Our Perspectives

Well-structured public finance can align profit and sustainability aspirations

29 Sep 2016 by Li Yong, Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization

To promote inclusive and sustainable growth, international public investment should support small and medium businesses. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
The ambitious global commitment to pursue inclusive and sustainable paths of development – outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – comes at a moment that does not admit any further delay. The economic, environmental and social challenges we face are enormous and must be addressed today, before climate change, demographic pressures, fragile security situations and other unsustainable global trends take their unbearable toll on all of us. At the same time, this agenda unveils a new set of opportunities for investments to yield unprecedented levels of economic and social dividends, provided that the appropriate co-ordination mechanisms and instruments are put in place. This means rethinking the role of official development assistance (ODA) to increase its efficiency and impact as an international public investment tool. It means making it more co-ordinated, catalytic and targeted as an instrument for attracting additional public and private investments for the transformation we all strive to achieve. Public finance will need to focus on initiatives that can drive progress on the SDGs, bringing into play the necessary industries – with their investments and their knowledge … Read more

Demystifying the NAMA, a Caribbean perspective

27 Sep 2016 by James Vener, Mitigation Economist, UNDP

Photo credits: Rajiv JalimLike many Small Island Developing States, Trinidad and Tobago is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more frequent flooding. UNDP photo
I was in Trinidad and Tobago recently as the country was gearing up for Carnival 2016. While I would have loved to be there to celebrate, my focus was on the country’s climate commitments and supporting the Government to develop a NAMA. What exactly is a NAMA? NAMAs, or Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, are the projects that countries undertake to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). This can include efforts to scale up markets for renewable energy products like solar home systems or to improve energy efficiency in buildings, which are responsible about one-third of all global GHG emissions. As the Paris Agreement includes commitments from each country, NAMAs serve as a vehicle to help further these objectives. … Read more

A historic day in Colombia

26 Sep 2016 by Martín Santiago, Resident Representative, UNDP Colombia

The Peace Agreement signed by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP is of great significance for Colombia and for the world. Photo: UNDP Colombia
Betsaida and her family abandoned their home and a small business in the port of Tumaco, in the Pacific of Colombia, and were forced to follow the road that more than 7 million displaced Colombians have as a result of the armed conflict. Their story, and that of millions of victims of the war, is at the heart of what the United Nations Organization is and does. Seventy-one years after its creation, the universal aspiration to end war, reaffirm the fundamental human rights and promote social progress is latent and more crucial than ever. Despite the progress we have made in the last quarter of the century, in which we achieved a significant reduction of armed conflicts, we have witnessed serious setbacks in the last four years: the number of civil wars and attacks by governments and armed groups against civilians have increased for the first time since 2005. More than fifty million people, the highest number recorded in history, have been uprooted from their homes around the world as a result of armed conflicts. In the face of adversity by human tragedies, the Peace Agreement that was signed yesterday by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP is of great significance for Colombia and for the world. … Read more

Are we finally getting an inclusive instrument in place to finance climate action?

22 Sep 2016 by Alexandra Soezer, Climate Change Technical Advisor

Planting trees to counter the effects of climate changePlanting trees is one way to counter the effects of climate change. Photo: Aaron Nsavyimana/UNDP Burundi
It is estimated that US$ 16 trillion is required to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This is money that will help to put countries on a low carbon path. Where this money will come from, however, has long been a source of debate. Yet, it seems that we may finally be putting in place the instruments we need to finance our low carbon future. A single mechanism for investing in low carbon development is ineffective, as it does not reflect contextual realities or the priorities of varying stakholders, such as the private sector. What is needed are parallel and complementary mechanisms that support countries at different levels of development. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has boosted private investment in mitigation projects in developing countries. With more than 8,000 projects registered, the CDM has leveraged almost US$ 200 billion of investments in developing countries. This mechanism has, therefore, been a key driver in the effort to reduce emissions and tackle climate change in developing countries. … Read more

Caribbean: Rethinking progress in the sustainable development era

21 Sep 2016 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

It is essential to ensure that economic growth is inclusive, empowers people and leaves no one behind. Photo: Igor Rugwiza/UN
Caribbean countries make a special case for development. The high and increasing exposure to hazards, combined with very open and trade-dependent economies with limited diversification and competitiveness portray a structurally and environmentally vulnerable region, composed, in the most part, of middle income countries. As these countries start implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we are calling for a new notion of progress. Our UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report for the Caribbean titled “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched this week in Barbados with top regional authorities makes the case for a new generation of public policies to boost resilience and increase gains in the economic, social and environmental fronts, including peace and justice. For the Caribbean this “multidimensional progress” entails not only adapting to shocks. It means breaking through structural obstacles that hinder growth and people’s well-being—beyond the traditional measurements of living above or below a poverty line. Nothing that reduces the rights of people and communities or threatens the environment can be considered progress. This holistic approach is crucial, especially for the Caribbean. … Read more

For Pacific countries, tomorrow is too late to act on climate change

20 Sep 2016 by Estefanía Samper, Special Assistant to the Executive Coordinator of the Global Environmental Finance Unit

Pacific countries have contributed little to global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet they are highly vulnerable to sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. Photo: UNDP Fiji
The drought caused by El Niño in Palau has essentially halted life for many Palauans since March. An increasing number of Tuvaluans are displaced by sea level rise, and 64 communities in Fiji will need to relocate in the coming years. As a region, the Pacific has contributed little or nothing to global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet it is incomparably vulnerable to sea level rise, climate-induced ocean acidification, extreme weather events, and erratic precipitation and drought patterns. We heard this sense of urgency repeated many times last month in Fiji, where Pacific countries met to discuss their climate change needs and learn how best to access funds to address them. Each Pacific country present at the meeting told a story of how one extreme climate event can easily wipe out 10 years of growth in one day. … Read more

Migrants and refugees: A global problem or a local solution?

18 Sep 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

A family of 10 flees the besieged city of Yabrud, Syria in Februray 2014. Six hours later, they crossed the border into Arsal, Lebanon. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell.
This week, the world’s governments will come together at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to debate the crisis and response to large movements of migrants and refugees. The concept of “root causes” has been often cited in draft resolutions and speeches. It boils down to the fears and threats people are running away from, leaving behind their homes and countries. Conflict, climate shocks and lack of opportunity, repression and violation of rights, extremism and widespread poverty top the list of development failures that produce forced displacements. Successful development appears as one of the clearest solutions. Development policies need to adequately integrate and consider migration and displacement. … Read more

Social Good Summit: From an idea among friends to a global movement

16 Sep 2016 by Boaz Paldi, Engagement Manager, UNDP

SGS ChinaThe Social Good Summit brings together global leaders, technology experts and grassroots activists to discuss solutions for the greatest challenges of our time. UNDP photo
When a group of inspired citizens got together seven years ago, asking themselves the question “what if we could have an open, transparent gathering, during UN Week – a real Peoples' Summit?” they could not have possibly imagined where the answer to that question would lead them. I was lucky enough to be present to witness the start of this global movement and have seen it grow over the past seven years. It has been quite a ride, to say the least. We saw US ex-presidents, current vice-presidents, rock stars, scientists, global grassroots leaders. We saw new inventions and innovations for social impact. We saw a worldwide conversation with millions of participants and billions of messages. The list goes on and on. … Read more

Rethinking the way the world deals with refugees

14 Sep 2016 by Cihan Sultanoğlu, Director, Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia

Photo Syrian refugee Sfook Ali AlhelalSyrian refugee Sfook Ali Alhelal sits with one of his two wives and their five children in a two-room apartment in Amman, Jordan. They fear being evicted because they are struggling to pay the rent. Photo: Freya Morales/UNDP
A year ago, masses of people fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan began to stream through the western Balkans on their way to northern Europe. Like anyone following the news closely, I was deeply moved by the chaotic scenes of crowded fields and train stations. A year on, these images have all but disappeared, but the numbers are telling a very different story. According to the International Organization for Migration, by July this year arrivals were up 17% compared with arrivals during the first seven months last year, many of them arriving through Italy and Greece. Europe’s migration crisis is showing no signs of abating. That’s because the crises fueling it are intensifying, uprooting ever growing numbers from their homes. It doesn’t help that refugees are being quarantined or spurned in many places where they set foot. Those kind of measures create even more poverty and despair among already traumatized people. … Read more

Making natural resource revenue sharing work

10 Sep 2016 by Andrew Bauer, Senior Economic Analyst, Natural Resource Governance Institute , Uyanga Gankhuyag, Economist, UNDP and Sofi Halling, Policy Analyst, Extractive Industries, UNDP

Revenue sharing systems can compensate producing regions for environmental damage associated with mineral extraction. Photo: UNDP
Despite a peace agreement signed last year, Libya remains embroiled in violent conflict. At the heart of the conflict is oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of government revenue. The vast majority is produced in the country’s east and south, while the commercial and administrative capital, Tripoli, is in the west. Just like in other parts of the world suffering from natural resource-fueled conflicts, disagreements over how national and subnational authorities should share the revenues from non-renewable resources are threatening the nation’s stability and future. Natural resource revenue sharing—the legal right of different regions to either directly collect some taxes from oil or mining companies or for the central government to distribute resource revenues to different regions according to a formula—has been proposed as one means of ending the Libyan war. Beyond their potential for bringing peace, revenue sharing systems can compensate producing regions for environmental damage and loss of livelihoods associated with oil, gas and mineral extraction. They can also serve as an acknowledgement of local claims over resource wealth, even in regions without conflict. … Read more