Our Perspective

      • World We Want Post-2015 campaign takes off in Zambia | Kanni Wignaraja

        05 Feb 2013

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        A woman in Zambia harvests her crops. Photo: Patson Mwasila/UNDP

        It takes foresight to look into the future and imagine the way you want it to be. And then, it takes persistence and courage to influence it to be so. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are not imaginary – they are tangible, and many countries are on the way to achieving them. But more than 1 billion people still live in poverty. Growing inequality and injustice, or the effects of climate change and terror activity may not have been what the MDGs were designed to address. But our world is one where the lines are blurring between development and humanitarianism, between short- and long-term impact, between planning for development and for emergencies. Our imagination has to stretch. This time around, while we look to accelerate progress toward the MDGs, two elements could drive and shape this future vision: first, a people’s sense of equity, and second, a people’s sense of engagement in making their own choices. Let us look at some numbers and the stories they tell: - Zambia has reduced the rate of extreme poverty from 58 percent in 1991 to 43 percent in 2010. However, extreme poverty continues to be higher in rural areas (57 per cent) than urban  Read More

      • Violence, crime still plague Latin America | Heraldo Muñoz

        31 Jan 2013

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        More than 1,000 judges, clerks, prosecutors and police officers in Haiti received training in technical areas of criminal investigations, sex crimes or judicial inspection. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        Latin America now enjoys stronger, better integrated economies and more solid democracies than it did 20 years ago. The region is more prosperous and less poor. But epidemic crime and violence threaten to undermine recent gains and demand urgent, innovative public policy solutions. From 2000-2010, homicide rates across the region rose by 11 percent while declining in most regions worldwide. In countries with data for 1980-90, robberies have almost tripled over the last 25 years. One in 10 robberies involves violence, usually with firearms. On a typical day in Latin America, 460 people are victims of sexual violence, usually women. A recent poll found people in Latin America and the Caribbean least likely in the world to feel safe in their communities, with slightly less than half of residents reporting in 2011 that they feel unsafe walking alone at night where they live. That poses a fundamental problem in furthering development. Why open a business only to have it robbed by armed gunmen? Why send a daughter to school if she risks assault along the way? Why such insecurity in a region whose economic and governance indices are moving in the right direction? UNDP’s forthcoming Human Development Report for Latin America  Read More

      • One thousand days of action for the MDGs | Selim Jahan

        25 Jan 2013

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        In Cambodia, the MAF supports the creation of Women’s Development Centres. Photo: UNDP in Cambodia

        Many countries have made impressive strides towards achieving the MDGs. With over 400 national MDG reports already completed, progress is being closely monitored and used to guide improved policies. The target of reducing extreme poverty by half was reached five years ahead of the deadline.  About 14,000 fewer children died every day in 2011 compared to 1990. However, given that current projections indicate that in 2015 almost one billion people will be living on an income of less than $1.25 per day, there is urgent need to prioritize MDG achievement and reflect on lessons that can inform the post-2015 discussions. One of the key lessons learned is that nationally owned, multi-stakeholder action plans improve the rate of MDG progress. Building on UNDP’s global experience, we developed the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) in close collaboration with national partners and UN country teams.  The MAF is a flexible, yet systematic process of identifying and analyzing bottlenecks and targeting high-impact, transformational solutions.   The MAF has been an incredible success worldwide leading to concrete action plans for implementation. From an initial ten countries piloting the MAF in 2010, we are now working with 46 countries, and the number keeps growing. In Colombia, the MAF  Read More

      • Beyond mountains, Haitians see a brighter future | Heraldo Muñoz

        11 Jan 2013

        “Beyond the mountains, more mountains,” one Haitian proverb goes, in a nod to the outsized challenges this half-island in the Caribbean has faced for as long as anyone can remember. Topping that list is the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, displaced 1.5 million, and racked or razed some 300,000 buildings. The quake took its deadliest aim in Haiti’s hyper-urbanized capital, causing indescribable ruin and destroying roughly 80 percent of the country’s economy. But Haitians are accustomed to scaling mountains. Government, private sector, and international organizations are working with families and communities to rebuild the country and revive its economy. Women, who head almost 50 per cent of households, are playing a leading role. Keeping Haitians and their communities as protagonists of the recovery process is fundamental. Within neighborhoods, community members themselves set priorities for rebuilding homes and infrastructure through community platform meetings, with specific attention to the unique risks facing city-dwellers—strengthening the social and communal bonds that bolster post-crisis resilience by an order of magnitude. To enable families to take charge of repairing and rebuilding their homes themselves, UNDP has established community support centres to help strengthen damaged homes in the Haitian capital, where 30,000 people have benefitted  Read More

      • The Internet Gender Gap | Magdy Martinez Soliman

        10 Jan 2013

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        Special computer training course designed for deaf people in Damascus, Syria. Photo: UNDP in Syria

        The role of ICTs as development enablers is more widely understood today as access to new technologies, particularly mobile phones, has grown exponentially. Mobile phone subscriptions exceeded six billion by the end of 2012, three-quarters of which were in the developing world.  However, women are at a disadvantage: they are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, according to the latest Broadband Commission Report (PDF, 2.4Mb). Development presents an opportunity to effectively address this and other gender gaps.  I am speaking here  about sustainable human development, about the ability to make choices and lead a healthy, long and educated life with all that we value. Let us bear in mind that ICTs are not neutral. Existing gender inequalities, pervasive in many countries,  can be exacerbated by ICTs, when unequal access to education for example turns into digital ignorance. Not having female teachers and lack of local security are powerful triggers of girls’ dropout. Women will not be able to access ICT community centers if safety issues are not properly addressed. We are determined advocates of democratic governance and for us women's access to ICTs is a governance issue. Public policies and the private sector need to address the  Read More

      • In Serbia, a new era and new social contract are emerging | William Infante

        09 Jan 2013

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        Employers in Serbia now receive tax benefits for employing persons with disabilities. Photo: Centre for Independent Living of Persons with Disabilities, Serbia.

        When I was first posted to Serbia in 2001, the country and its people were still shaken and scarred by years of conflict. Returning in 2009 to lead the United Nations presence there, I was deeply impressed by the swift and substantive progress made. Belgrade had new trams and buses, neighborhoods and parks had been refurbished, and efforts to consolidate democracy, build a more inclusive economy, and establish credible mechanisms to fight corruption were well under way. Serbia is now emerging as an increasingly powerful source of security and stability in the region, contributing scores of peacekeepers to international forces, fighting organized crime, collecting and destroying some 100,000 illicit and unregistered firearms, and integrating women in the military and police forces. Ministries are moving to adopt individual anti-corruption strategies known as integrity plans, and dozens of investigations have opened since the new government took office barely six months ago. Parliament is engaged in more robust review and scrutiny, and its Speaker, Nebojsa Stefanovic, is spearheading a new initiative with UNDP to strengthen parliamentary oversight of spending. These and other governance initiatives aim explicitly to promote accountability, reduce vulnerability and risk of loss, and build the credibility and legitimacy of state institutions.  Read More

      • Arab world needs broad governance reform | Mohammad Pournik

        03 Jan 2013

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        Libyan students at Tripoli University attend the first ever United Nations human rights workshop. UN Photo/Iason Foounten

        High unemployment and inequality fuelled Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2010, but the Arab world needs broad governance reform to achieve sustainable, equitable growth. Ousting dictators alone isn’t enough. People want bread, but they also want social justice and freedom. Experts at the UNDP Regional Center in Cairo reached that conclusion after lengthy study, culminating in the Arab Development Challenges Report that has now been launched in capitals around the world.  Having spent nearly three decades in the field, I believe this is indeed the case—governance and rule of law are essential to the sustainable, inclusive development the Arab world so acutely needs. In Egypt, the problem wasn’t simply political exclusion--it was political and economic exclusion. Reform will succeed only when it addresses both. Unemployment remains a critical challenge, but reliably measuring joblessness is difficult in countries without unemployment insurance and a system of registering for it. Enormous challenges such as food security, water scarcity, and management of natural resource also remain. Arab states must invest better in managing water resources and improving irrigation and agricultural productivity and devise incentives for investment in renewable energy. Governance failures helped create this situation: Here we see institutions that perpetuate themselves, corrosive constituencies  Read More

      • A major step forward and a post-2015 challenge | Sheelagh Stewart

        24 Dec 2012

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        Women and girls in El Fasher, North Darfur, march for “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”. UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

        Rule of law is fundamental to development. People who don’t feel safe and think that their property may be stolen or destroyed, do not invest in the future. Why buy seed if the harvest will be stolen? Why invest in a business whose profits will be swallowed by corruption?  Who would send their daughter to school if they thought she was going to be raped on the way? Communities that cannot deal with the past cannot move forward. Transitional justice, which allows post-crisis communities to address legacies of violence and hold perpetrators to account is therefore critical. Without transitional justice, no meaningful social contract is possible. In each case, the rule of law allows people to look forward to a brighter future, in which they find opportunities to achieve their potential and in which legal protection exists for all. The world has shifted on its axis since 189 diverse Member States settled more than a decade ago on the MDGs, excluding any discussion of sensitive issues related to governance, access to justice, and human rights. But with the Cold War now long behind us and the Arab Spring having re-opened discussion of the social contracts that must necessarily underpin a cohesive  Read More

      • Budgeting for climate change and disaster | Ajay Chhibber

        13 Dec 2012

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        It’s the extreme weather season in much of the world. Deadly cyclones, blinding rains, ensuing floods and mudslides are becoming the norm from the Philippines to Haiti to Pakistan. Storms and floods are sweeping across the globe with increased regularity and ferocity. Recovery costs are high. How can countries find funds today to build “climate resilient” roads, bridges, schools and other vital infrastructure to prevent losses tomorrow?   One answer is of course in more international finance under the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. This means that developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change and its adverse effects. They are more likely to have the technical and economic capacity to address climate change, whereas developing countries may not. But another part of the answer can be found when developing countries take a look at how climate change is reflected in their own national budgets and expenditures. While the debates continue internationally about who should cover the costs of reducing carbon emissions or adapting to climate risks, developing countries themselves are also responding to climate change by examining more closely their own domestic resources from their own existing budgets. In simple terms, this means looking through the national  Read More