Climate action to tackle hurricanes

13 Oct 2017 by Mario Peiró, Climate Change and Environment Technical Assistant, UNDP Dominican Republic

A fallen tree blocking a road in Dominican RepublicRecent hurricanes affected up to 20 thousand dwellings in Dominica, housing for approximately 80 percent of the country’s population. UNDP photo
“To deny climate change is to deny a truth we have just lived.” With these words, delivered at the UN General Assembly on 23 September, the Prime Minister of Dominica alluded to the situation in his country in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and María. Four hurricanes rated category 3 or higher, including Irma, with maximum winds of up to 295 km per hour, have travelled the Atlantic in as little as six weeks, and experts warn of the possibility of more such events during this cyclone season. … Read more

Inclusive electoral processes: A pathway to more peaceful societies

09 Oct 2017 by Magdy Martinez-Soliman,Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Two women at a polling station placing votes in a plastic ballot box. One woman wearing a red and blue plaid coat is holding her vote in hand waiting to place it in the ballot box. A gentleman is in front of the women overseeing the voting proceduresResponding to national requests for enhanced governance capacity, UNDP has supported elections and referenda in over 100 Member States since the early 1990s. Photo:Allan Gichigi
Sustainable Development Goal 16 calls on UN Member States to promote responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making, and to build effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels. While the means to promote participation have diversified rapidly, in particular through the use of new technologies and social media, elections remain the mechanism by which most governments derive legitimacy. Responding to national requests for enhanced governance capacity, UNDP has supported elections and referenda in over 100 Member States since the early 1990s. Efforts focused on developing the capacity of national electoral management bodies; promoting the political participation of those at risk of being left behind; empowering women as electoral administrators, voters and candidates; promoting electoral dialogue between parties; and supporting civic education. Such work is done in close partnership with other UN entities. Noting the inherently political nature of elections as contests between those seeking authority to govern, UNDP works with and under the guidance of the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs (nominated in 1991 by the General Assembly as UN Electoral Focal Point). The Focal Point establishes the parameters for UN engagement in a State’s national elections, in response to either a national request or a mandate from the Security Council or General Assembly to assist in post-conflict elections. … Read more

A recipe to end hunger: Food policies that adapt to climate change

03 Oct 2017 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors

A man farming planting tea trees. Green leaves, trees in background.Without more climate-resilient food systems, we risk even greater calamites and the unravelling of progress we’ve made in reducing hunger, protecting our planet and supporting developing economies to reach their full potential. Photo: UNDP Kenya
In our age of conspicuous consumption and excess, it frightens us to know that one out of nine people ¬– or 815 million children, women and men – remain chronically undernourished. And according to recent reports, the issue has been getting worse, with the number of undernourished people worldwide increasing from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016. So how do we build a recipe to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people have access to sufficient and nutritious food year-round? It’s not going to be easy. Climate change is altering age-old farming traditions, affecting livelihoods in local communities, and small producers who bring healthy food to our tables. It is also triggering massive droughts and floods that put our global goal of zero hunger at risk. Even a 2°C global temperate increase will be devastating for farmers and the 2 billion extra mouths we will need to feed by 2050. The cost of corn – the backbone of much of the world’s diet – could jump by 50 percent, and crop production could decline by as much as 22 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. Droughts, floods and other large-scale climate disasters would put more lives at risk of malnutrition, starvation and uncertain futures. … Read more

Mainstreaming migration for poverty reduction –in diverse country contexts

29 Sep 2017 by Owen Shumba, Team Leader, Livelihoods and Economic Recovery

 The number of migrants today is massive. Globally, there are 244 million people on the move, with over 65 million forcibly displaced mainly by conflicts and, on average, 22 million annually displaced by climate change, disasters and environmental degradation. Photo: UNHCR
I recently visited a number of countries on a monitoring mission for the joint IOM-UNDP Global Project on Mainstreaming Migration in National Development Strategies. Funded by Switzerland, this project is implemented in eight countries (Bangladesh, Ecuador, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Morocco, Serbia and Tunisia) and provides some successful examples of how migration and development intertwine. As a development organization, our role is to ensure that development issues such as governance, economic opportunities, conflict prevention, climate change adaptation, environmental management are embedded in the short, medium and long term support provided to migrants, displaced people, refugees and their host communities. The number of migrants today is massive. Globally, there are 244 million people on the move, with over 65 million forcibly displaced mainly by conflicts and, on average, 22 million annually displaced by climate change, disasters and environmental degradation. The movement of people takes place worldwide. For example, every year, about 500,000 Bangladeshis leave their country to work abroad. Over 1.3 million Jamaicans live in the USA, Canada and the UK. Their remittances contribute over 16 percent of Jamaica’s GDP, according to the Caribbean Policy Research Institute. … Read more

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

The road from Paris starts and ends with the media

22 Sep 2017 by Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, Global Environmental Finance Unit, UNDP

A radio presenter broadcasts educational programming in Lao PDR. The media have a crucial role to play in building consensus for climate action. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR
We live in a world of tenuous truths, shortened attention spans, competing priorities, and even-more complicated social and political forces. These very forces threaten to disrupt our pathway from the Paris Agreement to a low-carbon, climate resilient future. Somewhere in the middle, independent media are given the monumental task of looking for truth, and dispelling fake news and bogus science. And yet, the media´s most crucial task is to build consensus on the hard-and-true fact that if we don’t do something about climate change we threaten to derail economic, environmental and social gains of the past 30 years, and create one big mess for future generations to clean up. This is one of the most important stories of the 21st century, and one that I worryingly suspect will define the historic record of our society. As countries around the globe come together this November for the climate talks in Bonn, they will re-affirm the need to honour the Paris Agreement, keep global temperature rises below 2°C, and reach the Sustainable Development Goal to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere” by 2030. … Read more

The subtle flutter of peace

21 Sep 2017 by Pablo Ruiz, Country Director, UNDP Colombia

A colourful mural in Colombia of the word A mural in Colombia sends a simple message: peace. Photo: UNDP Colombia
Recently I was invited by the Government of Colombia to an event in Cesar, in the north of the country, in a beautiful place called La Paz. In the presence of President Juan Manuel Santos, a woman victim of the conflict pointed out some improvements in her community, so subtle, she said, like the flutter of butterflies. I want to briefly outline some of those improvements, inspired by one of the many survivors of the armed conflict. First, Colombia has become a reference for a convulsive world, with thousands of lives saved since the beginning of the peace negotiations. After decades of conflict with the FARC-EP, and indescribable pain, the country has begun to close that chapter of its history. On 15 August, we attended the UN-certified FARC-EP laying down of arms, and on 4 September we celebrated the agreement reached between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) to implement a bilateral and temporary ceasefire. How not to contrast this episode with the tragedy of Syria, a country that years ago I visited several times, where the dark side of mankind continues to be on display with terrible consequences. … 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

The pros and cons of ethical debt instruments

12 Sep 2017 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

A man stands in front of a damaged house and a large fallen tree in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Dominican Republic.Ethical financing tools include "state-contingent" debt instruments that allow servicing payments to fall when times are bad, for example, when a natural disaster strikes. Photo: UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean
In May, the World Bank issued the world’s first bond linked explicitly to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Labelling them “SDG bonds”, the bank raised 163 million euros from institutional investors in France and Italy with the proceeds to be channelled into projects that aim to eliminate extreme poverty, in line with Goal 1 of the SDGs. The initiative — which aims to capitalize on a rising number of investors interested in positive social and environmental impacts, in addition to financial returns — has been heralded an innovation in investment products and can be added to a growing list of innovative debt instruments that are marketed as “ethical” or socially and environmentally responsible. Other examples include: green bonds, a multibillion dollar market in which the proceeds of a bond issue are tied to environmentally friendly investments such as renewable energy and clean transportation; blue bonds, a newer debt instrument championed by the Seychelles to fund investments in sustainable ocean industries; vaccine bonds, where funds are raised from international capital markets for immunization programs in developing countries with bondholders repaid by future streams of donor development aid; and social and development impact bonds, where impact investors provide upfront financing for social or development interventions and are repaid by governments and/or donors when specified results are achieved). … Read more