Africa, midway through its "Glorious Thirty"

Africa's economic prospects are bright, but the continent loses about 4 percent of its GDP each year due to the exclusion of women from business and politics. Photo: Aziza Bangwene/UNDP in DRC

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only place in the world where living standards stagnated and even declined throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

But things are now very different. Africa’s prospects began to change radically in the late 1990s, with its growth rate close to five percent per year ever since.

Africa has made concomitant gains in the social sphere. It has made remarkable progress on primary education, child mortality, slowing down HIV and Aids or increasing the numbers of women in parliament.... Read more

How will we ensure the new Ebola vaccine reaches those most in need?

Community participation in immunization programmes results in higher coverage and reduces the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. Photo: UNDP Liberia

We are optimistic about a new tool in the fight against Ebola. The phase III trials on efficacy of the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine have yielded an impressive result in a relatively short time - 100% effectiveness in those receiving the vaccine.

Without a doubt, this is an important tool for the protection of health and community workers and possibly the wider community.

But how will this new tool be used? How will it reach those in need? ... Read more

If you want it done, take action

Youth participate in a rubbish removal initiative in As-Salamieh, Syria. Photo: UNDP Syria

It pains me when people on social media comment that everyday civic engagement isn’t their responsibility and should be solely the work of governments and the UN.

Civic engagement is defined as “individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.”

We don’t all need to be leaders, but we should all take part in our society. If we get a cut, do we treat ourselves right away or do we wait for a leader to bring us a Band-Aid? If we want an improvement in our community done right, our way, why shouldn’t we take initiative rather wait for permission from a leader to do it for us?... Read more

10 ways youth can make an impact

Actors participate in the Loy9 Drama in Romdoul Village, Cambodia. Television dramas, TV and radio talk shows, and online platforms encourage young Cambodians to learn, debate and share experiences on civic participation in an initiative funded by UNDP and produced by BBC Media Action. Photo: BBC Media Action

“We are addressing youth today, because youth have placed themselves on the top of the agenda.”–Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon

Youth activism and engagement can bring about important social changes that are sometimes left behind. You don’t have to wait to be an adult to be an active member of your community. Your opinion matters and it should be heard. Here’s a list of ideas of how you can participate locally and globally:

1. Know your rights: You might not be able to vote yet, but all children and youth hold national and international rights. These rights are only of use to you if you are informed about them, so read up! ... Read more

Youth as allies of democracy

Students and civil society march against the government of Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela in February 2014. Photo: Gabriela Benazar

I was born in 1990. When I could barely walk, a former military staged a coup against the government. Six years later, in 1998, the people of my country elected him as president and he remained so until the day he died, when I was 23. He was elected for president every single time he ran. Despite these numerous electoral processes, however, I cannot say I grew up in a democracy.

In his book, The inner enemies of democracy, Bulgarian philosopher Tzvetan Todorov states that democracy is not only characterized by how it is established in power and for the purpose of its action, but also by how it is executed.... Read more

Calling all superheroes for civic engagement

Youth in Burundi frame themselves. Get involved in #YouthDay like them by sending in a photo of yourself and civic engagement. Photo: UNDP Burundi/Rossignol

“Civic engagement.” The superhero term of our time is facing a big problem. It is virtually meaningless to the exact group of people (those between the ages of 14 and 25) which it is supposed to inspire and engage. Walking the halls of UNDP, you often hear the sentiment that if we could just get more youth to engage in their communities, the world would be a much better place to live. Yes, civic engagement is how modern day superheroes are born and you could be one of them.

But what exactly is “civic engagement”? What does it entail? What is it not? And how can youth really take part in it? ... Read more

Celebrating the world's indigenous peoples, declaring their rights

An indigenous man at the Copán Ruinas Archaeological Site, Museum of Maya Sculpture in Honduras. Around the world, discrimination and structural inequalities disproportionately affect indigenous peoples. Photo: UN

The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebrates the wealth and variety of indigenous cultures and the rights, achievements, and contributions of indigenous peoples worldwide. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), but are not always upheld.

There are more than 370 million Indigenous peoples living in some 90 countries. It is estimated that they constitute 15 percent of the world’s poor, and one third of the 900 million people living in extreme poverty in rural areas. In vast numbers, indigenous peoples live in some of the world's most resource rich areas, but their own forms of conservation and resource management have been historically undervalued. ... Read more

Indigenous knowledge has life

Australian indigenous forest ranger Alison Hunt teaches people about Bush Tucker Yams. Photo: WIN/Anson Smart

How traditional knowledge is collected and shared is increasingly becoming an issue of both concern and opportunity for indigenous peoples and local communities around the world. Digital technology’s potential to record information can lead to great benefits, but also raise questions around consent and digital sovereignty. Who owns the data recorded, where is the data being stored, who has the right to the data, and can it be destroyed?

There is potential for good use of the new available technology.... Read more

Decoding the alphabet soup of climate change

A woman in Odisha, India on her way to fetch water. Women have been hit hardest by the extreme weather conditions. Many have to walk for long stretches in search of safe drinking water. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/UNDP India

Join any conversation on climate change this year and you’re likely to hear a host of confusing terms and acronyms: INDCs, NAPs, NAMAs, the GCF, COP21. Expanding doesn’t help much: ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, the ‘21st Conference of the Parties’ – they’re a mouthful and still not immediately clear.

While this terminology was once restricted to technical reports, the terms are increasingly finding their way into newspapers, op-eds and social media. But many people don’t know what they are and insufficient attention has been paid to translating them into something accessible.... Read more

UNDP missions powered by the sun

Workers install solar panels on the roof of the UNDP offices in Sierra Leone.

UNDP offices are looking to the sky to power their programmes.

It's interesting to see what we have already accomplished, and how much more we can do. Solar power is a champion for many of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, including targets for resilient cities, infrastructure, and sustainable energy. It is a key to our global warming crisis, especially for sun-filled regions of the world. It creates an energy-independent environment with less noise and air pollution and sustainable, outage-free workplaces for UNDP and its partners.... Read more