Our Perspective

      • Universal access to energy: Getting the framework right | Veerle Vandeweerd

        19 Jun 2012

        Improving access to affordable and sustainable energy services is absolutely central to broader development efforts to reduce poverty, and improve education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability. Globally, 1.4 billion people across the globe lack access to electricity (85% of whom live in rural areas), and 2.7 billion people (approximately 40% of the global population) rely on solid fuels for cooking and heating. Currently, the largest concentrations of the ‘‘energy poor’’ (that is, people who are both poor and lack access to sustainable modern forms of energy) are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Recent projections suggest that the problem will not only persist, but in fact deepen in the longer term without an international recognition and commitment to effect change. The challenge of increasing access to sustainable and cost-effective energy for the poor has to be met by setting new and bold targets for financing and implementation at the global and country level. Given its capacity as the lead development organization of the UN, UNDP is supporting the publication of a Report on ‘‘Universal access to energy: Getting the framework right’’. This report is the unique outcome of collaboration amongst experts focused on addressing key issues emanating from Africa and  Read More

      • Rio+20: What are the parameters of success? | Nils Boesen

        15 Jun 2012

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        Community mobilization and participatory approach in Haiti involves people in building their homes, neighborhoods and cities in accordance with their expectations and needs. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        We are in the midst of a tectonic shift - from the post-World War 2 order to a new, very different order where new powers arise. But not only, as so often depicted, through the rise of new nations and economies. Important as they are, there is more to it than the welcome arrival of the “BRICS” –the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, seen as the leading emerging economies. The broader tectonic shift is the move away from nation states being the dominant players to a much more diverse, complex - and exciting - multi-faceted set of players influencing (as opposed to single-handedly governing) the directions of change. Think civil society linking up and using social media. Think global corporations doing the same, and developing new corporate social responsibility approaches far beyond cosmetics. Think universities and think-tanks actively fostering innovations - be they social, technological, or managerial. And, not least, think cities (and maybe, even city-states, as competitors/alternatives/supplements to nation-states) with their amazing mass of energy, power and resources, and how they address sustainable development challenges - nearly by default across the strands of the social, economic, environmental and the technological. Little wonder that with such a mass of actors, interests  Read More

      • World must come together to reframe development | Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau

        12 Jun 2012

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        SCHOOLGIRL IN ADDIS-ABABA, ETHIOPIA. KOREA IS INCREASING ITS OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE. PHOTO: UN PHOTO ESKINDER DEBEBE

        The rise of Asia, economic challenges in the West, the increasing importance of foundations and the private sector in development mean global development partnerships must be broader than ever before.  It must also reflect the aspirations of the poor and marginalized, who are demanding to be heard. At the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2011, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and emerging countries, traditional donors, developing nations, the private sector, civil society and other groups came together to endorse a new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. The broad consensus reached at Busan lights the way for the world to work together in reframing development after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015. Consultations on a new development framework are underway. The United Nations is leading a comprehensive process within countries and regions on global themes to help build consensus. This is why 13 Asian nations are sharing views on what should come next . Their recommendations should feed into the post-2015 consultation process, which is as important as the end result.  If all actors do not buy in, the new framework will not work. The Republic of Korea  Read More

      • Road to Rio: People's voluntary involvement is key | Flavia Pansieri

        04 Jun 2012

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        One of the local volunteers participating in the UNV Sudan supported Diversity campaign in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Ayman Suliman

        Volunteering is a key driver of the changes needed in our societies to achieve sustainable development. If we - each one of us - don't engage, participate and be the change we seek, how can we expect to build a sustainable future for generations to come? Every single person is acting for sustainable development, by helping friends and family, by recycling waste, by teaching the kids how to turn off the tap. Most people engage voluntarily without even thinking about it, just because they know it is the right thing to do. Some people volunteer further, and get involved in development or environmental action for a week, for a month, for a year. Their work, big or small, might sometimes go unnoticed to the world. But their actions count in the communities that benefit from their hard work. That is where the power of volunteering comes in. Recent comparative international studies give an idea of the scope of volunteerism. For example, the Gallup World Poll (GWP) concludes that 16 per cent of adults worldwide volunteer for an organization. The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (CNP) finds that the number of volunteers contributing through voluntary organizations in 36 countries, taken together,  Read More

      • Sharing development experience between Latin America and Africa | Helen Clark

        29 May 2012

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        Cash transfer programmes – such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia – target low-income households, help reduce poverty levels, and increase access to education and health services.

        More than 40 social development ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa are gathering this week in Brasilia to discuss how both regions can exchange experiences and increase co-operation to end poverty. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is proud to be the facilitator of this historic gathering. It takes place less than a month before the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  There, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations will gather to discuss how to build a more sustainable future—a crucial challenge for developing and developed countries alike.   It is clear that countries can no longer afford to grow first and try to clean up later. Or grow first and try to become more equitable later.  Growth divorced from advances in human development and without regard for the environment will not sustain advances in human development, and will damage the ecosystems on which life on our planet depends.   Two weeks ago, UNDP’s Africa Human Development Report on food security was launched in Nairobi with the President of Kenya.  Despite sub-Saharan Africa’s significant rates of economic growth, hunger continues to affect nearly a quarter of its population  Read More

      • How can Africa achieve food security? | Tegegnework Gettu

        22 May 2012

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        It is a harsh paradox that sub-Saharan Africa, a continent blessed with ample agricultural endowments, still faces hunger and malnutrition. Photo: UNDP

        It is a harsh paradox that sub-Saharan Africa, a continent blessed with ample agricultural endowments, still faces hunger and malnutrition. Adding to that paradox is the fact that the region’s high rates of economic growth in recent years – some of the fastest in the world – and improvements in life expectancy and schooling have not led to commensurate improvements in food security. More than one in four Africans – nearly 218 million – remain undernourished and more than 40% of children under five – almost 55 million in total -- are malnourished. The spectre of famine, all but gone elsewhere, continues to haunt millions in the region. Yet another famine occurred in Somalia in 2011, and the Sahel is again at risk in 2012. Chronic food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa stems from decades of underinvestment in the countryside, where infrastructure has deteriorated, farming has languished, gender and other inequalities have deepened and food systems have stagnated. Smallholder farmers, on whose shoulders the recovery of its agriculture rests, have long been pinned between a rock and hard place. Erratic weather patterns and seasonal food price variations, coupled with new threats from population growth, environmental pressures and climate change, have only made  Read More

      • Road to Rio: Growth and employment need to be the heart of development | Magdy Martinez-Soliman

        15 May 2012

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        Growth and employment are firmly back on the development agenda—and will be a key topic during the Rio+20 Conference next month. Photo: UNDP

        Growth and employment will be at the heart of a discussion taking place this week in Tokyo, organized by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the host Government of Japan on the ‘post-2015 development agenda’. The structural adjustment programmes that were common around the 1980-90’s, which sought to tackle intractable problems, ended up holding back development and growth—often  in a painful and insensitive way that exacerbated poverty and underdevelopment. Growth got a bad name.  But now growth and employment are firmly back on the development agenda—and will be a key topic during the Rio+20 Conference next month. The one Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target that relates to full, productive and decent work is unlikely to be met by 2015. The global financial and economic crisis have slowed growth, and led in turn to an employment crisis: Total global unemployment is expected to increase another 6 million over the next three years. to 206 million in 2016, up from 200 million today.  And this is not a challenge for developing countries only.  My own country, Spain, has nearly one in four working-age people out of work.  As a result, the growth agenda has currency with a large  Read More

      • Look beyond the obvious | Ajay Chhibber

        11 May 2012

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        Better poverty measures are central for improving development programmes in India. Photo: UNDP

        India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to set up a new panel for re-examining the measurement of poverty is a fresh opportunity to rethink India's approach towards poverty. The question is: if we no longer measure human progress by income alone, then why do we still use income as a measure of poverty? In 1990, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s Human Development Index (HDI) broadened the measure of human progress beyond income to include health and education. This idea had its initial skeptics but today HDI is an accepted measure of human progress. Twenty years later, UNDP, working with scholars of Oxford University, proposed a Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The MPI measures poverty by taking into account access to education, health, water, sanitation, etc. Such an approach will not only give us a better measure of poverty but it will also help widen our understanding of the nature of poverty. There are countries like China, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan, where the poverty rate based on the MPI is lower than the one based on income poverty because other criteria such as health, education and shelter come into play. Many countries have now started calculating both the MPI and income poverty,  Read More

      • From Aid to Coherence - Making Development More Effective | Helen Clark

        09 May 2012

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        The policy coherence agenda is critical for achieving sustainable development and building the trust necessary between developed and developing countries to tackle global development challenges together. Photo: UN/Shehzad Noorani

        There is growing awareness that many of the most pressing challenges we face, from climate change to the spread of epidemics, the consequences of financial crises, and the forced displacement of people, require global solutions.  The focus must shift from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness.  Below, I am outlining some key policy areas where more coherence is needed: Trade and finance: Trade barriers are detrimental to the efforts of developing countries to grow their exports.  Climate change: Donors continue to invest in fossil fuel-based energy production. Migration: Recruiting health personnel from developing countries and investing in the health sector of those countries at the same time can be costly for donor countries and cause critical shortages of labor and a brain drain in developing countries. Investment policy: Without environmental, labour, social, and fiduciary standards, foreign direct investment may become exploitative of people, a country’s institutions, and the environment, instead of fostering economic growth and sustainable development.  Food security: Fears have emerged that other policies, like support for biofuel production in the global North to promote cleaner energy, contribute to raising food prices and jeopardize food security for food importing countries in the south. Tax and aid policies:  A lack of transparency  Read More

      • Road to Rio: Nations on a mission for sustainable energy for all | Veerle Vandeweerd

        08 May 2012

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        Solar panels provide clean energy in remote places. UN Photo

        Jamaica is on a mission for sustainable energy for all. The government spent US$2.2 billion – or 40 percent - of its foreign exchange earnings importing fossil fuels in 2011. To make a change Jamaicans turned to the nature around them – sun, waterfalls and rivers – and invested in renewable energy. By 2030, 30 percent of Jamaica’s energy will now come from renewables. Jamaica is one of 29 Small Island Development States (SIDS) that came together at the Achieving Sustainable Energy for All Conference in Barbados this week to share their determination to be free from dependence on fossil fuels. Just weeks ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or ‘Rio+20’, these nations, with some of the highest energy bills in the world, put forward a list of commitments to change. By 2029, Barbados will reduce its fossil fuel bill by US$283million, Mauritius will increase the share of renewable energy to 35 percent or more by 2025; and Seychelles committed to produce 15 percent of energy from renewables by 2030. Timor Leste set out its timeline: by 2015, no households in the capital will need to use firewood for cooking; by 2020, 50 percent of energy will come from  Read More