Our Perspectives

Social protection renews optimism for sustainable development

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Worker at the Warrap State Hospital, South Sudan. Photo: UN/JC Mcllwaine

The media often supplements talks of the Global South with illustrations of humanitarian tragedies and persistent development bottlenecks. This traditional news coverage overlooks, however, a very positive and impactful transformation taking place in Africa and the bigger South: the impressive growth in social protection systems, the establishment of new foundations for advancing sustainable development and for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Social protection programmes are among the most successful development experiences the world has seen in recent years. They have proven to be key in developing countries' efforts to fight poverty… Read more

A legacy of private sector engagement in Africa

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More than 11,000 smallholder farmers benefit from support to develop regional agro-food value chains. Photo: UNDP

In the last 12 years, UNDP in Africa has invested into innovative programmes that produced encouraging results, incentives, and insights on how the private sector can contribute to inclusive growth through inclusive businesses and markets. UNDP’s long term goal in this area is to foster Africa’s capacity to produce and grow in line with the African Union Agenda 2063 and the universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UNDP Growing Sustainable Business (GSB) initiative built, from 2003 to 2011, multi-stakeholder partnerships to support businesses with a clear triple bottom line capable of impacting positively on profit, people and planet. Bionexx, for instance, a company based in Madagascar, managed to grow the production of artemisinin, a key ingredient in anti-malaria pills, from 0 to 12 metric tons using an outgrower network of close to 10,000 farmers through financial support and technical assistance to set-up the outgrower scheme – a clear success in terms of providing a guaranteed higher value market to smallholder farmers and increasing their income.… Read more

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

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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

6 ways to innovate for 2030

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A community worker surveys homeless men at a shelter in Old Delhi. Innovative approaches can bring together governments, service providers and businesses to fund social programmes for vulnerable groups. Photo: Niklas Halle’n/UNDP India

Can innovation help achieve the new global development agenda? Can it help address growing humanitarian needs worldwide? The stakes are high: Last year, U.N. member states endorsed the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, and in May 2016, the World Humanitarian Summit sets out to reshape aid. Innovation in the development agenda includes new processes, new technologies, or new ways of using existing technology. No matter what the innovation, it must add value for the end user. A new technology or process that does not create a positive change in the lives of the people we work for does not qualify as innovation.… Read more

Africa’s head start on implementing the Global Goals

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Africa has a head start on implementing the SDGs, the set of goals that will set the parameters for the global development agenda for the next 15 years. UNDP photo

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on 25 September 2015, at the 70th United Nations General Assembly marked the beginning of the difficult task of translating the new global agenda into action. These ambitious and transformative goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will set the parameters for the global development agenda for the next 15 years. Yet an implementation dilemma is unfolding as each region and country grapples with the challenges of rolling out a global development framework while tailoring it to respond to specific development contexts.… Read more

Buying for a better world

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Sustainable procurement means making sure that the products and services we buy are as sustainable as possible – both economically, socially, and environmentally. Photo: UNDP

At first glance, procurement may seem like something that happens in the background – a specialized, technical and potentially narrow part of UNDP’s work. But procurement touches everything from buying office vehicles, health commodities and election materials to procuring energy systems as well as consultancy services. All these activities combined form a strategic function that is, not only due to its large share of our yearly expenditures, an extremely important part of our work. In our efforts to help countries end poverty and significantly reduce inequalities and exclusion – in parallel with measures to combat climate change – UNDP is striving to adopt more sustainable production and consumption practices.… Read more

20 million people living with HIV are being left behind

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The number of HIV/AIDS patients with access to life-saving antiretroviral therapy has more than doubled since 2010. Photo: UNDP Nepal

This week, world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS to chart the way forward towards ending the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030 as laid out in the newly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A new report from UNAIDS shows that the number of people with access to antiretroviral therapy—life-saving medicines that suppress the HIV virus and stop disease progression—has more than doubled since 2010, bringing the new total of people on HIV treatment around the world to an estimated 17 million at the end of 2015.… Read more

Conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources

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UNDP’s Ocean Governance programme is strongly aligned with SDG 14. Photo: Mirja Neumann/UNDP

In September 2015, the international community adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. As we observe World Oceans Day, let’s explore the SDG14 targets in terms of what concrete actions will be required to achieve each one. Achieving Target 14.1 of reducing nutrient pollution and marine debris will require transformational change in nutrient and solid waste management across multiple sectors at all levels of governance. The private sector, driven by the right kinds of enabling policies, will play a pivotal role in moving management of these resources – not waste - towards a much more ‘circular economy’.… Read more

A new Global Alliance to 'think urban' in humanitarian response

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Downtown Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: UN Habitat

The humanitarian situation is changing. There are now more refugees and internally displaced persons than at any time since the end of the Second World War and 60 percent of these are in urban areas. We need to ‘think urban’ when we design our responses to these increasing crises. Rapid and poorly planned urbanization is driving vulnerability in towns and cities around the world. Humanitarian emergencies are increasingly occurring in towns and cities. Responding to this reality requires new ways of working. Major international humanitarian responses are often not closely tied to local municipal actors that understand their communities’ ongoing needs.… Read more

Changing the discourse on humanitarian innovations and partnerships

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Young women and men review crime statistics and add their stories to complete the picture at the 2015 Youth and Innovation Exchange in St. Lucia. Photo: UNDP Barbados

How can new data sources and real-time information systems improve decision-making? This is a question UNDP and its partners, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and Datapop Alliance, were asking at a side-event at the World Humanitarian Summit, together with the Governments of Denmark and Finland, which fund innovation in UN agencies. Innovation and data are important themes in humanitarian relief, as well as in the larger Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. It underpins the entire agenda as a vehicle to solve wicked challenges across all the SDGs.… Read more

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