Our Perspective

      • Climate Change and Inequalities: How Will They Impact Women? | Susan McDade

        14 Dec 2014

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        Women are key drivers of sustainable development. Picture: UNDP Bolivia

        Among all the impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to landslides and flooding, there is one that does not get the attention it deserves: an exacerbation of inequalities, particularly for women. Especially in poor countries, women’s lives are often directly dependent on the natural environment. Women bear the main responsibility for supplying water and firewood for cooking and heating, as well as growing food. Drought, uncertain rainfall and deforestation make these tasks more time-consuming and arduous, threaten women’s livelihoods and deprive them of time to learn skills, earn money and participate in community life. But the same societal roles that make women more vulnerable to environmental challenges also make them key actors for driving sustainable development. Their knowledge and experience can make natural resource management and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies at all levels more successful. To see this in action, just look to the Ecuadorian Amazon, where the Waorani women association (Asociación de Mujeres Waorani de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana) is promoting organic cocoa cultivation as a wildlife protection measure and a pathway to local sustainable development. With support from the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the women’s association is managing its land collectively and working toward zero deforestation,  Read More

      • Finding durable solutions for urban settings in Haiti | Jessica Faieta

        31 Oct 2014

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        The Government of Haiti and its people have made extraordinary efforts to recover from a traumatic experience. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        For those who arrived in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the images of destruction in the capital city will be probably remain in our minds forever. They are in mine: at least 200,000 people dead and over a million displaced, thousands of buildings collapsed, houses damaged everywhere, economies disrupted, basic services interrupted, and tents and camps mushrooming in every small plaza or area where rubble had barely been removed. The earthquake took place in a very specific context, aggravated by pre-existing conditions:  lack of adequate housing, land tenure issues, and disorganized rural-urban migration patterns. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes for durable solutions in urban settings. One time initiatives may be effective – such as emptying the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps - but affected families need sustainable solutions. Affordable housing, basic services and income generating activities are some of the key components of any programme promoting the return from IDP camps. The government of Haiti and its people, men and women, have made extraordinary efforts to recover from such a traumatic experience. From the 1.5 million displaced after the earthquake, only 80,000 remain.  The country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose from $1,548 to $1,602 per capita between  Read More

      • Eradicating poverty means thinking beyond income | Alfredo González Reyes

        17 Oct 2014

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        Poverty must be understood by identifying deprivations in factors that go beyond income. Photo: UNDP Peru

        Today, the 17th of October 2014, marks 21 years since for the first time the International Day for the Eradication of Extreme Poverty was celebrated. Notable progress has been made since then. According to World Bank data, among the 115 low-income countries of the world, the proportion of people in extreme poverty (that is, with an income of US$1.25 per day per person, adjusted for purchasing power parity) declined from 43.4 percent in 1990 to 17 percent in 2011; i.e. 912 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty over the past two decades. This drop was mainly concentrated in East Asia and the Pacific, where the incidence of extreme poverty was reduced from 57 to 7.9 percent during the same period (i.e. 750 million people). In Southeast Asia, it dropped from 54.1 to 24.5 percent (221.5 million people). In Latin America and the Caribbean, between 1990 and 2011, the incidence of extreme poverty dropped from 12.2 to 4.6 percent, meaning that 25.5 million Latin Americans no longer live in this extreme condition. Two decades ago, poverty was defined in monetary terms, based on a consensus around the concept that income was an adequate measure to represent wellbeing. Today, it is  Read More

      • Sustainability is the only choice | Alejandra Araúz

        25 Sep 2014

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        GUARANTEEING THE LONG-TERM SUCCESS OF PEOPLE, COMPANIES, BUSINESSES AND COUNTRIES WHILE CONTRIBUTING TO THE CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT REQUIRES MORE THAN THE USUAL RHETORIC. PHOTO: UNREDD

        The term “sustainability” is increasingly being used among NGOs, governments, public sector and civil society, but unfortunately there is a huge gap between what is being said and what is being done. Looking at the most basic meaning of sustainability - meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations - the list of individual, collective, private and public activities that could be considered completely sustainable in this day and age is rather short. Guaranteeing the long-term success of people, companies and countries while contributing to the conservation of natural resources and the environment requires more than the usual rhetoric; it involves a social change based on an active, forward-thinking approach, which in turn drives a significant increase in the empowerment of all stakeholders. Besides improving their reputation, which also results in better yields and prosperity, both public and private organizations that include sustainability as an inherent part of their operations establish stronger, trust-based links with their stakeholders and partners, thereby ensuring loyalty in the medium and long term. How can we bring these same principles to the field of human development? What impact would this have on our societies? The concept of “strategic planning” has not  Read More

      • Latin America at a crossroads on climate and access to energy | Susan McDade

        22 Sep 2014

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        ABOUT 10 MILLION PEOPLE, MOSTLY RURAL POOR, HAVE GAINED ACCESS TO MODERN ENERGY SERVICES THROUGH UNDP-SUPPORTED PROJECTS OVER THE PAST DECADE. PHOTO: UNDP IN NICARAGUA

        World leaders gathered at the Climate Change Summit during the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 23 will have a crucial opportunity to mobilise political will and advance solutions to climate change. They will also need to address its closely connected challenges of increasing access to sustainable energy as a key tool to secure and advance gains in the social, economic and environmental realms. This is more important than ever for Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though the region is responsible for a relatively low share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 12 percent, according to UN figures, it will be one of the most severely affected by temperature spikes, according a World Bank Report. For the Caribbean region in particular, reliance on imported fuels challenges balance of payments stability and increases the vulnerability of key ecosystems that underpin important productive sectors, including tourism. And the region faces new challenges. Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2030, as per capita income rises and countries become increasingly industrialised—and urban. Although the region has a clean electricity matrix, with nearly 60 percent generated from hydroelectric resources, the share of fossil fuel-based generation has increased substantially in the past 10 years, mainly from natural gas. Now is the  Read More

      • Latin America at a Climate Crossroads | Susan McDade

        17 Sep 2014

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        Turbines at WindWatt Nevis Limited. In most countries of the region, the abundance of renewable resources creates an opportunity to increase reliance on domestic energy sources rather than imported oil and gas. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

        World leaders gathered at the Climate Change Summit during the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 23 will have a crucial opportunity to mobilize political will and advance solutions to climate change. They will also need to address its closely connected challenges of increasing access sustainable energy as a key tool to secure and advance gains in the social, economic and environmental realms. This is more important than ever for Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though the region is responsible for a relatively low share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 12 percent, according to U.N. figures, it will be one of the most severely affected by temperature spikes, according a World Bank Report.   For the Caribbean region in particular, reliance on imported fuels challenges balance of payments stability and increases the vulnerability of key ecosystems that underpin important productive sectors, including tourism. And the region faces new challenges. Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2030, as per capita income rises and countries become increasingly industrialized—and urban. Although the region has a clean electricity matrix, with nearly 60 percent generated from hydroelectric resources, the share of fossil fuel-based generation has increased substantially in the past 10 years, mainly from natural gas.  Read More

      • Boosting resilience in the Caribbean | Jessica Faieta

        29 Aug 2014

        Having lived and worked for more than a decade in four Caribbean countries I have witnessed firsthand how Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are extremely vulnerable to challenges ranging from debt and unemployment to climate change and sea level rise. Such aspects make their paths towards sustainable development probably more complex than non-SIDS countries. That was my experience, working closely with governments, civil society organizations and the people of Belize, Cuba, Guyana and Haiti – where I led the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) reconstruction efforts after the devastating January 2010 earthquake. That’s why the upcoming UN Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), taking place in Samoa, 1-4 September is so important. It will provide an opportunity to increase international cooperation and knowledge sharing between and within regions. And it takes place at a key moment, ahead of the Climate Change Summit at the UN General Assembly, to be held on 23 September. Climate change—and all natural hazards, in fact—hit Small Island Developing States hard, even though these countries haven’t historically contributed to the problem. Extreme exposure to disasters such as flooding, hurricanes, droughts, landslides and earthquakes place these countries at a particularly vulnerable position. In the Caribbean, two key sectors,  Read More

      • Can there be sustainable development without gender equality? | Leire Pajín

        30 Jun 2014

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        Photo: UNDP Uruguay

        Whenever we analyze a development strategy, the inevitable question arises:  Should the approach to gender equality be comprehensive across all sectors or should it be a separate issue and agenda? Experience tells us that both approaches are desirable: A concrete goal for gender equality as well as fundamental indicators and targets that require creation of gender policies. These policies should contain specific measures to address half of the population's need for education, health care, access to land and energy, etc. To date, this has been the most common approach across various UN groups, reaffirming the idea that a comprehensive and transformative approach is urgently needed in order to address structural barriers to gender equality and to lay a solid foundation for the future. The key now is to draw lessons learned from the experience of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and strengthen the tools that advanced gender equality in the desired areas. But what has been achieved by the MDGs with regard to gender equality? The answer is mixed: Gender parity has been achieved in primary education, but only 2 of 130 countries have achieved this goal at all levels of education. Progress has been made in access to employment. Globally, 40 percent of paid  Read More

      • Consumption and well-being: What are we missing? | George Gray Molina

        27 Jun 2014

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        “THE CONSUMPTION BOOM” IS CONCENTRATED IN THE UPPER ECHELONS OF SOCIETY. PHOTO: MAURICIO MARTÍNEZ/ UNDP IN EL SALVADOR

        Slavoj Zizek tells a joke that was popular in Eastern Europe in the sixties. A man enters a grocery store and yells, “Surely you don’t have any soap, right?” The shopkeeper replied halfheartedly: “No, sir, we’re the shopwith no toilet paper; the shop with no soap is further ahead.” In Latin America, something similar is happening in discussions on progress and development, and we usually think we are the society that is “missing something”, or is “incomplete”. We are interested in exploring the particularities of what’s desperately needed, the necessary data that will enable us to better visualize our unsustainable pattern of consumption. In other words, to examine the aspects of multidimensional poverty that we still have not been able to define. A couple of weeks ago, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean published new data on consumption, spending and borrowing. The initial findings are as follows: “The consumption boom” is concentrated in the upper echelons of society. The richest 20 percent of Latin Americans accounted for roughly 50 percent of all household spending. The poorest 20 percent accounted for about 7 percent of total household spending. Furthermore, the findings show a transition in the nature of spending. Households that once allocated  Read More

      • How can we ‘walk the talk’ towards sustainable energy for all | Arun Kashyap

        05 Jun 2014

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        UNDP AND OTHER SISTER UN AGENCIES IN JAMAICA ARE USING SOLAR POWER FOR A GREEN ENERGY ENVIRONMENT. PHOTO: UNDP JAMAICA

        Jamaica is an inefficient user of electricity, according to a recent Worldwatch Institute report. High energy costs, including electricity at $0.42 per kilowatt-hour, are increasingly becoming a burden for Jamaicans, directly affecting the country’s development. Jamaican citizens as well as the Government, are demanding and encouraging lower energy costs through new alliances with businesses and institutions to implement energy conservation measures while boosting the use of alternative energy sources. We’re in this together. UNDP has supported the Government’s Energy Policy roadmap 2009-2030 to transform the sector through energy efficiency and diversification. It commits to a minimum target of 30 percent renewable energy in its portfolio by 2030, in line with the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  We have also supported the National Energy Action Plan to improve energy efficiency and conservation. Energy affects us all, including our own UNDP bills. In line with what we preach, our office decided to “walk the talk” and pursue a clean energy path. This included applying a ‘cool roof’ technology in our UNDP Kingston office. Nearly 464 square metres of metal sheet roof were treated to cool down office temperatures by 5-10 degrees—greatly reducing the use of air conditioning. Additionally, over 600  Read More