Our Perspective

      • We must act now to stop climate change | Helen Clark

        08 Nov 2012

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        A woman walks through a flooded market in Port au Prince. Hurricane Sandy passed to the west of Haiti October 25, 2012. Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH

        The devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy reminds us once again of the destructive potential of extreme weather—even in a developed country such as the United States, and even with ample warning and swift emergency response. From Kingston, Jamaica to Jamaica, Queens, this “perfect storm” exacted a deadly toll that New York’s mayor said was even higher as a result of climate change. But while developed countries dig ever deeper to fund elaborate flood defense systems, compensate farmers, and adjust thermostats to accommodate hotter summers, the consequences of climate change in Africa can be catastrophic: Crops fail. People go hungry. We could, as a global community, make the transition to green and inclusive economies that tackle inequality, advance development, and stop the ongoing assault on our ecosystem. This begs the question: Why isn’t the world doing more? At the global level, policy responses lag well behind where science tells us they should be. Short political cycles discourage long-term thinking, particularly where up-front costs may be high. This is especially true in times of fiscal constraint and sluggish growth. Little appreciation exists, further, of how climate change undermines gains in the developing world, hitting hardest precisely those people who have contributed least to Read More

      • Optimism in the field of anti-corruption | Magdy Martínez-Soliman

        07 Nov 2012

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        "Fighting corruption is everyone’s business" Photo: Kenny Miller / Creative Commons

        Every year, corruption is estimated to cost more than 5% of global GDP (US$2.6 trillion). But its costs in terms of dignity cannot be calculated. Widespread rent-seeking and patronage have the power to undermine democracy and the rights of communities, especially those who live on the land of their ancestors, on mineral resources or surrounded by global commons.  These communities can then be subject to exploitation by companies or interest groups who push for environmental and social safeguards to be ignored or bypassed. High-profile corruption cases and publication of resources lost through illicit forms have begun tempting many to believe the fight against corruption is being lost. Weak anti-corruption agencies, porous institutions and opaque political party financing do not help. I would like to argue, however, that there is still hope for cautious optimism for the following reasons. First, even as gaps in enforcement and practice persist, over the years global instruments and related international initiatives have grown in number and fame. From international diplomatic conventions to new instruments to citizens armed with cellphones, fighting corruption is everyone’s business. Second, corruption has now been termed clearly as a governance deficit and a development challenge, rallying the forces that work on democratic Read More

      • Men of the world, let’s unite for women’s empowerment | Martín Santiago Herrero

        05 Nov 2012

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        EMPOWERING WOMEN IS A TASK FOR EVERYONE. PHOTO: UNDP INDIA

        We continue to live in a world that is profoundly unequal, where the opportunities are not the same for men and women. Women represent 70 per cent of the world’s poor. On average their salaries are  10 to 30 per cent less than men’s for the same work, with the same tasks. Women are responsible for two thirds of the work carried out around the world, but receive only 10 percent of the benefits. They own 1 per cent of cropland, even though they perform 80 per cent of rural work. And as if this were not enough, two thirds (60 per cent) of women are victims of some type of violence or abuse (physical, sexual, psychological or economic) within or outside their homes. By continuing to deny this reality or leave the responsibility to women to "do something about it" themselves, the injustices against women are only exacerbated. We need to act, just as women's movements have done for years, but this time with greater support from men of all ages, and on a grand scale. A road less travelled until now is trying to debunk the underlying myths that sustain inequality between men and women:  Why do so many Read More