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

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

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

Not just more, but better – effective financing of the SDGs

22 May 2017 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.

Photo UN Sylvain Lechti - A woman in Goma greeting the Technical Support Committee of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region. Photo: UN Sylvain Liechti.
The sum needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda is unprecedented. How can governments effectively mobilise and manage money for real development results? … Read more

To fight Zika, fight poverty and inequality

06 Apr 2017 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Jessica Faieta, Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean

Beyond economic costs, the Zika virus has the potential to widen gender and health inequities. Photo: UNICEF
Marta and João live in a small town in the state of Paraiba, Brazil. Pregnant with their fifth child, Marta showed symptoms of Zika. Her pregnancy was otherwise uneventful, but an ultrasound at eight months picked up symptoms of microcephaly. Marta remembers: “The nurse and the doctor told me not to worry, that he would be normal. But I was worried.” … Read more

On International Anti-Corruption Day: Development vs. corruption

09 Dec 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

International Anti-Corruption DayActivists take part in a demonstration to mark International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December 2014 in Bangkok. Photo: UNDP Thailand
The 9 December International Anti-Corruption Day is probably a day of resolve, of fight against injustice, but also a day to feel good about. Many activists, civil society organizations, and honest people who hold public office or manage private businesses are united around an agenda for integrity and clean, proper management of collective affairs. This should give us hope that corruption can be curbed, and that we are many more demanding transparency than those who prosper in the dark shadows of white-collar criminal behaviour. This year, UNDP and the UN Office for Drugs and Crime are commemorating International Anti-Corruption Day around the theme “United against corruption for development, peace and security”. The effort takes forward the agreement 193 UN Member States adopted last year with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 of that Agenda, world leaders for the first time acknowledged a direct link between corruption, peace and development, and established that achieving peaceful, just and inclusive societies will not be possible without curbing illicit financial flows, tax evasion, bribery and corruption. … Read more

2030 Agenda demands meaningful participation from persons with disabilities

02 Dec 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

In Cambodia, UNDP works with UNICEF and WHO to support national efforts to coordinate and implement the National Disability Strategic Plan as well as to strengthen capacities of Cambodian Disabled Persons Organizations. Photo:Bona K/ UNICEF Cambodia
It has been 10 years since the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by the UN General Assembly in December 2006, and we are close to universal ratification of the treaty. This is a great achievement that recognizes the move from a charitable and medical approach to a human rights-based approach, ensuring an inclusive and accessible development for all. The second decade of implementation of the CRPD will happen within, and will be amplified by, the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted in 2015. The SDGs are universal, they are ambitious and they ensure that we leave no one behind. Progress has been made to reach with rights, technology, social protection, science, affirmative action and awareness those of our friends, family members and fellow citizens who live with a disability. So as we focus on supporting countries to achieve the SDGs, what will achieving the different goals and targets mean for persons with disabilities? For starters, we are talking about a very large group of citizens: 15 percent of the world’s population live with a disability – more than the peoples of the European Union, Russia and the United States together. In developing countries, three out of four are women, which also demands a gender analysis of causes and a robust engendered suite of interventions. What could these be? … Read more

Climate plans aren’t just for the environment

14 Nov 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

femmes recoltant de l'argan au MarocGrowing demand for argan oil has increased household income but places serious pressure on natural forests. Photo: UNDP Morocco
After last year’s successful adoption of the Paris Agreement, climate negotiators and activists are now on their way to Morocco. Marrakesh will host the 2016 climate summit, COP22, which has been presented as the COP of implementation, as they will focus on the nuts and bolts. Dangerous climate change requires courageous climate action. Meeting the targets set out by the Paris Agreement is simply essential to our safety and prosperity, and will not only help address rising global temperatures but also enable a host of other benefits, from food to jobs to health and sustainable growth. The entirety of our development rests on the actions we take to address climate change. Better if aiming at under 1.5 degrees. Take Morocco and the North of Africa to understand how robust climate solutions can offer tangible development benefits. According to the Max Planck Institute, temperatures in this region are set to rise twice as fast as on the global level, potentially rendering large parts uninhabitable and impacting economies, water access, and food security. If unaddressed, we risk straining social and economic systems across a region that has already seen its share of conflict and migration, leading potentially to instability, displacement and demographic pressure on urban centres. … Read more

Migrants and refugees: A global problem or a local solution?

18 Sep 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

A family of 10 flees the besieged city of Yabrud, Syria in Februray 2014. Six hours later, they crossed the border into Arsal, Lebanon. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell.
This week, the world’s governments will come together at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to debate the crisis and response to large movements of migrants and refugees. The concept of “root causes” has been often cited in draft resolutions and speeches. It boils down to the fears and threats people are running away from, leaving behind their homes and countries. Conflict, climate shocks and lack of opportunity, repression and violation of rights, extremism and widespread poverty top the list of development failures that produce forced displacements. Successful development appears as one of the clearest solutions. Development policies need to adequately integrate and consider migration and displacement. … Read more

Migrants mean business

09 May 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

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