Our Perspectives

UNDP missions powered by the sun

Workers install solar panels on the roof of the UNDP offices in Sierra Leone.

UNDP offices are looking to the sky to power their programmes. It's interesting to see what we have already accomplished, and how much more we can do. Solar power is a champion for many of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, including targets for resilient cities, infrastructure, and sustainable energy. It is a key to our global warming crisis, especially for sun-filled regions of the world. It creates an energy-independent environment with less noise and air pollution and sustainable, outage-free workplaces for UNDP and its partners. The U.S. International Energy Agency reports that the sun could be the largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydropower, and nuclear, with localized solar photovoltaic (PV) systems generating up to 16 percent of the world's electricity and solar power plants providing an additional 11 percent. As part of the response to Ebola, UNDP installed solar systems in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 2014, and at three sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At UNDP Sierra Leone, 196 panels now provide power for 200 staff in the office, which also houses the UN Joint Medical services and security services for Freetown. Carine Yengayenge, Deputy Country Director, is excited, noting... Read more

What does inclusive economic growth actually mean in practice?

A farmer with his family in Chingawaram village, India. Inclusive growth is about ensuring that the benefits of development reach the entire population, including the most vulnerable members. Photo: UNDP India

With the historic Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) now completed, “inclusive growth” remains a high priority on the agenda. While most stakeholders agree it’s an important and compelling part of the dialogue on development, it still remains rather ambiguous as a term. And seemingly when you ask five economists to define the concept, you will likely end up with six answers. Within the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund), we are keen to understand the various theories pertaining to inclusive growth and how best to put them into practice. We realize that there’s more than one way to achieve this objective, which means there is plenty of room for creativity.  There are many perspectives as to what inclusive growth means in practice, with big differences in approach amongst key institutions. The Open Working Group has included the concept as part of the post-2015 development agenda. Number 8 of the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals is “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” UNDP’s chief economist, Thangavel Palanivel, recognized multiple definitions but pointed out that there are some common features, namely: “Growth is inclusive when it takes place in the... Read more

Two journeys to drive climate change action

In June, the streets of ‪‎Jakarta‬ closed and were filled with hundreds of cyclists calling for commitment to climate action in ‪Paris‬, as part of the Pole to Paris initiative. Photo: Dan Price

The weird thing about climate change is that the driving mechanism of the problem is actually very simple: you have a gas, which when put in the atmosphere traps heat and in turn changes the climate system. While we understand where the problem comes from, solving it is incredibly difficult given the complexity of global politics, the economic system, competing interests, and the capacities of countries and societies. A significant challenge around this is public engagement and the difficulty in effectively communicating the issue. Not everybody is a scientist and the cause and effect can be vague for many. But an emerging new dialogue is changing the discourse, emphasizing that climate change isn’t only an environmental issue, but aneverything issue. This is why I created Pole to Paris. Pole to Paris was launched in early 2015 with support from UNDP in Samoa. Its goal: to raise public awareness about climate change ahead of this December's COP21 climate conference in Paris. We aim to challenge leaders, engage with people to understand the problem, and start discussions about potential solutions. My colleague Erlend and I have decided to run and bike, respectively, from the Polar Regions to capture this message and exemplify the extreme... Read more

La infraestructura como inversión para el desarrollo

During the year and a half project, it directly employed 314 men and 23 women and generated 1,500 indirect jobs. Photo: Mauricio Martínez/UNDP El Salvador

Para generar ese entorno son necesarias políticas públicas e inversiones que favorezcan una adecuada complementariedad entre las demandas de la sociedad y las necesidades y derechos de los individuos.

Un buen ejemplo de ese entorno habilitante es la inversión pública y privada en infraestructura logística y de movilidad. Desarrollar y fortalecer esta infraestructura tiene un impacto potencial sobre el desarrollo económico y la disminución de la pobreza. La infraestructura de transporte es de vital importancia para la calidad de vida de la población; la movilidad vincula las áreas urbanas con las rurales; conecta al país con el exterior; facilita el acceso a servicios básicos como educación y salud; contribuye a la funcionalidad de las ciudades y las vuelve más competitivas. ... Read more

Caring about those who care for others

In Argentina, women currently devote almost twice as much time as men to care-related tasks: 6.4 hours a day compared to 3.4 hours.

All societies have people to care for and care-givers. Although there are different forms of care-giving, it is often undertaken by family members, mostly women and girls whose labor is usually unpaid. Here in Argentina, a country which has made remarkable progress in women’s rights and gender equality, women currently devote almost twice as much time as men to care-related tasks: 6.4 hours a day compared to 3.4 hours. The ability to meet care needs is also critical to national well-being, and the economic dimension of care-work is becoming more visible in Latin America. Studies undertaken in Colombia and Mexico indicate that the economic value of care activities accounts for approximately 20% of GNP. The region is now facing a mounting care crisis. The number of people requiring care is increasing, due to greater life expectancy, while the number of people available as unpaid care-givers is diminishing, caused by a lower fertility rate and the mass entry of women and girls into the labour market and educational systems. In addition, the ‘demographic bonus’ – when the working population is larger than that of elderly people and children - is coming to an end in many countries, while the dependency rate will... Read more

The gender gap in extractive dependent countries

Can we use the revenues generated from oil, gas and minerals to reduce the gender gap in countries with abundant natural resources? We found a statistically significant negative correlation between our Extractives Dependence Index (EDI) that ranks countries on their dependence on the extractive sector (where 0 equals no dependence and 100 equals highest dependence) and the Global Gender Gap Index (where 1 equals equality and 0 equals inequality). The Global Gender Gap Index for countries with the highest dependence on the extractive sector is 0.60 while it is 0.70 for the lowest dependent countries. We further examined the difference between women and men in leadership positions and employment. In countries with high dependence on extractives, women make up 8.7% of ministerial level positions; they take up 9.5% of seats in national parliaments and hold 18.4% of senior and managerial positions. In countries with low dependence on extractives, the numbers are almost twice as high at 16.9%, 17.9% and 32.7%, respectively. In high extractive dependent countries, the average unemployment rate for women is 15% and 8% for men. In the low extractive dependent countries, there is parity in a bad outcome; the unemployment rates are 8% for women and 7% for... Read more

Stronger partnerships with foundations to take sustainable development further

A farmer in Kenya, one of four countries where UNDP is partnering with philanthropic foundations for the implementation of the sustainable development agenda. Photo: UNDP Africa.

“If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” This old African proverb underpins UNDP’s engagement with philanthropic foundations for the implementation of the new sustainable development agenda. Ghana is the fourth country – following Kenya, Colombia and Indonesia – where we are connecting local foundations with the UN, government, private sector and civil society-led policy discussions and development initiatives. The project is in collaboration with our partners the Foundation Center and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and aims to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Philanthropy has played a significant role in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) progress. Although foundations do not typically use the entire MDG framework to report or communicate their work, their contributions to health, education and other goals have been tremendous. Limited data on philanthropic giving and activities impedes efforts to accurately measure impact. Outside of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a few other larger foundations, we have little understanding of what the philanthropy sector is investing in and how. The Ford, MasterCard and Conrad N. Hilton foundations have recognized that philanthropy can be a major force and ally in implementing the post-2015 agenda. As leading global philanthropic... Read more

The case for a rights based development sensitive approach to drug control policy

Men working in the coca field in Bolivia. Photo: Ryan Anderton

The relationship between drug control policy and human development is complex and multifaceted. Both share a common objective to reduce drug-related harms. Yet drug control, human rights, public health and human development agendas often exist in isolation from each other. Policies aimed at prohibition and punishment form the international approach to drug control. Yet, there is ample evidence of the negative consequences of these policies. For the many farmers affected by poverty, conflict, and insecurity, cultivating illicit drug crops is a viable livelihoods option, yet international drug treaties ban the cultivation of these crops and require their eradication. The enforcement of these bans and eradication efforts have in many cases negatively affected the public health and human rights of people living in poverty. They have destroyed the livelihoods of those who depend on cultivating and selling drugs to survive and forcibly displaced populations from areas where illicit crops are grown. The herbicide used in aerial fumigation of illicit coca crops has been associated with physical and mental health problems. In many instances, these bans do not necessarily lead to reduced cultivation or consumption of illicit drugs, as the cultivators and traffickers simply move on to other areas. Poverty can push people... Read more

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda: A step forward on financing for development?

The Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) lays out the steps the international community promises to take to fund the world’s new sustainable development agenda – to be agreed in New York in September. This new document must also chart a path for how we can address the challenges which have emerged – or become more pronounced – since the 2002 Monterrey Consensus (PDF), such as climate change, accelerated environmental degradation and inequality. So did we get our ‘Monterrey Plus’ in Addis Ababa? As with all international processes, the outcome is stronger in some areas than in others. On the plus side, there is a commitment to a new ‘social compact’ in which countries commit to set up social protection systems, with national spending targets for essential services like health and education. If countries cannot funds these through domestic resources, the international community pledges to provide international assistance. Countries also agreed to work together to fund infrastructure for energy, transport, and water and sanitation, as well as step-up investments in agriculture and nutrition. There was also a commitment to establish a ‘facilitation mechanism’ to promote innovation and scientific cooperation, identify technology needs and gaps, and support capacity building on technology. The special development... Read more

We cant let the socio-economic fabric of Yemen erode further

In Al-Ruqeen village in Taiz, Yemen, local residents and internally-displaced people partake in a livelihoods survey to help assess the needs of the area. Taiz is one of the poorest cities in Yemen, and the influx of the displaced adds pressure to those already suffering. Photo: UNDP Yemen

Yemen is in deep crisis in so many ways – humanitarian, political, security, economic, and social. The infrastructure damage that we can see on the ground is devastating, as is the growing number of civilian casualties. However, what is not as visible but just as alarming is how the socio-economic and institutional fabric has eroded. Civil servants, private sector, civil society, and students are not able to work or study. Livelihood opportunities, economic activity, and public services in many parts of Yemen have come to a standstill since fighting began, in a country already long marked by deep poverty and inequality. Yemen’s strength is said to be its informal systems through family, regional, and community ties, and we see many Yemenis in need helping others in need. But even the strength of informal systems is eroding as assets are depleted, income sources cut, law and order collapsed, and people’s psychological strength exhausted. Communities are consumed with coping with the hard reality of the conflict, as the complexity of the crisis fragments society and exposes old and new divides. Recent events in the Arab States region have proven that when crisis becomes protracted, the negative impact on development can be devastating. UNDP... Read more

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