Saving lives, preserving dignity, and securing the future in Syria

Now into its fifth year, the Syrian crisis has claimed over 250,000 lives and displaced over 12 million people from their homes. Photo: UNDP Syria

The whole world is acutely aware of the grim facts of the Syria crisis. Now into its fifth year, it’s claimed over 250,000 lives, displaced over 12 million from their homes, devastated the country, and rolled back Syria’s development indicators by four decades. Less known but also vitally important is the impact the crisis has had on neighboring countries who have generously accommodated record numbers of refugees and are reeling from the strains that come with such monumental solidarity. For more than four years, UNDP has been championing a resilience-based response to the Syria crisis.… Read more

Climate change, peace and security in the Arab region

Refugees and internally displaced persons from Somalia are displaced due to drought and conflict. Photo: Stuart Price/NU Photo

Among the various drivers of risk in the world today, two stand out: climate change and the evolving nature of conflict and insecurity. While each by itself has serious consequences for development, their convergence has become a subject of heightened attention. The U.N. Security Council has convened a series of debates on climate change in recent years and, for the first time, the latest global Assessment Report by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change includes a chapter on “Human Security”, mapping out the risks for resource scarcity, displacement, and conflict.… Read more

Portraits of peace: Community heroes share their stories

The N-Peace Awards celebrate women, and their male allies, working to make their communities more peaceful and tolerant. UNDP Photo

“Don’t stay aside, help each other to get to peace, and help men…Women are the core of the society and so they have very important roles in bringing peace. That is why I always ask them: join together, make networks and help each other… We women should bring peace in Afghanistan.” These are the words of Hassina Neekzad, a teacher in Afghanistan who inspires young girls and women to believe in themselves as individuals and future leaders.… Read more

Will enclaved development be the scenario of the future?

In the extractive industries, it is not unusual to see companies supported by political elite-pacts confining themselves to compounds protected by private security firms, literally walled off from the local communities. Food, supplies, and even labour are flown from outside, while the extracted resources are exported to other countries for processing. Where this happens, operations are hardly connected with the local environment. And when labour is imported, these developments also fail to promote local employment opportunities. Inequality and enclaved development is also increasingly visible in capitals and large cities. Some capitals in resource rich countries have become extremely expensive cities, despite widespread poverty.… Read more

Climate investment: burden or benefit for the poor?

Community members work on a small hydro installation as part of the Small Grants Programme in the Dominican Republic.

Over time, most arguments against climate action have been pushed to the margins—we now have widespread acceptance of climate change’s threats and impacts, as well as an understanding of the mitigation and adaptation measures that need to be taken. However, one argument has stubbornly remained: that the issue is simply too costly to address. Thankfully, this thinking is starting to change. Technological advances, a better understanding of the relationship between energy access and poverty, and the importance of off-grid, low carbon solutions have all helped show that climate action is not a burden, but rather an essential aspect of poverty reduction. Indeed, prominent development thinkers argue that low carbon development is itself a path to growth.… Read more

Bashi's journey may signal a bigger refugee crisis to come

Young Somali men participate in a vocational training and education program in Burao, Somaliland. But as Africa’s population grows, the number of people escaping conflict in countries like Somalia will continue to rise. Photo: UNDP Somalia

Bashi, a young man who fled from conflict in Somalia, is one of many Africans making the journey to Europe for a better life.… Read more

Good practices for development: El Salvador’s contributions

Kids in Cojutepeque, El Salvador. In El Salvador, four MDG goals have been fulfilled (targets related to extreme poverty, education, gender equality, malaria and other major diseases, and access to water and sanitation). Photo: César Avilés / UNDP El Salvador

When El Salvador is at the center of international debates, it’s often focusing on the problems the country faces. People look at the glass half empty. But those of us who have the privilege of working and living in this country are aware of many valuable experiences that give El Salvador an edge in the process of adopting the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. If efforts are sustained, it might be possible to also achieve three targets that are lagged-behind (hunger, primary schooling, halt and reverse spread of HIV/AIDS).… Read more

"Work for Human Development" report launch is opportune timing

Lab worker in Turkmenistan works on tuberculosis diagnostics. Work has both a direct and indirect link to human health and welfare. Photo: UNDP

On 14 December 2015, H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and I will launch the 2015 Human Development Report entitled Work for Human Development. Following this launch in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, there will be a number of events around the world presenting the main messages and findings of the Report. The timing is opportune - last month, the Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at ending extreme poverty, hunger, achieving gender equality, educating all children, and improving global health before 2030. In November, the Valetta Summit on Migration will take place, followed in December by the vital climate change negotiations in Paris.… Read more

We must address political economy of growth without development in Africa

In 2014, 26 % of Africans created businesses, compared with 7.4 % in Europe and 13.4 % in the US. Photo: Aude Rossignol / UNDP in Burundi

In Africa, many countries with sustained economic growth continue to display extreme levels of inequality and poverty. Access to higher education, with an overall rate of 7 % of the population, is the lowest in the world. Despite the continent being one of the biggest producers of petroleum and having huge hydropower capacity, 621 million Africans don’t have access to electricity. The risk of a child dying before completing five years of age is still highest in the world — 81 per 1,000 live birth — about seven times higher than that in Europe. Understanding the causes of this paradox is likely to dominate the next decade of policy thinking.… Read more

Making energy efficiency visible

In an Uzbekistan school, the implementation of simple energy efficiency measures increased the classroom’s temperature from 10°C to 20°C, making for a much more comfortable learning environment. Photo: UNDP

In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. The buildings where we live and work are responsible for over one-third of global energy needs and a correspondingly high share of CO2 emissions. Improving the energy efficiency in buildings is one of the most cost-effective climate mitigation solutions we have: one “negawatt” of saved energy costs much less to produce than generating a new watt from conventional or even alternative energy sources. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, there is a vast number of highly inefficient buildings, and a tremendous potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction and the production of negawatts.… Read more