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

Health and well-being for the world’s poor: Making the case for tobacco taxation

11 Nov 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Roy Small, Health and Innovative Financing Consultant, UNDP

Health and well-being for the world’s poor: Making the case for tobacco taxationTaxation on tobacco has emerged as a proven intervention in rich and poor countries alike to improve health while simultaneously financing development priorities. UN Photo/Martine Perret
Today, developing countries are home to four out of every five premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with tobacco use a leading culprit. NCDs, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease, are straining already fragile health systems and hitting the poorest hardest, with forecasts painting a bleak future. In Africa alone, the number of smokers is set to grow from 77 million in 2013 to roughly 600 million by 2100. None of this is good news for development efforts at-large and the global community has taken notice. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes targets on tobacco control, and the internationally agreed framework for financing development efforts, agreed in Addis Ababa in 2015, encourages countries to routinely explore tobacco taxation as a means to improve health while simultaneously financing their development priorities. As experts gather this week in Delhi, India for the Seventh Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the question of the nature and extent of tobacco taxation, a proven instrument, is a constant refrain in the discussions. Central to the agenda in Delhi must be figuring out how to make effective tobacco taxation in countries the rule and not the exception. Tobacco taxes have emerged as a proven gold standard intervention in rich and poor countries alike to stem the rising tide of health and development challenges. … Read more

Integration and the 2030 Agenda – what does it really mean?

10 Nov 2016 by By Pedro Conceiçao, Director of Strategic Policy, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support , Diana Alarcón, Chief, Development Strategy and Policy Unit, UNDESA and Mark Howells, Director, Division of Energy Systems Analysis, Royal Institute of Technology

With its twin emphasis on people and planet, the 2030 Agenda demands an integrated approach to development policy. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNDP
Perhaps no other word has been repeated more frequently than “integrated” to describe the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. Yet policymaking is approached sector-by-sector. The allocation of resources and the political accountability at the national level lie with sectoral ministries. So what does “integration” mean for national policymaking in the context of the 2030 Agenda? Does an integrated perspective really lead to any changes in policy decisions? Let us consider an example. In the island of Mauritius, sugarcane plantations cover 80 percent to 90 percent of cultivated land. The sugar business has been an important contributor to the economy and a key source of export and foreign exchange earnings. Mauritian sugar exporters have, however, recently lost the preferential access to the EU market. The question has therefore been raised whether it would be in the national interest to promote a local biofuel industry to make use of the sugarcane. Reduced imports costs of petroleum and coal would liberate resources for social and other investments, improve energy independence and reduce greenhouse gases emissions. … Read more

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate services

09 Nov 2016 by Bonizella Biagini, Manager, Programme on Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa, UNDP

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate servicesA worker installs an all-in-one automatic weather station (AWS) on a cell phone tower near Kotido, Uganda. Five AWS have been set up across the country through the Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems project. Photo: Solomon Mangeni
In Tanzania, a lightning strike killed a teacher and six students in 2015 – another sad example of the thousands of deaths that could be avoided with the effective deployment of modern weather and climate services, including early warnings for extreme weather events like lightning, flooding and drought. Providing these services not only saves lives but also is central to building resilience to climate change, empowering nations and strengthening livelihoods across Africa’s most vulnerable communities. As we take the mandates established in Paris and move on to the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, it becomes very clear that providing accurate, timely and reliable weather, water and climate information will be key in supporting the efforts of leaders across sub-Saharan Africa to build resilience to climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. When used to improve decision making, hydro-meteorological, or hydromet, information can empower nations, save thousands of lives every year, and strengthen livelihoods across a region that has contributed the least to human-induced climate change but is among the most vulnerable to its effects. … Read more

Solving last mile challenges: The potential of behavioural insights for the 2030 Agenda

07 Nov 2016 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP

Behavioural insight draws from research findings from psychology and neuroscience. These insights about how people make decisions matter for development. UNDP photo
Across the globe, all people – poor or rich – sometimes make choices that are not conducive to their own well-being. Saving enough for retirement, eating healthy, investing in education – all too often we humans postpone intended actions to ‘tomorrow’, succumb to inertia or get stuck in habits. In light of the extensive research on the cognitive biases that influence human decision-making, there is a broad consensus that traditional economic models are insufficient for effective policy-making. Behind every policy lie assumptions about how humans will behave in light of new regulations and why we act the way we do. Nonetheless, behavioural insights are only being leveraged by a relatively small, but growing number of policy-makers around the globe. Now, United Nations agencies and funds are catching up. Behavioural insight draws from research findings from psychology and neuroscience. These insights about how people make decisions matter for development. They matter for policy-formulation and addressing last-mile problems. … Read more

Early recovery in Haiti: Localize the relief effort to avoid the aid dependency trap

04 Nov 2016 by Bruno Lemarquis, Deputy Director, Crisis Response Unit, UNDP

A crisis response led by the Haitian people and government lowers the risk of vulnerable people becoming dependent on international assistance. Photo: Andrea Ruffini/UNDP Haiti
Exactly one month ago, Hurricane Matthew wreaked havoc in Haiti. More than 1.4 million people still need assistance; more than 140,000 people have been displaced and in some areas crops were completely wiped out. The disaster has left people living in makeshift shelters, unable to provide for their families and dependent on assistance. After the first few initial critical weeks of the disaster, two lessons stand out: the need to localize crisis response and the importance of a quick transition to early recovery. I led UNDP’s immediate response after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and I can see that the Government has built on many lessons learned. National institutions have insisted that this should be a Haiti-led response, from the local to the national level, and interim President Jocelerme Privert made clear from the start that early recovery was a priority. a … Read more

A changing climate throws water out of balance in Asia and the Pacific

03 Nov 2016 by Gordon Johnson, Resilience and Sustainability Team Leader, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub

With a warming climate in parts of the Himalayas, melting glaciers are feeding into glacial lakes that threaten to burst at the seams. UNDP photo
Every morning I jump on the Chao Phraya Express Boat to get to work. It’s a short trip, but on yet another sultry morning in Bangkok, it’s nice to feel the breeze as we slice through the muddy waters to Thewet Pier, a short walk from my office at the United Nations. As we churn upriver, I’m often reminded of the suggestion that our planet should have been named Water instead of Earth. Nowhere is this idea more true than in Asia and the Pacific. While some 4.5 billion people make their homes on solid ground here – about 60 percent of the world’s population – it’s also home to the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean and dozens of major river basins (such as the Indus, Ganges, Mekong and Yangtze) that gave rise to the varied and colourful cultures of Asia. … Read more

Latin America and the Caribbean at the forefront of climate action

28 Oct 2016 by Matilde Mordt, Team Leader, Sustainable Development and Resilience, UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean

Many Latin American and the Caribbean countries will concentrate their climate actions in the agriculture sector, one of the main sources of emissions in the region. Photo: UNDP Cuba
Latin American and Caribbean countries have long been at the forefront in climate negotiations and have demonstrated their commitment to taking action. The region is diverse and hosts some of the top 10 global greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters, such as Brazil and Mexico, as well as Small Island Developing States, which are extremely vulnerable to climate change. Together, the region has put forward a wide array of proposals for action, ranging from reforestation to renewable energy to climate adaptation. Not only are they varied, but they are ambitious. An analysis undertaken by UNDP of the cornerstones of the Paris Agreement - the Nationally Determined Contributions- shows that the commitment in the region is indeed strong. As of 21 October 2016, the 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (out of 33) that acceded to the Agreement have also signed it; 19 of them have submitted their instruments of ratification; and 18 of these have indicated that their previously “intended” contributions will now become formal climate targets, or NDCs. … 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

Cooking up positive change

21 Oct 2016 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors

Josep Roca meets participants in the Roca brothers’ Food Africa project.
What we eat has a direct impact not only on our health, but also on the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities, and the health of our planet. This is a lesson we learnt at a young age at our parents’ family restaurant, and one that we now try to spread from the kitchen at El Celler de Can Roca and in our new role as Goodwill Ambassadors for the Sustainable Development Goals. One of these goals is fighting hunger and malnutrition, as well as improving the access of all people to a healthy diet. This is a significant challenge, considering, on the one hand, the terrible reality that nearly 800 million people are suffering from chronic malnutrition, and that there are nearly 100 million underweight children under 5 years of age in developing countries. On the other hand, we find a global food system that is unsustainable, that consumes too much land, too much water, generates too many greenhouse gases and overexploits marine resources. As the final element of this equation, we cannot forget that the global population is growing- it is estimated that by 2050 the global population will reach nearly 10 billion- increasing the strain on our planet and its limited resources. … Read more