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

How the Montreal Protocol can complement the Paris Agreement and help fight climate change

04 Oct 2016 by By Jacques Van Engel, Director of the Montreal Protocol / Chemicals Unit, UNDP

Through initiatives like this CFC refrigerator exchange programme in Rio de Janeiro, UNDP has helped 120 countries eliminate 67,870 tonnes of ozone-depleting substances each year. Photo: Vanderlei Almeida/UNDP Brazil
Agreed in 1987, the Montreal Protocol has led to a massive reduction in the use of ozone-depleting chemicals, such as the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and the hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). It has also, famously, helped begin the process of closing the ozone hole over Antarctica. Now, efforts are underway to expand the Montreal Protocol and further protect the environment and help avert climate change. … Read more

Who is reading UNDP’s publications – and why?

03 Oct 2016 by Johannes Schunter, Policy Specialist, Knowledge Services

The Knowledge Management Team is seeking meaningful data about who is reading UNDP publications and to what extent those readers find publications useful. UNDP photo
It has been two years since the World Bank published a report that stated that over 30 percent of its policy reports have never been downloaded even once and only 13 percent of policy reports were downloaded at least 250 times. The debate among development practitioners that followed made it clear that the World Bank is by far not alone with this phenomenon and that most international organizations, including UNDP, face the exact same challenge. As UNDP provides support services for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we in UNDP’s Knowledge Management Team see the importance of getting insights into the perceived value of our knowledge products and therefore UNDP’s thought leadership in various SDG topics. In fact, UNDP’s Knowledge Management Strategy 2014-2017 pointed out that UNDP needs to invest in its process of planning, developing and disseminating knowledge products in ways that make them “more relevant to clients’ needs, more flexible and timely in their development and format, and more measurable in their quality and impact.” … Read more

Leaving no one behind means confronting ageism in development

30 Sep 2016 by Cailin Crockett, Gender Specialist, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

India socially excludedThe number of people aged 60 and above is expected to reach 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050— with the majority living in low- and middle-income countries. Photo: UNDP Asia Pacific
Every year on 1 October, the United Nations observes the International Day of Older Persons. This year the Day is devoted to taking a stand against ageism, the systemic stereotyping and discrimination against people because they are considered old. Fortunately, with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the invisibility of older persons in international development programmes and policies is finally being addressed. Although the international community officially recognized the harmful consequences of ageism as a matter of human rights in 2014, the Millennium Development Goals made no mention of older persons or population ageing. It has only been through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda’s commitment to “leave no one behind” that older persons have been explicitly included in global development policy agreed to by all Member States. Why the shift? Demographics alone warrant increased attention to ageing populations. The number of people aged 60 and above is expected to reach 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2 billion in 2050— with the majority living in low- and middle-income countries. Gender equality goals, in SDG 5 and integrated throughout the 2030 Agenda, also compel us to finally recognize and remedy the scope of gender disparities throughout the life span and strategically include older women in this agenda. … 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

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

A historic day in Colombia

26 Sep 2016 by Martín Santiago, Resident Representative, UNDP Colombia

The Peace Agreement signed by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP is of great significance for Colombia and for the world. Photo: UNDP Colombia
Betsaida and her family abandoned their home and a small business in the port of Tumaco, in the Pacific of Colombia, and were forced to follow the road that more than 7 million displaced Colombians have as a result of the armed conflict. Their story, and that of millions of victims of the war, is at the heart of what the United Nations Organization is and does. Seventy-one years after its creation, the universal aspiration to end war, reaffirm the fundamental human rights and promote social progress is latent and more crucial than ever. Despite the progress we have made in the last quarter of the century, in which we achieved a significant reduction of armed conflicts, we have witnessed serious setbacks in the last four years: the number of civil wars and attacks by governments and armed groups against civilians have increased for the first time since 2005. More than fifty million people, the highest number recorded in history, have been uprooted from their homes around the world as a result of armed conflicts. In the face of adversity by human tragedies, the Peace Agreement that was signed yesterday by the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP is of great significance for Colombia and for the world. … Read more

Are we finally getting an inclusive instrument in place to finance climate action?

22 Sep 2016 by Alexandra Soezer, Climate Change Technical Advisor

Planting trees to counter the effects of climate changePlanting trees is one way to counter the effects of climate change. Photo: Aaron Nsavyimana/UNDP Burundi
It is estimated that US$ 16 trillion is required to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement, the so-called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This is money that will help to put countries on a low carbon path. Where this money will come from, however, has long been a source of debate. Yet, it seems that we may finally be putting in place the instruments we need to finance our low carbon future. A single mechanism for investing in low carbon development is ineffective, as it does not reflect contextual realities or the priorities of varying stakholders, such as the private sector. What is needed are parallel and complementary mechanisms that support countries at different levels of development. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) has boosted private investment in mitigation projects in developing countries. With more than 8,000 projects registered, the CDM has leveraged almost US$ 200 billion of investments in developing countries. This mechanism has, therefore, been a key driver in the effort to reduce emissions and tackle climate change in developing countries. … 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

For Pacific countries, tomorrow is too late to act on climate change

20 Sep 2016 by Estefanía Samper, Special Assistant to the Executive Coordinator of the Global Environmental Finance Unit

Pacific countries have contributed little to global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet they are highly vulnerable to sea level rise and other impacts of climate change. Photo: UNDP Fiji
The drought caused by El Niño in Palau has essentially halted life for many Palauans since March. An increasing number of Tuvaluans are displaced by sea level rise, and 64 communities in Fiji will need to relocate in the coming years. As a region, the Pacific has contributed little or nothing to global greenhouse gas emissions. Yet it is incomparably vulnerable to sea level rise, climate-induced ocean acidification, extreme weather events, and erratic precipitation and drought patterns. We heard this sense of urgency repeated many times last month in Fiji, where Pacific countries met to discuss their climate change needs and learn how best to access funds to address them. Each Pacific country present at the meeting told a story of how one extreme climate event can easily wipe out 10 years of growth in one day. … Read more