Here's to being called Ms. Cookstove for years to come

11 Dec 2015 by Kidanua Abera, Programme Analyst, Energy and Low Carbon Development, UNDP

Members of the Ethiopian government look at cookstove technology on a UNDP-supported experience sharing visit to India. Photo: UNDP Ethiopia
For the past few years, I’ve proudly been referred to in our office as ‘Ms. Cookstove’. I joined UNDP to work on the carbon market, specifically the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) capacity building programme for Eastern and Southern Africa. When people talk about international carbon trading, they usually talk about ‘big’ emitting industries. But in 2010, I learned about the importance of seemingly ‘small’ but equally devastating emitters such as the traditional three-stone open fire cooking method, used by the majority of rural households in Ethiopia. Three billion people across the world use this method of cooking, which not only contributes to serious health problems, but also contributes significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. … Read more

The SDGs need a new measure of GDP

08 Dec 2015 by Degol Hailu, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

GDP per capita growth can go up while household income decreases. Inequality is an outcome of such divergence. Photo : UNDP in Zimbabwe
One of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is achieving economic growth. The target of goal 8 is to achieve “at least 7 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth per annum in the least developed countries”. Achieving 7 per cent growth is in the high range. In a rush to meet such a target, social and environmental outcomes may be compromised. … Read more

Saving for a rainy day

02 Dec 2015 by Yusuke Taishi, Regional Specialist for Climate Change Adaptation, UNDP - Global Environment Finance Unit, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

people sitting around tableOne of the first farmers who received a WIBI payout for low rainfall in Tacunan, Tugbok District. Photo: UNDP Philippines
“Save for a rainy day” is probably the single most important piece of wisdom a farmer can follow. Farming is a risky undertaking everywhere, one that is at the mercy of capricious weather. But farmers in the Philippines (and many other developing countries) now face additional difficulties as climate change makes weather more unpredictable than ever. Traditional approaches to predicting the arrival of the rains are becoming less and less effective, with rain sometimes falling too sparsely and other times too hard. Crop insurance is a common safeguard. In the United States, 90 percent of total harvested cropland is insured. But in the Philippines, crop insurance products cover less than 10 percent of total rice and corn production. Moreover, insurance in the Philippines is “indemnity-based”, which means that the damage needs to be verified by an insurance agent and payouts typically take up to six months. … Read more

Cooperation and sharing can help combat climate change

27 Nov 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Chinese landscapeChina has pledged RMB 20 billion (US$3.13 billion) to support other developing countries in combating climate change through South-South cooperation. Photo: UNDP China
Around the world, countries are working towards ways to reduce climate change. And while individual countries must take into account local contexts, it is unnecessary to always “reinvent the wheel” with each new solution. Through the South-South cooperation (SSC), UNDP connects various stakeholders to form partnerships across the developing world for pursuing these solutions. On climate change and environmental sustainability, UNDP delivers a portfolio of US$2.3 billion, supporting over 140 countries in pursuing low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways. A central element of this work is South-South cooperation … Read more

Adapting from the ground up

24 Nov 2015 by Bella Tonkonogy, Adaptation finance specialist and private sector advisor, UNDP Climate Change Adaptation team

  Farmers in Tajikistan are now growing local fruit and vegetable species that fare better in the changing climate. Photo: UNDP Tajikistan
Ismail Faisov tends a farm in the mountainous Dashtijum Jamoat region in Tajikistan. Dashtijum Jamoat is rich with indigenous fruits and legumes that have become naturally resilient to drought, cold weather, diseases, and other environmental stresses. For a number of reasons though, Ismail did not cultivate these traditional species, choosing instead to sell imported cultivars that did not fare well in Tajikistan’s changing climate. Consequently, Ismail struggled to support his family. The majority of people in the developing world live in poor, rural areas and rely on micro and small enterprises (MSEs) for their livelihoods. MSEs account for approximately 60 to 80 percent of the labor force in these countries. … Read more

What has salt got to do with development?

23 Nov 2015 by Daniel Franks, Chief Technical Advisor and Programme Manager, ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme, UNDP

Salt mine in DRHaitian workers transport salt at the Las Salinas mine, Dominican Republic. Photo: Reuters/Ricardo Rojas
Do you know where the salt that flavours your food comes from? What about the lime to set our concrete walls, the aggregate and the sand that pave our roads, the pigments that colour our paints, or the bricks that hold up our ceilings? Construction materials, dimension stones, industrial minerals and semi-precious stones are the hidden bedrock of our society, and the people that mine them in many parts of the world are often humble small-scale miners. These so-called “low value minerals” may not generate the same attention as diamonds, copper or gold, but their value lies in their potential to be minerals of development, boosting the livelihoods of millions of people. … Read more

Climate change, peace and security in the Arab region

04 Nov 2015 by Dr. Kishan Khoday, Regional Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

Somalian woman with childRefugees and internally displaced persons from Somalia are displaced due to drought and conflict. Photo: Stuart Price/NU Photo
Among the various drivers of risk in the world today, two stand out: climate change and the evolving nature of conflict and insecurity. While each by itself has serious consequences for development, their convergence has become a subject of heightened attention. The U.N. Security Council has convened a series of debates on climate change in recent years and, for the first time, the latest global Assessment Report by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change includes a chapter on “Human Security”, mapping out the risks for resource scarcity, displacement, and conflict. … Read more

Climate investment: burden or benefit for the poor?

30 Oct 2015 by Angelica Shamerina, Program Advisor for Climate Change and Regional Focal Point (Latin America and Caribbean), GEF Small Grants Programme

men in riverCommunity members work on a small hydro installation as part of the Small Grants Programme in the Dominican Republic.
Over time, most arguments against climate action have been pushed to the margins—we now have widespread acceptance of climate change’s threats and impacts, as well as an understanding of the mitigation and adaptation measures that need to be taken. However, one argument has stubbornly remained: that the issue is simply too costly to address. Thankfully, this thinking is starting to change. Technological advances, a better understanding of the relationship between energy access and poverty, and the importance of off-grid, low carbon solutions have all helped show that climate action is not a burden, but rather an essential aspect of poverty reduction. Indeed, prominent development thinkers argue that low carbon development is itself a path to growth. … Read more

Making energy efficiency visible

23 Oct 2015 by Marina Olshanskaya, Regional Technical Advisor, Energy, Infrastructure, Technology and Transport, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

kids in classroomIn an Uzbekistan school, the implementation of simple energy efficiency measures increased the classroom’s temperature from 10°C to 20°C, making for a much more comfortable learning environment. Photo: UNDP
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. The buildings where we live and work are responsible for over one-third of global energy needs and a correspondingly high share of CO2 emissions. Improving the energy efficiency in buildings is one of the most cost-effective climate mitigation solutions we have: one “negawatt” of saved energy costs much less to produce than generating a new watt from conventional or even alternative energy sources. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, there is a vast number of highly inefficient buildings, and a tremendous potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction and the production of negawatts. … Read more

How can mining contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?

05 Oct 2015 by Gillian Davidson, Lisa Sachs and Casper Sonesson

A miner in DRC.A worker at a mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With meaningful engagement, mining companies could become partners in achieving the SDGs. UNDP Photo
The heads of 193 UN member states have now signed on to a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will be the shared global development framework for the coming generation. Mining companies have the potential to become leading partners in achieving the SDGs. Through their direct operations, mining companies can generate profits, employment, and economic growth in low-income countries. And through partnerships with government and civil society, they can ensure that benefits of mining extend beyond the life of the mine itself, so that the mining industry has a positive impact on the natural environment, climate change, and social capital. … Read more