A Development Economist in the United Nations: Reasons for Hope

Published on 22 November 2022

This book explores the joys and occasional frustrations of a development economist working for the United Nations.

From 1982 to 2000 Richard Jolly worked in senior positions in UNICEF and UNDP on assignments that were innovative, for the UN, the countries concerned and for development. The book analyses his experiences as Deputy Director of UNICEF, Principal Coordinator and co-author of UNDP’s widely acclaimed Human Development Report and a community development officer in Kenya, as well as his involvement in the UN and country mission to Zambia and ILO employment missions to Colombia, Sri Lanka and Kenya. It shows what the UN can achieve when there is strong leadership at central and field levels, together with decentralized approaches.

Jolly’s experiences lead him to conclude there are in fact three UNs: the formal UN of governments; the second UN comprising UN staff members, often the source of initiatives and action; and the third UN of NGOs, experts, consultants and others closely following the UN or working with it, and also often bringing new thinking and innovation.

Reflecting on the need for international action to be more effective and the UN to be more strongly supported, this volume is a fascinating guide to students and scholars of global governance, development and international organizations and those working for them.

Table of contents

  1. UN development- more pioneering and professional than generally realized
  2. Early Life, One Life-Changing Event and Four People
  3. Discovering development -Baringo, Kenya
  4. Cuba – close-up to the revolution and the Cuban missile crisis
  5. Education, UNESCO and ECA
  6. Zambia – My first UN mission in the heady days of African Independence
  7. Applied Economics in Cambridge and in oil-rich Abu Dhabi
  8. ILO and the IDS- employment policy in Colombia, Sri Lanka and Kenya
  9. UNICEF -global goals and lessons of successful implementation
  10. UNICEF Economists and children
  11. UNDP and Human Development
  12. UN Ideas that Changed the World
  13. The Third UN and the North-South Roundtable
  14. Final Words

You can buy the book here

Cite this publication

Jolly, R. (2022) A Development Economist in the United Nations: Reasons for Hope, London: Routledge


Richard Jolly

Research Associate

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