The food situation in Ethiopia is also of great concern

30 May 2017 by David Das Neves, South-South Cooperation and Development Effectiveness Officer, UNDP Africa

Refugees in EthiopiaFew people are aware that Ethiopia is the African country that hosts the most refugees: 730 000 have been recorded, chiefly from Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya. Photo: IOM
Many people find it hard to imagine that people are still dying from hunger despite all the resources at our disposal. I joined UNDP's office in Addis Ababa after working in Geneva, where people usually do not have to worry about whether or not they will have something to eat that day. In contrast, when you live in Ethiopia, the challenges linked to food security stare you in the face, and it's impossible to ignore the crisis situation that the country is currently grappling with. However, one must be careful when using the term famine - a word with a distinct definition. At this very moment, areas of South Sudan arein a state of famine. Somalia and Nigeria are the two countries in Africa where the risk of famine is imminent. Beyond the continent, Yemen is also on the brink of famine. Though they are not among the countries facing the imminent threat of famine, many other countries are severely affected by food insecurity. The list includes Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Eritrea and Ethiopia. … Read more

Nature to the rescue: Using ecosystem services to reduce flood risks

12 May 2017 by Saskia Marijnissen, Regional Technical Adviser, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP Africa

In Sierra Leone, over 3 million people live in increasingly vulnerable coastal areas. Finding innovative and sustainable ways to work together with, rather than against, nature for effective risk reduction is critical. © Tommy Trenchard/ UNEP
From the mouth of the Mississippi to that of the Nile, communities have been drawn to coastal flood plains throughout the centuries. Where rivers and oceans meet, nature is at its best, and river sedimentation provides rich soils that greatly benefit agricultural productivity as well as fisheries. At present, an estimated 60 percent of our global population lives along estuaries and coastlines – making them among the most heavily populated areas of the world. As appealing as coastal areas are, living on a fertile floodplain comes with substantial risks. Floods are the most frequent of all natural disasters globally, and some of the largest disasters have occurred in coastal areas. Think about the devastation done by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the dangerous floods which happen every year in Bangladesh. … Read more

Integrating climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

05 May 2017 by Walid Ali, Climate Change Specialist, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

The ongoing conflict is the root cause of the food crisis in Yemen, but climate change serves as a ‘threat multiplier’. Photo: Maged Ali
As the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction soon gets underway, the world is witnessing the highest levels of famine risk in decades. While war and conflict stand as a major root cause of the crisis in the Middle East and Africa, climate change is a key “enhancer” of the humanitarian crisis unfolding before our eyes. Supporting UNDP’s climate change actions in the Arab region, I experience first-hand how an integrated approach to climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) is needed more than ever. Both share a focus on risk-informed development and preventing the worst impacts of climatic disasters from emerging. They have a common objective to build the resilience of communities so they can withstand and bounce back from crisis. Recent years have seen devastating impacts of more frequent and severe droughts from Syria and Iraq to Somalia and Sudan. Some studies now show that the region may face multi-year mega-droughts in the future as the region’s climate shifts to a ‘new normal’. … Read more

A humanitarian crossroads: Why climate resilience is key to avoiding future food crises

03 May 2017 by Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, Global Environmental Finance Unit, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

The current food crises in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen have links to climate change and a lack of resilient systems that can withstand drought, flood and other impacts. Photo: UNDP Somalia
The world is seeing its worst humanitarian crisis since 1945. Right now, over 20 million people are at risk of starvation. We are at a crossroads. The current food crisis can very easily be linked to changes in climate and a lack of resilient systems that can withstand drought, flood, changing rains and other impacts that are leaving people without crops, without money and without food to feed their families. Immediate humanitarian aid is needed for hard-hit nations like Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. But the work does not stop there. We need to continue our efforts to build more climate-resilient nations, where changes in climate don't spell disaster and leave children starving, where proactive - rather than reactive - steps are taken to support vulnerable people in breaking the cycle of poverty, and where leaders and institutions have the capacity, skills, training and resources they need to make sure humanitarian crises like this do not repeat themselves. … Read more

Celebrating indigenous peoples as nature’s stewards

02 May 2017 by Eva Gurria, Programme Analyst, Equator Initiative

undp-pe-environment-indigenous-woman-2017Indigenous lands and waters represent 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, and indigenous peoples act as effective stewards of these areas. Paola Delgado/UNDP Peru
In recent weeks we’ve marked several milestones for planetary wellbeing. The first was the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, a day where communities around the world gather to bring awareness of the importance of environmental stewardship. The second was the 1st anniversary of the landmark signing of the Paris Agreement, where the world’s governments formally agreed to take urgent action on climate change. The third was the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a declaration that provides a universal framework for the dignity and wellbeing of indigenous peoples everywhere. All three anniversaries are interlinked; there is a growing understanding that indigenous lands and waters represent 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity, that indigenous peoples are effective stewards of these areas, and that these ecologically intact areas of the earth are a vital strategy for tackling climate change. In short, if we are to achieve the Global Goals for sustainable development by 2030, we must recognize, celebrate, advance and safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples to govern their lands and waters. … Read more

Setting a sustainable table

18 Apr 2017 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors

Food should not be a threat to sustainability, but a vehicle for advancing human development and protecting the environment. Communities, farmers and families are making changes that make a difference for the planet and for their own food security. Photo: UNDP Cambodia
Food has always been a central part of our lives. We grew up in our parents’ restaurant and realized early on that the way people experience food – especially how they cook food and preserve culinary traditions – has a direct impact on the fundamental areas of life. It impacts our health, happiness – even our sense of identity and belonging. So imagine if your favourite staple foods or ingredients were no longer available. Recipes passed from generation to generation could become impossible to recreate. This is what is happening in many places around the world, where climate change is impacting crop production and undermining food security. Increasing temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are threatening agricultural productivity, and some farming practices are only making matters worse. … Read more

Drones join the fight against climate change risks in the Maldives

10 Feb 2017 by Sanny Jegillos, Senior Advisor, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

I love drones. I have one that I fly when I want to de-stress. Little did I know when I bought it that I could actually play with it at work! It all started about a year ago. As senior advisor on disaster risk management at UNDP, I was intrigued to explore how new technology and innovation could support my work. My agency’s strong focus on innovation in the Asia-Pacific region, has resulted in some really interesting and outside-the-box initiatives. Some of them include, mobile apps on anti-corruption in Papua New Guinea, recovery and rebuilding in earthquake-affected Nepal and electronic waste recycling in China. … Read more

Like clockwork: Creating transformational action for the climate

25 Jan 2017 by Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation, Global Environmental Finance Unit, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Without the right parts and right people, things don’t work as they should. This is as true for climate adaptation plans as it is for watches. UNDP photo
Have you ever seen the inner workings of a mechanical watch? It’s really quite remarkable – a masterpiece of an inter-locking mainspring, gear train, balance wheel, escapement mechanism and indicator dial come together to measure each second with the utmost precision. When one piece fails, the whole watch stops working. When it comes to climate change adaptation, the process of supporting real transformational change is just as intricate as maintaining your grandfather’s Casio and even more so when it comes to finding the right parts and the right ‘mechanic’. Without the right parts and right people things just don’t work as they should; this is as true for watches as it is for National Adaptation Plans and the goals set out by the Paris climate agreements. … Read more

Protecting (scarce) fresh water in the Maldives

15 Apr 2016 by Keti Chachibaia, Regional Technical Specialist for Climate Change Adaptation, UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub

man and desalination plantA local Feneka operator stands in front of the desalinization system. Photo: Keti Chachibaia/UNDP Maldives
Water is a big deal in the Maldives. The archipelago nation of 300,000 people is more water than land. But while abundant in ocean resources, the only freshwater is rainwater that is harvested in special collection tanks. But poor rainfall leaves groundwater tables low and harvesting tanks half empty. This leaves many people and communities straining resources to buy bottled water or struggling to get by. A naturally vulnerable situation is only being exacerbated by climate change, as monsoonal cycles and associated rainfall patterns shift over the Indian Ocean. Greater variations are already occurring and the Maldivians, especially in the Northern atolls, experience longer-than-usual dry seasons. As a result, the National Disaster Management Centre is regularly called upon to deliver emergency water. … Read more

Post-Paris: paving the way for zero carbon growth

18 Dec 2015 by - Jo Scheuer, Director of Climate Change and DRR, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

women in mountainsIn 2016, we will build on our $2.3 billion climate portfolio across 140 countries and expand our support on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Photo: UNDP Turkey
Having witnessed the international community reach (and celebrate) a global climate deal in Paris last week, I have been reflecting on the journey that brought us here, as well as picturing the long but important road ahead. First, while there has been much talk about the relative significance of the Paris agreement, I would like to echo a sentiment expressed by the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert: the deal is a success simply because the alternative was no deal at all. Business as usual is not an option, and the Paris agreement, while not perfect, is a landmark that brings together 196 parties. The bottom-up nature of the agreement is certainly a worthy first step. … Read more