Our Perspective

      • Volunteering changes our world for the better | Helen Clark

        02 Dec 2011

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        One of the local volunteers participating in the UNV Sudan supported Diversity campaign in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Ayman Suliman

        On the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers coming up Monday, December 5, we celebrate the work of volunteers worldwide and the contribution they make to the development and wellbeing of communities.   Every day, volunteers make a difference for the environment, for peace, for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and much more.  There are countless examples of volunteering having an incredible impact. In Nepal, nearly 50,000 female community health volunteers, supported by UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, and the Gates Foundation, have helped cut child mortality by two- thirds over the past fifteen years. Japanese Red Cross volunteers played an indispensable role in dealing with the aftermath of the terrible earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. UN Volunteers form a significant part of UN peacekeeping missions, making up around one third of the international civilian staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Liberia, and elsewhere. A guiding principle for UN Volunteers is that people closest to the problems are also often the people most able to contribute to the solutions. The first State of the World’s Volunteerism Report to be released on Monday says that there is still plenty of room in development for volunteer and citizen action. Read More

      • Inclusive and sustainable growth is the answer | Ajay Chhibber

        23 Nov 2011

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        UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Zinedine Zidane visits one of UNDP's inclusive growth projects in Mali. Photo: UNDP

        As leaders of the G-20 countries grapple with the immediate euro crisis, we must look beyond to a more fundamental problem facing the world – rising inequality, joblessness and ultimately a lack of demand, causing deep recession. This is not a cyclical problem that will be addressed by stimulus packages but a more structural problem, inherent in the current growth process. Addressing inequality is crucial in responding to the current economic, food and climate change crises across the globe. As the spreading Wall Street protests indicate, inequality and a sense that the system only works for the top one percent is under attack across the world. Rising inequality and unemployment is also cited as a major factor in the Arab uprisings which are still playing out.  And rising food and fuel prices are again ringing alarm bells. Even in Asia where there has been a sharp acceleration in economic growth in many developing countries, rapidly rising inequality is causing concern, and the poor continue to suffer disproportionately from high food and fuel prices—in addition to being the hardest hit by an increasing wave natural disasters and rising sea levels. Rather than trying to compensate those left out of the growth process, Read More

      • Building wealth long after the miners depart

        08 Nov 2011

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        UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with a felt processing entrepreneur who is part of the Enterprise Mongolia project. (Credit: UNDP)

        A conference on managing extractive industries in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, addressed the challenge of how resource-rich countries can make best use of their precious oil, gas or mineral assets and develop resilience to price volatility. Countries exporting these commodities need options to stabilise their economies and make them less vulnerable to the vagaries of unpredictable prices. Recent market history shows why: copper prices dropped nearly 15 per cent from July to September, and the price of gold has gone up more than 30 per cent since January. Such fluctuations make budget planning difficult and resource-rich developing countries vulnerable to market shocks. It’s also true that economies where extractive industries dominate do not always reap social and economic benefits for their people. Indeed, the extraction of mineral resources can become a curse where it fuels conflict and creates environmental disaster. The gross mismatch between the wealth generated and the paucity of local benefits derived is often exacerbated by weak governance and a lack of transparency and accountability. Yet it is possible to design policies that guard against the negative impacts of exploiting natural resources. That is why UNDP and the government of Mongolia brought together representatives of 17 resource-rich developing countries to Read More

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