Our Perspective

February 2014

Post-2015: On our way to the World We Want | Olav Kjorven

image
In South Africa children from the Sivile Primary, Western Cape did a ‘Long Short Walk’ campaign and the MyWorld survey on Mandela Day. Photo: Zenani Mandela campaign 2013.

Within the next fifteen or twenty years we could live in a world where everyone has enough food, access to basic health services, schooling and jobs.   That’s a different world from the one we inhabit today, but I’m optimistic, because a new emerging vision is galvanizing support from governments, business and civil society. My optimism comes from following the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG). The 70 governments in the group held in-depth discussions on how we can transform our economies, societies and environment into a more sustainable system. There is a common understanding between the governments that ambitious targets on providing access to food, education, jobs, health, energy, water and sanitation will be included in the next development goals. There is strong agreement that we need targets to reverse environmental degradation and protect the eco-systems. There is commitment to building just societies for women and girls, and to reverse the trend of rising income inequality. There is also agreement that this agenda needs to be for all countries, North and South. Another reason for optimism is that during each of the sessions of the OWG, the Member States have engaged with world-class experts, civil society and the... Read more

A million voices for education | Corinne Woods

image
Girl scouts participating in the MY World survey in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Stanislav Saling / UNDP

If you had to make a guess at the average person’s number one priority for a better life, what would you choose? Good health, a longer life, prosperity? Or all of the above? Because the answer encompasses them all. The answer is education. One of the biggest public opinion polls ever conducted and with the power to shape global policy, the UN-led MY World, is saying just that. A million people out of nearly 1.5 million surveyed say that education is one of their top six priorities for a better world. Because no matter where they live in the world, people know that it is education that makes the real difference to their lives. Whether they are young men in Africa, educated women in Europe or teenagers in Asia, like Pakistan’s Malala, they are dreaming of a chance for everyone to learn, to develop, to realize their potential and overcome their hurdles. Education is the key to fighting discrimination, to improving health and to securing better jobs – and people know it. They don’t need to read the statistics – and there are plenty out there – proving that a better-educated population is healthier, more prosperous, more harmonious. Across the world, in... Read more

100 days after Haiyan, the Philippines transitions to recovery | Jo Scheuer

image
UNDP in the Philippines is supporting the people's recovery from the destruction wreaked by Haiyan. Photo: UNDP

February 16th marks 100 days since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. The emergency response is almost over and the beginning of long-term recovery has begun. I have been to the Philippines twice since Haiyan struck. In the early days, I went to help coordinate the response to this tragedy. Just recently I returned, to advise on the transition to long-term recovery. The progress over 100 days has been remarkable. Immediately after the storm, UNDP began helping the government prepare for recovery. For example, only weeks after Haiyan, we facilitated a visit to the Philippines from the Government of Indonesia, bringing Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, who led the reconstruction effort in Aceh-Nias after the 2004 Tsunami. He attended a Philippines cabinet meeting on recovery, sharing with his colleagues the challenges and lessons learned from Indonesia. This visit may have been low-key – but was very valuable to the Philippines authorities – and it led to UNDP experts starting to work with the government to plan, prepare and budget the recovery. But attention must now shift beyond the first 100 days and focus on the future. It is essential that we build resilience into the new cities that rise from the rubble. Disaster risk reduction... Read more

Transgender visibility: The 'AIDS Tchê' initiative in Brazil | Angela Pires

image
Transgender activists in downtown Porto Alegre, Brazil, during a mobilization campaign for civil registry change and LGBT rights. Photo: Daniel de Castro/UNDP Brazil.

The Week of Transgender Visibility recently took place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, with three days of events and initiatives supported within the AIDS Tchê initiative, part of a UN Integrated Plan designed to support the poorest and most remote areas of the country. Porto Alegre is the Brazilian city with the highest incidence rate of AIDS: 99.8  per 100,000, while the national average is 17.9. A recent study from one of the city’s hospitals indicates that seroprevalence among transgender women in Porto Alegre is quite high. "If you look at the data for transgender women living in the metropolitan area of ​​Porto Alegre, we see that transgender women have a 14.5 times greater risk for HIV infection. These findings leave transgender women among the most vulnerable groups to the epidemic," says researcher Brandelli Angelo Costa. Stigma and discrimination against transgender people are regarded as the main fuel for such increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. The violence against their daily basic expression of self leaves them out of the development process, undermines their life choices and excludes them from enjoying basic needs such as formal education, work and health care. As with homophobic violence, transphobic violence remains rampant in Brazil and throughout the... Read more

Growth with inclusion, a four-point plan for Africa | Abdoulaye Mar Dieye

image
Developing agriculture, which employs up to 60 percent of Africa’s workforce (most of it women), can be an effective way to reduce poverty in rural areas. (Photo: UNDP in Burundi)

Avoiding conflict and reducing poverty in Africa will require sustained efforts to promote inclusive development. First, the continent faces the challenge of building economies that can create jobs and more equal opportunities for all. In many countries, better managing revenues from extractive resources holds the key to economic diversification and investing back into communities through quality infrastructure and social services. In addition, developing agriculture, which employs up to 60 percent of Africa’s workforce (most of it women), can be another effective way to reduce poverty in rural areas, where many marginalized groups live. Second, securing equal political representation for disenfranchised populations is critical to ensuring they can participate in key decisions and enjoy the same levels of development at the national and the local level. When elections take place, political inclusion can also prevent vote-rigging, “winner takes all” politics and electoral violence, while involving youth is particularly important-to-avoid conflict. In Kenya, for example, the principles of equality and non-discrimination are now enshrined in the Constitution, attempting to eliminate the ethnic and regional tensions which fuelled the post-election violence of 2007. Third, countries in Africa must equip themselves with effective national and grassroots mechanisms to build social cohesion and prevent conflict. Such... Read more

The Speakers Corner
thumbnail

The Speakers Corner helps connect think tanks, academia, the media and the public to a diverse group of experts who can speak to UNDP’s commitment to “empower lives” and build "resilient nations.”

Visit the Speakers Corner