Our Perspective

      • Biodiversity and Ecosystems Essential for Human Development | Olav Kjørven

        15 Oct 2012

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        UNDP’s global biodiversity portfolio currently includes projects in 146 countries, covering an area larger than India and Indonesia combined. Since 2000, UNDP has helped leverage nearly US$ 5 billion in funding for biodiversity work around the world. (Photo: UNDP Lao PDR)

        Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth in all its forms, and protecting that life is fundamental to eradicating poverty and advancing human development, as was reaffirmed at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. People rely on biodiversity and ecosystems for their livelihoods – to meet their food, water, energy and health needs - and to cope with climate change. A study from India in ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ report, showed that ecosystem services contribute up to 57% of the GDP of the poor. When we lose species and ecosystems, we are losing essential services that sustain life. Recent assessments of global biodiversity find that species are continuing to decline and that the risk of extinction is growing; that natural habitats are continuing to be lost and are becoming increasingly degraded and fragmented. The 2011 IUCN Red List includes 44,838 species, of which 16,928 (38 per cent) are threatened with extinction. To halt this alarming trend, UNDP is calling for urgent action to achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan and the 20 Aichi Targets. UNDP’s new Biodiversity and Ecosystems Global Framework, which is being launched this week at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Read More

      • What we call “natural” disasters are not natural at all | Jo Scheuer

        12 Oct 2012

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        Over 4,000 families in Cambodia wait to return to homes inundated by flash floods in September 2012. Photo: ActionAid Cambodia/Savann Oeurm

        As you read this, over 4,000 families in Cambodia, where I used to live, wait to return to homes inundated by flash floods that have killed at least 14 people in the last few days. Most of these displaced people are subsistence farmers. Many will have lost everything they own, including their crops or food stores, and these floods may drag them further into a cycle of poverty. But these 4,000 Cambodian families are not unique. Every day around the world, disasters caused by natural hazards force thousands from their homes, strip people of their livelihoods and stop them from accessing schools, hospitals and markets. In 2011, the most expensive year on record for natural hazards, 106 million people were affected by floods, 60 million by drought, and almost 30,000 people were killed. Disasters put hard won development achievements at risk, reverse progress towards the elimination of poverty, and result in terrible suffering. But it doesn’t have to be like this. What we call natural disasters are not natural at all. A natural hazard only becomes a disaster when measures to mitigate its impact, such as earthquake resistant buildings, are lacking. We don’t have to resign ourselves to the devastation that Read More