the environment as well as enhanced economic competitiveness.

… Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Food, F. A. O. This is a list of abbreviations used for the various organs, offices and specialized agencies of the United Nations.

United nations industrial development organization. Monographs on appropriate industrial technology, Rimmer, D. (1980). Economics of Planning, 16(3), 161-162. This paper provides an extensive analysis of industrial technology deemed favourable by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to forward the cause of industrial development in developing as well as transitioning economies.


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