Collective rights, the global commons, and Our Common Home

08 Aug 2017 by Maryka Paquette, Policy Analyst, Global Forests Initiative, UNDP

The Apiwtxa association uses participatory 3D mapping to demarcate Ashaninka territory and support community-based management of indigenous lands. Photo: Associação Ashaninka do Rio Amônia
This year’s International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples commemorates the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), a monumental step forward in the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples’ individual and collective rights. Representing 370 million people across 90 countries worldwide, indigenous peoples are communities and societies that, due to their strong dependence on natural resources, are closely rooted to earth-based traditions. Indigenous peoples’ oral histories hold generations of accumulated knowledge of the flora and fauna supported by surrounding ecosystems, as well as the principles and values that allow people to adapt and flourish. The many indigenous peoples’ communities today thrive because they respect the forces of nature and the limits to growth and development. As we begin to push planetary boundaries, we would be wise to draw on those values if humankind is to survive the catastrophic impacts of climate change now upon us. … Read more

Companies are producing more responsibly, more sustainably

14 Jul 2017 by Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager, Business Call to Action

Factory workersMUJI is sourcing wool and wool products from Kyrgyzstan. Photo: MUJI
The world is a riskier place to operate in. Populations are growing and feeding people is becoming trickier. Climate change is challenging our security and ability to make a living. Global markets have become more unstable. For companies, these global trends present both risks and opportunities, requiring them to rethink how to source and produce in a sustainable way. At the Business Call to Action, we work with companies who are applying sustainable principles in their daily operations. What have we learned from them? … 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

Rural communities: A hotspot for sustainable development

15 Feb 2017 by Jamison Ervin, Manager, Global Programme on Nature for Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Fatima Ahmed (centre), President of Zenab for Women in Development, with community members. Photo: Equator Initiative
The Equator Initiative has launched a call for nominations for the 9th Equator Prize, a prize recognizing excellence in communities taking nature-based actions for local development . It is for people like Fatima Ahmed, and the community initiative that she founded, that this prize was established. Fatima is President of Zenab for Women in Development in Sudan, a women’s agricultural cooperative that empowers girls and women, promotes sustainable agriculture and helps reduce deforestation. The Zenab Initiative embodies the three basic principles of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: indivisibility – we cannot achieve one goal at the expense of any others; inclusion – we can leave no one behind in our race toward economic prosperity; and acceleration – we must focus on actions that have multiple development dividends. If we are to implement the SDGs, however, we need more than guiding principles. We also need to understand how key global trends affect development. The late Hans Rosling, a renowned statistician who was often called "The Jedi Master of Data Visualization” and the “Global Data Rock Star,” did just that. Whether the topic was the role of washing machines and poverty, or the role of religion and population growth, Rosling made analytics cool, and he left a legacy of helping us look past data points, trends, and correlations, and to step back and see a larger story. … Read more

Setting the SDGs in motion: 4 lessons from 15 years of action

29 Dec 2016 by Sarah Renner, Policy Specialist, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

 Change agents and leaders, from all sectors and of all ages, are setting the Sustainable Development Goals into motion. Photo: Mónica Suárez / UNDP Peru
Global Goals can be a powerful catalyst of human progress. They make people’s shared aspirations tangible and trackable, directing our attention forward and focusing minds on what unites us. This is one the main lessons learned from 15 years of action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world’s first broadly defined Global Goals. … Read more

Saving for a rainy day

02 Dec 2015 by Yusuke Taishi, Regional Specialist for Climate Change Adaptation, UNDP - Global Environment Finance Unit, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

people sitting around tableOne of the first farmers who received a WIBI payout for low rainfall in Tacunan, Tugbok District. Photo: UNDP Philippines
“Save for a rainy day” is probably the single most important piece of wisdom a farmer can follow. Farming is a risky undertaking everywhere, one that is at the mercy of capricious weather. But farmers in the Philippines (and many other developing countries) now face additional difficulties as climate change makes weather more unpredictable than ever. Traditional approaches to predicting the arrival of the rains are becoming less and less effective, with rain sometimes falling too sparsely and other times too hard. Crop insurance is a common safeguard. In the United States, 90 percent of total harvested cropland is insured. But in the Philippines, crop insurance products cover less than 10 percent of total rice and corn production. Moreover, insurance in the Philippines is “indemnity-based”, which means that the damage needs to be verified by an insurance agent and payouts typically take up to six months. … Read more

How agro-commodity traders can help the SDGs and reduce poverty

29 May 2015 by Andrew Bovarnick, Global Head of the Green Commodities Programme, Sustainable Development Cluster, UNDP

cocoa podsGhana’s cocoa is produced by thousands of smallholder farmers, spread over six of the country’s 10 regions. Photo: COCOBOD
With the global population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, we face a dual challenge: ensuring the continued production of agricultural commodities, such as soy, palm oil, cattle, coffee and cocoa, without destroying the planet’s natural resources that humanity depends on to survive. Agricultural commodities are the bedrock of many rural developing economies, contributing to vital economic growth and the ongoing fight against poverty. As such, they play a critical role in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. … Read more

How can we achieve universal access to water and sanitation?

10 Apr 2015 by Jean-Philippe Bayon, Expert/Coordinator, UNDP-Global Water Solidarity

 Internally displaced people (IDPs) in Bannu, Pakistan gain access to water through a UNDP-supported project. Photo: UNDP/Pakistan
Water is essential for local development, particularly for sectors such as health, agriculture, economic development, education and environment. But too often potential donors work in silo without taking into account the heritage of existing projects or understanding the available expertise on the ground. … Read more

Reversing the “Silent Earthquake of the Century”

24 Sep 2014 by Gary Lewis, Resident Coordinator, IR Iran

woman sitting in a desert in IranThe Carbon Sequestration Project's achievements prove that degraded lands can be economically and feasibly restored by, and for, local communities. Photo: Sadaf Nikzad/UNDP Iran
According to climate change predictions, the Middle East faces a hotter, drier future. Iran sits at the very centre of the Middle East.  About 80 per cent of its surface is already arid or semi-arid, and the challenge of desertification is literally creeping up on us.  Some have called it “The Silent Earthquake of the Century”. In many parts of Iran this has been caused by sheep herders letting their flocks overgraze the land.  Sometimes it is caused by villagers breaking off rangeland shrubs for firewood. Because much of this problem is man-made, it can be fixed. To re-green desert rangelands, what you need is to replant. Shrubs saplings are incubated and watered until they are ready to be transplanted into holes dug by the community.  When hundreds of thousands of these shrubs grow over hectares, this creates a small biosphere which allows other vegetation and wildlife to return.  Such newly-greened biospheres sustain people’s livelihoods in a number of ways. But, in order for these areas not to be overgrazed again or used for fuel-wood, you need the ‘buy-in’ of the community to preserve and protect them. I have seen this process at work successfully with the “Carbon Project”, a community-development-plus-environmental … Read more

Turning subsistence farmers into market suppliers in Africa

18 Jul 2014 by Pascale Bonzom, Programme Specialist

woman farmer in UgandaDespite agriculture being a major source of income in Africa, smallholder farmers face many challenges. Photo: Benoit Almeras-Martino/UNDP DRC
As I sat down for my first dinner in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after a bit more than one year since my last visit, I suddenly remembered that something is very wrong with food prices here. How can a simple margarita pizza with only cheese, tomato, oil and flour, be USD 20? How can local fish be USD 30? Admittedly I did not eat in the cheapest local restaurant, yet the prices are 4 to 5 times more expensive in comparison to similar dishes in Addis Ababa, where I live. Indeed, food in the DRC is at least twice as expensive as the average world food price for basic commodities. Why is that? A combination of poor farmer productivity, lack of infrastructure and a difficult business environment, mean that the cost of producing goods and taking them to markets is high, and imports are often more readily available or cheaper than local products. In 2008, Bralima, one of DRC’s leading brewers, sourced 16% of its rice from outside the country, due to its inability to source it from the local market. With 80 million ha of arable land and 90 percent of it not cultivated, DRC offers huge untapped … Read more