UNDP Around the world

Our Perspectives

Sustainable development

Yemen needs broad support to stop the crisis

24 Apr 2017 by Auke Lootsma, Country Director, UNDP Yemen

Some 17 million people in Yemen don’t know where they might find their next meal, and 6.8 million face life-threatening malnutrition—in a country of only 27 million. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa
Fragile, impoverished Yemen already ranked among the world’s poorest countries when political transition erupted into all-out war two years ago. To make things worse, the country is also suffering the largest food security crisis worldwide. It will take far more than emergency aid to address one of the worst food and humanitarian emergencies in recent memory. Yemen’s deepening crisis has reversed decades of hard-won development gains, with civilians paying an appalling price. Five years ago, for example, as a result of UNDP’s de-mining efforts, the country was nearly mine-free. Now, all 22 governorates are littered with explosives, in some cases severely. More than 3 million people have been displaced, nearly 8,000 killed, and over 40,000 injured in the ongoing conflict. … Read more

In Belize, local stewardship key to marine conservation

21 Apr 2017 by Leonel Requena, National Coordinator, GEF Small Grants Programme, UNDP Belize

Local communities are at the forefront of marine resources management and their engagement in conservation and shared governance is crucial to ensuring sustainable use of ocean resources. Photo: Avelino Franco/Fragments of Hope
The reef was in plain sight, a majestic view with sandy white beaches surrounding cayes with magnificent frigate birds and booby birds flying overhead at Halfmoon Caye Natural Monument. I was eager to put on my diving gear and see the wonders of the 186-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Colorful coral reefs, whale sharks, turtles, and hundreds of cubera snappers aggregating three days before full moon at the Gladden Spit Spawning Aggregation Site, in Belize. It was May 2002, and I was participating along with a research team to collect data on Nassau Grouper abundance and distribution which would inform the declaration of eleven Nassau Grouper Spawning Aggregation Sites. Our ocean is rich in biodiversity and is a crucial carbon sink. Coastal wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs support a diverse array of marine life. According to a recent economic study of the Belize Barrier Reef, the estimated services derived for tourism and livelihoods is US$559 million per year with a population of 380,010 people. A healthy reef ensures healthy people and a resilient country. … Read more

Is your company ready to engage with the SDGs?

19 Apr 2017 by Sahba Sobhani, Private Sector Programme Advisor, UNDP and Robert de Jongh, Specialist Leader, Social Finance, Deloitte Consulting

For 50 years, UNDP has worked with the private sector to create jobs, establish value chains and build infrastructure. Photo: BUTGEM, Turkey
SDG engagement can take the form of a tested and decade-old concept: inclusive business. A new report helps companies assess how ready they are to incorporate it. These are unsettling times. The promise of globalization is being increasingly eclipsed by political uncertainty and a rising tide of nationalism and protectionism. In listening to workers displaced by automation or communities who feel the squeeze of disparities in income and political capital, the world is beginning to recognise that progress has not only been uneven, but that the costs of globalization in some instances might outweigh the benefits. But this “globalization hangover” should not serve as a backlash against the potential of global accords like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have inherently transformed the relationship between business and government by marrying economic growth and social gain. In fact, in the wake of sociopolitical unease, stakeholders around the world are obligated to commit to the brighter side of convergence, moving beyond rhetoric and into bold action that reaffirms a changing course. After all, successfully reaching the SDGs will require a Herculean effort, to the tune of US$30-45 trillion (£24-36 trillion) in funding over the next 15 years — a daunting figure given that current estimates of public sector support hover around US$2 trillion, just over 4 percent of the required funds. … Read more

Setting a sustainable table

18 Apr 2017 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors

Food should not be a threat to sustainability, but a vehicle for advancing human development and protecting the environment. Communities, farmers and families are making changes that make a difference for the planet and for their own food security. Photo: UNDP Cambodia
Food has always been a central part of our lives. We grew up in our parents’ restaurant and realized early on that the way people experience food – especially how they cook food and preserve culinary traditions – has a direct impact on the fundamental areas of life. It impacts our health, happiness – even our sense of identity and belonging. So imagine if your favourite staple foods or ingredients were no longer available. Recipes passed from generation to generation could become impossible to recreate. This is what is happening in many places around the world, where climate change is impacting crop production and undermining food security. Increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are threatening agricultural productivity, and some farming practices are only making matters worse. … Read more

A year after the Ecuador earthquake, we still have work to do

17 Apr 2017 by Nury Bermúdez, Emergency Response, Risk Management and Livelihoods Officer, UNDP Ecuador

With UNDP support, 2,600 families have resumed agricultural production in rural areas of Manabí and Esmeraldas, generating average increases of 50 percent in sales. Photo: Gabriela Ullauri/UNDP
It only took 40 seconds to unleash decades of pent up vulnerability in Ecuador. Substandard buildings, additional stories built unofficially, shoddy building materials—they all took their toll on 16 April 2016. With 671 deaths and over 241,000 people affected, it was unquestionably one of Ecuador’s biggest emergencies in decades. The country’s emergency response capabilities were overwhelmed, making clear the need to strengthen preparedness, prevention and recovery for dealing with large-scale adverse events. In the face of this situation, a national and international solidarity network activated to provide aid and relief during the emergency. Government agencies responded on multiple fronts in regions needing immediate aid. Different protocols and mechanisms were created and put to the test during the emergency. … Read more

How do you inspire entrepreneurship in a conflict-affected region?

12 Apr 2017 by Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Ukraine Country Director and Sofiya Oshchebska, National Coordinator - Crowdfunding Academy, UNDP Ukraine

71 year-old Pavlo, blacksmith from Lugansk, opened his workshop in the Kharkiv region. Photo: UNDP Ukraine
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has not only disrupted everyday life in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk but also led to staggering unemployment. Out of 23 major enterprises in Luhansk region, 19 are currently not operating, while half of the enterprises in the Donetsk region have lost about 950,000 jobs. Supporting employment is challenging in the best of circumstances and far more so in conflict situations. How do you talk about the benefits of entrepreneurship to people who lost everything and, after being displaced, are just trying to find their place in a new community? At UNDP Ukraine’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, we have an ambitious goal: to promote entrepreneurship in Donbas, inspire people who worked all their life in mines and factories to step into the unsure path of entrepreneurship, and make them believe in themselves and their country again. So we decided to start by showing the joy of creating and developing your own business through the stories of ordinary people. Stories of people like us, who, despite all the difficulties, have succeeded. … Read more

Renewed hope in Lebanon

28 Mar 2017 by Luca Renda, Country Director, UNDP Lebanon

A Syrian family fleeing the besieged city of Yabrud, Syria arrives in Arsal, Lebanon. Lebanon is now home to the largest number of Syrian refugees: one out of five people in the country is a refugee. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell
The ramifications of the Syrian crisis are far reaching in all its neighbouring countries, but are especially felt in Lebanon, a country still recovering from the scars of its own civil war. The crisis has affected Lebanon in many ways: slowing down economic growth, amplifying social divisions along confessional lines and spawning political paralysis. The most dramatic impact is the influx of over a million Syrian refugees, who now constitute around a quarter of the population. Lebanon now has the highest per-capita concentration of refugees in the world. Such combined shocks have greatly reduced Lebanon’s chances of meeting its development targets. Even before the outset of the Syrian crisis, Lebanon had a mixed performance on the Millennium Development Goals, registering good progress in nutrition, health and education, but lagging behind in key goals such as poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. The crisis has further exacerbated these gaps – particularly as almost 90 per cent of Lebanon’s Syrian reflive within the poorest Lebanese communities. The exceptional magnitude of the crisis has prompted the UN to mount one of the largest and most complex response operations in the world. This is to meet the needs of both the Syrian refugees and – just as importantly – the Lebanese hosting communities. … Read more

Treasure or tragedy – our ocean commons

23 Mar 2017 by Midori Paxton, Head of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Expanding marine protected areas is imperative for biodiversity and ecosystem health. It is also essential for social welfare and the economy. Photo: Shutterstock/divedog
Bunaken National Marine Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2011. The sea was a bit too choppy for my liking. But there was a volcano erupting inland. The sea looked like a safer option! I took the plunge and jumped off the boat with my snorkel and fins. Around me was a new world. So serene, so many layers. Wonderfully coloured fish clustered around corals, sea turtles flapped by, and there was a darkness beneath a canyon wall that told of depths beyond the reach of sunlight. Down there, I knew, were coelacanths. Once believed to have gone extinct 66 million years ago, these fish have in fact out-lived the dinosaurs. If aliens arrived from outer space, they wouldn’t call our planet Earth. They would call it planet Sea. Seventy-one percent of our planet’s surface is covered in water. The depths are profound. Just imagine having the whole Himalayan or Andean mountain range upside down beneath the ocean face. That is just a taster. The oceans sustain creatures we haven’t even discovered, but they also keep terrestrial life going. More than 3 billion people depend on them as their primary source of protein. Shipping lanes keep commerce thriving and the water regulates the temperature and atmosphere. … Read more

Human development means realizing the full potential of every life

21 Mar 2017 by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

The Human Development Report 2016 emphasizes that poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups—including ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants—are being left furthest behind. Photo: UNDP
Human development is all about human freedoms: freedom to realize the full potential of every human life, not just of a few, nor of most, but of all lives in every corner of the world—now and in the future. Such universalism gives the human development approach its uniqueness. However, the principle of universalism is one thing; translating it into practice is another. Over the past quarter-century there has been impressive progress on many fronts in human development, with people living longer, more people rising out of extreme poverty and fewer people being malnourished. Human development has enriched human lives—but unfortunately not all to the same extent, and even worse, not every life. It is thus not by chance but by choice that world leaders in 2015 committed to a development journey that leaves no one out—a central premise of the 2030 Agenda. Mirroring that universal aspiration, it is timely that the 2016 Human Development Report is devoted to the theme of human development for everyone. The Report begins by using a broad brush to paint a picture of the challenges the world faces and the hopes humanity has for a better future. Some challenges are lingering (deprivations), some are deepening (inequalities) and some are emerging (violent extremism), but most are mutually reinforcing. Whatever their nature or reach, these challenges have an impact on people’s well-being in both present and future generations. … Read more

Disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, two sides of the same coin

17 Mar 2017 by Matilde Mordt,Team Leader, Sustainable Development and Resilience, UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean

Development processes should seek to ensure that people, livelihoods and infrastructure have lower levels of risk. Photo: Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
This message came out forcefully during the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, held last week in Montreal, Canada, at which delegates debated the connections between disaster, climate change and sustainable development. One way of looking at this is by adopting the so-called “integrated risk management” approach. This is a conceptual and practical approach that today replaces traditional concepts about emergency or disaster management, which focus on the immediate response to an event and the subsequent recovery process. Integrated risk management requires a more thorough knowledge and understanding of the scenarios of risk. The notion of the "social construction of risk " is central, which points to the existence of chronic risk due to poverty (as expressed in unemployment, low income, malnutrition, etc.), environmental degradation and governance challenges. These drivers of risk reflect the structural conditions of unsustainable development models. In Central America for instance, El Niño is an event that adds stress to already existing environmental, climatic and vulnerability conditions. Thus, the causes of crisis in the agricultural, health or water sectors are more related to human actions, such as overexploitation of resources, poor land use planning and inadequate technologies, than to physical events. … Read more