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Asia & the Pacific

Internal compass for the implementation of SDG 14: putting local people and communities at the center

19 May 2017 by Sulan Chen is Programme Advisor- International Waters and Chemicals & Waste Management - UNDP

man repairing a fishnetIn Malaysia, the Small Grants Programme supported an initiative to address accidental capture of sea turtles in commercial and artisanal fisheries. Photo: SGP Malaysia
On 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the comprehensive and ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since then, life has continued and gone on in thousands of communities around the world, for whom the SDGs are probably of little significance. Indeed, political declarations or statements, if left with no implementation on the ground, are barely anything more than good wills. If, on the other hand, SDGs are people-centered, the focus should be on local people, communities and the ecosystems they rely on for their survival and prosperity. This, in my view, is the internal compass for the implementation of the SDGs. Now that the upcoming Ocean Conference confronts the world to implement SDG 14: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”, there is a need to strengthen its implementation at the local level. Guided by this internal compass, the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by UNDP has provided financial resources and technical guidance to communities and civil society organizations for the environment and sustainable development. … Read more

Nature to the rescue: Using ecosystem services to reduce flood risks

12 May 2017 by Saskia Marijnissen, Regional Technical Adviser, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP Africa

In Sierra Leone, over 3 million people live in increasingly vulnerable coastal areas. Finding innovative and sustainable ways to work together with, rather than against, nature for effective risk reduction is critical. © Tommy Trenchard/ UNEP
From the mouth of the Mississippi to that of the Nile, communities have been drawn to coastal flood plains throughout the centuries. Where rivers and oceans meet, nature is at its best, and river sedimentation provides rich soils that greatly benefit agricultural productivity as well as fisheries. At present, an estimated 60 percent of our global population lives along estuaries and coastlines – making them among the most heavily populated areas of the world. As appealing as coastal areas are, living on a fertile floodplain comes with substantial risks. Floods are the most frequent of all natural disasters globally, and some of the largest disasters have occurred in coastal areas. Think about the devastation done by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the dangerous floods which happen every year in Bangladesh. … Read more

Oceans of data, islands of databases

08 May 2017 by Sanny Jegillos, Senior Advisor, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

Man in his shopRisk-informed recovery programmes respond to the unique development challenges of island countries like Vanuatu, which was hit by Cyclone Pam in March 2016. UNDP Photo
I am currently in the Solomon Islands, on my second mission in the Pacific Islands this year, and I am now certain that I will be back in Papua New Guinea in less than a month. Since Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and Cyclone Winston in Fiji (2015/2016), my engagement as UNDP advisor on disaster risk reduction and recovery in the Pacific has increased. For UNDP colleagues based in the Pacific, I hear that there has not been any pause in crisis response since 2014. What does this trend mean? What do we foresee in the future? Where do we get the information to guide our organization’s strategy and programmes? … Read more

Celebrating indigenous peoples as nature’s stewards

02 May 2017 by Eva Gurria, Programme Analyst, Equator Initiative

undp-pe-environment-indigenous-woman-2017Indigenous lands and waters represent 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and indigenous peoples act as effective stewards of these areas. Paola Delgado/UNDP Peru
In recent weeks we’ve marked several milestones for planetary wellbeing. The first was the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, a day where communities around the world gather to bring awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship. The second was the 1st anniversary of the landmark signing of the Paris Agreement, where the world’s governments formally agreed to take urgent action on climate change. The third was the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a declaration that provides a universal framework for the dignity and wellbeing of indigenous peoples everywhere. All three anniversaries are interlinked; there is a growing understanding that indigenous lands and waters represent 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, that indigenous peoples are effective stewards of these areas, and that these ecologically intact areas of the earth are a vital strategy for tackling climate change. In short, if we are to achieve the Global Goals for sustainable development by 2030, we must recognize, celebrate, advance and safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples to govern their lands and waters. … Read more

Shattering glass ceilings – and walls

11 Apr 2017 by Shoko Noda, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Maldives

Shoko Noda grade school class picture"I think that, among other things, I had upset the teacher by climbing trees with the boys during physical education class," writes Shoko Noda (front row, third from left).
Halfway through fourth grade, I opened my report card and saw that my teacher had given me a C for ‘behaviour’. Understandably, it shocked my parents. I had always gotten top grades in class. I was taken aback too. It was when I got the same grade the following semester, and read my teachers remarks, that the truth dawned on me. My teacher had written: Shoko is finally improving her selection of words, and has started to behave more like a gentle girl. I think that, among other things, I had upset the teacher by climbing trees with the boys during physical education class.  I was also quite independent-minded and expressed my views in maybe not-so-polite terms. My parents were quite happy when, with a new teacher for the next two years, I went back to getting A grades for good behaviour.  … Read more

How a2i is using empathy to foster innovation in Bangladesh

21 Feb 2017 by Anir Chowdhury, Policy Adviser, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh and Nick Beresford, Country Director, UNDP Cambodia

a2i (short for access to information) helps government officials analyze and redesign workflows within and between ministries. It has established over 5,000 Digital Centres providing internet access throughout the country.
In the last eight years, Bangladesh has established a new development paradigm through its approach to socio-economic development which is high growth yet inclusive, self-reliant yet collaborative, and respectful of heritage yet ambitious in its use of new technologies. The country has moved up to low middle income status but, more importantly by human development indicators it has achieved a level of development commonly predicted for twice its per capita income. The Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 agenda – the country’s launch pad for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – is a long-term vision of poverty reduction and human development anchored in govpreneurship (entrepreneurship by the government) and hopes to empower Bangladeshis to co-create solutions to development challenges. Within this, a2i Public Service Innovation Lab+ was established by the Prime Minister’s Office with support from UNDP in 2007 to ensure easy, affordable and reliable access to quality public services which harnesses (but is not limited to) the power of digital. Bangladesh has significant advantages when it comes to harnessing new technologies, particularly as around 50 percent of the population is under the age of 24. Many of these youths have or will have jobs in industries that didn’t exist 20 years ago. They might be app developers, cloud computing experts, block chain specialists or big data analysts. … Read more

Drones join the fight against climate change risks in the Maldives

10 Feb 2017 by Sanny Jegillos, Senior Advisor, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

I love drones. I have one that I fly when I want to de-stress. Little did I know when I bought it that I could actually play with it at work! It all started about a year ago. As senior advisor on disaster risk management at UNDP, I was intrigued to explore how new technology and innovation could support my work. My agency’s strong focus on innovation in the Asia-Pacific region, has resulted in some really interesting and outside-the-box initiatives. Some of them include, mobile apps on anti-corruption in Papua New Guinea, recovery and rebuilding in earthquake-affected Nepal and electronic waste recycling in China. … Read more

To leave no one behind, Least Developed Countries need new financing tools

14 Dec 2016 by Pedro Conceição, Director of Strategic Policy, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Philippe Orliange, Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Communication, AFD

To leave no one behind, the least developed countries need new financing toolsLike other Least Developed Countries, Zambia has pursued major structural reforms to attract the investment needed to finance sustainable development. UNDP photo
At the UN General Assembly last September, 193 countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious new agenda for sustainable development to be achieved over the next fifteen years. The central aim of the so-called “2030 Agenda” is to “leave no one behind”. And while it will be a challenge for all countries to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda, it is clear that it will be especially difficult for the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are countries where levels of deprivation are acute, infrastructure is inadequate, economies are vulnerable and capital is in short supply. To enable the transformation of these countries to middle-income status, considerable investments will be required within a short time-frame. Many LDCs have made considerable social and economic progress over recent years: poverty has declined, more children are now in school, health indicators have improved and many have enjoyed sustained periods of unprecedented economic growth. At the same time, considerable challenges remain. For example, LDCs remain very vulnerable to shocks and stresses, such as extreme weather events, fluctuations in commodity prices, and disease outbreaks – as the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa demonstrated. Shocks can cause significant development setbacks. … Read more

Financing the SDGs in the Pacific: Maximizing new opportunities

07 Dec 2016 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance, UNDP

Pacific island nations like Tuvalu must secure resources not only to meet development priorities but also to adapt to climate change. UNDP photo
Pacific island countries such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are among the countries most vulnerable to extreme weather events and climate change. Just last year, Cyclone Pam ripped through Vanuatu and caused damages estimated at over 60 percent of GDP, in addition to 11 lives lost and widespread damage to homes and livelihoods. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the Pacific loses US$300 million a year through disasters alone. And such events are expected to become more frequent and more severe with the predicted impacts of climate change. With Pacific islands at the forefront of climate change impacts, they need to secure resources not only to meet development priorities such as improving health and education but also to adapt to climate change, build resilience and withstand sudden (often very large) economic and environmental shocks. Where will these resources come from, and how can Pacific islands make most effective use of these funds? These were the topics of a recent workshop co-organized by UNDP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in Fiji, which brought together policymakers from the Pacific islands and experts from major bilateral and multilateral finance providers. When it comes to resource mobilization, many Pacific islands have made important strides to increase domestic resources over recent years. For example, through the Narue Agreement – which establishes the terms and conditions for issuing foreign fleets with licenses to fish in the Pacific – eight Pacific island countries have been able to increase fishing revenues from $100 million to over $500 million over the last five years. And there is room to increase this even further in the future. … Read more

2030 Agenda demands meaningful participation from persons with disabilities

02 Dec 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

In Cambodia, UNDP works with UNICEF and WHO to support national efforts to coordinate and implement the National Disability Strategic Plan as well as to strengthen capacities of Cambodian Disabled Persons Organizations. Photo:Bona K/ UNICEF Cambodia
It has been 10 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the UN General Assembly in December 2006, and we are close to universal ratification of the treaty. This is a great achievement that recognizes the move from a charitable and medical approach to a human rights-based approach, ensuring an inclusive and accessible development for all. The second decade of implementation of the CRPD will happen within, and will be amplified by, the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015. The SDGs are universal, they are ambitious and they ensure that we leave no one behind. Progress has been made to reach with rights, technology, social protection, science, affirmative action and awareness those of our friends, family members and fellow citizens who live with a disability. So as we focus on supporting countries to achieve the SDGs, what will achieving the different goals and targets mean for persons with disabilities? For starters, we are talking about a very large group of citizens: 15 percent of the world’s population live with a disability – more than the peoples of the European Union, Russia and the United States together. In developing countries, three out of four are women, which also demands a gender analysis of causes and a robust engendered suite of interventions. What could these be? … Read more