Why should you care about public procurement reform?

15 Dec 2016 by Doyeun Kim, Communications Focal Point, UN Development Business

Public procurement accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP in developing countries and 10 percent to 15 percent in developed countries, according to the International Trade Centre. Photo: UNDP
Public procurement reforms have been rolling out since the 1990s in Africa. Targeting better efficiency – but also more accountability and integrity – in the management of public resources, these reforms can shape procurement into a powerful agent for development. In the past year, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Somalia, Malawi and Zimbabwe have benefited from projects financed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank in which procurement reforms were part and parcel of larger public sector management goals. Internal efforts, as well as assistance from international development agencies, are focusing on professionalizing and building capacity in national procurement systems. These efforts are consistent with the goals of good governance and prevention of corruption in the use of public funds, and they are also increasingly being linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, because public procurement can be used as a tool for achieving and sharing prosperity. What is public procurement? Public procurement, or the purchase of goods, works or services by public institutions, accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP in developing countries and 10 percent to 15 percent in developed countries, according to the International Trade Centre. It also accounts for a large percentage of government expenditures, in some countries covering more than half of government spending. Its economic significance is evident. … Read more

To leave no one behind, Least Developed Countries need new financing tools

14 Dec 2016 by Pedro Conceição, Director of Strategic Policy, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Philippe Orliange, Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Communication, AFD

To leave no one behind, the least developed countries need new financing toolsLike other Least Developed Countries, Zambia has pursued major structural reforms to attract the investment needed to finance sustainable development. UNDP photo
At the UN General Assembly last September, 193 countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious new agenda for sustainable development to be achieved over the next fifteen years. The central aim of the so-called “2030 Agenda” is to “leave no one behind”. And while it will be a challenge for all countries to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda, it is clear that it will be especially difficult for the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are countries where levels of deprivation are acute, infrastructure is inadequate, economies are vulnerable and capital is in short supply. To enable the transformation of these countries to middle-income status, considerable investments will be required within a short time-frame. Many LDCs have made considerable social and economic progress over recent years: poverty has declined, more children are now in school, health indicators have improved and many have enjoyed sustained periods of unprecedented economic growth. At the same time, considerable challenges remain. For example, LDCs remain very vulnerable to shocks and stresses, such as extreme weather events, fluctuations in commodity prices, and disease outbreaks – as the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa demonstrated. Shocks can cause significant development setbacks. … Read more

Africa: To get the future we say we want, we’ve got to get rid of corruption

08 Dec 2016 by Njoya Tikum, ‎UNDP Africa Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor

One just needs to look at the newspaper headlines across Africa to see the continent’s struggle with corruption: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, all have seen corruption and bribery rise recently. According to the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, “not a single country, anywhere in the world, is corruption-free”. But in sub-Saharan Africa, people in 40 out of 46 countries think theirs has a serious corruption problem. Africa has lost over USD 1 trillion to illicit financial flows over the last 50 years, as reported the African Union’s high level panel on illicit financial flows (IFFs), led by South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki. This is roughly equivalent to all the official development assistance the continent received during the same timeframe. According to the panel, companies and government officials are illegally moving as much as USD 60 billion out of Africa each year. From high-level political abuse to harassment by police officers, teachers, doctors or customs officials, corruption drains countries of resources, stifles small businesses and hampers education and healthcare. Together with lack of accountability and transparency, it is the most harmful barrier to development in Africa. … Read more

Ready, set, innovate!

28 Nov 2016 by Marc Lepage, Innovation and Knowledge Management Specialist, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa

Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
In Africa, as in the rest of the world, things are moving! We live in a world that is becoming more and more complex, whether it be in social, economic or political terms. With the introduction of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we now have to adapt and adjust our practices in order to achieve such goals both efficiently and effectively. It's not uncommon to hear partners or even staff members complain, rightfully or wrongfully, about the red tape involved when it comes to UNDP procedures. Time-consuming processes or administrative tasks have been put into place and seem sometimes to take precedence over the quality of our interventions. Innovation can help correct such dysfunctions and thus allow us to be more productive. So, how can we best define the term ‘innovate’? There are a lot of possibilities, but the one to bear in mind is the fact that innovation enables us to give full rein to the innate creativity that lies within us. It allows us to come up with original and powerful responses to meet specific societal needs – and such responses can be technological or organizational in structure, or even a leading factor in bringing about social or behavioural changes. … Read more

Addressing radicalization and violent extremism through climate action

14 Nov 2016 by Aliou M. Dia, Team Leader, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, UNDP Africa

Climate change and violent extremism will be two of the major threats to the stability of states and societies in the next decades. In many countries in the continent (Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, etc.) climate change has significantly increased instability by over-stretching the already limited capacity of governments to respond. Boko Haram and Al Shabab threats and attacks in West and East Africa, continued fragility in Central African Republic (CAR) and renewed instability in Burundi and South Sudan are among some of the conflicts that contribute to this fragility cycle. It’s estimated that there have been over 4000 terrorist attacks since 2011 in Africa and 24,000 people killed. Some 2.8 million people are displaced in the Lake Chad Basin alone, and 700,000 Somalis are languishing in refugee camps. Violent extremism is currently devastating economies in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Lake Chad Basin. For these and other fragile contexts, adding climate change as a ‘threat multiplier and shock accelerator’ triggers further frustration, tension and conflict. It is worth exploring how a changing climate and its impacts on the continent are contributing to exacerbating radicalization on the African continent. … Read more

Integration and the 2030 Agenda – what does it really mean?

10 Nov 2016 by By Pedro Conceiçao, Director of Strategic Policy, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support , Diana Alarcón, Chief, Development Strategy and Policy Unit, UNDESA and Mark Howells, Director, Division of Energy Systems Analysis, Royal Institute of Technology

With its twin emphasis on people and planet, the 2030 Agenda demands an integrated approach to development policy. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNDP
Perhaps no other word has been repeated more frequently than “integrated” to describe the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. Yet policymaking is approached sector-by-sector. The allocation of resources and the political accountability at the national level lie with sectoral ministries. So what does “integration” mean for national policymaking in the context of the 2030 Agenda? Does an integrated perspective really lead to any changes in policy decisions? Let us consider an example. In the island of Mauritius, sugarcane plantations cover 80 percent to 90 percent of cultivated land. The sugar business has been an important contributor to the economy and a key source of export and foreign exchange earnings. Mauritian sugar exporters have, however, recently lost the preferential access to the EU market. The question has therefore been raised whether it would be in the national interest to promote a local biofuel industry to make use of the sugarcane. Reduced imports costs of petroleum and coal would liberate resources for social and other investments, improve energy independence and reduce greenhouse gases emissions. … Read more

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate services

09 Nov 2016 by Bonizella Biagini, Manager, Programme on Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa, UNDP

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate servicesA worker installs an all-in-one automatic weather station (AWS) on a cell phone tower near Kotido, Uganda. Five AWS have been set up across the country through the Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems project. Photo: Solomon Mangeni
In Tanzania, a lightning strike killed a teacher and six students in 2015 – another sad example of the thousands of deaths that could be avoided with the effective deployment of modern weather and climate services, including early warnings for extreme weather events like lightning, flooding and drought. Providing these services not only saves lives but also is central to building resilience to climate change, empowering nations and strengthening livelihoods across Africa’s most vulnerable communities. As we take the mandates established in Paris and move on to the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, it becomes very clear that providing accurate, timely and reliable weather, water and climate information will be key in supporting the efforts of leaders across sub-Saharan Africa to build resilience to climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. When used to improve decision making, hydro-meteorological, or hydromet, information can empower nations, save thousands of lives every year, and strengthen livelihoods across a region that has contributed the least to human-induced climate change but is among the most vulnerable to its effects. … Read more

Cooking up positive change

21 Oct 2016 by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors

Josep Roca meets participants in the Roca brothers’ Food Africa project.
What we eat has a direct impact not only on our health, but also on the wellbeing and prosperity of our communities, and the health of our planet. This is a lesson we learnt at a young age at our parents’ family restaurant, and one that we now try to spread from the kitchen at El Celler de Can Roca and in our new role as Goodwill Ambassadors for the Sustainable Development Goals. One of these goals is fighting hunger and malnutrition, as well as improving the access of all people to a healthy diet. This is a significant challenge, considering, on the one hand, the terrible reality that nearly 800 million people are suffering from chronic malnutrition, and that there are nearly 100 million underweight children under 5 years of age in developing countries. On the other hand, we find a global food system that is unsustainable, that consumes too much land, too much water, generates too many greenhouse gases and overexploits marine resources. As the final element of this equation, we cannot forget that the global population is growing- it is estimated that by 2050 the global population will reach nearly 10 billion- increasing the strain on our planet and its limited resources. … 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

Well-structured public finance can align profit and sustainability aspirations

29 Sep 2016 by Li Yong, Director-General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization

To promote inclusive and sustainable growth, international public investment should support small and medium businesses. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
The ambitious global commitment to pursue inclusive and sustainable paths of development – outlined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – comes at a moment that does not admit any further delay. The economic, environmental and social challenges we face are enormous and must be addressed today, before climate change, demographic pressures, fragile security situations and other unsustainable global trends take their unbearable toll on all of us. At the same time, this agenda unveils a new set of opportunities for investments to yield unprecedented levels of economic and social dividends, provided that the appropriate co-ordination mechanisms and instruments are put in place. This means rethinking the role of official development assistance (ODA) to increase its efficiency and impact as an international public investment tool. It means making it more co-ordinated, catalytic and targeted as an instrument for attracting additional public and private investments for the transformation we all strive to achieve. Public finance will need to focus on initiatives that can drive progress on the SDGs, bringing into play the necessary industries – with their investments and their knowledge … Read more