Our Perspectives

Long days and nights on the road to Paris

Community members planting trees with the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. Photo: Jackie Curtis/UNDP

In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. It is 1 September and I am sitting at a table in the basement of the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany, with a group of delegates from ten countries. We are discussing a proposal regarding how the crucial element of finance will be included in the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We are exhausted, yet determined—this is the second to last negotiation session before countries gather in Paris for the annual Conference of Parties (COP) to agree on a new, universal deal on climate change. Finance is a key part of the deal and the decisions made at this negotiation will be a key stepping stone toward an ambitious outcome in Paris. While we work together to identify the key concepts that are critical for their positions, I am humbled by the delegates’ commitment to make progress. My first UNFCCC negotiation was in 2006, and I have provided technical and advisory services to over 100 governments and six COP Presidents.  I’ve seen the darker side of negotiations—I was there... Read more

Mirando al 2030 desde el camino de los Objetivos del Milenio

If current trends continue, the region as a whole is on track to achieve many MDG goals. Photo: Carolina Trutmann/UNDP Guatemala

En un par de días se lanza en la Asamblea General de la ONU la futura agenda de desarrollo hasta el 2030. “Podemos ser la primera generación en acabar con la pobreza”, según el Secretario General, sobre la ambiciosa agenda de desarrollo post-2015, que incluye los 17 Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS).

¿Podremos ser la generación que acabe con la pobreza extrema y al mismo tiempo reduzca las desigualdades que históricamente azotan a nuestra América Latina y el Caribe?... Read more

How can mining contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?

A worker at a mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With meaningful engagement, mining companies could become partners in achieving the SDGs. UNDP Photo

The heads of 193 UN member states have now signed on to a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be the shared global development framework for the coming generation. Mining companies have the potential to become leading partners in achieving the SDGs. Through their direct operations, mining companies can generate profits, employment, and economic growth in low-income countries. And through partnerships with government and civil society, they can ensure that benefits of mining extend beyond the life of the mine itself, so that the mining industry has a positive impact on the natural environment, climate change, and social capital. At the same time, mining companies will be called on to extract with responsibility, produce with less waste, use safer processes, incorporate new sustainable technologies, promote the improved wellbeing of local communities, curb emissions, and improve environmental stewardship. Mining companies committed to the SDGs will benefit from improved relationships with governments and communities and better access to financial resources; those that fail to engage meaningfully with the SDGs will put their operations at risk in the short and long term. Over the last few months, the World Economic Forum, UNDP, UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and the Columbia... Read more

Collecting stories from chaos

A Sensemaker survey taker collect data in Sana'a.

In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice. The war here in Yemen has caused over 4,000 civilians deaths and 1.4 million Yemenis to be internally displaced since March. To examine the impact of this war, UNDP Yemen turned to citizens to hear their daily hardships and identify opportunities to restore livelihoods. But the survey we’re conducting is very different from traditional assessments and our respondents are interested and curious. We’re using Sensemaker, a software suite that discovers patterns among people’s stories. Because of the need to adapt programs to respond to emerging needs, it is important to understand dynamic contexts and a diversity of perspectives. This software focuses on values and people’s experiences, which is quantified quickly without the built-in prejudices some decision makers may bring to the table. Sensemaker is being conducted in partnership with the UNDP Innovation Team and Cognitive Edge across six priority governorates. So far, 200 micro-narratives have been collected in the capital city Sana’a with support from the Youth Leadership Development Foundation (YLDF). It will not be easy to access all locations as the conflict moves rapidly, but collecting these stories now, capturing the personal... Read more

At Social Good Summit, everyone has a seat at the table

Celebrities, activists and development leaders opened the 2015 Social Good Summit by introducing the 17 Global Goals. UNDP photo

Victoria Beckham was there, as was the Queen of Jordan. But the most applause that day came for a 14-year-old boy from Texas who built a clock. His name is Ahmed Mohamed, and he was a big hit at this year’s Social Good Summit in New York. The annual gathering, held in over 100 countries this year as the UN General Assembly convened, unites people from all over the world around a common purpose: using social media, innovation, and technology to help solve the world’s greatest challenges. This year’s Social Good Summit theme was “#2030NOW,” focusing on the greatest challenges facing the world over the next 15 years, with a particular emphasis on the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Global Goals, which will guide development policy and funding through 2030. I attended this year’s NYC summit. While it was fun to see movie and TV-star Adrian Grenier, or actor and political activist Ashley Judd, for me the most exciting part of this year’s SGS was the attendance of so many young people. Student Ahmed Mohamed and National Geographic Society President Gary Knell present Goal 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure. UNDP photo Case in point: Chinese environmental activist, and... Read more

Ending discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation is key to achieving the SDGs

Transgender activists in downtown Porto Alegre, Brazil, during a mobilization campaign for civil registry change and LGBT rights. Photo: Daniel de Castro/UNDP Brazil.

The recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) embody a powerful commitment to achieving a life of dignity for all. This includes lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. That's why we at UNDP are pleased to join in the UN statement on ending violence and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. The statement has been endorsed by 12 UN entities - UNDP, OHCHR, UNAIDS, ILO, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, UN Women, UNODC, WFP and WHO. The new sustainable development agenda includes everyone, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized. As noted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, "the challenges faced by any become the challenges faced by each of us - sometimes gradually, but often suddenly." In short, the inclusion of LGBTI people is important so that they can contribute to and benefit from sustainable development. Without inclusive processes we will not be able to help countries to achieve the simultaneous eradication of poverty and significant reduction of inequality and exclusion. Both UNDP's Strategic Plan 2014-2017 and the UNDP Youth Strategy 2014-2017 require us to place particular emphasis on those experiencing the greatest inequality and exclusion – LGBTI people are one such group. UNDP is already making contributions to LGBTI... Read more

Overcoming bottlenecks helps speed up MDG progress

In Nepal, Radhika Mijay is receiving community home based care service from Trishuli Plus, which provides HIV-related health services and support. The staff visits her home monthly. Photo: GMB Akash/UNDP

In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on working with the Millennium Development Goals. In the early 2000s, soon after world leaders established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), I was a development researcher. I participated in many intellectual debates and discussions about the MDGs and the process of adapting them into national development plans and strategies. There were polarizing debates and heated arguments on whether or not the world should shift attention from focusing exclusively on economic growth in developing countries to human development and broader development outcomes. Through global meetings, it became clear to the international community that developing countries should focus more in-depth on poverty reduction and overall development. The MDGs have had tremendous impact when interconnected factors are addressed together. Such factors include livelihoods, food security, health, education, equality, and access to basic infrastructure and services. Today, the world has witnessed significant progress in achieving many of the MDGs. The poverty target was achieved in 2010 - five years ahead of schedule - with around 700 million people lifted out of extreme poverty. Significant progress has also been recorded in primary school enrolment, access to improved sources of water, and reduction of... Read more

South-South cooperation brings strong partnerships to the new development agenda

South Sudanese attend a planning workshop in Juba. UNDP supports Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to send civil servants for two-year terms in South Sudan to provide peer coaching to their counterparts. Photo: Jennifer Warren/UNDP

An African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.”  The new sustainable development agenda recognizes the importance of partnerships to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Global Goals. This agenda presents the opportunity for a new and inclusive global partnership, of which South-South Cooperation (SSC) forms an integral part. South-South Cooperation (SSC) is the exchange of resources, technology, and knowledge between countries of the global South. It’s about developing countries extending helping hands to each other to tackle development challenges together. So how can SSC contribute to the achievement of sustainable development agenda? SSC can enhance the productive capacities of developing countries through fast rising trade and investment partnerships. South-South trade in goods for 2013 was valued at about US$5 trillion. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows among developing economies account for about half of world total. Promotion of trade and investment contributes to countries’ long-term economic growth and development outcomes by increasing revenues and creating jobs.  This matters in all contexts, but even more so in crisis-affected countries. To break the cycle of poverty and violence, it's about jobs and more jobs. A number of countries, including Mozambique, Ghana,... Read more

End impunity for corruption to boost resources for development

Activists attend a rally for International Anti-Corruption Day in Bangkok. Photo: UNDP Thailand

Ending impunity was the main topic at the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference that took place this month in Malaysia. Most topics discussed at the conference resonated well with the proposed Sustainable Development Goal 16 on building peaceful, just and inclusive societies. Goal 16 is a victory for the anti-corruption movement as for the first time, the development agenda makes an explicit link between good governance and fighting corruption and peace, justice and inclusive development. This does not come as a surprise. There is now empirical evidence that once a critical threshold is reached, increasing levels of corruption result in increased levels of violence, impunity and insecurity. There can thus be no sustainable peace in a society plagued by endemic corruption and impunity. There can also be no sustainable peace when those who hold power, be it political, economic or criminal, can purchase their impunity. And there can be no peace, nor justice when large groups of people are discriminated against because they are unable to overcome the many illegal hurdles that prevent them from enjoying their rights.   Breaking the culture of corruption and impunity requires a comprehensive governance approach that involves, among other things, efforts to strengthen the rule of... Read more

Oceans are inextricably linked to human development – to our health, economy and wellbeing on the planet

Oceans are linked to our health, economy and wellbeing on the planet. Photo: UNDP Namibia

Oceans are inextricably linked to human development – to our health, economy and well-being on the planet. Three-fourths of our blue planet is covered by oceans, containing 97% of the earth’s water and representing 99% of the living space on earth by volume. They serve as the world’s largest source of protein for over 2.6 billion people. They are a major source of jobs, transport, energy and tourism. They regulate critical nutrient and climate cycles and they generate half of all oxygen produced on the planet. Oceans contribute around US$3 trillion to the global economy each year through fishery and aquaculture, international shipping, oil and gas extraction and coastal tourism. But despite the many benefits we derive from the oceans, they face a number of serious threats, many of which are accelerating. As much as 40 percent of the oceans are considered ‘heavily affected’ by human activities. 80 percent of fish stocks are fully or overexploited. Thousands of invasive species travel the globe on ships and wreak havoc in new environments.  Carbon dioxide emissions are causing the acidification of oceans at the fastest rate in 30 million years, threatening the survival of countless species along marine food chains. Despite the availability of... Read more

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