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Our Perspectives

Sustainable development

Dollars and 'Sense': Paying for Our Planet

22 May 2017 by Midori Paxton, Senior Technical Adviser, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Tigers in IndiaIn India, a 2015 study valued six tiger reserves at US$24 billion and US$1.2 billion per year. People travel half the globe to see tigers. Photo: UNDP
As today’s celebration coincides with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, it is worth noting the role biodiversity and ecosystems play as the backbone of tourism in many places, and equally worth noting the crucial role that the tourism sector can play in conserving biodiversity. This is undeniably a nexus to pursue, particularly for financing effective conservation. … Read more

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

Natural disasters don’t exist but natural hazards do

18 May 2017 by Martin Ras, Policy Specialist, Disaster and Climate Risk Governance, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Hazards are natural events, occurring more or less frequently and of a greater or lesser magnitude, but disasters are due to risk-blind development. Photo: UN MINUSTAH
As I took the ferry home to Long Island City (New York City), I saw the start of a new water front residential complex on the East River. This is an area that was heavily flooded during hurricane Sandy. I presume that a construction company/developer must have received a construction permit for this site and, I hope, have plans in place to manage any potential flooding that could occur during a future hurricane. It’s hard to be certain of course. In many cities, short-term economic interests often outweigh the clear benefits of proper land-use planning and building codes. This is especially true in developing nations where the institutional systems to manage and enforce said building codes are lacking or without any real power. What ends up happening is that there are little to no consequence for those who ignore the measures intended to keep people safe. … Read more

Responding to drought must be sustainable, not piecemeal

18 May 2017 by Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya

Children fetching water in Dadaab, Kenya. Photo Leonard Odini/UNDP Kenya
Food security in Kenya has deteriorated significantly since the end of 2016. According to UNICEF, nearly 110,000 children under-five need treatment, up from 75,300 in August 2016. Waterholes and rivers have dried up, leading to widespread crop failure and livestock depletion. Malnutrition is widespread among children. In the hardest-hit counties of Turkana, Marsabit and Mandera, a third of children under 5 are acutely malnourished – double the emergency threshold. High malnutrition, when combined with an outbreak of cholera or measles, can lead to a surge in deaths among children and other vulnerable groups. Underfunded response We must urgently respond to this malnutrition crisis through treatment and prevention. Blanket supplementary feeding for young children and pregnant and lactating women can avert a catastrophic spike in mortality in the months ahead. … Read more

We can save lives and restore dignity in Somalia

15 May 2017 by Mourad Wahba, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States

The looming famine has rendered large swaths of land uninhabitable. In Somalia, the ground is parched. Riverbeds are dry. There’s no vegetation left, livestock are dead, and countless livelihoods lost. Photographer:UNDP in Somalia
I was just in Somalia, one of four conflict-ridden countries in Africa and the Middle East facing drought, a crisis that places 20 million people on the brink of famine. The situation is dire.But with your generous support, we can avert catastrophe. We can save lives and we can restore dignity. The looming famine has rendered large swaths of land uninhabitable. In Somalia, the ground is parched. Riverbeds are dry. There’s no vegetation left, livestock are dead, and countless livelihoods lost. Without adequate rainfall, many Somalis’ sources of income – farming and raising livestock – have evaporated. Hundreds of thousands sold what little they had and walked for days to reach displaced person camps where they can drink clean water and get rations from time to time. Inside the camp, people sit in makeshift tents, waiting for the rain. Somalia is especially vulnerable because of a years-long conflict and lack of a working government. Thus the humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly. But we can save lives if we act now. … Read more

Addressing climate-induced risks in an urbanizing world

12 May 2017 by Rajeev Issar, Policy Specialist, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

Flooded streetWith a global population expected to be over 66 percent urban by 2050, and two-thirds of the urban environment remaining to be built, the opportunities to advance risk-informed and resilient urban development must be harnessed. Photo: UNDP Peru
Having lived my entire life in big cities, I always had a feeling that cities were safe from the vagaries of disasters -- which occurred in some distant rural area and never closer to home. Once in a while, incidents like rainfall induced flooding or mild earthquake shakings, which disrupted day-to-day life for some time, were shrugged off as one-off events. The sense of invincibility of the urban lives and livelihoods remained. … Read more

Growth without resilience is but the ruin of the economy

10 May 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Regional Director for Africa

By building resilience into their economies, countries will experience growth and accelerate their move towards double-digit growth.. Photo: Alice Kayibanda/UNDP Rwanda
Many African countries have engaged in medium- or long-term emergence programmes. For the Second International Conference on the Emergence of Africa (ICEA) in Abidjan, we focused specifically on a sample of 13 countries, to explore the issue of emergence more deeply. This sample was fairly representative of the economic and geographical situation in Africa. In studying all 13 sample countries, what struck me most was the typology of emergence paths. The first path is representative of countries such as Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire, which have experienced significant shocks due to war or political instability and have seen their economic growth fall to its lowest level, but have then resumed rapid progress towards high growth. Behind this rapid recovery is the fact that these countries still had surplus production capacity that had not been destroyed, and they had the intelligence to develop these “excess capacities” to restart growth. They also invested in increasing their productivity and in building the resilience of their institutions. … Read more

Better understanding of human behaviour can help achieve the global development agenda

09 May 2017 by Benjamin Kumpf, Innovation Policy Specialist, UNDP and Lori Foster, Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology, North Carolina State University

Recycling e-waste: Research shows that people are highly motivated to take actions their peers have also taken, and this knowledge can be used to design people-centred policies to achieve positive results. UNDP photo
Should you take the medication you need every day at the designated time? Should you test your drinking water supply for safety? Should you invest in fertilizer when you know it will increase your yields? Should you save enough for retirement? The answer to these questions, and to others concerned with general matters of personal wellbeing, is clearly yes. Most people want to do what’s best for them. Despite knowing what’s good for them, many people do not take their medication on-time, ensure their drinking water is safe, spend their money on long-term investments or put aside enough for retirement. All too often, we humans postpone important intended actions to tomorrow, pursue information that only reflects our own point of view or unfairly emphasize the latest information we see over older yet relevant data. … Read more

To end famine and secure peace in South Sudan, women are vital

08 May 2017 by Kamil Kamaluddeen, Country Director, UNDP South Sudan

Sudanese woman with cowsSouth Sudanese women are supporting families and producing what little food is available – and they are already playing a key role in building peace. Photo: UNDP South Sudan
More than 3.5 million people have been displaced and 7.5 million need emergency aid as a result of South Sudan’s three-year-old civil conflict, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Oil revenues have declined, farming and business activities have halted in many areas, and inflation has soared. The number of people classified as “severely food insecure” is expected to reach 5.5 million by July 2017, and more than 1 million children are acutely malnourished. The world’s youngest country is now on the brink of mass starvation. … 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