If prevention is the best cure, we have to do better in fragile states

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Justice and security are central to crisis recovery in fragile countries. In Somaliland, Sexual Assault Referral Centres have been established with UNDP’s support. Photo: UNDP Somalia

Not all humanitarian crises can be anticipated or prevented, but man-made crises involving conflict and state failure can be and must be. This puts states affected by conflict and fragility front and centre of discussions leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit in May. This week, the 5th Global Meeting of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in Stockholm will emphasize the connection between revitalising the fragile states agenda and addressing the recent surge in humanitarian crises. In 2011, the International Dialogue oversaw the adoption of the New Deal For Engagement In Fragile States, a landmark international framework signed by over 40 major bilateral and multilateral agencies and countries.… Read more

Six reasons you should care about (yet) another international summit

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Lebanese women sell clothes at the UNDP-supported Marj market in the village of Marj in the Bekaa Valley, east of Lebanon. The project helps support communities who are hosting Syrian refugees. Photo: Dalia Khamissy/UNDP

On May 23rd, world leaders will come together for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in Istanbul. I know that sentence won't necessarily make you want to read on. I get it. But here are six reasons why this summit deserves your attention. 1. Because the scale of the humanitarian crisis is no exaggeration We have the highest level of humanitarian needs since the Second World War. More than 60 million people have had to flee their homes--the majority women and children. And the average length of displacement is now 17 years. Conflicts are more complex than ever before and, according to some estimates, the cost of conflict and violence now accounts for more than 13 % of the total global economy. Climate change adds extra volatility to the situation.… Read more

Are women and girls more vulnerable to tuberculosis and malaria?

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A woman visits a tuberculosis clinic in Iraq. Photo: Safin Hamed/UNDP

Are tuberculosis (TB) and malaria still a widespread threat? Popular belief says no. But, in fact, they are still grave health challenges that need more attention, especially in how they are affected by gender. The World Health Organization recently reported that TB now ranks alongside HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease. And the disease has a disproportionate effect on women. Today, TB kills more women globally than any other single infectious disease, and more women die annually from TB than from all causes of maternal mortality combined. Some TB symptoms can also affect men and women in profoundly different ways. For example, women have a higher prevalence of genital TB, which is difficult to diagnose and has been identified as an important cause of infertility in settings with high TB incidence.… Read more

Why I can't turn a blind eye

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Michelle Yeoh talks about her experiences in Nepal during her induction as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador. Photo: Lowthian/UNDP

When UNDP asked me to become a Goodwill Ambassador, the timing was just right. Globally, the world had just adopted the new Sustainable Development Goals. But it was also perfect timing on a personal level. I was visiting Nepal last spring when a powerful earthquake created some of the worst devastation the country has seen since the 1930s. While I had seen the devastating after-effects of disasters and humanitarian crises from the safe distance of a television screen, I hadn’t experienced such devastation and terror first hand.… Read more

What pushes young people to extremism?

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Violent extremism poses the single biggest threat to Africa's steady journey to prosperity. In Kenya, a peace building and conflict resolution program targets youth. Photo: UNDP Kenya

Last April, Mohamed, a carpenter in a fishing town along Kenya's coast, saw a photograph of Suleiman, the second of his five sons, on the evening news. The 24-year-old was among six young men declared dangerous members of al-Shabab, with a bounty on their heads. Less than a year later, Suleiman was among four al-Shabab suspects killed in a reported shootout with the police. Suleiman's father says that growing up, his son was respectful, dynamic, and refused to accept that the circumstances of his birth should condemn him to a life of poverty. The entire family saw Suleiman as their way to a better life. To meet their high expectations, Suleiman concluded he had to leave not only his town, but also Kenya. He planned to become a driver in Saudi Arabia. But to get there, he needed money to pay agents to organize his trip.… Read more

Help make the Angry Birds happy

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I’m an Angry Bird, but I can’t help but be happy today. I am being designated by the United Nations Secretary-General as the Honorary Ambassador for Green on the International Day of Happiness, which is Sunday, 20 March. It’s enough to warm my little Red heart! On this day, we are celebrating the planet that serves as our home. Everyone knows how much I love my home. Chuck, Bomb, Matilda and I won’t let any pigs hurt it. But our problems are bigger than those nasty pigs – we need to protect our home from climate change, too.… Read more

The Paris Agreement brings potential for transparency

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In Paris, a public registry of NDC in the first half of 2016 was created, with the mission to collect all contributions to global climate action. Photo: UNDP Guatemala

COP21 closed with the adoption the first universal agreement to combat climate change. This agreement pledges to contain global warming well below 2° C, adapt better to climate impacts, and enable a more effective flow of climate change funding to developing countries. This is truly innovative because it will commit countries to be publically accountable regarding everything they do to combat climate change at the national level. The new global climate agreement does not impose quotas for reducing greenhouse gas emissions nor concrete adaptation plans. On the contrary, it relies directly on the commitments that each country decides to make internally – intended nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This is why it is necessary to reach the set reduction target of 2° C.… Read more

Why the last 50 years are key for the next 15

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Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean will mean reaching out to the most disadvantaged groups, including indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, women and youth. Photo: UNDP Guatemala

Of the five decades that UNDP celebrates this year, I have lived half of them in the organization, in different roles. Our story began focusing on world poverty, on the most at-need women and men in the post-colonial era, with the emergence of new, independent countries beginning to trace their own paths to prosperity. In Latin America and the Caribbean we have supported many countries in their transition to democracy, also in various national truth and justice commissions and strengthening institutional capacities. Our partnership with governments, civil society and the private sector has also been crucial to innovative public policies and job creation initiatives that have helped improve the lives of millions of people. Looking back 50 years, the concept of development has shifted.… Read more

Open Innovation Challenges find new perspectives and solutions to complex problems

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Students in Moldova are providing feedback on ideas developed during the EduSoft Challenge. Photo: Moldova

This week, UNDP launched a new policy. Another set of rules is usually not an occasion to celebrate. But this one is, because it mirrors what innovation can look like. UNDP tackles the toughest development challenges in the world. And we’re committed to finding the best-fit solutions to those challenges. Sometimes the best ideas come from outside our walls. The new policy formally makes “Open Innovation Challenges” a part of UNDP’s procurement rules, so offices can find and fund great solutions from any source. An Open Innovation Challenge is a structured process to find new solutions. Broadly it goes like this: identify a development problem, create and publicize an Open Innovation Challenge with prizes for solving that problem, get the most capable participants to compete, and offer the reward to the winner. Such an Open Challenge can also help to reveal more about the problem itself.… Read more

A legacy of private sector engagement for sustainable development

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For 50 years, UNDP has worked with the private sector to create jobs, establish value chains and build infrastructure. Photo: BUTGEM

As the engine of growth in most developing and developed countries, the private sector contributes to poverty reduction indirectly by creating aggregate income and wealth, and directly by generating employment and providing affordable goods and services. For 50 years, UNDP has worked with the private sector and in collaboration with national governments, to create jobs, establish value chains, build infrastructure and forge public policy and regulation that advance both national goals and the global development agenda.… Read more