Our Perspective

      • The road to real progress against poverty and inequality | Antonio Vigilante

        30 Mar 2014

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        FISH FARMERS IN RURAL CAMBODIA ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE THANKS TO A PROJECT FUNDED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION. (PHOTO: ALEJANDRO BOZA/UNDP CAMBODIA)

        This year marks the 10th anniversary of UNDP’s partnership with the European Union. This relationship was forged based on the reality that the only way to make real progress in the fight against poverty and inequality is through coordinated multilateralism – and it has.   In the last decade, the EU has provided 3.3 billion Euros to UNDP activities in 115 countries, bringing about tangible results: - In Pakistan, the UNDP-EU partnership supported about 5.5 million people to rehabilitate 4,000 villages after the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods. Temporary employment benefitted 1.3 million people, 40 percent of which were women. - Elections in 53 countries have been supported by the partnership - 28 countries have been helped to better prepare for natural disasters. - Within the framework of the Poverty Environment Initiative, which supports 24 countries across several regions, the partnership has helped countries incorporate poverty-environment linkages into national development planning. - In the area of climate change, the partnership supports 25 countries to carry out nationally driven climate-change mitigation actions. One of the key factors that make the partnership effective is that the cooperation takes place at multiple levels: policy, advocacy, knowledge-sharing and programmes, each feeding and complementing one another. This helps the partnership bring about change at the level of international policy  Read More

      • Equality for Women is Progress for All

        08 Mar 2014

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        Cambodian women receive training in producing programme for Community Women’s Radio in Kratie province. (Photo: UNDP Cambodia/ Thomas Cristofoletti)

        In observance of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2014 International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the progress Cambodia has made towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. Equality for women and girls is a human right, enshrined under the Constitution of Cambodia and within the international human rights treaties Cambodia has ratified. Ensuring gender equality has a powerful transformative effect on developmental progress as a whole. In prioritizing good governance in its Rectangular Strategy, the Royal Government has marked the path for Cambodia to move towards its stated goals of growth, employment, equity, and efficiency. In this path, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are key determinants of whether development will be inclusive and sustainable. Indeed, only with the fuller participation of women and girls can Cambodia reach its development goals. Cambodia’s young female population represents a development potential that has yet to be realized. When equal to boys in their safety and access to education and health, girls grow into women who undertake roles that are socially more advanced and economically more productive than when such equality is denied. Investments in girls and women enable them to assume leadership roles in society and allow them to  Read More

      • Welcome to a new generation of ‘development issues’ | Duncan Green

        16 Jan 2014

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        Health problems such as obesity, once more common in countries of the Global North, are increasingly rising in the South, and the development focus for health may need to shift as a result. (Photo: UNDP Fiji)

        As I browsed my various feeds over the Christmas break, one theme that emerged was the rise of the “North in the South” on health, or what I callCinderella Issues: things like traffic accidents, theillegal drug trade, smoking or alcohol that do huge (and growing) damage in developing countries, but are relegated to the margins of the development debate. If my New Year reading is anything to go by, that won’t last long. ODI kicked off with Future Diets, an excellent report on obesity that shows the number of obese/overweight people in developing countries (904 million) has more than tripled since 1980 and has now overtaken the number of malnourished (842 million, according to the FAO). Other key messages include that diets are changing wherever incomes are rising in the developing world, with a marked shift from cereals and tubers to meat, fats, sugar and fruit and vegetables. While globalisation has led to a homogenisation in diets, their continued variation suggests that there is still scope for policies that can influence the food choices people make, particularly in the face of the serious health implications. Meanwhile, the Economist ran a two-page report and editorial on “the new drugs war”: “The resurgence of conflict over drug pricing is the result  Read More

      • Consumption consumes you | George Gray Molina

        10 Jan 2014

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        CASIMIRA SANCHEZ PREPARES PIECES OF GYM EQUIPMENT AT A PLANT IN MEXICO CITY. A UNDP PROGRAMME TO STRENGTHEN SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES INCREASED THEIR ACCESS TO NEW MARKET TECHNOLOGY. PHOTO: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP FOR UNDP

        F. Scott Fitzgerald used to say about alcohol: “First, you take the drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” The same thing could be said about consumerism as a way of achieving social status and recognition. First, let’s look at a few facts. Consumerism is the engine driving growth in Latin American economies. It represents 59 percent of the GDP in Brazil, 66 percent in Mexico, 69 percent in Chile, 77 percent in Honduras and 88 percent in the Dominican Republic — so more than two thirds of the economic growth in Brazil, Mexico and Chile over the past twelve months. Consumerism also led to a significant reduction in poverty and favored the emergence of the middle class in the region. Today, most of the population is no longer “poor” in the statistical sense of the term, but “vulnerable” as they work in precarious labour markets yet enjoy higher levels of income and purchasing power than before. Secondly, let’s look at some areas of concern. Consumption is intrinsically linked to high levels of liquidity, easy access to credit, and household debt. Household debt has increased throughout the region: According to Morgan Stanley, the ratio of household debt to income is 60 percent; in  Read More

      • Political quotas for women: Myths & facts | Elizabeth Guerrero

        09 Dec 2013

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        Salvadorian parliamentarians celebrate the approval of the new law that addresses violence against women (Photo: El Salvador Legislative Assembly)

        Women still comprise only 21.4 percent of members of parliaments (MP) around the world. While Latin America has more than 24 percent of women MPs — one of the highest shares in the world — the region still has a long road to travel towards gender parity. The provision of quotas — an idea that began in Europe and has spread to other continents — has effectively been used to boost women’s political participation, adopted as a temporary measure to encourage political parties to nominate a minimum percentage of women. This may take place as a voluntary action by political parties or through law-driven measures which push parties to nominate a certain number of women candidates. Yet several myths remain: Myth 1: "Quotas contradict the principle of equality before the law" This argument is based on the assumption that men and women actually have the same opportunities to run for elections. But that simply does not reflect reality. In many countries women can vote, but they cannot be elected. Evidence shows that women and men do not share the same opportunities to be appointed candidates because women face a number of barriers to be nominated by political parties. Therefore, the idea  Read More

      • Why gender equality at work must be a top development priority | Jeni Klugman

        02 Dec 2013

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        A woman farming in Togo, where only men inherit land. (Photo: UNDP Togo)

        “The future is grim for us women smallholder farmers,” a group from Togo told the World we Want survey on future development goals. In keeping with local custom, they said, “Only men inherit land, although women do most of the work in fields. This keeps us dependent on men and shackles us in poverty.” Discriminatory laws represent one of many obstacles holding back women’s economic participation. Social norms, lack of autonomy, and limited access to assets all play a part, and the costs—particularly in poor and emerging countries—are steep. Gender gaps are pervasive across continents and sectors. Female farmers tend to have lower productivity, smaller plots, and grow less profitable crops. Female employees are more likely to work in temporary and part-time jobs, and less likely to be promoted. In Mexico and Honduras, women accounted for 70 percent of all layoffs during the global economic crisis. Across advanced economies, women earn 16 percent less than men, even in the same occupations, hold fewer senior positions, and account for fewer entrepreneurs. Closing these gender gaps could yield enormous dividends for development. Having as many women in the labor force as men (PDF) could boost economic growth by 5 percent in the United  Read More

      • Creating a brighter future: The pivotal role of access to modern energy | Vincent Wierda

        27 Nov 2013

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        Each year, the poor spend an estimated US$37 billion on poor-quality energy solutions to meet their lighting and cooking needs. Through programmes such as CleanStart, which UNDP helped develop, low-income consumers are able to access more affordable, quality clean energy products and services, like these improved cook stoves on sale outside Kampala, Uganda.

        Reaching the 1.3 billion people without access to electricity and the 2.6 billion consumers without clean cooking solutions is a major human development challenge, yet it is also an immense investment and business opportunity. How can we take this market to the next level? How can more partnerships be brokered and supported to expand the market? What role can international organizations play in catalysing action and pushing the energy access agenda forward? Our combined experiences – in particular from those who are in the front lines of offering viable energy solutions to low-income people – are needed to build a growing movement, one that is offering a greater range of quality, affordable energy products and services to those at the base of the pyramid. CleanStart, a global initiative co-founded by UNCDF and UNDP, aims to do exactly that by supporting poor households and micro-entrepreneurs to jump-start their access to clean energy through microfinance. In Nepal, where some 87.1 percent of the population still relies on traditional biomass fuels for cooking and heating, we are investing US $1.3 million over four years (2012-2015) to develop replicable business models for scaling up microfinance for cleaner and more efficient forms of energy for  Read More

      • Tackling violence against women and girls: an urgent priority | Helen Clark

        25 Nov 2013

        This day reminds us that violence against women continues to be destructive and pervasive, and kills as many women between the ages of 15 and 44 as cancer. From Chile, where partner violence is estimated to drain as much as 2% of the country's GDP, to the United States, where the cost of domestic violence is estimated to exceed $12.6 billion per year, violence against women imposes highs cost on both its victims and society. Women who are able to live in a safe and secure environment can participate effectively in the economy and society. This helps overcome poverty, reduces inequalities, and is beneficial for children’s nutrition, health, and school attendance. Improving women's access to the justice system and to legal aid is vital. In countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are helping to strengthen the justice sector so that the many cases of rape and violence committed by combatants can be addressed. Impunity for perpetrators must end. In addressing sexual and gender-based violence, it is important to know more about the entrenched attitudes and values which perpetrate it. A recent joint report surveyed 10,000 men in Asia and the Pacific. It found that 80% of  Read More

      • Scaling-up matters for South-South Cooperation | Grace Wang

        06 Nov 2013

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        A WOMAN EMPLOYED UNDER THE MAHATMA GANDHI NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE SCHEME IN INDIA ACCESSES INFORMATION RELATING TO HER EMPLOYMENT AT AN INFORMATION KIOSK. (PHOTO: UNDP INDIA)

        The global development cooperation landscape is changing rapidly. Emerging economies and other developing countries have become key actors in the new development architecture. They offer practical solutions, share rich knowledge and take leadership and collective actions. For example, the Brazilian bolsa familia programme, a cash transfer model, has helped improve childhood nutrition and education in Brazil, and the system has been successfully transplanted to Africa. India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme entitles each rural Indian household by law to 100 days of unskilled work per year on public works programmes. China’s emphasis on infrastructure development in other developing countries has resulted in improvements in electricity supply, an increase in railway connections and reduced prices for telecommunications services. In our new Strategic Plan (2014-17), we are committing to support South-South and Triangular cooperation, complementing the traditional North-South model, across the board, to be a critical part of the post 2015 development agenda.This vision cannot rest on any routine, isolated or short-term approaches. Scaling-up strategy will be the key to ensure our support delivers lasting impact. In this regard, we see ourselves as: • knowledge brokers, to help identify, share and adapt scalable Southern solutions that are tested, cost-effective, sustainable; • capacity builders, to support developing countries to  Read More

      • Social and political transformation can only be achieved with young people’s participation | Heraldo Muñoz

        17 Oct 2013

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        A group of young UN volunteers in Peru. (Photo: Win Bouden/UNDP Peru)

        Latin America and the Caribbean has around 156 million people between the ages of 15 to 29, which means that 26 percent of its population is young. However, only 1.63 percent of deputies and senators in 25 parliaments in the region are 30 years old or younger, according to a recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) assessment. More worrying still is the fact that women still lag behind: among the few young parliamentarians just 32 percent are women. Having so many young people is an opportunity for any region. But in the case of Latin America, this demographic advantage coexists with unequal opportunities for its youth, which is reflected in low voter turnout among young people and a political representation crisis that feeds the recent social mobilizations. This confirms the need to boost efforts to meet young Latin Americans' demands and needs, and to recognize their capabilities and roles in promoting democratic change. In this context, more than 22 young parliamentarians from 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean signed a pact to expand political participation of the youth of the region during a recent meeting in Brasilia, organized by UNDP, Brazil’s National Youth Secretary and the Ibero-American Youth Organization, with  Read More