Our Perspective

      • How to address surging violence in the Caribbean | Heraldo Muñoz

        20 Mar 2012

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        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. Photo: UNDP

        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. The consequences are devastating, as UNDP’s first Caribbean Human Development Report and an earlier report on human development in Central America show. The report Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security showed that homicide rates have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean —with the exception of Barbados and Suriname— while falling or leveling off elsewhere. The study covering Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago showed that a great deal of the violence stems from the transnational organized crime which has been active in the Caribbean. While murders in Jamaica dropped after the report’s completion to 1,124 in 2011, a seven-year low, the country has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and the third-highest worldwide, only surpassed by El Salvador and Honduras. Lives are lost and damaged. Productivity, social capital—and the trust of citizens in their national institutions—are also hindered. Crime deters investment, diverts youths from jobs to jail, and absorbs funding that Read More

      • Why Equity and Sustainability Matter for Human Development | Helen Clark

        17 Mar 2012

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        Dried up river bed in Rayer Bazar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inclusion and equity are indispensable for sustainable development. Photo: Mohammad Rakibul Hasan/UNDP

        Since 1990, the baseline year against which we measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. The world is within reach of seeing every child enrolled in primary school, and many fewer lives are being lost to hunger and disease. Overall people are healthier, wealthier, and better educated than ever before. Yet aggregate figures disguise some inconvenient truths: that ending poverty is a vast and unfinished agenda; that inequality is increasing in many countries; and that our planet’s eco-systems are under considerable stress.  The question which needs to be addressed is: What do we want our common future to look like? Uppermost in our minds must be the importance of integrated decision-making which seeks to weave together the economic, social, and environmental strands of sustainable development. Expanding access to sustainable energy offers a good example of how to advance all three pillars of sustainable development simultaneously. Living standards can rise, economic growth can be pursued, and environmental balance is maintained. Goals of equity and sustainability are advanced. Inclusion and equity are indispensable requirements for sustainable development. Just as development cannot be only about economic growth, nor can sustainability be only about protecting the Read More

      • Remembering and learning from Fukushima | Kamal Kishore

        12 Mar 2012

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        Japan has developed disaster risk reduction systems, an investment that has paid off in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Photo: Patrick Fuller/ IFRC

        One year ago, a major earthquake struck off Japan's northeastern coast, causing a devastating tsunami. A massive tidal wave followed, overwhelming some of the tsunami protection systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, killing thousands of people and forcing 100,000 more from their homes. While radiation at the nuclear site has now been contained, it will take years to decommission the plant and gauge the radiation impact it has had. Three simultaneous major disasters—earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leak—this was a crisis without precedent. Japanese authorities drew sharp criticism from domestic constituencies. But we must recognize that some parts of the Japanese disaster management system worked well, preventing losses of an inconceivable magnitude as might have occurred in many other countries. In earthquake-stricken areas, trains came properly to a halt, electrical systems shut down, people were evacuated, lives and property largely survived. Most of the damage stemmed from the tsunami and nuclear leakage. The lessons from Japan are complex:  Prevention pays. Japan has developed disaster risk reduction systems – building codes, systems for implementation of buildings codes, emergency response systems, and public awareness of disasters, painstakingly over several decades.  This investment has paid off.  Take Indonesia as another  example reinforcing this message: Read More

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