“Are you okay? What are you doing for Haiti?”

10 Oct 2016 by Rita Sciarra, Head of Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

 UNDP projects in the South region helped local authorities to decide where to relocate evacuees before the hurricane. Photo: UNDP Haiti
The sun is shining today in Port-au-Prince and throughout Haiti. Looking at such a blue sky, I wonder at the force of nature that, in less than 36 hours, it can come and destroy everything. It was impossible to imagine in the quiet of the night before Matthew’s arrival or in the colour of the sky today that it could have had such devastating consequences. My thoughts are racing between the latest data from my colleagues in the Emergency Civil Protection Centre and the need to urgently intervene and help the people of the Nippes, South and Grande Anse regions. I am thinking about my recent training on emergency situations, my past experiences, in theory and practice. Together with the directors of the office and other colleagues, we try to come up with, in a few words, our strategy for working on Haiti’s recovery in order build a bridge to development right from the first emergency interventions. In Jeremie, 90 percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed. The roofs have blown away together with most of the trees, and now everything is scattered on the ground throughout the streets of the city. We see bodies of dead animals, remains of latrines and graveyards that have been destroyed. … Read more

Demystifying the NAMA, a Caribbean perspective

27 Sep 2016 by James Vener, Mitigation Economist, UNDP

Photo credits: Rajiv JalimLike many Small Island Developing States, Trinidad and Tobago is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more frequent flooding. UNDP photo
I was in Trinidad and Tobago recently as the country was gearing up for Carnival 2016. While I would have loved to be there to celebrate, my focus was on the country’s climate commitments and supporting the Government to develop a NAMA. What exactly is a NAMA? NAMAs, or Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, are the projects that countries undertake to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG). This can include efforts to scale up markets for renewable energy products like solar home systems or to improve energy efficiency in buildings, which are responsible about one-third of all global GHG emissions. As the Paris Agreement includes commitments from each country, NAMAs serve as a vehicle to help further these objectives. … Read more

Caribbean: Rethinking progress in the sustainable development era

21 Sep 2016 by Jessica Faieta, Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

It is essential to ensure that economic growth is inclusive, empowers people and leaves no one behind. Photo: Igor Rugwiza/UN
Caribbean countries make a special case for development. The high and increasing exposure to hazards, combined with very open and trade-dependent economies with limited diversification and competitiveness portray a structurally and environmentally vulnerable region, composed, in the most part, of middle income countries. As these countries start implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) we are calling for a new notion of progress. Our UN Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report for the Caribbean titled “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched this week in Barbados with top regional authorities makes the case for a new generation of public policies to boost resilience and increase gains in the economic, social and environmental fronts, including peace and justice. For the Caribbean this “multidimensional progress” entails not only adapting to shocks. It means breaking through structural obstacles that hinder growth and people’s well-being—beyond the traditional measurements of living above or below a poverty line. Nothing that reduces the rights of people and communities or threatens the environment can be considered progress. This holistic approach is crucial, especially for the Caribbean. … Read more

Indigenous knowledge – ancient solutions to today’s challenges

08 Aug 2016 by Alejandra Pero, Coordinator, World Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Land and Sea Managers, Equator Initiative

Indigenous KnowlegeIndigenous knowledge, such as the use of ancient grains and traditional agricultural methods, can help to ensure food security while protecting the environment. Photo: UNDP Peru
Revitalizing and supporting indigenous knowledge is essential to address many of today’s challenges, including the effects of climate change. Indigenous knowledge is a key resource that needs to be promoted to support livelihoods and food security, often under threat due to climatic changes. Here are some examples of how indigenous peoples and local communities around the world are reviving traditional practices and knowledge. … 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

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

Predicting future impacts on SDGs in Brazil’s uncertain times

05 May 2016 by Laura Hildebrandt, Policy Specialist, Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP Rio+Centre

In Brazil, social programmes have had an impact on eliminating disease. Photo: Tiago Zenero/UNDP Brazil
Bolsa Familia, Brazil’s highly acclaimed conditional cash transfer programme has been an inspiration to many developing countries. But today, in the midst of the country’s worst political and economic crisis in decades, the future of this social protection system is becoming less certain. The programme’s successes are well-known. It has helped to nearly eradicate extreme poverty and reduce inequality across the country. It has increased school attendance, reduced infant mortality and improved public health. It is a powerful force for women’s empowerment, with targeted benefits for pregnant and nursing women; 93 percent of card holders are women. … Read more

The Goldilocks of gender data: Searching for “just right” on women in public institutions

03 May 2016 by Müge Finkel, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh , Melanie Hughes, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh and Jose Cruz-Osorio, Team Leader, Responsive and Accountable Institutions, UNDP

Civil service workshop in AzerbaijanEnsuring gender equality in public institutions starts with gathering strong data. Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan
The bad news first: we don’t know the exact state of gender equality in the world’s public institutions. The good news: once we begin monitoring this, it will be harder to ignore inequalities in the public service, which we anecdotally know exist on a global scale. The Sustainable Development Goals have thrust us into a data revolution and we have impetus to make sure it is a gendered revolution. Inclusive governance is at the core of SDG 16 on peaceful and just societies. And so, SDG 16 has set out to measure the composition of public institutions. Without this information, governments will not have the evidence necessary for designing policies that foster equal access to and opportunities within public administration. … Read more

The Paris Agreement brings potential for transparency

17 Mar 2016 by Rocío Noriega, Coordinator, Anti-corruption program, UNDP Chile and Sergio García, Communications Manager, Environment and Energy, UNDP Chile

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