Our Perspective

      • Arendalsuka: Changing the conversation on environment | Olav Kjorven

        21 Aug 2013

        Arendalsuka. Does it ring a bell? Probably not, unless you are Norwegian.  Arendalsuka is an interesting Norwegian creation: an annual open forum where stakeholders in politics and industry meet with citizens to debate public policies and policy development. I had the pleasure of attending and introducing our perspective on integrating environmental sustainability into the next global agenda that will follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As we approach the MDG target date of 2015, the United Nations is leading an unprecedented public outreach effort that has so far given voice to almost 1.3 million people in 194 countries on their expectations for the next development goals. This new approach is re-shaping multilateral decision-making by empowering citizens to come together, discuss and take concrete action on pathways to a more sustainable future. Their voices are being heard by Member States and feeding into the process to deliver the next set of development goals. This “global conversation” has revealed that people believe overwhelmingly that sustainable development needs to be approached in an integrated way – addressing the economic, social and environmental aspects simultaneously. An analysis of responses from thematic consultations in 60 countries placed food security and sustainable agriculture as top priorities. National Read More

      • Let us keep our eyes on Mali | Jean Luc Stalon

        19 Aug 2013

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        A Malian man votes in a polling station during the presidential election. (Photo: Ezequiel Scagnetti/EU EOM Mali)

        Last Sunday, massive numbers of Malians turned out to vote peacefully in the second round of the country’s presidential election. The ballot, declared by observers as credible and transparent, was nothing short of historic. It marked the end of 18 months of conflict, including a coup and takeover of the North by Tuareg and Islamist insurgents, followed by a French military intervention. Mali and its people have suffered hugely from this period of violence and uncertainty. More than 470,000 have been displaced, while 1.4 million Malians are in need of immediate food assistance. In much of the North, the government’s presence remains precarious. With the suspension of the country’s external aid, which accounts for a third of the national budget, and the withdrawal of foreign investors, Mali’s economy fell from an expected 5.6 percent into negative growth last year, with catastrophic consequences for livelihoods and basic social services. The elections are an expression of the Malian people’s deep resolve to bring the country back to peace, stability, unity and development. Mali’s political stabilization roadmap embodies these aspirations. Through the roadmap, the country committed to free elections and sweeping democratic and social reforms in exchange for unlocking new flows of foreign aid. Read More

      • A brutal murder recalls the need for laws that protect LGBTI people | Mandeep Dhaliwal

        15 Aug 2013

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        Campaign encourages voluntary HIV testing in Cameroon. Photo: UNDP in Cameroon

        Despite the strides in HIV prevention and treatment responses, the brutal murder of a prominent AIDS activist in Cameroon serves as stark reminder of the work that still lies ahead. Eric Ohena Lembembe, Executive Director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS, was found dead at his home on 15 July 2013, his body showing signs of torture. His was a powerful voice for those at the margins in Cameroon, notably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people—but his violent death was hardly unique. LGBTI people around the world commonly face violence, the threat of violence, discrimination, exclusion, and harassment, often with tacit or explicit support from authorities and with grave consequences for public health. A new law in Russia, for example, imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for people accused of spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. This law will certainly fuel homophobia and could have the unintended consequence of criminalising sexual health education for young people in Russia, where rates of HIV infection have been rising dramatically. Marginalised citizens are far less likely to seek HIV counseling, testing and treatment. Most recently, data from the Global Men’s Health and Rights Survey show that experiences Read More

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