Post-Paris: paving the way for zero carbon growth

18 Dec 2015 by - Jo Scheuer, Director of Climate Change and DRR, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

women in mountainsIn 2016, we will build on our $2.3 billion climate portfolio across 140 countries and expand our support on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Photo: UNDP Turkey
Having witnessed the international community reach (and celebrate) a global climate deal in Paris last week, I have been reflecting on the journey that brought us here, as well as picturing the long but important road ahead. First, while there has been much talk about the relative significance of the Paris agreement, I would like to echo a sentiment expressed by the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert: the deal is a success simply because the alternative was no deal at all. Business as usual is not an option, and the Paris agreement, while not perfect, is a landmark that brings together 196 parties. The bottom-up nature of the agreement is certainly a worthy first step. … Read more

What does the COP21 Paris Agreement mean for Africa?

17 Dec 2015

Deux volontaires plantent un jeune arbre dans une cour d'école à Goma, province du nord Kivu en RD Congo. Photo: MONUSCO/ Sylvain Liechti
On 12 December 2015, delegates from more than 190 nations at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), agreed to the Paris Agreement, an ambitious global plan to tackle climate change. As a next step in implementation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene a high level signing ceremony on 22 April 2016 in New York, USA, and the agreement can only enter into force once it has been ratified by 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of emissions. But what does this deal mean for Africa? … Read more

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

The ripple effect of volunteering for planet and people

04 Dec 2015 by Jennifer Stapper, Chief, Communications, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme

youth planting treesStudents were mobilized to plant trees as part of education on sustainable agricultural practices from the Asia Youth Volunteer Exchange Programme in partnership with UNDP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Photo: UNV Zambia
What role can volunteerism play in the future of planet and people? Now that the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been adopted, we at United Nations Volunteers (UNV) are trying to gauge how our work can contribute to advancing those goals. As the world turns its attention to climate change, how can we be a part of the solution? UN Volunteers will be part of implementing practical and concrete tools to combat climate change. They will be the ones observing the tactics that work well on the ground and deciding whether these can be passed on across cultures. … 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 is not gender-neutral

17 Nov 2015 by Ana Maria Currea, Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist, GEF Small Grants Programme, UNDP

woman prepares a mealA woman prepares a meal using an efficient cook stove in Cameroon. Photo: Small Grants Programme/UNDP Cameroon
It is well established that the poor are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and that women—who account for the majority of the world’s poor—are disproportionately impacted. Why is this fact so important? And what are we doing to address it? Women farmers account for 45 to 80 percent of all food production in developing countries. This means that any changes in climate—such as droughts and floods—affect their livelihoods, incomes and food security more than they do men. … Read more