Our Perspectives

El Nino happens every 3-7 years. How can Africa be better prepared?

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A farmer in The Gambia shows a dry tuft of rice in a drought period. Photo: FAO

Some 60 million people’s lives have been affected by the 2015-2016 El Niño phenomenon in the Horn and Southern Africa. It was the strongest El Niño since 1950. Severe droughts have led to crop failure and food insecurity, massive livestock and wildlife deaths and loss of livelihoods. Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe have all declared drought emergencies. In South Africa, only one province, Gauteng, has been spared the emergency. A total of 40 million people, or 22 percent of Southern Africa’s rural population, became food insecure. About 23 million of them needed immediate humanitarian assistance at a cost of US$2.7 billion.… Read more

African countries need institutions that will direct investment to where it is needed most

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Lusaka, Zambia. Zambia underwent major structural reforms in recent years to attract investment.

International investment has helped Zambia, like many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, become more integrated into the global economy over recent years. Inward investment flows have doubled since 2008 and Zambia has even started to generate some modest foreign direct investment outflows. Although the country has undertaken major structural reforms over the past two decades to make it a more attractive location for investment, the Zambian government realised that this was not enough. Research has shown that foreign direct investment in mining remains dominant, although flows to manufacturing and services have also shown an upward trend.… Read more

Unleashing the entrepreneur spirit for economic growth in Jordan: Let me count the ways

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UNDP sees entrepreneurship as a central driver of economic stability and supports initiatives that tap into local skills. Photo: UNDP Jordan

There's nothing quite like having a bunch of entrepreneurs in the same room to generate off-the-charts energy and inspiration for economic development and social progress. I was fortunate to host a social innovation workshop in Amman, Jordan, with a collection of business starters and supporters to generate ideas for strengthening the entrepreneur ecosystem in the country. The workshop was held on the occasion of the visit to Jordan of the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council (GEC), a group of eight luminaries from around the world who support those creative and bold enough to start new businesses. The Council, chaired by Ashish Thakkar, was in Jordan… Read more

Acting on climate change requires ‘boots on the ground’

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Years of changing seasons can wipe out food and water supplies for decades. Photo: UNDP

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are on the frontlines of climate change. With populations often heavily reliant on climate-vulnerable sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry to drive their economies, the impacts of climate change are amplified. One erratic storm or years of changing growing seasons can wipe out food and water supplies for years or decades. This has immense social and economic impacts that reduce opportunities, reinforce inequalities and potentially reverse progress toward reducing poverty. Charting a development path that integrates climate change action is therefore essential for true sustainable development and that requires direct capacity-building.… Read more

Sport for SDGs: A journey from Khartoum to Rio de Janeiro

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Sudanese athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Photo: UNDP Sudan

Sport is usually not the first thought that comes to mind when talking about achieving sustainable development. Nonetheless, sport has been an instrumental tool in the promotion of peace and development for many years and I was able to witness it for myself at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Since the inception of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), sport has been essential in implementing the MDGs, it is also recognized by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which emphasizes “the growing contribution of sport […] in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contributions it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communitie"… Read more

Defending the planet starts on your plate

Sustainable consumption and production is the theme of this year’s International Youth Day. It invites us to reflect on how young people can help to achieve the Sustainable Develop Goals, especially Goal 12. Young or not-so-young, many of us ask ourselves whether, on a personal level, we can contribute to the fight against climate change and other major global challenges. Turning off the light when leaving a room, recycling waste, reducing the use of plastic bags, having a shower rather than a bath… Many of us have already adopted such habits in our everyday lives. But what about our eating habits?… Read more

2030 Agenda: Recognition for indigenous peoples, a challenge for governments

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A delegate speaks at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. To achieve the 2030 Agenda, indigenous peoples must have a seat at the table. UN Photo

We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without recognizing that we live in multicultural societies. With this in mind, upholding the rights of indigenous peoples becomes a necessary imperative. Respect for indigenous peoples’ rights opens the door to enormous opportunities for advancing the SDGs. Their capacity to further develop their own systems of education, health, justice and traditional food will strengthen each country’s efforts and investments. There are more than 300 million indigenous people in the world, speaking more than five thousand languages and keeping their heritage alive. This is the true wealth of humankind.… Read more

Indigenous knowledge – ancient solutions to today’s challenges

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Indigenous knowledge, such as the use of ancient grains and traditional agricultural methods, can help to ensure food security while protecting the environment. Photo: UNDP Peru

Revitalizing and supporting indigenous knowledge is essential to address many of today’s challenges, including the effects of climate change. Indigenous knowledge is a key resource that needs to be promoted to support livelihoods and food security, often under threat due to climatic changes. Here are some examples of how indigenous peoples and local communities around the world are reviving traditional practices and knowledge.… Read more

4 lessons learned fighting tuberculosis in Syria

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Tuberculosis patients displaced by conflict may lose access to health services, causing an interruption in treatment that increases their risk of developing multi-drug resistant strains of TB. Photo: UNDP Syria

Tuberculosis thrives on war and suffering. In theory, Syria offers the perfect breeding grounds for the disease. A lack of access to adequate medical services and poor and crowded housing conditions have created conditions ripe for the spread of tuberculosis. Yet, TB has been largely kept in check. Some 3,479 people were placed on treatment in 2015, a 150 percent increase compared with 2013. The TB treatment success rate has also been maintained at 80 percent during the conflict. UNDP has been supporting Syria to tackle TB since 2007, in partnership with the Global Fund. The onset of war in 2011 made this highly complex and has required a range of innovative approaches.… Read more

Development in 2 minutes: It’s about expanding choices

Every week, at least one person asks me, “So what does the United Nations Development Programme do?” They want to know what the "development" is that we are trying to achieve, and what our "programme" is for achieving it. The simple answer is that “development” is about helping people have more choices. It's about removing the obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential – overcoming the barriers that stand between them and their dreams. These obstacles come in many different forms. For 36 percent of Afghans, poverty is one barrier to self-fulfillment. For around 50 percent, it's being a woman in the face of widespread discrimination and routine harassment. For all Afghans at one time or another, it's being from the wrong ethnic group, which can make you a stranger in your own land.… Read more

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