Is your company ready to engage with the SDGs?

19 Apr 2017 by Sahba Sobhani, Private Sector Programme Advisor, UNDP and Robert de Jongh, Specialist Leader, Social Finance, Deloitte Consulting

For 50 years, UNDP has worked with the private sector to create jobs, establish value chains and build infrastructure. Photo: BUTGEM, Turkey
SDG engagement can take the form of a tested and decade-old concept: inclusive business. A new report helps companies assess how ready they are to incorporate it. These are unsettling times. The promise of globalization is being increasingly eclipsed by political uncertainty and a rising tide of nationalism and protectionism. In listening to workers displaced by automation or communities who feel the squeeze of disparities in income and political capital, the world is beginning to recognise that progress has not only been uneven, but that the costs of globalization in some instances might outweigh the benefits. … Read more

Human development means realizing the full potential of every life

21 Mar 2017 by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

The Human Development Report 2016 emphasizes that poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups—including ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants—are being left furthest behind. Photo: UNDP
Human development is all about human freedoms: freedom to realize the full potential of every human life, not just of a few, nor of most, but of all lives in every corner of the world—now and in the future. Such universalism gives the human development approach its uniqueness. However, the principle of universalism is one thing; translating it into practice is another. Over the past quarter-century there has been impressive progress on many fronts in human development, with people living longer, more people rising out of extreme poverty and fewer people being malnourished. Human development has enriched human lives—but unfortunately not all to the same extent, and even worse, not every life. It is thus not by chance but by choice that world leaders in 2015 committed to a development journey that leaves no one out—a central premise of the 2030 Agenda. Mirroring that universal aspiration, it is timely that the 2016 Human Development Report is devoted to the theme of human development for everyone. The Report begins by using a broad brush to paint a picture of the challenges the world faces and the hopes humanity has for a better future. Some challenges are lingering (deprivations), some are deepening (inequalities) and some are emerging (violent extremism), but most are mutually reinforcing. Whatever their nature or reach, these challenges have an impact on people’s well-being in both present and future generations. … Read more

Bringing youth together to innovate is key to development in Africa

30 Jan 2017 by Marc Lepage, UNDP Africa regional innovation expert

Central to the 28th African Union Summit that takes place in Ethiopia this week and to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, to be held on 30-31 January 2017, is this question: How do we harness the dividend from the continent’s current youthful population? In 2015, there were 226 million youth aged between 15-24 years in Africa (19% of the global youth population). By 2030, that number will increase by 42% and is expected to double by 2055. So, investing in youth today is key to Africa’s development tomorrow. But, to invest in youth, you first have to connect with them and allow them to connect to each other. This is precisely what YouthConnekt does. An innovative platform first launched in Rwanda in 2013, it brings together young people looking for employment, skills or resources to launch their own business with various partners including UNDP, private sector and government. … Read more

When rights are protected, migration benefits all

16 Dec 2016 by Owen Shumba, Team Leader, Livelihoods and Economic Recovery, UNDP

According to the International Organization for Migration, remittances alone accounted for over 40 percent of Tajikistan's GDP last year. UNDP Tajikistan
Aujourd'hui, le monde compte plus de 244 millions de migrants - un chiffre record. L'immigration est une chance pour les migrants, les pays d'origine, de transit et de destination : à condition que la protection des droits des migrants soit respectée. Soyons honnêtes et convenons du fait que la migration présente à la fois des points positifs et négatifs. La pression exercée sur les services publics, la hausse du chômage, la baisse des salaires, les difficultés d'intégration et la fuite des cerveaux sont perçus comme des méfaits de la migration. Et pourtant, j’ai tendance à penser que les avantages sont plus importants que les inconvénients dans les pays d'origine et de destination. Parmi les aspects positifs de la migration, on peut citer la croissance économique, les envois de fonds, les services mis à la disposition d'une population vieillissante, la résorption du déficit de compétences, les innovations, la diversité culturelle et le tourisme. … Read more

The right to food is about much more than boosting supply

25 Oct 2016 by Olivier De Schutter, Co-chair, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food)

Improving small-scale farmers’ access to markets is vital for achieving food security and improved nutrition, but we must also improve farmers’ bargaining position in food chains. Photo: UNDP Georgia
It is increasingly common for big agribusiness firms to contract out the production of raw commodities to hundreds and thousands of smallholders, sometimes known as “outgrowers”. Through the contracts they negotiate with small-scale farmers, private investors are shaping agriculture in the developing world. For example, the investment pledges gathered in the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition are primarily made up of plans by multinational and domestic agribusiness firms to source more widely from smallholders in a range of African countries. Yet what matters is precisely what is agreed between investors and small-scale farmers, and small-scale food producers have been largely neglected by agricultural policies to date. Understanding this situation is crucial to assessing the role of private investment in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In contract farming, farmers commit their output to processing or marketing firms at (generally) predetermined prices. Doing so can give them improved access to inputs and credit at one end, and easier access to markets at the other. Plugging small-scale farmers into new and lucrative market openings can help them to share the gains of globalisation. Under certain conditions, contract farming can also help in the development of localized food chains, for instance by linking farmers’ co-operatives to the local food-processing industry or to fresh produce retailers serving urban consumers. … Read more

Well-structured public finance can align profit and sustainability aspirations

29 Sep 2016 by Li Yong, Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization

To promote inclusive and sustainable growth, international public investment should support small and medium businesses. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
The ambitious global commitment to pursue inclusive and sustainable paths of development – outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – comes at a moment that does not admit any further delay. The economic, environmental and social challenges we face are enormous and must be addressed today, before climate change, demographic pressures, fragile security situations and other unsustainable global trends take their unbearable toll on all of us. At the same time, this agenda unveils a new set of opportunities for investments to yield unprecedented levels of economic and social dividends, provided that the appropriate co-ordination mechanisms and instruments are put in place. This means rethinking the role of official development assistance (ODA) to increase its efficiency and impact as an international public investment tool. It means making it more co-ordinated, catalytic and targeted as an instrument for attracting additional public and private investments for the transformation we all strive to achieve. Public finance will need to focus on initiatives that can drive progress on the SDGs, bringing into play the necessary industries – with their investments and their knowledge … Read more

Caribbean: Rethinking progress in the sustainable development era

21 Sep 2016 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

It is essential to ensure that economic growth is inclusive, empowers people and leaves no one behind. Photo: Igor Rugwiza/UN
Caribbean countries make a special case for development. The high and increasing exposure to hazards, combined with very open and trade-dependent economies with limited diversification and competitiveness portray a structurally and environmentally vulnerable region, composed, in the most part, of middle income countries. As these countries start implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we are calling for a new notion of progress. Our UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report for the Caribbean titled “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched this week in Barbados with top regional authorities makes the case for a new generation of public policies to boost resilience and increase gains in the economic, social and environmental fronts, including peace and justice. For the Caribbean this “multidimensional progress” entails not only adapting to shocks. It means breaking through structural obstacles that hinder growth and people’s well-being—beyond the traditional measurements of living above or below a poverty line. Nothing that reduces the rights of people and communities or threatens the environment can be considered progress. This holistic approach is crucial, especially for the Caribbean. … 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

African countries need institutions that will direct investment to where it is needed most

29 Aug 2016 by Andrew Chipwende, CEO, Industrial Development Corporation, Zambia

Lusaka, Zambia. Zambia underwent major structural reforms in recent years to attract investment.
International investment has helped Zambia, like many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, become more integrated into the global economy over recent years. Inward investment flows have doubled since 2008 and Zambia has even started to generate some modest foreign direct investment outflows. Although the country has undertaken major structural reforms over the past two decades to make it a more attractive location for investment, the Zambian government realised that this was not enough. Research has shown that foreign direct investment in mining remains dominant, although flows to manufacturing and services have also shown an upward trend. … Read more

Unleashing the entrepreneur spirit for economic growth in Jordan: Let me count the ways

24 Aug 2016 by Jennifer Colville, Team Leader, Innovation, UNDP Arab States

UNDP sees entrepreneurship as a central driver of economic stability and supports initiatives that tap into local skills. Photo: UNDP Jordan
There's nothing quite like having a bunch of entrepreneurs in the same room to generate off-the-charts energy and inspiration for economic development and social progress. I was fortunate to host a social innovation workshop in Amman, Jordan, with a collection of business starters and supporters to generate ideas for strengthening the entrepreneur ecosystem in the country. The workshop was held on the occasion of the visit to Jordan of the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council (GEC), a group of eight luminaries from around the world who support those creative and bold enough to start new businesses. The Council, chaired by Ashish Thakkar, was in Jordan … Read more