A new publication examining one of the UN’s best kept secrets was launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Entitled, ‘Hidden Champions: Smart Solutions to Impossible Challenges’, it is the first comprehensive account ever written about UNOPS — a traditionally low-profile UN entity that specialises in project implementation on behalf of the UN, governments and other partners, in some of the world’s most challenging environments.

The new publication introduces UNOPS and its unusual history. Starting as a small department within the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to becoming the only self-financed UN organization, UNOPS now delivers over 1,000 projects each year, worth around $1.8 billion, across more than 80 nations.

The exclusive material featured in the book ranges from a ‘top secret’ mission that led to the destruction of 600 tons of Syrian chemical weapons; to a $16 million rebuilding operation in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, to restoring thousands of homes; to the ingenuity of providing clean, renewable energy to communities across rural Sierra Leone, which includes equipping health centres with solar panels and battery systems.


Hidden Champions also reveals UNOPS plans for the future, as we move into the next frontier of delivering sustainable infrastructure in an affordable way. This includes ambitious plans to generate around $10 billion investment in Ghana and Kenya, to build 200,000 sustainable and affordable homes — a key milestone in UNOPS landmark Social Impact Investment Initiative (S3I).


Speaking ahead of the launch of Hidden Champions, Grete Faremo, UNOPS Executive Director said:

“UNOPS has been an essential part of the UN family for more than 20 years now. For most of that time it has retained a relatively low-profile — some call us the UN’s best kept secret.“


“This exclusive account uncovers some of the hidden stories about our projects, and our contribution to critical humanitarian and development operations, working with partners to achieve a more peaceful and sustainable future.”

In the publication, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres explains:


“When rapid responses are so critical to addressing the world’s challenges, it has been vital to be able to call on the expertise of UNOPS, which plays a critical role in the UN system. I know this first-hand from my time at UNHCR.

“Today’s world requires new approaches and partnerships that harness the potential of technological change. UNOPS, with a mandate in infrastructure, is a vital part of this future.

“By demonstrating how solutions can be delivered on the ground, UNOPS makes a meaningful contribution, bringing innovation to bear as we strive to build a better future for all.”

  • A new publication detailing the history and future of UNOPS is set to be published today at the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
  • ‘Hidden Champions’ reveals unique stories from UNOPS — the UN infrastructure specialists.
  • This is the first comprehensive account ever to be written about UNOPS - which runs projects for the UN and governments in more than 80 nations around the world.
  • Includes exclusive material on undercover and behind-the-scenes missions and projects in Syria, Yemen, Haiti and beyond.
  • Contains a first look at large-scale plans to build 200,000 affordable homes in Africa, bringing up to $10 billion of private sector investment in sustainable development