Our Perspective

      • 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’reRead More

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

        29 Aug 2011

        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. TheRead 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 crisisRead More

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