UNDP Around the world

Our Perspectives

Jessica Faieta

To fight Zika, fight poverty and inequality

06 Apr 2017 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Jessica Faieta, Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean

Beyond economic costs, the Zika virus has the potential to widen gender and health inequities. Photo: UNICEF
Marta and João live in a small town in the state of Paraiba, Brazil. Pregnant with their fifth child, Marta showed symptoms of Zika. Her pregnancy was otherwise uneventful, but an ultrasound at eight months picked up symptoms of microcephaly. Marta remembers: “The nurse and the doctor told me not to worry, that he would be normal. But I was worried.” … Read more

Challenges and opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017

10 Mar 2017 by Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

Reducing inequality is a priority in Latin America and the Caribbean. The region includes 10 of the world’s 15 most unequal countries. Photo: UNDP Colombia/Freya Morales
Latin America and the Caribbean have made notable progress on development in recent decades. By 2015, the region had met most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a historical feat, especially with regard to poverty reduction, access to safe drinking water and primary education. From 2002 to 2013, close to 72 million people left poverty and some 94 million rose to the middle class. Even so, inequality continues to be a characteristic of the region. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 10 of the world’s 15 most unequal countries. According to our Human Development Report for the region, 220 million people (38 percent, almost two in every five Latin Americans) are economically vulnerable today. Officially they are not poor, but neither have they managed to make it to the middle class. Among these, 25 to 30 million are at risk of falling back into poverty. … Read more

Sustainable cities – if not now, when?

12 Oct 2016 by Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

 During the Habitat III conference, UN Member States will adopt a New Urban Agenda (NUA) that will guide the sustainable development efforts of cities and territories for the next 20 years.
For the first time in history, over half of the world’s population is living in urban areas. Latin America and the Caribbean, where 80 percent of people live in cities, is often cited as the world’s most urbanized region. This urbanization is both a great opportunity and a great challenge for sustainable human development. These opportunities and challenges will be discussed during the Habitat III World Conference in Quito, Ecuador. Habitat III comes one year after adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, for the first time, includes a pledge dedicated to cities: Sustainable Development Goal 11 aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Cities have a crucial role to play in the achievement of the new 2030 Agenda. For example, without leadership by cities and territories it is impossible to decrease poverty, reduce inequality or achieve effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. Simply put, if we don’t take into account the local dimension, it will be more difficult to the dichotomy of the city – formal and informal, safe and unsafe, accessible for some and inaccessible for others. … Read more

Caribbean: Rethinking progress in the sustainable development era

21 Sep 2016 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

It is essential to ensure that economic growth is inclusive, empowers people and leaves no one behind. Photo: Igor Rugwiza/UN
Caribbean countries make a special case for development. The high and increasing exposure to hazards, combined with very open and trade-dependent economies with limited diversification and competitiveness portray a structurally and environmentally vulnerable region, composed, in the most part, of middle income countries. As these countries start implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we are calling for a new notion of progress. Our UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report for the Caribbean titled “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched this week in Barbados with top regional authorities makes the case for a new generation of public policies to boost resilience and increase gains in the economic, social and environmental fronts, including peace and justice. For the Caribbean this “multidimensional progress” entails not only adapting to shocks. It means breaking through structural obstacles that hinder growth and people’s well-being—beyond the traditional measurements of living above or below a poverty line. Nothing that reduces the rights of people and communities or threatens the environment can be considered progress. This holistic approach is crucial, especially for the Caribbean. … Read more

Latin America and the Caribbean: Looking beyond income to build on recent progress

16 Jun 2016 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

In Latin America and the Caribbean, 25 million to 30 million people risk falling back into poverty. Photo: UNDP
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean experienced historic economic and social transformation in recent years. This has led to a considerable reduction in poverty and inequality and to advances in closing gender, labour and education gaps. These achievements are the result of a favourable economic environment as well as proactive social inclusion policies. Despite this, 25 million to 30 million people risk falling back into poverty—a third of those who left poverty from 2003 to 2013. The most vulnerable are the newly employed, women and workers in the informal sectors of the economy. Many face social exclusion that cannot be resolved with higher income, such as discrimination due to ethnic or racial group, skin colour, sexual identity, migrant status or disability. … Read more

Why the last 50 years are key for the next 15

16 Mar 2016 by Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

The next 15 yearsAchieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean will mean reaching out to the most disadvantaged groups, including indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women and youth. Photo: UNDP Guatemala
Of the five decades that UNDP celebrates this year, I have lived half of them in the organization, in different roles. Our story began focusing on world poverty, on the most at-need women and men in the post-colonial era, with the emergence of new, independent countries beginning to trace their own paths to prosperity. In Latin America and the Caribbean we have supported many countries in their transition to democracy, also in various national truth and justice commissions and strengthening institutional capacities. Our partnership with governments, civil society and the private sector has also been crucial to innovative public policies and job creation initiatives that have helped improve the lives of millions of people. Looking back 50 years, the concept of development has shifted. … Read more

Haiti at a turning point

16 Jul 2015 by Hervé Ladsous and Jessica Faieta

Elections 2011 in Haiti.Elections in 2011 in Haiti, where there has been significant progress in restoring confidence in the political process. Photo: UNDP Haiti
Haiti will reach a major historic milestone this summer. Starting 9 August, some six million Haitians will choose 1,280 representatives for local administrations, 140 mayors, 139 Parliamentarians and finally, their President, in several rounds of electoral processes that could last until the end of the year. It has not been easy to arrive at this moment. The Haitian people have been waiting three years for these elections. A Parliament has been absent since January. Haiti has made significant strides to restore confidence in the political process and to hold these elections on time. The electoral council, appointed in January, has been impressive in taking on several challenging technical, logistical and financial tasks aiming to ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent process. … Read more