Our Perspectives

Climate change policy from the ground up

21 Jun 2017 by James Vener, Climate Change Mitigation Economist, UNDP

A person planting trees in Moldova.In addition to afforestation initiatives, Moldova has extensive carbon market experience, generating 1,200 tonnes of tradeable carbon emission reductions. Photo: UNDP Moldova
When governments do not properly consider the link between policymaking and how the policy would be practically implemented on the ground, there is a distinct risk the gap between concept and reality will be too much to overcome. In the field of climate change policy, I was recently reminded of one such disconnect that was turned into deft political solution-finding during a visit to Orhei, a farming town in rural Moldova. We were about an hour from the capital, and the national strategy for countering the effects of climate change was in full swing. Sustainable forest management (primarily through protection of forests and new tree plantations) is providing a clear path for Moldova to contribute to the global efforts to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2ºC. The government has ample experience to back it up as well. Moldovan forests in the fight against climate change Although the carbon trading scheme under the Kyoto Protocol is presently barely active, Moldova still has two of the forestry projects earning carbon credits. More importantly, these projects have contributed to significant institutional knowledge on climate finance while enhancing forestry expertise in the areas of monitoring, planting techniques, and rule enforcement. Capacity has … Read more

7 things we learned about tackling displacement in the Western Balkans

20 Jun 2017 by Susanna Dakash, Youth and Civic Engagement Consultant, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

In the Western Balkans and elsewhere, the refugee crisis is a wake-up call for local governments to better prepare for sudden crises. UNDP photo
In 2015, 900,000 refugees and migrants crossed through Southeast Europe in the largest displacement of people since World War II.  Many crossed from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia on their way to northern Europe. Most towns on that route were taken by surprise. Many didn’t have the doctors, food stocks, waste capacity, or sufficient housing to handle hundreds of thousands of additional people. Their whole approach to planning was suddenly upended. And many refugees ended up staying for months. Displacement in this region is not a new phenomenon. But over the last two years, we’ve learned many things about how to deal not just with the humanitarian side of displacement, but with the long-term impact. These are the seven things we know so far: 1. A history of displacement can create empathy The Western Balkans has experienced its share of displacement, in the midst of the conflicts of the 1990s. Many people remember being on the receiving end of assistance and were welcoming to newcomers, giving away sandwiches, clothes, and medical supplies. Some even provided temporary accommodation. But this puts pressure on top of existing economic and social problems and after a while, it’s essential that … Read more

Fighting climate change, one meal at a time

19 Jun 2017 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UN Goodwill Ambassadors

Hands holding seedsRoughly a third of all food produced – about 1.3 billion tons – is wasted each year. This has a negative impact on food security, resource conservation and climate change. Photo: Freya Morales/SDG Fund
The kitchen has always been the most important part of the house for us – it is where we played as brothers growing up in Girona, Spain, where we did our homework as our mother prepared her lamb and tomato stews, and where we first discovered our love of food and cooking. These days, it is a place where we combine our passion, family, and work as we run our restaurant together. The kitchen is also the perfect starting point for making more than meals – it’s a place where we truly believe everyone can make a difference. By making informed food choices, using sustainable cooking methods and reducing food waste, each of us can ensure that as we nourish our bodies, we are also nurturing our planet. We are what we eat. So in November, as the world came together with the historic Paris Agreement, we thought about what we could do to honor this commitment to our planet from the place we know best - the kitchen. Recognizing that how we cook affects our world, we teamed up with the Sustainable Development Goals Fund to launch a humble campaign based on a simple premise that each one of us … Read more

Land degradation and Migration: will restoring degraded lands keep people at home?

16 Jun 2017 by Phemo Kgomotso, Regional Technical Specialist, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa.

People living in drylands and other marginal landscapes have always lived with uncertainty and livelihood insecurities. Over time, they have employed a myriad of coping strategies, including seasonal migration in search of food, pasture and water. Photo: UNDP Somalia
Would forced migration end, if people knew that they could survive and thrive in their homeland? The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) asks this pertinent question as we observe World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June, focused on examining the important link between land degradation and migration. A childhood memory that has stayed with me is from 1992, when Botswana, along with many other countries in southern Africa were hit by what the New York Times called 'the worst drought of the 20th Century'. That year, on a hot and dry December day, one of my family members and I spent half a day trekking livestock to the only water source that hadn’t dried up, and another half day trekking back to my grandmother’s farmstead. That year, my family lost over 40 heads of cattle. Mainly dependent on livestock for subsistence, people living in drylands and other marginal landscapes have always lived with uncertainty and livelihood insecurities and constraints presented by such environments. Over time, they have employed a myriad of coping strategies, including seasonal migration in search of food, pasture and water. The Fulani herders, found in Nigeria, Niger, Guinea, Mali and many parts of the Sahel … Read more

What does a ‘risk-informed’ approach to development finance really look like?

15 Jun 2017 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

The aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. Grenada has since negotiated a ‘hurricane clause’ with some of its debt held with some of its creditors, which allows for a 12-month pause in debt repayment in the event of a hurricane. UNDP photo
How to tackle various forms of risk – from extreme weather events to commodity price shocks, disease outbreaks and over-indebtedness – was high on the agenda of the 2017 Financing for Development (FfD) Forum at the UN. The Forum’s outcome document underscores the challenging nature of the global environment. Economic challenges, such as difficult macroeconomic conditions, low commodity prices, subdued trade growth and volatile international capital flows are compounded by natural disasters, climate change, environmental degradation, humanitarian crises and conflicts. These stresses have the potential to undermine and even reverse development progress. This is especially the case for countries in so-called ‘special’ development situations, such as the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and fragile states, which have lower capacity to cope. Against this backdrop, it is unsurprising there is renewed interest in financial instruments and innovations designed to reduce vulnerability to risk – and to help countries cope when crises occur. Discussions at the FfD Forum focused, for example, on the case for expanding the use of ‘state-contingent debt instruments’ (debt contracts that link debt service payments to a country’s ability to pay). Instruments can be linked to rise or fall in GDP, to commodity prices or … Read more

Transformative action to leave no one behind

14 Jun 2017 by Haoliang Xu, Director, Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP

Woman smilingA pilot strategy to reduce poverty rates among slum dwellers in Bangladesh laid the foundation for a new National Urban Poverty Reduction Programme aimed at improving the lives of 6 million people. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
We live in a dynamic world, where great progress has been made. Yet the gulf between rich and poor is widening, and the natural world is under ever greater threat. That’s why we need to make development more sustainable and inclusive, as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its pledge to “leave no one behind”. It means that our interventions have to be transformative. They need to reach large numbers of people and strengthen the institutions and services that underpin both human and environmental well-being. UNDP is fully committed to this vision. Indeed, UNDP Asia-Pacific has been through its own transformation, from traditional donor to development advisor and service provider. Ideas and innovation are now intrinsic to the way we work. We bring together in-house expertise and an extensive network of public and private partners. Thinking and working together allows us to identify solutions to unlock and scale up progress that work across countries at diverse stages of development. UNDP tracks emerging trends in real time and the insights we gain make our support to countries flexible and highly responsive, enabling countries to grasp new opportunities for sustainable development as they arise. Here is some of what … Read more

Saint-Louis, Senegal: the challenge of sustainability

09 Jun 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Saint-Louis is facing a lot of challenges. Chief among them is the dual threat posed by rising waters and overfishing. Both jeopardize the city’s very survival, its unique heritage and economy. Photo courtesy Eddy Graëff / www.saintlouisdusenegal.com
At the Ocean Conference in New York, we were reminded of two essential truths: life below water, with its rich fauna and flora is precious and the livelihoods that depend on it are in danger. This is especially true along the west coast of Africa, and especially in Senegal, a country where at least two thirds of the population live near coastal areas which are receding at an alarming rate (on average 1 to 2 metres per year) due to rising sea levels and rapid urbanization. Few places illustrate the compounded effects of these predicaments with greater urgency than Saint-Louis, Senegal (also known as Ndar), the island city I am proud to call my hometown. Saint-Louis is a unique place. It looms large in the history of Senegal and indeed that of the whole region. It was once the seat of French West Africa (from 1895 to 1902), the country’s first capital, and the birthplace of philosopher Gaston Berger. It is the very place where the Senegal river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its bountiful delta attracts thousands of migratory birds. The pristine beauty of its Langue de Barbarie, the sandy peninsula along its shores, its network of quays and its distinctive … Read more

Saint-Louis, Senegal: the challenge of sustainability

09 Jun 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Saint-Louis is facing a lot of challenges. Chief among them is the dual threat posed by rising waters and overfishing. Both jeopardize the city’s very survival, its unique heritage and economy. Photo courtesy Eddy Graëff / www.saintlouisdusenegal.com
At the Ocean Conference in New York, we were reminded of two essential truths: life below water, with its rich fauna and flora is precious and the livelihoods that depend on it are in danger. This is especially true along the west coast of Africa, and especially in Senegal, a country where at least two thirds of the population live near coastal areas which are receding at an alarming rate (on average 1 to 2 metres per year) due to rising sea levels and rapid urbanization. Few places illustrate the compounded effects of these predicaments with greater urgency than Saint-Louis, Senegal (also known as Ndar), the island city I am proud to call my hometown. Saint-Louis is a unique place. It looms large in the history of Senegal and indeed that of the whole region. It was once the seat of French West Africa (from 1895 to 1902), the country’s first capital, and the birthplace of philosopher Gaston Berger. It is the very place where the Senegal river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its bountiful delta attracts thousands of migratory birds. The pristine beauty of its Langue de Barbarie, the sandy peninsula along its shores, its network of quays and its distinctive … Read more

Why prepare for disaster recovery?

08 Jun 2017 by Lucile Gingembre, Project Coordinator, Preparedness for Disaster Recovery, UNDP Africa Regional Centre

Families carry personal belonging away from flooded areas in Niamey, Niger: National actors who are trained in post-disaster needs methodology can get together, assess disaster needs and design a long-term comprehensive recovery plan for affected communities. Photo: OCHA/Franck Kuwonu.
This post is part of a series from UNDP experts sharing their views and experiences in the lead up to the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction and the World Reconstruction Conference. When mega-hurricane Katrina hit  the United States 12 years ago, I remember staring in amazement at my TV screen. I couldn’t understand why the country seemed so unprepared to deal with the catastrophe and get back on its feet. Years later, many lessons have been drawn; the number one take away is: “Make every possible effort to reduce risk”; number two “Have a plan and be ready”. The aftermath of a disaster can be challenging with many stakeholders, competing priorities and limited financial resources. Many questions come to mind: How can we ensure that recovery and reconstruction do not lead to an accumulation of new risks and vulnerability? How can we balance speed with quality of recovery efforts? How can we make sure recovery leaves no one behind and contribute to broader development goals? Recovery offers a window of opportunity to make the right decisions to reduce future risk and increase resilience. Through the project I coordinate, UNDP, with funding from the Governments of Japan and Luxembourg supports governments and communities across five … Read more

Global shadow financial system enables the plunder of the world's oceans and seas

08 Jun 2017 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist: Development Finance, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

The UN Ocean Conference aims to reverse the decline in the health of the world’s oceans and seas: Diminishing fish stocks can undermine food security as well as negatively impact the livelihoods of subsistence, small-scale and artisanal fishers. Photo: Dhiraj Singh/UNDP India
As stakeholders gather for the first-ever Ocean Conference, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life below water. The United Nations is hosting the first global Ocean Conference from 5 to 9 June in New York. Billed as a “game changer” event aiming to reverse the decline in the health of the world’s oceans and seas, it is expected to attract thousands of policymakers, scientists and other stakeholders to stimulate action in support of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water.” That the event is sorely needed is not in question. The state of the world’s oceans and seas is dire, in large part due to human activities, and in particular to human-induced climate change, pollution and overfishing. UNDP warns of alarming rates of ocean acidification, while the average temperature of the upper layers of the ocean has already increased by 0.6°C over the last 100 years. Rising ocean temperatures have accelerated unprecedented coral bleaching events; Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is probably the worst. Pressure on the world’s fish stocks is also at an all-time high. Globally, more than one third of fish stocks worldwide are classified by the Food and Agriculture Organization as overfished beyond sustainable limits; many more are considered “fully exploited” in a … Read more