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

What does inclusive economic growth actually mean in practice?

A farmer with his family in Chingawaram village, India. Inclusive growth is about ensuring that the benefits of development reach the entire population, including the most vulnerable members. Photo: UNDP India

With the historic Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) now completed, “inclusive growth” remains a high priority on the agenda. While most stakeholders agree it’s an important and compelling part of the dialogue on development, it still remains rather ambiguous as a term. And seemingly when you ask five economists to define the concept, you will likely end up with six answers.

Within the Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDG Fund), we are keen to understand the various theories pertaining to inclusive growth and how best to put them into practice. We realize that there’s more than one way to achieve this objective, which means there is plenty of room for creativity.... Read more

Two journeys to drive climate change action

In June, the streets of ‪‎Jakarta‬ closed and were filled with hundreds of cyclists calling for commitment to climate action in ‪Paris‬, as part of the Pole to Paris initiative. Photo: Dan Price

The weird thing about climate change is that the driving mechanism of the problem is actually very simple: you have a gas, which when put in the atmosphere traps heat and in turn changes the climate system. While we understand where the problem comes from, solving it is incredibly difficult given the complexity of global politics, the economic system, competing interests, and the capacities of countries and societies.

A significant challenge around this is public engagement and the difficulty in effectively communicating the issue. Not everybody is a scientist and the cause and effect can be vague for many. But an emerging new dialogue is changing the discourse, emphasizing that climate change isn’t only an environmental issue, but an everything issue. ... Read more