Our Perspectives

Demystifying the NAMA, a Caribbean perspective

27 Sep 2016 by James Vener, Mitigation Economist, UNDP

Photo credits: Rajiv JalimLike many Small Island Developing States, Trinidad and Tobago is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more frequent flooding. UNDP photo
I was in Trinidad and Tobago recently as the country was gearing up for Carnival 2016.  While I would have loved to be there to celebrate, my focus was on the country’s climate commitments and supporting the Government to develop a NAMA. What exactly is a NAMA? NAMAs, or Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, are the projects that countries undertake to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG).  This can include efforts to scale up markets for renewable energy products like solar home systems or to improve energy efficiency in buildings, which are responsible about one-third of all global GHG emissions.  As the Paris Agreement includes commitments from each country, NAMAs serve as a vehicle to help further these objectives. Identifying and agreeing on what areas to reduce GHGs requires a great deal of planning.  As it is, many countries face the challenge of having multiple competing – and complementary – project ideas for emission reduction.  The foundation of a good decision-making process is therefore to have a sound strategy in place for comparing and prioritizing project alternatives.  The Trinidad and Tobago strategy, for instance, includes how to evaluate various types of technologies, how to balance ambition with cost effectiveness, and how to increasingly integrate … Read more

A historic day in Colombia

26 Sep 2016 by Martín Santiago, Resident Representative, UNDP Colombia

The Peace Agreement signed by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP is of great significance for Colombia and for the world. Photo: UNDP Colombia
La familia de Betsaida abandonó su casa propia y un pequeño comercio en el puerto de Tumaco, en el Pacífico de Colombia, y se vio arrastrada en el camino de los desplazados que han tenido que seguir cerca de 7 millones de colombianas y colombianos como consecuencia del conflicto armado. Su historia, y la de millones de víctimas de la guerra, se encuentra al centro de lo que es y hace la Organización de las Naciones Unidas. Setenta y un años después de su creación, la aspiración universal de poner fin a la guerra, reafirmar los derechos humanos fundamentales y promover el progreso social continúa latente y más crucial que nunca. … Read more

Are we finally getting an inclusive instrument in place to finance climate actions?

22 Sep 2016 by Alexandra Soezer, Climate Change Technical Advisor

Planting trees to counter the effects of climate changePlanting trees is one way to counter the effects of climate change. Photo: Aaron Nsavyimana/UNDP Burundi
It is estimated that US$16 trillion is required to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This is money that will help to put countries on a low carbon path. Where this money will come from, however, has long been a source of debate. Yet, it seems that we may finally be putting in place the instruments we need to finance our low carbon future. A single mechanism for investing in low carbon development is ineffective, as it does not reflect contextual realities or the priorities of varying stakholders, such as the private sector. What is needed are parallel and complementary mechanisms that support countries at different levels of development. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has boosted private investment in mitigation projects in developing countries. With more than 8,000 projects registered, the CDM has leveraged almost US$ 200 billion of investments in developing countries. This mechanism has, therefore, been a key driver in the effort to reduce emissions and tackle climate change in developing countries. But not all regions and countries of the world were able to benefit equally from CDM. Few Least Developed Countries, notably those in sub-Saharan Africa, participated in the CDM, leaving … Read more

Caribbean: Rethinking progress in the sustainable development era

21 Sep 2016 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

Caribbean countries make a special case for development. The high and increasing exposure to hazards, combined with very open and trade-dependent economies with limited diversification and competitiveness portray a structurally and environmentally vulnerable region, composed, in the most part, of middle income countries. As these countries start implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we are calling for a new notion of progress. Our UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report for the Caribbean titled “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched this week in Barbados with top regional authorities makes the case for a new generation of public policies to boost resilience and increase gains in the economic, social and environmental fronts, including peace and justice. For the Caribbean this “multidimensional progress” entails not only adapting to shocks. It means breaking through structural obstacles that hinder growth and people’s well-being—beyond the traditional measurements of living above or below a poverty line. Nothing that reduces the rights of people and communities or threatens the environment can be considered progress. This holistic approach is crucial, especially for the Caribbean. After decades of persistent and volatile low growth, human vulnerability has increased. Most CARICOM countries’ Human Development … Read more

For Pacific countries, tomorrow is too late to act on climate change

20 Sep 2016 by Estefanía Samper, Special Assistant to the Executive Coordinator of the Global Environmental Finance Unit

Pacific countries have contributed little to global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet they are highly vulnerable to sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. Photo: UNDP Fiji
The drought caused by El Niño in Palau has essentially halted life for many Palauans since March. An increasing number of Tuvaluans are displaced by sea level rise, and 64 communities in Fiji will need to relocate in the coming years. As a region, the Pacific has contributed little or nothing to global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet it is incomparably vulnerable to sea level rise, climate-induced ocean acidification, extreme weather events, and erratic precipitation and drought patterns. We heard this sense of urgency repeated many times last month in Fiji, where Pacific countries met to discuss their climate change needs and learn how best to access funds to address them. Each Pacific country present at the meeting told a story of how one extreme climate event can easily wipe out 10 years of growth in one day. Enter the Green Climate Fund (GCF) – a fund that aims to provide US$2.5 billion by the end of this year and $6 billion by mid-2017 to countries to tackle climate change. The Pacific is a priority region for the GCF and already $64 million has been allocated for two projects in Fiji and Tuvalu that will reduce vulnerabilities in coastal communities. However, Pacific countries … Read more

Migrants and refugees: A global problem or a local solution?

18 Sep 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

A family of 10 flees the besieged city of Yabrud, Syria in Februray 2014. Six hours later, they crossed the border into Arsal, Lebanon. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell.
This week, the world’s governments will come together at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to debate the international response to large movements of migrants and refugees. The concept of “root causes” has been cited often in draft resolutions and speeches. It boils down to the fears and threats people are running away from, leaving behind their homes and countries. Conflict, climate shocks and lack of opportunity, repression and violation of rights, extremism and widespread poverty top the list of development failures that produce forced displacements. Successful development appears as one of the clearest solutions. Development policies need to adequately integrate and consider migration and displacement. Responding quickly and effectively to sudden displacements is important. Migrations and other forms of human mobility should, above all, be safe and orderly, to protect those on the move. They cannot only be looked at through the prism of crisis and emergency. The bulk of displaced persons today have been living in protracted situations of fear and need. Thus, human mobility has to be included more comprehensively into long-term policy planning. National development strategies that aim at economic, social and rural development, the consolidation of the rule of law, climate action and peace … Read more

Social Good Summit: From an idea among friends to a global movement

16 Sep 2016 by Boaz Paldi, Engagement Manager, UNDP

SGS ChinaThe Social Good Summit brings together global leaders, technology experts and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. UNDP photo
  When a group of inspired citizens got together seven years ago, asking themselves the question “what if we could have an open, transparent gathering, during UN Week – a real Peoples' Summit?” they could not have possibly imagined where the answer to that question would lead them. I was lucky enough to be present to witness the start of this global movement and have seen it grow over the past seven years. It has been quite a ride, to say the least. We have seen former presidents, current vice-presidents, rock stars, scientists, global grassroots leaders. We saw new inventions and innovations for social impact. We saw a worldwide conversation with millions of participants and billions of messages. The list goes on and on. This year we will again push the boundaries during the seventh annual Social Good Summit. In New York and in over 80 locations* all over the world, people will gather to discuss the greatest challenges of our world, and come up with innovative ideas to use new media and technology to address those. These ideas and conversations are the lifeblood of the Social Good Summit. If we look hard enough and listen well enough, we will be … Read more

Rethinking the way the World Deals with Refugees

14 Sep 2016 by Cihan Sultanoğlu, Director, Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia

Photo Syrian refugee Sfook Ali AlhelalSyrian refugee Sfook Ali Alhelal sits with one of his two wives and their five children in a two-room apartment in Amman, Jordan. They fear being evicted because they are struggling to pay the rent. Photo: Freya Morales/UNDP
A year ago, masses of people fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan began to stream through the  western Balkans on their way to northern Europe. Like anyone following the news closely, I was deeply moved by the chaotic scenes of crowded fields and train stations. A year on, these images have all but disappeared, but the numbers are telling a very different story. According to the International Organization for Migration, by July this year arrivals were up 17% compared  with arrivals during the first seven months last year, many of them arriving through Italy and Greece. Europe’s migration crisis is showing no signs of abating. That’s because the crises fueling it are intensifying, uprooting ever growing numbers from their homes. It doesn’t help that refugees are being quarantined or spurned in many places where they set foot. Those kind of measures create even more poverty and despair among already traumatized people. In May, I took part in the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey, where heads of state and international organizations promised to step up emergency relief efforts for the 130 million people affected by war and natural disaster — half of them displaced.  I listened to personal testimonies of suffering and perseverance, and discussed solutions with a host of government … Read more

Making natural resource revenue sharing work

10 Sep 2016 by Andrew Bauer, Senior Economic Analyst, Natural Resource Governance Institute , Uyanga Gankhuyag, Economist, UNDP and Sofi Halling, Policy Analyst, Extractive Industries, UNDP

Revenue sharing systems can compensate producing regions for environmental damage associated with mineral extraction. Photo: UNDP
Despite a peace agreement signed last year, Libya remains embroiled in violent conflict. At the heart of the conflict is oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of government revenue.  The vast majority is produced in the country’s east and south, while the commercial and administrative capital, Tripoli, is in the west. Just like in other parts of the world suffering from natural resource-fueled conflicts, disagreements over how national and subnational authorities should share the revenues from non-renewable resources are threatening the nation’s stability and future.  Natural resource revenue sharing—the legal right of different regions to either directly collect some taxes from oil or mining companies or for the central government to distribute resource revenues to different regions according to a formula—has been proposed as one means of ending the Libyan war.  Beyond their potential for bringing peace, revenue sharing systems can compensate producing regions for environmental damage and loss of livelihoods associated with oil, gas and mineral extraction. They can also serve as an acknowledgement of local claims over resource wealth, even in regions without conflict.  This approach has been used in Indonesia’s Aceh region, Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville region and Nigeria’s Niger Delta to defuse resource-fueled civil wars, … Read more

Taking action on #2030Now: Global Goals design jams coming to you!

09 Sep 2016 by Simon van Woerden, Creative Communications and Partnerships, UNDP

Important progress has been achieved since the launch of the Global Goals one year ago. UNDP photo
It has been almost a year since the 2015 Social Good Summit and the spectacular launch of the Global Goals. Since then we have taken important first steps on the road to 2030 - the target date for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We have told friends, family and the world about what the 17 Goals are. We have shown the world why the Global Goals are the most important agenda for people and planet. And together we have pushed and helped governments to create concrete plans of action. In just a short time, we will again come together for the biggest event of the year at the 2016 Social Good Summit. It's time to get ready for a fresh round of inspiring conversations on technology, innovation and new media. Conversations on how we use those tools to create the 2030 we want, now. As this year's theme says: "Connecting Today. Creating Tomorrow." An exciting new part of creating that tomorrow will be a first this year. Around the world in local Social Good Summits, we will organize “Global Goals Jams”, two-day design hackathons that use state-of-the-art design thinking methods and tools, focusing on the Global Goals targets that matter most … Read more