How can agro-commodity traders contribute to the SDGs

29 May 2015 by Andrew Bovarnick, Global Head of the Green Commodities Programme, Sustainable Development Cluster, UNDP

cocoa podsGhana’s cocoa is produced by thousands of smallholder farmers, spread over six of the country’s 10 regions. Photo: COCOBOD
With the global population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, we face a dual challenge: ensuring the continued production of agricultural commodities, such as soy, palm oil, cattle, coffee and cocoa, without destroying the planet’s natural resources that humanity depends on to survive. Agricultural commodities are the bedrock of a number of rural developing economies, contributing to vital economic growth and the ongoing fight against poverty. As such, they play a critical role in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. But deforestation and land degradation, a direct result of the growth of the agriculture sector, is irreversibly damaging our planet, its biodiversity, and the important ecosystem services it provides. In fact, the largest driver of deforestation today is the production of agricultural commodities. This is why UNDP set up the Green Commodities Programme (GCP) in 2009 to spearhead dialogue, decision-making and action in the agro-commodity sector between governments, the private sector and civil society. The goal is to improve the economic, social and environmental impact of agricultural commodities, with a specific focus on improving the lot of smallholders, most of whom live in poverty with no access to training, financing or land security. For example, an estimated 26 million coffee … Read more

Racing against the clock, torrential rains and new earthquakes

29 May 2015 by Ugo Blanco, Regional Advisor for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP

woman holds babyThe destruction in rural areas affected by the earthquake is severe. Basic services have been affected, and families with babies have difficulty responding to the health needs and housing. Photo: Ugo Blanco / UNDP
The truth is I didn’t know what time it was. Only weeks after the terrible earthquake that devastated Nepal, I was with a team of engineers working with families from the Sindhupalchock district, a rural area in the centre of Nepal where barely a house was left standing. As a UNDP regional crisis adviser, I was focused on the job at hand -- but fate had other plans. Another quake hit. I didn't know what was happening. My legs started shaking uncontrollably, and suddenly I fell to the ground. Then I heard the shouts. Many of the families we were there to help panicked. Men, women, children -- everyone was screaming. Some fainted, while even more homes collapsed around us. In Nepal, we are running against the clock, facing a large number of challenges that make reconstruction a complex task. Over 300,000 homes were damaged. They pose a huge risk, as it’s only a matter of time until they too collapse. In addition, winter is approaching with its torrential monsoon rains. It is absolutely urgent that we help these communities have safer and warmer homes in the coming weeks. People who already had very little before the earthquakes, have now lost … Read more

Impact investing for a sustainable future

28 May 2015 by Priscilla Sani-Chimwele, Programme Analyst, Private Sector Development and Engagement

Big players are already engaging heavily in various impact investment ventures in various parts of the globe. Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues. Business does not take place in a vacuum. It takes place in countries, within communities and amongst people. Some say that the most critical aspect of a successful business is the customer. I would agree: A business that contributes to the wellbeing and affluence of its customers, by giving back, ensures that in the long run those clients are able to afford and continue to consume the goods and services that the business provides. Smart business sense.    While many business people have given back to communities through philanthropic ventures over the years, some investors rather only prefer to ensure that their investments are responsible, wherein they explicitly acknowledge the relevance of environmental, social and governance factors to their investment, without necessarily aiming to have a positive social or environmental return from their investments. Taking responsible investment (PDF) a step further, impact investment is a concept which responds quite strongly to the driving force behind running a private corporation… the need to make a profit, and in addition to a financial return, ensures measurable positive social and environmental impacts from an investment. Impact investing has been … Read more

Let’s make 2015 a turning point for youth participation

27 May 2015 by Noella Richard, Youth Policy Specialist, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

2015 has a special significance for all of us. We look beyond the Millennium Development Goals and feel increasingly excited about the bold, ambitious and inclusive development agenda that is shaping up. It is vital to ensure that 2015 is also a turning point for youth participation. Youth are eager and ready to contribute. Youth not only expect to have a say in defining the sustainable development priorities for the next 15 years, but they also want to be seen as equal partners in the implementation and monitoring of this agenda. It is no secret that young people remain largely excluded from political, civic, economic and social processes at all levels. At UNDP, our Youth Strategy for 2014-2017 outlines a vision for engaging and empowering youth in governance, in jobs and livelihoods, and in strengthening their communities and societies. That work includes promoting youth political participation and young women in decision-making, advocating for youth-led monitoring and accountability and strengthening the capacities of youth organizations and networks of young social innovators. And we want to make this programming more coherent and sustainable, and to open more doors for youth to get involved with our work, propose solutions, share experiences, participate in our … Read more

In Haiti, a neighbourhood converts ideas into innovation and opportunities

26 May 2015 by Rita Sciarra, Head of the Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

Forty initiatives were selected and an initial capital of US$500 to $1,500 was awarded, so they could transform their "idea" into a reality. Photo: UNDP Haiti
Fort National is a very poor and dangerous neighbourhood of Puerto Príncipe, a neighbourhood identified with high crime rates, violence, and large numbers of weapons. The mere mention of its name sets off alarm bells, warning you "Do not enter". In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice. … Read more

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