Climate risk management in Latin America and the Caribbean

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

Hurricane MatthewHurricane Matthew is only the latest reminder of the relentless force of nature. In 25 years, disasters have claimed more than 240,000 lives and caused losses of more than US$39 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
In Mayan mythology, the god Huracán originated from the heart of heaven to rule the thunder, lightning, winds and storms. For the Caribbean Tainos, Juracán represented an evil god. In 1494 Christopher Columbus mentioned in his logbook a possible tropical cyclone that surprised his fleet while sailing in the waters near Cuba. It is from this time that this phenomenon, elsewhere in the world called cyclone or typhoon, acquires the name hurricane in the Western Hemisphere. The recent passage of Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean, which has affected millions of people in the Bahamas, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and the United States, reminds us once again of the relentless forces of nature. In Haiti, in addition to the death toll that is rising, there are 750,000 people in need of assistance. In the most affected areas, villages have been shattered and agriculture devastated. Given the precarious sanitary conditions in the country, cholera threatens to resurge. The forces of heaven would perhaps have surprised pre-Columbian populations. These days, however, we can monitor and predict the course and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes, allowing us to take precautions and prepare for their arrival. Scientists tell us that the speed of the winds in hurricanes will increase with climate change. This stresses the fact that the necessary preparations should be long term and an integral element as we erect human settlements. In other words, we need to build more resilient societies. … Read more

Capacity development – the only sustainable way to implement the Paris Agreement

06 Oct 2016 by Frederik Tue Staun, Programme Analyst, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Capacity development is no longer limited to human resource development but covers issues of national ownership, policy-level impacts, and sustainability. Photo: UNDP
On September 22, 2016, Uganda became one of the first African countries to ratify the Paris Agreement - a milestone that made me reflect on the two years I spent in the country as the UNDP Climate Change focal point, but most of all, it made me proud on behalf of my former colleagues and tireless climate champions working in Uganda. When I look back at my time with UNDP Uganda, our work on climate change mitigation and low carbon capacity development stands out. The Low Emission Capacity Building (LECB) Project was one of the first projects to focus on low carbon development in the country and more specifically aiming at strengthening technical and institutional capacities at the country level and enable national decision makers, public institutions and private sector to holistically address climate change and decouple economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. When the Government of Uganda launched the LECB project in 2013 in Kampala, climate change mitigation and low carbon development were very new concepts and created confusion and many questions as climate change mitigation broadly was perceived as the responsibility of developed countries. … Read more

African countries need institutions that will direct investment to where it is needed most

29 Aug 2016 by Andrew Chipwende, CEO, Industrial Development Corporation, Zambia

Lusaka, Zambia. Zambia underwent major structural reforms in recent years to attract investment.
International investment has helped Zambia, like many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, become more integrated into the global economy over recent years. Inward investment flows have doubled since 2008 and Zambia has even started to generate some modest foreign direct investment outflows. Although the country has undertaken major structural reforms over the past two decades to make it a more attractive location for investment, the Zambian government realised that this was not enough. Research has shown that foreign direct investment in mining remains dominant, although flows to manufacturing and services have also shown an upward trend. … 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

6 ways to innovate for 2030

16 Jun 2016 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP

A community worker surveys homeless men at a shelter in Old Delhi. Innovative approaches can bring together governments, service providers and businesses to fund social programmes for vulnerable groups. Photo: Niklas Halle’n/UNDP India
Can innovation help achieve the new global development agenda? Can it help address growing humanitarian needs worldwide? The stakes are high: Last year, U.N. member states endorsed the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, and in May 2016, the World Humanitarian Summit sets out to reshape aid. Innovation in the development agenda includes new processes, new technologies, or new ways of using existing technology. No matter what the innovation, it must add value for the end user. A new technology or process that does not create a positive change in the lives of the people we work for does not qualify as innovation. … Read more

A new Global Alliance to 'think urban' in humanitarian response

03 Jun 2016 by Amy Gill, Local Governance Specialist, Responsive and Accountable Institutions Team, UNDP

Downtown Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: UN Habitat
The humanitarian situation is changing. There are now more refugees and internally displaced persons than at any time since the end of the Second World War and 60 percent of these are in urban areas. We need to ‘think urban’ when we design our responses to these increasing crises. Rapid and poorly planned urbanization is driving vulnerability in towns and cities around the world. Humanitarian emergencies are increasingly occurring in towns and cities. Responding to this reality requires new ways of working. Major international humanitarian responses are often not closely tied to local municipal actors that understand their communities’ ongoing needs. … Read more

Changing the discourse on humanitarian innovations and partnerships

01 Jun 2016 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist on Innovation, UNDP

Young women and men review crime statistics and add their stories to complete the picture at the 2015 Youth and Innovation Exchange in St. Lucia. Photo: UNDP Barbados
How can new data sources and real-time information systems improve decision-making? This is a question UNDP and its partners, UNICEF, the World Food Programme and Datapop Alliance, were asking at a side-event at the World Humanitarian Summit, together with the Governments of Denmark and Finland, which fund innovation in UN agencies. Innovation and data are important themes in humanitarian relief, as well as in the larger Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. It underpins the entire agenda as a vehicle to solve wicked challenges across all the SDGs. … Read more

Humanitarian action makes sound business sense

31 May 2016 by Marcos Neto, Director, Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development

Private sector, individual companies and philanthropic actors support humanitarian action and development in many countries. Photo: UNCT
In February, Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, resulting in loss of life, disruption to business supply chains and damage to properties. The estimated cost to the Fijian economy was US$470 million. Imagine the even greater impact to the Philippines, which is visited by an average of 20 typhoons every year, five of which are destructive. The challenges the world is facing right now are overwhelming. More than 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the world today. Some 60 million people have been forcibly displaced. UN-coordinated plans to provide life-saving aid and protection to the most vulnerable people require nearly US$21 billion each year. … Read more

Cyclone Roanu is a reminder: We must focus on preventing crises, even as we respond to them

24 May 2016 by Khurshid Alam, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh

As leaders gather for the World Humanitarian Summit, Cyclone Roanu has displaced half a million people in Bangladesh. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
As the World Humanitarian Summit unfolds and leaders discuss the humanitarian impact of rising crises and disasters, half a million people are currently displaced in Bangladesh. Cyclone Roanu pummeled the Bangladesh coastline on 21 May with 55mph winds and floodwaters several feet high. Making landfall in the country’s southeast, the cyclone brought devastation to areas unaffected by cyclones for the past 25 years. Where there used to be crops there is now salt water – the sea surrounding even the cyclone shelter. … Read more

Building a better future for Syrians in Turkey

23 May 2016 by Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey

Syrian refugees crossing into TurkeySyrian Kurdish refugees cross into Turkey from Syria, near the town of Kobani. The war that erupted in Syria in 2011 has propelled it into becoming the world’s single largest driver of displacement. Photo: I. Prickett/UNHCR
As thousands leave Syria for safer lands, images of white tents and perilous boat journeys have flooded the world’s media. But there’s another side to this story. In Turkey, the host of this week’s World Humanitarian Summit, only about 10 percent of the approximately 2.75 million displaced people from Syria live in refugee camps. The rest live in towns and cities like many of us. Across the country’s southeast, Syrians are silently trying to make a living and blend in. … Read more