Our Perspectives

Climate change and disaster risk reduction

The pathway from Paris starts and ends with the media

22 Sep 2017 by Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, Global Environmental Finance Unit, UNDP

A radio presenter broadcasts educational programming in Lao PDR. The media have a crucial role to play in building consensus for climate action. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR
The media need to step up their game when it comes to climate change We live in a world of tenuous truths, shortened attention spans, competing priorities, and even-more complicated social and political forces. These very forces threaten to disrupt our pathway from the Paris Agreement to a low-carbon, climate resilient future. Somewhere in the middle, independent media are given the monumental task of looking for truth, and dispelling fake news and bogus science. And yet, the media´s most crucial task is to build consensus on the hard-and-true fact that if we don’t do something about climate change we threaten to derail economic, environmental and social gains of the past 30 years, and create one big mess for future generations to clean up. This is one of the most important stories of the 21st century, and one that I worryingly suspect will define the historic record of our society. As countries around the globe come together this November for the climate talks in Bonn, they will re-affirm the need to honour the Paris Agreement, keep global temperature rises below 2°C, and reach the Sustainable Development Goal to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030. On this pathway from Paris, members … Read more

The pros and cons of ethical debt instruments

12 Sep 2017 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

A man stands in front of a damaged house and a large fallen tree in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Dominican Republic.Ethical financing tools include "state-contingent" debt instruments that allow servicing payments to fall when times are bad, for example, when a natural disaster strikes. Photo: UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean
In May, the World Bank issued the world’s first bond linked explicitly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Labelling them “SDG bonds”, the bank raised 163 million euros from institutional investors in France and Italy with the proceeds to be channelled into projects that aim to eliminate extreme poverty, in line with Goal 1 of the SDGs. The initiative — which aims to capitalize on a rising number of investors interested in positive social and environmental impacts, in addition to financial returns — has been heralded an innovation in investment products and can be added to a growing list of innovative debt instruments that are marketed as “ethical” or socially and environmentally responsible. Other examples include: green bonds, a multibillion dollar market in which the proceeds of a bond issue are tied to environmentally friendly investments such as renewable energy and clean transportation; blue bonds, a newer debt instrument championed by the Seychelles to fund investments in sustainable ocean industries; vaccine bonds, where funds are raised from international capital markets for immunization programs in developing countries with bondholders repaid by future streams of donor development aid; and social and development impact bonds, where impact investors provide upfront financing for social or development interventions and are repaid by governments and/or donors when … Read more

From the eyes of an early responder in Sierra Leone

28 Aug 2017 by Tanzila Watta Sankoh, Programme Specialist, UNDP Sierra Leone

A man speaking into a megaphone Realizing that the lack of basic tools was hampering relief efforts, UNDP provided shovels, megaphones and pickaxes to help with the search and rescue. Photo: Alpha Sesay/UNDP Sierra LeoneRealizing that the lack of basic tools was hampering relief efforts, UNDP provided shovels, megaphones and pickaxes to help with search and rescue. Photo: Alpha Sesay/UNDP in SIerra Leone
On 14 August, my phone starting ringing … It was my mother. She resides at Regent, a community on the slopes of Mount Sugar Loaf, the conical peak overlooking Freetown. Being at the epicentre of the catastrophic flash flood and landslides, she saw the disaster unfold and immediately called me, confirming my foreboding about receiving early morning calls from my mother. When I arrived at the scene with UNDP colleagues in charge of disaster management and a few staff members from the Office of National Security (ONS), I was utterly shocked by the scene of devastation. It was raining incessantly. The sky was gloomy, and one of Freetown’s highest mountains looked like it had been cracked in two. The landslides had claimed the lives of more than 400 people, leaving over 2,000 homeless and an estimated 600 still trapped in the debris. I had never seen such desolation in my entire life. As we moved on, we saw ambulances carrying corpses and youth volunteers desperately working in the hope of rescuing survivors. We also saw people's resilience, of the kind we had already witnessed during the Ebola epidemic. They dug through the mud with bare hands to rescue their loved ones. … Read more

Collective Rights, the Global Commons, and Our Common Home

08 Aug 2017 by Maryka Paquette, Policy Analyst, Global Forests Initiative, UNDP

The Apiwtxa association uses participatory 3D mapping to demarcate Ashaninka territory and support community-based management of indigenous lands. Photo: Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia
This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples commemorates the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a monumental step forward in the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ individual and collective rights. Representing 370 million people across 90 countries worldwide, indigenous peoples are communities and societies that, due to their strong dependence on natural resources, are closely rooted to earth-based traditions. Indigenous peoples’ oral histories hold generations of accumulated knowledge of the flora and fauna supported by surrounding ecosystems, as well as the principles and values that allow people to adapt and flourish. The many indigenous peoples’ communities today thrive because they respect the forces of nature and the limits to growth and development. As we begin to push planetary boundaries, we would be wise to draw on those values if humankind is to survive the catastrophic impacts of climate change now upon us. Central to the UNDRIP is the concept of indigenous peoples’ collective rights. Whereas all persons’ individual rights to life, education, health, livelihoods, freedom of religion, speech and assembly have been enshrined under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “collective rights” under the UNDRIP recognize the rights of a … Read more

Confronting climate change in South Sudan

29 Jun 2017 by Jean-Luc Stalon, Deputy Country Director, UNDP South Sudan and Biplove Choudhary, Team Leader, Human Development and Inclusive Growth, UNDP South Sudan

Up to 95 percent of the people of South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNDP
The man-made crisis in South Sudan has pushed the country back on multiple fronts, hampering agricultural production, disrupting livelihoods and the coping abilities of communities. These are but few of several compelling reasons as to why climate change risks in South Sudan should be a pressing worry at this point in time for the policy makers and international partners. Despite its having no role in contributing to global warming, the country is at once highly vulnerable and least prepared to address looming threats systematically across sectors. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2017, South Sudan is ranked amongst the five worst performing in the world alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Haiti and Liberia. Projections indicate that in South Sudan, global warming will be felt 2 ½ times more than the global average Up to 95 percent of people in South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries for their livelihoods. Anecdotally, seasonal streams are beginning to dry up, affecting fishing communities in several parts of the country. Drier weather spells are also likely to be an underlying driver of increased deforestation and resource-based conflicts between … Read more

La situation alimentaire en Ethiopie aussi est extrêmement préoccupante

30 May 2017 by David Das Neves, South-South Cooperation and Development Effectiveness Officer, UNDP Africa

Refugees in EthiopiaFew people are aware that Ethiopia is the African country that hosts the most refugees: 730 000 have been recorded, chiefly from Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya. Photo: IOM
Beaucoup de personnes ont des difficultés à imaginer que des individus meurent encore de faim avec tous les moyens à notre disposition. J’ai rejoint le PNUD à Addis-Abeba en provenance de Genève, où les habitants ne se soucient généralement pas de savoir s’ils mangeront ce soir. Lorsque vous vivez en Ethiopie, les enjeux liés à la sécurité alimentaire vous font face et il est impossible d’ignorer la situation de crise que le pays affronte actuellement. Mais il faut faire attention au terme famine, qui a sa propre définition. Le Soudan du Sud est actuellement dans une situation de famine. La Somalie et le Nigeria font partie des pays en Afrique où le risque de famine est imminent. Au-delà du continent, le Yémen est aussi très affecté. On compte ensuite des pays sévèrement touchés par des problèmes de sécurité alimentaire, comme le Niger, le Tchad, le Cameroun, l’Érythrée et l’Éthiopie. Personne ne peut nier l’effet du climat parmi les causes de la crise alimentaire actuelle. La forte sécheresse qui sévit actuellement dans cette partie du globe fait des ravages. Mais d’autres facteurs doivent être pris en compte. … Read more

A un año del terremoto en Ecuador, aún queda mucho por hacer

17 Apr 2017 by Nury Bermúdez, Emergency Response, Risk Management and Livelihoods Officer, UNDP Ecuador

With UNDP support, 2,600 families have resumed agricultural production in rural areas of Manabí and Esmeraldas, generating average increases of 50 percent in sales. Photo: Gabriela Ullauri/UNDP
It only took 40 seconds to unleash decades of pent up vulnerability in Ecuador. Substandard buildings, additional stories built unofficially, shoddy building materials—they all took their toll on 16 April 2016. With 671 deaths and over 241,000 people affected, it was unquestionably one of Ecuador’s biggest emergencies in decades. The country’s emergency response capabilities were overwhelmed, making clear the need to strengthen preparedness, prevention and recovery for dealing with large-scale adverse events. In the face of this situation, a national and international solidarity network activated to provide aid and relief during the emergency. Government agencies responded on multiple fronts in regions needing immediate aid. Different protocols and mechanisms were created and put to the test during the emergency. Local governments set up temporary operations since many lost their facilities and were also affected. Civil society organizations were also on the ground in different areas, coordinating, managing and supporting those most in need. The humanitarian mandate to provide people with comprehensive care was fulfilled thanks to contributions and accumulated knowledge, where cooperation agencies played an important role and the Country Humanitarian Team was a hub of action that supplemented the Ecuadorian government’s efforts. UNDP aided the government on several fronts. In the … Read more

Why I have hope for my country, Haiti

20 Dec 2016 by Barbara Calixte, Project Manager, Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

My name is Barbara Calixte. I want to tell you about my people, the Haitian people and why we have hope for our country. I joined UNDP after the 2010 earthquake. Seeing such extensive destruction and damage, I knew I wanted to help rebuild my country.  With reputation of working hand-in-hand with the Haitian people, UNDP was, for me, an ideal place. It was without a doubt one of the most important decisions of my life. After the earthquake, UNDP supported the government in relief and recovery work. We empowered communities to rebuild smarter and strengthened their ability to respond to future disasters. We talked to people who lost practically everything but who still had pride, will and hope that Haiti could get back on its feet. I’ve seen real, tangible progress. That’s why Hurricane Matthew was so heartbreaking – it swept away much of that progress. But I’ve also seen hope. In Dame-Marie, I met an older couple who lost everything to Matthew. They were rebuilding their house with what meagre resources remained. Yet, they still had that will to fight. That’s the essence of the Haitian character. And that’s what makes it possible for Haitians to continue to fight. … Read more

L'environnement n'est pas le seul objet des plans climatiques

14 Nov 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

femmes recoltant de l'argan au MarocGrowing demand for argan oil has increased household income but places serious pressure on natural forests. Photo: UNDP Morocco
Un changement climatique dangereux appelle une action climatique courageuse. Atteindre les objectifs fixés par l'Accord de Paris n'est rien d'autre qu'un impératif pour notre sécurité et notre prospérité. Non seulement pour faire face au réchauffement de la planète, mais aussi pour toute une panoplie de bénéfices concernant les ressources alimentaires, l'emploi, la santé et la croissance durable. Pour comprendre en quoi des solutions climatiques efficaces peuvent avoir des effets positifs concrets sur le développement, prenons le cas du Maroc et de l'Afrique du Nord. Selon l'Institut Max-Planck, les températures devraient augmenter deux fois plus vite (en anglais) dans cette région que dans le reste du monde, ce qui pourrait rendre de vastes zones inhabitables, nuire aux économies, limiter l'accès à l'eau et compromettre la sécurité alimentaire. Ces problèmes sont interconnectés. Fort heureusement, les États – architectes de l'Accord de Paris et des objectifs de développement durable – sont conscients de ce risque et militent en faveur de la cohésion. La première étape importante consiste à reconnaître que les objectifs climatiques nationaux inspirés par l'Accord de Paris – les contributions déterminées au niveau national (NDC) – peuvent servir de modèle pour une action climatique concertée. … Read more

La gestión del riesgo climático en América Latina y el Caribe

12 Oct 2016 by Matilde Mordt, Team Leader, Sustainable Development and Resilience, UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean

Hurricane MatthewHurricane Matthew is only the latest reminder of the relentless force of nature. In 25 years, disasters have claimed more than 240,000 lives and caused losses of more than US$39 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
¿Estamos haciendo lo suficiente para crear esta resiliencia? Es verdad que hay una gran capacidad de respuesta ante desastres en muchos países, pero vemos también que en la región, la persistente pobreza generalizada, una urbanización rápida y descontrolada y la degradación del medio ambiente, han dado lugar a un aumento de la vulnerabilidad. El caso de Haití es notable, pero el Caribe en general es altamente vulnerable: según la CEPAL (2015), durante un período de 25 años, los desastres se han cobrado más de 240 000 vidas y han causado pérdidas por más de 39 000 millones de dólares en América Latina y el Caribe. … Read more