Sustainable Development Goals are country-led and country-owned

22 Sep 2017 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Oscar Fernández-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support

Young people in Egypt holding up SDG placardsCitizens and governments are taking ownership of the 2030 Agenda, showing that the Sustainable Development Goals are country-led, country-owned and relevant everywhere. Photo: UNDP Egypt
Over the past 20 years, the world has seen unprecedented progress of human development, as nearly 1.1 billion people have moved out of extreme poverty. But unfinished business remains. Today, roughly 800 million people still live in extreme poverty and inequalities are growing. It was with this in mind that world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) almost two years ago. This is the most ground-breaking development agenda the world has seen, for it contains a radical promise: to leave no one behind. It is a promise to every man and woman who goes to bed hungry, every boy and girl who is deprived of education, every person who is fleeing violent conflict. Put to practice everywhere, this promise transforms our world! You may ask what a set of goals and high-flown words on paper can do to address these enormous challenges in practice. It is a fair question. But the answer is - a lot! … Read more

Communities can be role models for sustainable development

18 Sep 2017 by Nik Sekhran, Director for Sustainable Development, UNDP

UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner presents a certificate to Equator Prize winners during an awards ceremony in New York. Photo: Arnaldo Vargas
The United Nations, governments, civil society, business, thought leaders and media gathered in New York on 17 September to celebrate the winners of the Equator Prize 2017. The 15 prize winning communities successfully advance innovative solutions for poverty, environment, and climate challenges. The Equator Prize 2017 winners will join a prestigious group of 208 previous Equator Prize winners that have been recognized by the UNDP Equator Initiative partnership since its inception in 2002. Together, these prize winners tell a compelling story about the power of local action. This year, among the winners is the Federación de Tribus Indígenas Pech de Honduras, a cooperative that sells an essential ingredient in the international fragrance and flavor industry. Across the Atlantic, the Mali Elephant Project works in a region torn asunder by violent extremism to protect the endangered African elephant and advance local development priorities. Moving further east, in Indonesia, Raja Ampat Homestay Association has created an innovative, community-run web platform for ecotourism, garnering over 600 new jobs for the community and catalyzing the creation of 84 community businesses, all while conserving fragile marine ecosystems. The stories of these groups are not simply colorful reminders that people can live in harmony with nature. They illustrate how community action is essential to achieve sustainable development. … Read more

Reinventing the wheel

15 Sep 2017 by Boaz Paldi, Engagement Manager, UNDP

Video: United Nations Foundation
People usually don’t like to reinvent the wheel. When they find something that works, they’re not inclined to tinker with it. But at the eighth annual Social Good Summit this weekend, we’ll actually be reinventing a wheel, the Sustainable Development Goals wheel. Over the next week, we’ll erect a giant 2-metre by 2-metre SDG colour wheel constructed of Legos outside the United Nations General Assembly Hall. It sounds crazy, but our inspiration is that people, including world leaders, celebrities, and influencers, will help build this wheel to signify their commitment to the SDGs. That’s one of the things I love about the Social Good Summit: its ability to bring people together to act in innovative ways to build better tomorrows for everyone, everywhere, by 2030. There’s other things I love about the event: that it serves as a Peoples’ Summit during UN Week, that it’s dedicated to fomenting open, transparent dialogue, that it harnesses technology and new media to tackle some of the greatest challenges of our world. These attributes, of working to make our world better by 2030, are the heart and soul of the Social Good Summit. … Read more

UNDP’S new Strategic Plan is a chance to rethink and refocus

28 Aug 2017 by Joseph D’Cruz, Senior Advisor on Strategy and Planning, UNDP

Workers from several UN agenciesThe new Strategic Plan will lay out how UNDP will work with sister UN agencies, governments and other partners to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Photo: Devaka Seneviratne/UN Sri Lanka
On a Wednesday morning in late June, I got an email from HQ requesting that come to New York from Bangkok to help with the drafting of UNDP’s new Strategic Plan. I said yes, of course. The email was followed by a phone call asking if I could come as soon as possible. The span of time between my receiving the email and boarding a plane was four days. I keep this in mind as I work with the team crafting the document that will guide UNDP’s work over the next four years. There are many instances when UNDP is called on respond quickly to problems and challenges our clients face. It is part of our DNA that we do so whenever and wherever we are needed. This was demonstrated again when we asked staff all over the world to share their thoughts on our future direction. Without missing a beat, they’ve stepped up to the challenge of helping to quickly rethink our vision and strategy for the organization. … Read more

Who is Latin America and the Caribbean leaving behind?

25 Aug 2017 by Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

An elderly woman seated in a wheelchairBeing a young person, a woman, afro-descendant, indigenous, LGBTI or a person with disabilities affects the opportunities and possibilities of social and economic advancement and access to services in Latin America and the Caribbean, a recent UNDP study shows. Credit: Javier Sagredo / UNDP
Last month, at the High Level Political Forum in New York, more than 40 countries – 11 from Latin America and the Caribbean – shared their progress in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), within the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The meeting has made evident the region’s political will to adopt and accomplish this universal agenda. Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Uruguay presented their progress, along with Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela who shared their reports in 2016. The SDGs recognize the virtue of inclusive and sustainable economic growth that respects the environment and strengthens institutional and regulatory frameworks. The agenda seeks to “leave no one behind,” and admits that the market alone does not solve all problems. This is fundamental for our region, the most unequal in the world. During the Forum, the Secretary-General presented his global report on the SDGs, which also shows progress and challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean. … Read more

More than philanthropy: SDGs are a $12 trillion opportunity for the private sector

25 Aug 2017 by Nazila Vali, Programme Analyst Private Sector, UNDP

African woman carrying waterUK-based micro-insurance specialist MicroEnsure, a member of Business Call to Action (BCtA) since 2012, has made an ambitious pledge to insure 5 million additional low-income customers by 2020. Photo: MicroEnsure
Inclusive business practices can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals while opening up new market opportunities for companies The vast majority of the reports, papers or articles about development starts with the numerous complex issues and challenges yet to be solved. Our work - as well as how it is perceived - could change drastically if, instead, we chose to focus on the incredible opportunities yet to be seized. According to the Better Business Better World report by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, achieving the Global Goals could open up an estimated US$12 trillion in market opportunities in four economic systems: food and agriculture, cities, energy and materials, and health and well-being. They represent around 60 percent of the real economy and are critical to delivering the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). … Read more

Making “women’s work” count

22 Aug 2017 by Bharati Sadasivam, Regional Gender Adviser, UNDP in Europe and Central Asia

The “gender chore gap” limits women’s choices, as it impedes their ability to obtain formal education, secure good jobs, and achieve equal pay. Photo: UNDP Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia
Over the next few months, the 12,000 employees based at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California will complete their move to an extravagant new campus. The “spaceship,” covering 2.8 million square feet, includes a two-story yoga studio, running paths, and even revolutionary pizza boxes that keep slices crisp. One thing it does not have, however, is day-care. When it comes to ignoring the importance of childcare for working parents, Apple is far from unique. And that omission places a powerful drag on parents’ ability to achieve their economic potential, with women suffering the most. … Read more

Freeing space for sustainable development: Mine action and the 2030 Agenda

26 Jul 2017 by Olaf Juergensen, Development and Mine Action Specialist, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub

Mine Action in Lao PDR270 million cluster sub-munitions cover most of the territory in Laos, with an estimated 20-30 percent detonation failure rate, limiting both development prospects and access to natural resources. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR
Today, more than 65 countries are reported as being affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war. According to the Landmine and Cluster Monitor Reports, there were over 6,000 causalities in 2016 attributable to the legacies of past conflicts in countries such as Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Cambodia, and current wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. The story of these, and many other war-torn societies, is all too present in the headlines of today; forced migrations by land and sea, people struggling to live with disabilities, crippled economies, ravaged natural landscapes, crumpled infrastructure, and social-political fabrics being torn apart. … Read more

Sustainable development and sustaining peace: Two sides of the same coin

20 Jul 2017 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Oscar Fernández-Taranco, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support

Just emerging from decades of conflict, Colombia sees the SDGs as an integral tool in its peacebuilding process. Photo: UNDP/Freya Morales
More than 1.4 billion people, including half of the world’s extremely poor people, live in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The number is forecast to grow by a staggering 82 percent by 2030. Around 244 million people are on the move, with 65 million people in our world being forcibly displaced. You might assume that for countries in the cross hairs of these dynamics, the last thing on anyone’s mind right now is getting on track to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If you did, think again. Sustainable development is key to sustaining peace and vice versa. Sustaining peace, a concept endorsed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council, focuses on the importance of having a long-term, comprehensive vision in all responses to violent conflict, to end vicious cycles of lapse and relapse. Many countries in complex situations have embraced the SDGs as part of the solution. Afghanistan, for example, is presenting its plans at this year’s UN High-Level Political Forum, the global platform for SDG follow-up and review. At the same forum, Togo, a self-declared ‘fragile’ state, is showcasing its SDG initiatives for the second year running. And Colombia, one of the masterminds of the SDGs, considers them an integral tool in its peacebuilding process. … Read more

Reporting progress on the 2030 Agenda: Navigating through the maze of the 17 goals

19 Jul 2017 by Eunice Kamwendo, Strategic Advisor, UNDP Africa

The goal is to help countries design an SDG implementation and reporting strategy that builds and maintains momentum, while enhancing integration and synergies between the goals on the short, medium and long term. Photo: UNDP
As countries implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they face competing demands. There is the desire to embrace the entire framework as a whole on one hand, and the need to be practical and focused to achieve each goal, on the other. As UNDP supports SDG reporting at the country level as well as in the global arena, part of our role is to help countries tackle this and other challenges along the way. The global, regional and country reporting that was largely adopted for the Millennium Development Goals was goal-by-goal reporting. This might have worked well with fewer goals, but it also served to reinforce the sectoral approach to development. There is a need to think through options for reporting the SDGs in ways that would enhance integration effects and synergies, as well reduce the burden of reporting on all goals at the same time without taking our eyes off the objectives of the entire agenda. … Read more