U.N. Agency That Deals With ‘Green Energy’ and ‘Green Industry’ Loses Another Major Funder: A Vienna-based United Nations agency is pondering how to get by without one of its biggest donors, following a recent British government decision to withdraw from an organization which it said was ineffective and poorly run.
This week, as delegates to the 174-member United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) gathered in the Austrian capital for their General Conference, held every two years, the specter of financial difficulties hung over the event despite an upbeat presentation by the agency’s director-general, Kandeh Yumkella of Sierra Leone.
Amid speeches on such themes as “green energy” and “green industry,” a number of speakers made passing references to Britain’s decision to pull out, while some urged Yumkella to press on with efforts to get “former member states” to return. No names were mentioned, but the former member state UNIDO wants back most is no secret: The United States’ departure in 1996 cost the agency a full 25 percent of its annual budget.
The U.S. withdrawal meant remaining members had to increase their contributions, although the agency also laid off staff and launched a series of far-reaching budgetary and institutional reforms. Britain’s imminent departure will deprive the agency of a further 9.2 percent of its budget.
Under UNIDO’s constitution, Britain’s withdrawal takes effect at the end of 2012, so the U.K. will pay a final assessment of 7.2 million euros ($9.7 million). After that, however, UNIDO will have to find the money elsewhere. (One place it has been looking – for several years, without success – is the U.S., which UNIDO says owes arrears of 69.06 million euros, or $92.8 million at the current exchange rate.)
To make up the shortfall caused by the latest pullout, other members again will have to pay more.