Ready, set, innovate!

28 Nov 2016 by Marc Lepage, Innovation and Knowledge Management Specialist, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa

Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
In Africa, as in the rest of the world, things are moving! We live in a world that is becoming more and more complex, whether it be in social, economic or political terms. With the introduction of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we now have to adapt and adjust our practices in order to achieve such goals both efficiently and effectively. It's not uncommon to hear partners or even staff members complain, rightfully or wrongfully, about the red tape involved when it comes to UNDP procedures. Time-consuming processes or administrative tasks have been put into place and seem sometimes to take precedence over the quality of our interventions. Innovation can help correct such dysfunctions and thus allow us to be more productive. So, how can we best define the term ‘innovate’? There are a lot of possibilities, but the one to bear in mind is the fact that innovation enables us to give full rein to the innate creativity that lies within us. It allows us to come up with original and powerful responses to meet specific societal needs – and such responses can be technological or organizational in structure, or even a leading factor in bringing about social or behavioural changes. … Read more

"I’m not afraid to tell"

24 Nov 2016 by Dina Teltayeva, Communications Associate, UNDP Kazakhstan

After two decades of silence, television producer Dina Tansari is speaking out about surviving sexual assault.
Over the past few months, I’ve witnessed women in Kazakhstan break their silence on sexual violence. A campaign titled #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (I’m not afraid to tell) and НеМолчи (Don’t keep Quiet) has led to many women sharing their stories. One of them is Dina Tansari (pictured), a well-known TV producer. “…I was unconscious. They left me in front of my flat, rang the bell, and ran away. In the morning I couldn’t remember anything, except for my mum’s screams when she found me…,” she wrote on her Facebook wall. Dina has spoken up after two decades of torturing silence. When she was 20, her own classmates drugged her at a wedding party and gang raped her. Her mother rented an out-of-town flat for Dina when she found out about the incident because she couldn’t bear the shame that her daughter purportedly had brought to the family. Dina was left alone with her tragedy. #IamNotAfraidtoTell was started by Ukrainian journalist Anastasiya Melnichenko. The speed with which it has spread throughout the Russian-speaking social media world is shocking in itself. … Read more

Decarbonizing development

22 Nov 2016 by Kishan Khoday, Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

The Union Cement Company plant in United Arab Emirates uses a waste heat recovery system to generate 82 MWh of zero-emission electricity per year. UNDP photo
The Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force this month, following its rapid ratification by countries around the world. The Agreement has the goal of keeping global temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius rise relative to pre-industrial levels. This would avoid the worst effects of climate change, as rising greenhouse gas emissions jeopardize achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, threatening to exacerbate disasters, poverty and inequality the world over. The latest Assessment Report (AR5) issued by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights that to keep the planet within the 2 degree Celsius target, we must cut global emissions in half by 2050 and achieve zero net emissions by 2100. This entails a major change of course, with new zero-carbon models of development a key part of the action agenda. Energy consumption accounts for two-thirds of global emissions, so the goal of decarbonizing development hinges on reducing the energy intensity of growth, especially in countries with high carbon footprints. Morocco, host of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN climate change convention, is emerging as a leader in climate action. This year it launched the first phase of its Noor solar power plant. When fully operational this will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) facility. … Read more

Here’s the bottom line: Gender equality profits business and society

18 Nov 2016 by Susan McDade, Deputy Director, Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP

 Companies committed to women’s active participation achieve greater efficiency and better personnel performance, have more committed employees, and improve hiring and their public image. Photo: James A. Rodríguez/MiMundo.org
The 2030 Agenda gives us a road map to build the world we want, leaving no one behind. Gender equality is crucial to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as well as a fundamental human right driving progress for all the other goals. Empowering women and girls has a multiplier effect and that contributes to promoting economic growth and development around the world. In partnership with the private sector and governments, we must work together to close gender gaps and eliminate structural barriers that impede women’s empowerment. There have already been some extraordinary advances. However, we still have a long way to go. Despite the increasing number of women engaging in paid work, on average, they earn 24 percent less than men. Women are also less likely to have access to decent work, property and formal credit. Labour force participation is also lower for women than for men. In 2015, 72 percent of working-age (15 and older) men were employed, compared with only 47 percent of women. Globally, women hold only 22 percent of senior leadership positions, and 32 percent of businesses have no female senior managers. The situation in Latin America and the Caribbean is not far from this reality. Women do 75 percent of the unpaid domestic work. Five of every 10 women are out of the labour market, and 54 percent work in informal environments, with fragile incomes and little social protection. Furthermore, among 72 large companies in the region, three have a woman as CEO or president; that’s just 4.2 percent. In this context, the private sector has a fundamental role to play in eliminating gender inequalities and fostering sustainable development. By implementing gender equality standards within their own companies, the private sector can ensure equal opportunities for women, create inclusive work environments and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals focused on gender equality (Goal 5), decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), and reduced inequalities (Goal 10). … Read more

Engaging the private sector in advancing gender equality at work

18 Nov 2016 by Helen Clark, Administrator, UNDP

Young women and men entering the labour force have nearly the same level of educational qualifications. But they often don't face equal opportunities at work.
Globally, young women and men entering the labour force today have nearly the same level of educational qualifications. But they often don't face equal opportunities in the world of work. Women earn, on average, 24 percent less than men. In S&P 500 companies, women hold only 4.6 percent of CEO positions and take under 20 percent of board seats. Yet research suggests that increasing the proportion of women on boards of directors is linked to better financial results and higher levels of corporate philanthropy. In rich and poor countries alike, women carry a disproportionate burden of unpaid work – for example, caring for young, elderly, sick and/or disabled family members; and in obtaining and preparing food. These tasks not only demand substantial time and energy but also can prevent women from fulfilling their aspirations and deprive economies of women’s full talents and contributions. Women’s equality in the workplace is a critical component of gender equality and sustainable development. It would not only improve the prospects of millions of women, but would also have a profound impact on the development of countries. … Read more

Addressing radicalization and violent extremism through climate action

14 Nov 2016 by Aliou M. Dia, Team Leader, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, UNDP Africa

Climate change and violent extremism will be two of the major threats to the stability of states and societies in the next decades. In many countries in the continent (Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, etc.) climate change has significantly increased instability by over-stretching the already limited capacity of governments to respond. Boko Haram and Al Shabab threats and attacks in West and East Africa, continued fragility in Central African Republic (CAR) and renewed instability in Burundi and South Sudan are among some of the conflicts that contribute to this fragility cycle. It’s estimated that there have been over 4000 terrorist attacks since 2011 in Africa and 24,000 people killed. Some 2.8 million people are displaced in the Lake Chad Basin alone, and 700,000 Somalis are languishing in refugee camps. Violent extremism is currently devastating economies in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and Lake Chad Basin. For these and other fragile contexts, adding climate change as a ‘threat multiplier and shock accelerator’ triggers further frustration, tension and conflict. It is worth exploring how a changing climate and its impacts on the continent are contributing to exacerbating radicalization on the African continent. … Read more

Climate plans aren’t just for the environment

14 Nov 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

femmes recoltant de l'argan au MarocGrowing demand for argan oil has increased household income but places serious pressure on natural forests. Photo: UNDP Morocco
After last year’s successful adoption of the Paris Agreement, climate negotiators and activists are now on their way to Morocco. Marrakesh will host the 2016 climate summit, COP22, which has been presented as the COP of implementation, as they will focus on the nuts and bolts. Dangerous climate change requires courageous climate action. Meeting the targets set out by the Paris Agreement is simply essential to our safety and prosperity, and will not only help address rising global temperatures but also enable a host of other benefits, from food to jobs to health and sustainable growth. The entirety of our development rests on the actions we take to address climate change. Better if aiming at under 1.5 degrees. Take Morocco and the North of Africa to understand how robust climate solutions can offer tangible development benefits. According to the Max Planck Institute, temperatures in this region are set to rise twice as fast as on the global level, potentially rendering large parts uninhabitable and impacting economies, water access, and food security. If unaddressed, we risk straining social and economic systems across a region that has already seen its share of conflict and migration, leading potentially to instability, displacement and demographic pressure on urban centres. … Read more

Health and well-being for the world’s poor: Making the case for tobacco taxation

11 Nov 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Roy Small, Health and Innovative Financing Consultant, UNDP

Health and well-being for the world’s poor: Making the case for tobacco taxationTaxation on tobacco has emerged as a proven intervention in rich and poor countries alike to improve health while simultaneously financing development priorities. UN Photo/Martine Perret
Today, developing countries are home to four out of every five premature deaths from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), with tobacco use a leading culprit. NCDs, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease, are straining already fragile health systems and hitting the poorest hardest, with forecasts painting a bleak future. In Africa alone, the number of smokers is set to grow from 77 million in 2013 to roughly 600 million by 2100. None of this is good news for development efforts at-large and the global community has taken notice. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes targets on tobacco control, and the internationally agreed framework for financing development efforts, agreed in Addis Ababa in 2015, encourages countries to routinely explore tobacco taxation as a means to improve health while simultaneously financing their development priorities. As experts gather this week in Delhi, India for the Seventh Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the question of the nature and extent of tobacco taxation, a proven instrument, is a constant refrain in the discussions. Central to the agenda in Delhi must be figuring out how to make effective tobacco taxation in countries the rule and not the exception. Tobacco taxes have emerged as a proven gold standard intervention in rich and poor countries alike to stem the rising tide of health and development challenges. … Read more

Integration and the 2030 Agenda – what does it really mean?

10 Nov 2016 by By Pedro Conceiçao, Director of Strategic Policy, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support , Diana Alarcón, Chief, Development Strategy and Policy Unit, UNDESA and Mark Howells, Director, Division of Energy Systems Analysis, Royal Institute of Technology

With its twin emphasis on people and planet, the 2030 Agenda demands an integrated approach to development policy. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNDP
Perhaps no other word has been repeated more frequently than “integrated” to describe the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. Yet policymaking is approached sector-by-sector. The allocation of resources and the political accountability at the national level lie with sectoral ministries. So what does “integration” mean for national policymaking in the context of the 2030 Agenda? Does an integrated perspective really lead to any changes in policy decisions? Let us consider an example. In the island of Mauritius, sugarcane plantations cover 80 percent to 90 percent of cultivated land. The sugar business has been an important contributor to the economy and a key source of export and foreign exchange earnings. Mauritian sugar exporters have, however, recently lost the preferential access to the EU market. The question has therefore been raised whether it would be in the national interest to promote a local biofuel industry to make use of the sugarcane. Reduced imports costs of petroleum and coal would liberate resources for social and other investments, improve energy independence and reduce greenhouse gases emissions. … Read more

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate services

09 Nov 2016 by Bonizella Biagini, Manager, Programme on Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa, UNDP

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate servicesA worker installs an all-in-one automatic weather station (AWS) on a cell phone tower near Kotido, Uganda. Five AWS have been set up across the country through the Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems project. Photo: Solomon Mangeni
In Tanzania, a lightning strike killed a teacher and six students in 2015 – another sad example of the thousands of deaths that could be avoided with the effective deployment of modern weather and climate services, including early warnings for extreme weather events like lightning, flooding and drought. Providing these services not only saves lives but also is central to building resilience to climate change, empowering nations and strengthening livelihoods across Africa’s most vulnerable communities. As we take the mandates established in Paris and move on to the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, it becomes very clear that providing accurate, timely and reliable weather, water and climate information will be key in supporting the efforts of leaders across sub-Saharan Africa to build resilience to climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. When used to improve decision making, hydro-meteorological, or hydromet, information can empower nations, save thousands of lives every year, and strengthen livelihoods across a region that has contributed the least to human-induced climate change but is among the most vulnerable to its effects. … Read more