Our Perspective

      • Road to Rio: What kind of world do we want to live in? | Helen Clark

        17 Apr 2012

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        I personally want to live in a sustainable and equitable world, where decisions taken at all levels are driven by respect for and promotion of people’s choices, freedoms and opportunities, while also respecting the boundaries of nature. For me, achieving sustainable development is not about trading economic, social, and environmental objectives off against each other. It is about seeing them as interconnected objectives which are best pursued together. The act and consequences of reducing environmental degradation, for example, can stimulate employment and reduce poverty. The reverse is also true: in degrading the environment, a country can undermine the long term prospects of its economy and society. Such ideas shaped discussions in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Known as the Earth Summit, it attracted more heads of states and governments than any previous UN meeting had, addressed an unprecedentedly broad set of concerns, and attracted record numbers of actively involved and newly empowered non-governmental organisations. In about two months, the international community will meet again in Rio, twenty years after the Earth Summit, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or what is called Rio + 20. So often, discussions about sustainable development seem to focus onRead More

      • Road to Rio: Putting resilience at the heart of development | Helen Clark

        16 Apr 2012

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        How can we support countries in becoming more resilient towards these kinds of shocks?

        The threats to our world and to development are real and imminent. Nearly forty per cent of the global landmass is already degraded due to soil erosion, reduced fertility, and overgrazing. With a projected increase of the world’s population to almost nine billion by 2020, this stress will undoubtedly surge. Our political, social, economic, and technological tools and our policies need to step up urgently to address these challenges, and building resilience must be at the very heart of this effort.  For UNDP, achieving resilience is a transformative process which builds on the innate strength of individuals, their communities, and institutions to prevent, lessen the impacts of, and learn from the experience of shocks of any type, internal or external, natural or man-made; economic, health-related, political, or social. The question is: how can we support countries in becoming more resilient towards these kinds of shocks? Building resilience benefits from governance which is active, effective, honest, fair, and responsive and representative. When state institutions fail to guarantee access to justice and a functioning public service, and cannot provide an enabling environment in which people can flourish, communities become more vulnerable to the criminal or other violent entities which will fill any void.Read More

      • Road to Rio: Women 'out of sight, out of mind’| Helen Clark

        11 Apr 2012

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        Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and former UNDP staff, is the first elected female head of state in Africa as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner. Photo: UNDP

        Today, there are only eight women heads of state – representing slightly more than five per cent of the total.  This seems extraordinary in the second decade of the 21st century.  The global average of women holding parliamentary seats remains under twenty per cent, which is well below the thirty per cent target set in the Millennium Development Goals.  At the current rate of progress, that target will not be reached globally before 2025, and long beyond that in many countries.  That is too long for women and the world to wait. The proportions of women in national legislatures in the world’s regions range from roughly 22 per cent in the Americas and Europe (with the 42 per cent in Nordic countries pushing the average figures up) to 20.2 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, 17.9 per cent in Asia, 14.9 per cent in the Pacific, and 10.7 per cent in the Arab States.  Five countries – all in the Gulf and the Pacific – have no women parliamentarians at all. Only sixteen per cent of ministers are women, and most often they are allocated portfolios like those for social welfare, women, and children.   When women are “out of sight, out ofRead More