Cyclone Roanu is a reminder: We must focus on preventing crises, even as we respond to them

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As leaders gather for the World Humanitarian Summit, Cyclone Roanu has displaced half a million people in Bangladesh. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh

As the World Humanitarian Summit unfolds and leaders discuss the humanitarian impact of rising crises and disasters, half a million people are currently displaced in Bangladesh. Cyclone Roanu pummeled the Bangladesh coastline on 21 May with 55mph winds and floodwaters several feet high. Making landfall in the country’s southeast, the cyclone brought devastation to areas unaffected by cyclones for the past 25 years. Where there used to be crops there is now salt water – the sea surrounding even the cyclone shelter.… Read more

Building a better future for Syrians in Turkey

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Syrian Kurdish refugees cross into Turkey from Syria, near the town of Kobani. The war that erupted in Syria in 2011 has propelled it into becoming the world’s single largest driver of displacement. Photo: I. Prickett/UNHCR

As thousands leave Syria for safer lands, images of white tents and perilous boat journeys have flooded the world’s media. But there’s another side to this story. In Turkey, the host of this week’s World Humanitarian Summit, only about 10 percent of the approximately 2.75 million displaced people from Syria live in refugee camps. The rest live in towns and cities like many of us. Across the country’s southeast, Syrians are silently trying to make a living and blend in.… Read more

Why building peaceful societies is part of the sustainable development agenda

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Participants of the Sudan Peace Symposium, a gathering of national and international experts on peace and conflict issues. Photo: UNDP Sudan

We tend not to worry when things are going well. If people can take care of their daily business and send their kids to school without fear of violence, resolve disputes through a functioning justice system when the need arises, express their views both in private discussions and in public processes, feel they can truly contribute to decisions that affect their lives, and know effective institutions are in place to deliver basic services to their families and communities without interruption or the need for bribes, chances are they will be broadly content with the way their society is managed. But, if any one of these public goods is absent, or if their access to safety, health, education or livelihoods is threatened, concerns are likely to be expressed quickly – and often very loudly.… Read more

World Humanitarian Summit: With a shared agreement on what to fix, we can save lives and end need

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The humanitarian and development sectors need to find new ways to work together to help people in need. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID

Many of the statistics around the World Humanitarian Summit are so big they can be hard to comprehend. Most importantly, there is the scale of the humanitarian challenges that led the Secretary-General to convene the Summit in the first place. It’s the 125 million people needing humanitarian assistance – the highest level since the Second World War. It’s the 60 million people who have fled their homes - half of them children. It’s the fact that armed conflicts last longer than before, and it’s the estimated 218 million people annually who are affected by disasters, with climate change adding further volatility to the mix.… Read more

Despite global climate pledge, indigenous activists are under attack

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Historically indigenous peoples have assumed an important role in the sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. Photo: UNDP Venezuela

Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was the main promoter of the campaign against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Honduras. In 2015, her work won her the Goldman Environmental Prize, the highest international recognition for environmental advocates. On 3 March 2016, her dedication to her people and the environment likely got her killed. In a recent report entitled “How many more?” Global Witness analyzes 116 murders of environmentalists in 2014 and confirms that three-quarters occurred in Latin America. The report states that Honduras is the most dangerous country per capita for environmental activists, with 101 killed between 2010 and 2014. Equally disturbing is that the percentage of indigenous victims like Berta rose to 40 percent in 2015.… Read more

Migrants mean business

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Well-managed migration contributes to preventing crisis and supports achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Photo: UNDP FYR of Macedonia

Human mobility is inevitable and unstoppable. It is also on the rise. People are moving to increase their income, study, join other family members or flee persecution, wars, violence, natural disasters and dire poverty. People have always moved. Globalization has made population movements faster, better-informed and more voluminous. Wrong policies have also made them less safe, if not outright perilous. 3.3 percent of the world’s population lives outside their country of origin, and this number is growing. Population growth, violent conflicts, climate change and other factors are driving more and more people to move within and between countries. While we cannot prevent human migration, and why would we, it is possible to make population movements safer through the adoption and implementation of effective migration regimes—the right set of institutions, laws and policies—that also generate multiple and sustainable development benefits.… Read more

Predicting future impacts on SDGs in Brazil’s uncertain times

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In Brazil, social programmes have had an impact on eliminating disease. Photo: Tiago Zenero/UNDP Brazil

Bolsa Familia, Brazil’s highly acclaimed conditional cash transfer programme has been an inspiration to many developing countries. But today, in the midst of the country’s worst political and economic crisis in decades, the future of this social protection system is becoming less certain. The programme’s successes are well-known. It has helped to nearly eradicate extreme poverty and reduce inequality across the country. It has increased school attendance, reduced infant mortality and improved public health. It is a powerful force for women’s empowerment, with targeted benefits for pregnant and nursing women; 93 percent of card holders are women.… Read more

The Goldilocks of gender data: Searching for “just right” on women in public institutions

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Ensuring gender equality in public institutions starts with gathering strong data. Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan

The bad news first: we don’t know the exact state of gender equality in the world’s public institutions. The good news: once we begin monitoring this, it will be harder to ignore inequalities in the public service, which we anecdotally know exist on a global scale. The Sustainable Development Goals have thrust us into a data revolution and we have impetus to make sure it is a gendered revolution. Inclusive governance is at the core of SDG 16 on peaceful and just societies. And so, SDG 16 has set out to measure the composition of public institutions. Without this information, governments will not have the evidence necessary for designing policies that foster equal access to and opportunities within public administration.… Read more

Leave no one and no city behind

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By Tammam Azzam, Freedom Graffiti II

The world has witnessed rapid and often unplanned urban growth. Cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost. Between now and 2030, the world’s urban population is projected to grow by 1.5 billion people. More than 90 percent of that urban growth will occur in areas located in the developing world, mostly in Africa and Asia. Urbanization and cities present opportunities for enhancing the economic prospects of countries and improving the lives of many. But rapid urbanization and rapidly expanding cities also pose challenges, especially to countries already grappling with a range of development priorities. Frequently, the urbanization process is poorly managed, resulting in inequitable, exclusionary and fragmented cities with marginalized populations. This can fuel an increased risk of violence.… Read more

Expanding financing options to advance the 2030 Agenda in the least developed countries

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Les pays les moins avancés se trouvent en grande majorité en Afrique. Photo: Aude Rossignol/ PNUD au Burundi

2015 was a milestone year for international cooperation on sustainable development. The Paris Agreement shows the commitment of the international community to tackle climate change. The 2030 Agenda, also adopted in 2015, puts forward 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to protect people and planet. Meeting the aspiration of leaving no one behind, and reaching the furthest behind first, implies focusing greater attention to those living in the Least Developed Countries. This group of countries includes those with the lowest levels of income per person, poor health and education levels, and high vulnerability to economic, health and other shocks and disasters.… Read more