Our Perspective

      • Look beyond the obvious | Ajay Chhibber

        11 May 2012

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        Better poverty measures are central for improving development programmes in India. Photo: UNDP

        India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to set up a new panel for re-examining the measurement of poverty is a fresh opportunity to rethink India's approach towards poverty. The question is: if we no longer measure human progress by income alone, then why do we still use income as a measure of poverty? In 1990, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)'s Human Development Index (HDI) broadened the measure of human progress beyond income to include health and education. This idea had its initial skeptics but today HDI is an accepted measure of human progress. Twenty years later, UNDP, working with scholars of Oxford University, proposed a Multi-Dimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The MPI measures poverty by taking into account access to education, health, water, sanitation, etc. Such an approach will not only give us a better measure of poverty but it will also help widen our understanding of the nature of poverty. There are countries like China, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan, where the poverty rate based on the MPI is lower than the one based on income poverty because other criteria such as health, education and shelter come into play. Many countries have now started calculating both the MPI and income poverty, Read More

      • From Aid to Coherence - Making Development More Effective | Helen Clark

        09 May 2012

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        The policy coherence agenda is critical for achieving sustainable development and building the trust necessary between developed and developing countries to tackle global development challenges together. Photo: UN/Shehzad Noorani

        There is growing awareness that many of the most pressing challenges we face, from climate change to the spread of epidemics, the consequences of financial crises, and the forced displacement of people, require global solutions.  The focus must shift from aid effectiveness to development effectiveness.  Below, I am outlining some key policy areas where more coherence is needed: Trade and finance: Trade barriers are detrimental to the efforts of developing countries to grow their exports.  Climate change: Donors continue to invest in fossil fuel-based energy production. Migration: Recruiting health personnel from developing countries and investing in the health sector of those countries at the same time can be costly for donor countries and cause critical shortages of labor and a brain drain in developing countries. Investment policy: Without environmental, labour, social, and fiduciary standards, foreign direct investment may become exploitative of people, a country’s institutions, and the environment, instead of fostering economic growth and sustainable development.  Food security: Fears have emerged that other policies, like support for biofuel production in the global North to promote cleaner energy, contribute to raising food prices and jeopardize food security for food importing countries in the south. Tax and aid policies:  A lack of transparency Read More

      • Road to Rio: Nations on a mission for sustainable energy for all | Veerle Vandeweerd

        08 May 2012

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        Solar panels provide clean energy in remote places. UN Photo

        Jamaica is on a mission for sustainable energy for all. The government spent US$2.2 billion – or 40 percent - of its foreign exchange earnings importing fossil fuels in 2011. To make a change Jamaicans turned to the nature around them – sun, waterfalls and rivers – and invested in renewable energy. By 2030, 30 percent of Jamaica’s energy will now come from renewables. Jamaica is one of 29 Small Island Development States (SIDS) that came together at the Achieving Sustainable Energy for All Conference in Barbados this week to share their determination to be free from dependence on fossil fuels. Just weeks ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or ‘Rio+20’, these nations, with some of the highest energy bills in the world, put forward a list of commitments to change. By 2029, Barbados will reduce its fossil fuel bill by US$283million, Mauritius will increase the share of renewable energy to 35 percent or more by 2025; and Seychelles committed to produce 15 percent of energy from renewables by 2030. Timor Leste set out its timeline: by 2015, no households in the capital will need to use firewood for cooking; by 2020, 50 percent of energy will come from Read More