Our Perspectives

An AIDS-free generation was simply unimaginable

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In Asia, the community of people living with HIV contributed to achieving the MDG 6 targets of halting and reversing the spread of HIV and putting 15 million people on HIV treatment by 2015. Photo: UNDP/Kazuyuki Uji

On 14 July 2015, the UN Secretary General made a historical announcement: “Together, we have achieved and exceeded the AIDS-related targets of Millennium Development Goal 6... [W]e are on our way to an AIDS-free generation.”

This was simply unimaginable around the period I joined UNDP in early 2000’s when HIV was still thriving in Asia and HIV treatment was a luxury for the privileged few.

As I read the Secretary General’s statement, my thoughts drifted to the faces of community activists in India with whom I worked closely but who passed away because they did not have access to affordable treatment.... Read more

To promote women’s leadership in the public sector, we need better data

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Civil service support officers provide on-the-job training to their South Sudanese counterparts as part of a UNDP governance project. Photo: Brian Sokol/UNDP South Sudan

Public administration is the foundation of government and a major employer in most countries. As such, women’s participation in the civil service is vital for their economic empowerment as well as for improving the responsiveness and effectiveness of public services.

While some progress has been achieved in terms of women’s political leadership, verifiable data on women’s participation in public administration is lacking. In response to this, UNDP launched the Gender Equality in Public Administration (GEPA) initiative.... Read more

Youth: not simply human beings, but human becomings

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Zambian youth at a UNDP consultation. Investment in youth and their input is crucial to long-term and sustainable development. Photo: UNDP Zambia

It is important to remember that considering development from a youth perspective is not always straightforward. Even defining exactly when someone should be considered “young” can be tricky and varies between reports.

Listening to the views of young people will almost certainly require an investment of time and money, so development policies that are formulated with the input of young people will cost more to develop. But those policies will almost certainly work better and last longer, as today’s youth will be tomorrow’s leaders. ... Read more

We need to get better at "killing our darlings"

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"The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up", painting by J. M. W. Turner, 1838.

Reading James Whitehead’s post on the best ways to be innovative, I found myself nodding to most of his reflections. Particularly: ”I want to be working with people who are passionate about solving problems at scale rather than magpies obsessed with finding shiny new innovative solutions.” Yet, I felt something more needed to be said.

The well-known side of innovation is the creative one. We identify novel ways of doing business, co-create new ideas with the end-users, and test them. The flip side of innovation is to discontinue practices for which we do not have sufficient evidence of impact or that are no longer relevant.... Read more

The 100 day dash for climate action

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A man looks out over the mountains in Parque Regional Todos Santos Cuchumatán, La Torre, Guatemala. The Environment and Poverty initiative in Guatemala is promoting the relationship between natural resource management and poverty reduction. Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti/UNDP Guatemala

Aug. 22 marks 100 days until the U.N. climate conference in Paris, France. Countries have made commitments, which give hope that an ambitious agreement may be possible.

What makes an agreement ambitious? Above all, a push on all sectors and stakeholders so that development is climate-conscious and risk-informed. Development practitioners and climate experts need to work together.... Read more

Too much, too little, never enough

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Benito Velasquez, a farmer from Torota, Bolivia, says erratic weather is affecting his crops. Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP

"I beg everyone to think. It’s not just one country – we have to think about the whole world. We have to say this to our leaders.”

Benito Velasquez has farmed a modest patch of land in central Bolivia all his life. “Climate change is taking place”, he says. “We have lots of work to do. Maybe in 50 years we can repair what we have destroyed. We have to repair it.”

I have come to meet Benito to see firsthand how changing weather patterns are affecting Bolivian farmers. The interview is part of a visit to four countries on three continents, to document the effect climate change is having on agricultural communities.... Read more

Africa, midway through its "Glorious Thirty"

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Africa's economic prospects are bright, but the continent loses about 4 percent of its GDP each year due to the exclusion of women from business and politics. Photo: Aziza Bangwene/UNDP in DRC

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only place in the world where living standards stagnated and even declined throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

But things are now very different. Africa’s prospects began to change radically in the late 1990s, with its growth rate close to five percent per year ever since.

Africa has made concomitant gains in the social sphere. It has made remarkable progress on primary education, child mortality, slowing down HIV and Aids or increasing the numbers of women in parliament.... Read more

How will we ensure the new Ebola vaccine reaches those most in need?

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Community participation in immunization programmes results in higher coverage and reduces the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Photo: UNDP Liberia

We are optimistic about a new tool in the fight against Ebola. The phase III trials on efficacy of the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine have yielded an impressive result in a relatively short time - 100% effectiveness in those receiving the vaccine.

Without a doubt, this is an important tool for the protection of health and community workers and possibly the wider community.

But how will this new tool be used? How will it reach those in need? ... Read more

If you want it done, take action

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Youth participate in a rubbish removal initiative in As-Salamieh, Syria. Photo: UNDP Syria

It pains me when people on social media comment that everyday civic engagement isn’t their responsibility and should be solely the work of governments and the UN.

Civic engagement is defined as “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.”

We don’t all need to be leaders, but we should all take part in our society. If we get a cut, do we treat ourselves right away or do we wait for a leader to bring us a Band-Aid? If we want an improvement in our community done right, our way, why shouldn’t we take initiative rather wait for permission from a leader to do it for us?... Read more

10 ways youth can make an impact

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Actors participate in the Loy9 Drama in Romdoul Village, Cambodia. Television dramas, TV and radio talk shows, and online platforms encourage young Cambodians to learn, debate and share experiences on civic participation in an initiative funded by UNDP and produced by BBC Media Action. Photo: BBC Media Action

“We are addressing youth today, because youth have placed themselves on the top of the agenda.”–Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon

Youth activism and engagement can bring about important social changes that are sometimes left behind. You don’t have to wait to be an adult to be an active member of your community. Your opinion matters and it should be heard. Here’s a list of ideas of how you can participate locally and globally:

1. Know your rights: You might not be able to vote yet, but all children and youth hold national and international rights. These rights are only of use to you if you are informed about them, so read up! ... Read more

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