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

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

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 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

From the eyes of an early responder in Sierra Leone

28 Aug 2017 by Tanzila Watta Sankoh, Programme Specialist, UNDP Sierra Leone

A man speaking into a megaphone Realizing that the lack of basic tools was hampering relief efforts, UNDP provided shovels, megaphones and pickaxes to help with the search and rescue. Photo: Alpha Sesay/UNDP Sierra LeoneRealizing that the lack of basic tools was hampering relief efforts, UNDP provided shovels, megaphones and pickaxes to help with search and rescue. Photo: Alpha Sesay/UNDP in SIerra Leone
On 14 August, my phone starting ringing … It was my mother. She resides at Regent, a community on the slopes of Mount Sugar Loaf, the conical peak overlooking Freetown. Being at the epicentre of the catastrophic flash flood and landslides, she saw the disaster unfold and immediately called me, confirming my foreboding about receiving early morning calls from my mother. When I arrived at the scene with UNDP colleagues in charge of disaster management and a few staff members from the Office of National Security (ONS), I was utterly shocked by the scene of devastation. It was raining incessantly. The sky was gloomy, and one of Freetown’s highest mountains looked like it had been cracked in two. The landslides had claimed the lives of more than 400 people, leaving over 2,000 homeless and an estimated 600 still trapped in the debris. I had never seen such desolation in my entire life. As we moved on, we saw ambulances carrying corpses and youth volunteers desperately working in the hope of rescuing survivors. We also saw people's resilience, of the kind we had already witnessed during the Ebola epidemic. They dug through the mud with bare hands to rescue their loved ones. … Read more

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

Confronting climate change in South Sudan

29 Jun 2017 by Jean-Luc Stalon, Deputy Country Director, UNDP South Sudan and Biplove Choudhary, Team Leader, Human Development and Inclusive Growth, UNDP South Sudan

Up to 95 percent of the people of South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNDP
The man-made crisis in South Sudan has pushed the country back on multiple fronts, hampering agricultural production, disrupting livelihoods and the coping abilities of communities. These are but few of several compelling reasons as to why climate change risks in South Sudan should be a pressing worry at this point in time for the policy makers and international partners. Despite its having no role in contributing to global warming, the country is at once highly vulnerable and least prepared to address looming threats systematically across sectors. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2017, South Sudan is ranked amongst the five worst performing in the world alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Haiti and Liberia. Projections indicate that in South Sudan, global warming will be felt 2 ½ times more than the global average Up to 95 percent of the livelihoods of the people of South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries. Anecdotally, seasonal streams are beginning to dry up, affecting fishing communities in several parts of the country. Drier weather spells are also likely to be an underlying driver of increased deforestation and resource-based conflicts between the pastoralists and the farming communities over access to grazing land. … Read more

Climate change policy from the ground up

21 Jun 2017 by James Vener, Climate Change Mitigation Economist, UNDP

A person planting trees in Moldova.In addition to afforestation initiatives, Moldova has extensive carbon market experience, generating 1,200 tonnes of tradeable carbon emission reductions. Photo: UNDP Moldova
When governments do not properly consider the link between policymaking and how the policy would be practically implemented on the ground, there is a distinct risk the gap between concept and reality will be too much to overcome. In the field of climate change policy, I was recently reminded of one such disconnect that was turned into deft political solution-finding during a visit to Orhei, a farming town in rural Moldova. We were about an hour from the capital, and the national strategy for countering the effects of climate change was in full swing. Sustainable forest management (primarily through protection of forests and new tree plantations) is providing a clear path for Moldova to contribute to the global efforts to keep global temperature rise this century well below 2ºC. The government has ample experience to back it up as well. … Read more

Fighting climate change, one meal at a time

19 Jun 2017 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UN Goodwill Ambassadors

Hands holding seedsRoughly a third of all food produced – about 1.3 billion tons – is wasted each year. This has a negative impact on food security, resource conservation and climate change. Photo: Freya Morales/SDG Fund
The kitchen has always been the most important part of the house for us – it is where we played as brothers growing up in Girona, Spain, where we did our homework as our mother prepared her lamb and tomato stews, and where we first discovered our love of food and cooking. These days, it is a place where we combine our passion, family, and work as we run our restaurant together. The kitchen is also the perfect starting point for making more than meals – it’s a place where we truly believe everyone can make a difference. By making informed food choices, using sustainable cooking methods and reducing food waste, each of us can ensure that, as we nourish our bodies, we are also nurturing our planet. We are what we eat. … Read more

What does ‘risk-informed’ development finance really look like?

15 Jun 2017 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

The aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. Grenada has since negotiated a ‘hurricane clause’ with some of its debt held with some of its creditors, which allows for a 12-month pause in debt repayment in the event of a hurricane. UNDP photo
How to tackle various forms of risk – from extreme weather events to commodity price shocks, disease outbreaks and over-indebtedness – was high on the agenda of the 2017 Financing for Development (FfD) Forum at the UN. The Forum’s outcome document underscores the challenging nature of the global environment. Economic challenges, such as difficult macroeconomic conditions, low commodity prices, subdued trade growth and volatile international capital flows are compounded by natural disasters, climate change, environmental degradation, humanitarian crises and conflicts. … Read more