Our Perspective

      • Development in an age of economic uncertainty

        17 Oct 2011

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        Sewing machine operators work at the "Multiwear" Factory at Sonapi Industrial Park, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo: Eskinder Debebe/UN.

        Today, the world economy is more volatile than ever, endangering recent progress in developing countries. The adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 marked a significant moment in history that addressed issues of universal human importance. It was a hopeful moment in which there was a global conviction that human deprivation could be alleviated through the coordinated and sustained effort of the world's nations. Nearly twelve years later, many countries have made impressive strides towards achieving the MDGs. However, we also now live in a more uncertain and integrated world where economic and financial shocks are more likely than ever, and their impact can be more broadly devastating. With such an environment come different and profound challenges for human development. To be clear, vulnerability to shocks directly impacts how well households meet basic needs, how many people live in poverty, the access children have to schooling, and the ability of men and women to find meaningful and productive employment. Therefore, fostering human development now demands that we effectively leverage recent lessons about how such crises affect developing countries and the world's most vulnerable populations. Only then can we develop and promote policies and programmes that successfully manage vulnerability, build  Read More

      • Investing in sustainable development is not a choice, it’s the only option

        13 Oct 2011

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        Solar panels provide heat and electricity for homes in rural Botswana. (Photo: UNDP)

        International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - 17 October 2011 This month, as we mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the number of people on our planet is estimated to reach 7 billion. A secure and peaceful future for our world requires that they all have access to sustainable sources of food and water, and the means to enjoy a decent living. Investing in sustainable development is no longer a question of choice. It is the only option. That is why a meaningful outcome from the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil next June is so critical. Twenty years after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit set a forward looking agenda for sustainable development, we have a unique opportunity at Rio+20 to review progress on that agenda, examine the gaps in it and the new needs, and reach agreement on how to move ahead together. At UNDP we believe that truly sustainable development for present and future generations must safeguard ecosystems while also enabling economic and social progress. Sustainable development will also build countries’ resilience to external shocks and protect development gains. It is particularly critical to ensure that the most vulnerable are not  Read More

      • Investing in Disaster Risk Reduction Saves Lives

        12 Oct 2011

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        Local Risk Management Committee volunteers in a UNDP-supported training exercise transferring injured people to a tent offering first aid in Mozambique. Credit: UNDP Mozambique

        2011 International Day for Disaster Reduction, October 13 The 21st century has been marked by an escalating impact of disasters from natural hazards and the huge loss of life and destruction of livelihoods and communities that come with them. In 2010, nearly 400,000 people were killed by disasters worldwide and more than 200 million people were affected. Economic damage was estimated at USD 110 billion. Disasters seriously undermine, or even reverse, years of hard-won progress in achieving Millennium Development Goals. Now more than ever, reducing disaster risks and preparing to respond to disasters should remain a top priority for every government in disaster-prone countries and for all of us working with such countries. The message is clear: investing in disaster risk reduction saves lives and secures hard-won development gains. Over the past 10 years, UNDP has worked with national governments in more than 50 high disaster-risk countries to strengthen governance structures and institutions for better prevention, mitigation and management of disaster risks, as well as more effective responses to disasters. Governments, with support from the international community, need to engage in building resilience on a sustained basis to address disaster risk reduction as an integral part of development.   Impressive reduction in  Read More

      • Cote d’Ivoire: Working towards recovery

        28 Sep 2011

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        Internally Displaced Persons in Côte d'Ivoire. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

        Since re-opening the UNDP office in Côte d’Ivoire some four months ago, we have been working together with NGOs along the western border with Liberia, assisting recently-returned internally displaced people who had moved following a political crisis triggered by the disputed December 2010 election. More than 20,000 people now have better access to water through rehabilitated water pumps and water treatment of 100 wells. Almost 5,000 youth are engaged in some UNDP-supported income-generating activity related to agricultural processing, small trading initiatives, among others. In addition to reintegrating hundreds of thousands of displaced people, Ivoirians face other urgent challenges, including rebuilding trust among the population, and restoring security and rule of law. The economy, historically one of West Africa’s strongest, was also disrupted. The government, the UN and other local partners cannot do it alone, and the gaps are huge. As of 22 September, the Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for Côte d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries affected by the crisis is funded at 28 per cent with some US$81 million contributed against a total requirement of US$ 291 million. Going forward UNDP’s main focus will be to support the government to restore security and institutions of governance, and find ways to generate jobs  Read More

      • Young people: Shaping the world’s future

        06 Sep 2011

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        Young men and women are gathered at a special event in the UN, New York, as part of the activities of the International Year of Youth. (UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)

        Taking part in last month’s United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth, I was inspired by the commitment and dynamism of the women and men aged 15 to 24 buzzing around me. Some 500 young environmental and civic activists and entrepreneurs put their minds together in New York 25-26 July to respond to some of today’s most pressing global challenges. They looked head-on at the impact of being out of work and of living in poverty – situations that a majority of the world’s 1.8 billion young people are facing. Overseeing partnership and cooperation efforts of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), we bring together governments, the media, civil society and the private sector to focus on exactly these issues. UNDP has been helping countries around the world with the design of fresh policies for job creation as a means for cutting poverty, particularly for younger generations.   For example, today we are working to empower young people in Arab states, where they are experiencing unemployment at a rate twice the global average. In Tunisia, we’re currently designing training and promoting entrepreneurship for youth in the province of Medenine whose economy has been badly affected by the Libyan crisis. In Egypt, we’re  Read More

      • Don't Turn Away From the World's Most Violent Region

        29 Aug 2011

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        Heads of state take part of conference to boost security in Central America (Photo: Héctor Morales / UNDP)

        Even though the era of civil conflict in Central America is over, the region has the highest murder rate in the world: 44 per 100,000 people, 11 times the worldwide average of four per 100,000. This means more than 18,000 homicides in 2010 and 79,000 in the past six years. The late 1990s saw new democratic consolidation and economic growth in Central America, with admittedly mixed results. But the absence of outright war failed to bring peace, and sustained global efforts are now essential if we are to prevent the region’s already grave security crisis from worsening. Citizens feel unsafe on the streets, and even in their own homes. For their part, governments have to tackle the threat of drug-trafficking, kidnapping, organised crime, gangs, arms-dealing, and human-trafficking. Direct costs include loss of life, disability, and the illicit trade that results from crimes against property. Huge social inequality and under-employment among younger citizens form the backdrop for this insecurity, which goes beyond the domain of the war against drugs. Insecurity exacts a grimly quantifiable toll on both GDP and human development, thwarting the capacity both of individuals and of whole societies to fulfil their potential in this ever more global economy. The  Read More

      • Drought in Kenya: Current Crisis Calls for Long-term Solutions

        25 Aug 2011

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        A Somali woman holds a malnourished child, waiting for medical assistance. Somalia and Kenya are two of the most affected countries by the drought in the Horn of Africa. UN Photo/Stuart Price

        Only minutes after our take-off from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, the landscape below us starts changing from lush green to arid brown and yellow, seemingly devoid of life. We are heading to the dry rural regions of Wajir and Turkana in northern Kenya. With me on board are the World Food Programme Executive Director Josette Sheeran and the Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf. We set out to hear directly from those most affected by the unfortunate drought and famine unfolding in the region. Kenya has been hit especially hard by the crisis, with a food-insecure population of more than 3.5 million due to the drought. One farmer reports that in his village, close to the three-way border shared with Ethiopia and Somalia, it has not rained for almost two years and that there have been no harvests at all since 2009. Most families and communities in Wajir rely on goats and cattle for their survival, but with the severity and duration of the crisis, their livelihoods are now threatened. The people we meet during our tour are tough, and so is their livestock. But we can tell they have reached the limit of what they can take. Sadly, this crisis  Read More

      • Why – so far – the Millennium Development Goals have been a success

        23 Aug 2011

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        Fishermen bring in the daily catch in south-eastern Viet Nam. Photo: Tran Vinh Nghia/UNDP

        The world has 1,520 days to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – eight commitments that were agreed upon at the turn of the century with the aim of creating better living conditions for all. The MDGs were criticized when they were first adopted.  They continue to be criticized. Some believe they lack ambition, others say that they are unrealistic. Many have pointed out that they do not adequately consider unjust conditions in areas such as trade, investment and debt. Others have pointed to a weak emphasis on environment and climate issues, or that the goals are isolated indicators of poverty. Despite the criticism – and the fact that we do not yet know whether the goals will be achieved globally – we can, in my opinion, state that the MDGs have been a phenomenal success in two ways.  First, they have contributed to ensuring that a majority of developing countries are giving increased priority to policies that put people at the center: freedom from hunger, education for all, basic healthcare, clean drinking water. Around the world, the goals have guided budget decisions and law-making processes. As such the MDGs have contributed to a significant shift.  Growth, investment, asphalt  Read More

      • Honouring humanitarian workers worldwide | Jordan Ryan

        19 Aug 2011

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        A UNDP worker helps in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Photo: UNDP/Mariana Nissen

        Today, 19 August 2011, the United Nations celebrates the third World Humanitarian Day to honour people who have dedicated their lives to helping those in need around the world.  Humanitarian workers assist those who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and sources of income to the terrible toll of disasters and conflict. Many humanitarian workers face danger, live in difficult conditions often far apart from their families and loved ones. Their commitment and dedication advance the cause of our common humanity and make us proud. Wherever there are people in need, there are people at the ready to help – brave individuals seeking to ease suffering and bring hope to those less fortunate. Far too many have paid the ultimate price for this commitment, and have lost their lives. It is with them in mind that we mark this day. It is only fitting that each of us consider what we can do to help people enduring disaster, violent conflict, and hardship. We should not underestimate the positive impact each of us can make for those in need.  The current crisis unfolding in the Horn of Africa requires immediate and concerned action. Thousands of people are in danger from drought, famine and conflict.  Read More

      • The Epicentre of a Crisis

        09 Aug 2011

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        Humanitarian aid workers are working hard to assist the IDPs through the distribution of corn-soya blend to assist the malnourished children as well as the elderly. (Photo: OCHA/Abdi Noor Yussuf)

        Almost two million Somalis have left their homes in search of food and tens of thousands have died from hunger.  And the numbers continue to rise. I went to Dollow on the Somali side of the Ethiopian border to see for myself what was happening. What I saw and heard was alarming. About 150 families a day were arriving and all of them told the same story. They were running out of resources and knew they could not survive much longer. They had walked for three to four weeks, often leaving relatives too weak to follow by the roadside. After my trip we began to collate the information and the latest round of surveys was horrifying. In some areas over 50% of children were classified as being acutely malnourished— these are globally unprecedented figures. The mortality figures were just as grim with four to five children under five years-old per 10,000 dying each day. The declaration of famine was not a decision taken lightly and demonstrates the severity and urgency of the crisis. The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was asked to validate the findings.   In the next few weeks other areas of southern Somalia will slide into  Read More

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