Unlocking the potential of youth

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Youth participants of UNDP Sri Lanka’s Twinning Schools Programme caught in action whilst doing a music video for the song 'Colours'. Photo: UNDP Sri Lanka

“Children and youth deserve a better future in their own country, not necessarily somewhere else. It is the responsibility of the adults not just to bring children to this world but contribute to creating a socio-political environment that is conducive for their advancement and well-being.” - Professor Siri Hettige, a senior sociology academic at the University of Colombo. We’ve heard the call for more opportunities for young people, the need to engage with them, and the responsibility of adults and institutions. But to me, Hettige misses a key point: the central role of youth themselves in shaping their own present and future.… Read more

Six ways to define poverty, according to 5-year-olds

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Asked to define poverty, kids give insightful answers. Photo: Renato Contreras/UNDP Peru

Forget about the ‘grandmother rule’ of journalism—or the ‘aunt rule’, depending on the country. According to this principle, you have to explain your message as simply as possible so even your grandmother, or aunt, will understand. I wonder why it’s never the grandfather or the uncle. But that’s a whole other topic... After lecturing to a group of 20 kindergarten students on what UNDP does (sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and other weird terms) I realize that the rule should be: communicate clearly enough so even a 5-year-old will understand your message.… Read more

Our perspectives in 2015

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Sung Thi My, 18, hopes that, unlike her, all her children will have the opportunity to go to school, to get better jobs, and to have a life she could only dream about. Photo: Nguyen Viet Lan/UNDP Viet Nam

With a new global agreement on climate change and the launch of the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs), 2015 has been a momentous year. Throughout it all, UNDP bloggers have helped to put it all into perspective. This year, UNDP’s blog featured its highest number of posts (208) from more than 150 different authors. From regional policy experts to organizational leaders to country-level programme advisors, these writers shared diverse perspectives of UNDP’s work. Here are some of the highlights.… Read more

Focusing development efforts around the MDGs was not always easy

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Local officials in Uzbekistan take part in team building exercises. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

I remember meeting with partners in the Cabinet of Ministers in 2002-3, working as a poverty reduction consultant. I was advised not to bring up the topic of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) with government officials, as it would be insulting for them to compare their country with other developing countries. The Government officials were very proud of Uzbekistan’s well-developed health, education, and social protection systems and would not want to be associated with hunger and starving, unprotected children.… Read more

Financing development through better domestic resource mobilization

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Severe extreme weather events in Small Island Developing States can result in heavy relief and reconstruction costs. Photo: UNDP in Vanuatu

Over the last 15 years, developing countries have increased domestic revenues by on average 14% annually. The domestic revenues of developing economies amounted to USD 7.7 trillion in 2012; that’s USD 6 trillion more than in 2000. Domestic resources are the largest, most important and most stable source of finance for development. Can we expect these resources to keep on increasing in the coming years and mobilise them for development?… Read more

Post-Paris: paving the way for zero carbon growth

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In 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

What does the COP21 Paris Agreement mean for Africa?

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Deux volontaires plantent un jeune arbre dans une cour d'école à Goma, province du nord Kivu en RD Congo. Photo: MONUSCO/ Sylvain Liechti

On 12 December 2015, delegates from more than 190 nations at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), agreed to the Paris Agreement, an ambitious global plan to tackle climate change. As a next step in implementation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a high level signing ceremony on 22 April 2016 in New York, USA, and the agreement can only enter into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of emissions. But what does this deal mean for Africa?… Read more

Here's to being called Ms. Cookstove for years to come

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Members of the Ethiopian government look at cookstove technology on a UNDP-supported experience sharing visit to India. Photo: UNDP Ethiopia

For the past few years, I’ve proudly been referred to in our office as ‘Ms. Cookstove’. I joined UNDP to work on the carbon market, specifically the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) capacity building programme for Eastern and Southern Africa. When people talk about international carbon trading, they usually talk about ‘big’ emitting industries. But in 2010, I learned about the importance of seemingly ‘small’ but equally devastating emitters such as the traditional three-stone open fire cooking method, used by the majority of rural households in Ethiopia. Three billion people across the world use this method of cooking, which not only contributes to serious health problems, but also contributes significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.… Read more

Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.

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Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States holding a Declaration of Human Rights poster in English. [November 1949] Photo: UN Photo

In celebrating 2015 International Human Rights Day, we are invited to reflect on the importance of the freedoms we enjoy and to recommit to supporting the fundamental freedoms of all. UNDP’s work is based on the belief that people experience poverty, deprivation or exclusion not only as a lack of income but also as a lack of education or health care or a lack of dignity and participation in their community. These dimensions of peoples’ lives have been considered so important by governments all around the world that they have recognized them as entitlements, as human rights, both in national and in international law.… Read more

When home is no longer safe: Reporting human rights abuses in Yemen

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UNDP is training NGOs in Yemen to document and report on human rights abuses during the conflict and to provide support to victims. Photo: Ehab Al-Absi/UNDP Yemen

"So close to dying”. This is how Hanan describes events earlier this year, when forces surrounded and stormed her home in Khur Maksar District, Aden, where she lived with her husband, 4-year-old child and niece, aged 16. Later Hanan and her family fled their home due to shelling and because of gas, electricity and water shortages. In this sense, their suffering is typical of stories told by Yemenis throughout the country who describe human rights violations at the hands of the parties to the conflict, which began in March 2015.… Read more