Development in 2 minutes: It’s about expanding choices

01 Aug 2016 by Douglas Keh, UNDP Afghanistan Country Director

Every week, at least one person asks me, “So what does the United Nations Development Programme do?” They want to know what the "development" is that we are trying to achieve, and what our "programme" is for achieving it. The simple answer is that “development” is about helping people have more choices. It's about removing the obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential – overcoming the barriers that stand between them and their dreams. These obstacles come in many different forms. For 36 percent of Afghans, poverty is one barrier to self-fulfillment. For around 50 percent, it's being a woman in the face of widespread discrimination and routine harassment. For all Afghans at one time or another, it's being from the wrong ethnic group, which can make you a stranger in your own land. … Read more

The fear factor: How a little alarm protects tigers, landscapes – and us

29 Jul 2016 by Midori Paxton, Senior Technical Adviser, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

The Fear FactorPoaching, hunting and habitat loss have reduced the global tiger population from roughly 100,000 in 1900 to just 3,800 today. Photo: Midori Paxton
“Alarm call!” My 12-year old daughter whispered. Fear was in the air, and a successful tiger safari depends on it. The alarm calls of spotted deer, Hanuman langur and even the gigantic Gaur – the Indian Bison -- told us that a tiger was on the prowl. I had always dreamed of seeing wild tigers, and India was the obvious choice. More than 70 percent of the estimated 3,800 remaining wild tigers live here. My alarm calls started in February this year when I was in the Ranthambore National Park. Once a hunting ground for maharajas of yore, it is now a tiger reserve with an 11th century fort cresting a towering plateau that overlooks its lakes, dry forests and meadows. … Read more

Our future is in cities: Add your voice and help shape a new urban agenda

25 Jul 2016 by By Joseph D’Cruz, Urbanization Global Task Team Lead, UNDP

Our future is in citiesMost young people in Mongolia will grow up in cities such as Ulaanbaatar. Photo: Joseph D'Cruz
I first visited Mongolia in 2005. Like most people, I pictured it as a country of nomadic horse riders herding livestock across the vast steppes. I was surprised to learn that almost three-quarters of Mongolians now live in cities and towns - with more than half the population in the capital Ulaanbaatar alone. In 1960, only 35 percent of Mongolians were urban, but that proportion has doubled in the last half-century. A similar transformation is happening in developing countries all around the world. Millions of rural dwellers are migrating to cities and towns, drawn by the prospect of better lives - or driven by poverty, conflict and natural disasters. Cities and towns are growing fast, swallowing surrounding countryside and transforming nearby villages into suburbs. This process is called urbanization, and it is one of the biggest stories in development today. … Read more

The challenge: How can international co-operation help to put sustainable development at the core of business models?

18 Jul 2016 by Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of Environment, Federal Republic of Nigeria and former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning

Role of the private sector in Agenda 2030By helping to create decent jobs and build resilient infrastructure, the private sector can be a key partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP photo
The private sector has always been an essential actor in development, credited with fostering wealth, innovation and jobs – and many a time blamed for negative externalities. So in this new era, what is different about the role and the responsibilities of the private sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? It is different because sustainable development cannot be achieved without the active involvement of responsible businesses. The private sector will be essential in creating sustainable, productive and decent employment, economic prosperity, resilient infrastructure that underpins sustainable development, and innovations that create green growth and opportunities for all, especially the poor. … Read more

Opportunity in tragedy: A reflection on the Ecuador earthquake

14 Jul 2016 by Jeannette Fernandez Castro, Recovery Specialist, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team, UNDP

Opportunity in tragedyFor all its devastating impacts, the recent earthquake could open up opportunities for Ecuador's most vulnerable communities. Photo: Jeannette Fernandez Castro
I took this picture in Muisne, one of the most beautiful towns in Ecuador, my home country. Muisne is in the Province of Esmeraldas, in the northwest of the country and is, I feel, home to our best soccer players, the best “marimba” music, the best dancers and the best seafood. For all of its promise, however, the region is challenged by poverty and is exposed to natural hazards, vulnerabilities that hold back social and economic growth. This vulnerability was evident in April 2016 when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit this province as well as five others. … Read more

We need more women in politics - Here’s how to make quotas work

11 Jul 2016 by Tanja Hollstein, Electoral Specialist, UNDP Moldova and Victoria Ignat, Project Manager for Women in Politics, UNDP Moldova

More than 600 women attended UNDP-supported policy forums to urge Moldovan MPs to adopt the 40 percent quota for the least represented gender. Photo: UN Moldova
The low representation of women in politics remains one of the most obvious obstacles preventing us from achieving gender equality in the world. In the Republic of Moldova, a medium income country in Eastern Europe that ranks 50th in the most recent Gender Inequality Index, we want to increase the pace of change and ensure that more women are getting involved in elections as candidates, voters, and electoral staff. In a context where gender inequality is constantly dismissed as a non-issue, we had to have data to back up our claims and push for change. So we partnered with the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission and developed the first-ever national set of statistics related to the participation of women and men in elections. … Read more

Peacebuilding through parliaments

07 Jul 2016 by Nika Saeedi, Policy Specialist, Gender, Political Processes, Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS), UNDP

 Enthusiastic women parliamentarian candidates in Indonesia. Photo: UNDP
We look to our parliaments to represent us, adopt laws that protect our fundamental rights and freedoms, and distribute resources to those in need. In such ways, parliaments are uniquely positioned to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. So why is it that they are so often absent from discussions surrounding the women, peace and security (WPS) agenda and its implementation? The adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 in 2000 acknowledged the inordinate impact war has on women, and the pivotal role women play in development, peace and security. Recent resolutions stressed the need for including women in peace talks, to prevent violent extremism and foster post-conflict reconstruction. We have learned that the probability of peace agreements lasting at least two years increases by 20 percent when women participate in the process. The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals recognize the links between gender equality, strong institutions, peace and security. … Read more

TICAD: The enduring relevance of a unique policy forum

05 Jul 2016 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, UNDP

Nairobi, Kenya will host the sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) from 27 to 28 August 2016.
Less than 90 days separate us from the Sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) which will be held in Nairobi on 27 and 28 August 2016. TICAD VI is expected to draw more than 6000 participants from governments, international organizations, civil society and private sector organizations. What precisely is TICAD? It was instituted in 1993 to advocate for and foster international partnerships for African development under the joint leadership of Japan, the United Nations and then Global Coalition for Africa. … Read more

Peace: An opportunity for the environment in Colombia

30 Jun 2016 by Arnaud Peral, Resident Representative a.i., UNDP Colombia

Peace will usher in an opportunity to showcase the environmental potential of the Colombian regions in addition to generating dynamic economic and social development. Photo: UNDP
Today more than ever we need to pursue an optimistic approach in the firm conviction that we will be better off with peace than with war: and this outlook applies to all areas across the board – social, economic and environmental. The armed conflict has left an immense ecological footprint and has limited the extent to which Colombia can achieve development through biodiversity. There are many examples of the conflict's direct impact on goods and services that derive from nature: the planting of landmines (Colombia evidences the second largest number of victims after Afghanistan); violent incidents in protected areas; deforestation caused by the expansion of illicit crops; the growth of illegal mining, deforestation and soil degradation, among others. … Read more

Social protection renews optimism for sustainable development

22 Jun 2016 by Romulo Paes de Sousa, Director of the UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre) and Lebogang Motlana, Director of the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa

Worker at the Warrap State Hospital, South Sudan. Photo: UN/JC Mcllwaine
The media often supplements talks of the Global South with illustrations of humanitarian tragedies and persistent development bottlenecks. This traditional news coverage overlooks, however, a very positive and impactful transformation taking place in Africa and the bigger South: the impressive growth in social protection systems, the establishment of new foundations for advancing sustainable development and for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Social protection programmes are among the most successful development experiences the world has seen in recent years. They have proven to be key in developing countries' efforts to fight poverty … Read more