The Ocean Conference: An integrated vision must be delivered

02 Jun 2017 by Jan Kellett, Advisor for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

Man a boatGiven the multiplicity of inter-connected vulnerabilities and risks that SIDS face, the Ocean Conference has the task of delivering a thoroughly integrated vision. Photo: UNDP
At the Ocean Conference, scheduled to take place 5-9 June in New York, nations will gather to discuss how best to deliver on Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water. This event is critical because it will, for perhaps the first time, focus on how essential our oceans are to our life and livelihoods. Even a glance at the targets and indicators of this goal make that clear: The Ocean SDG is about poverty reduction, economic development, adapting to climate change and protecting the environment, not just the health of the oceans and those who depend on it. Delivering on SDG 14 will help deliver on the other 16 goals and vice versa. … Read more

Harnessing digital technology for legal identity

01 Jun 2017 by Niall McCann, Policy Advisor, Electoral Assistance, UNDP and Lea Zoric, Policy Analyst, Gender and Elections, UNDP

Woman are more likely to lack legal identity, which can prevent them from accessing services or exercising rights, like voting. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/UNDP India
An estimated 1.5 billion people in the world today lack “legal identity”, meaning they do not have access to identification documents such as birth certificates, national ID cards or passports. In short, they cannot prove who they are. Lack of legal identity often results in limited access to basic public services such as education and healthcare, but it also creates a huge obstacle to economic empowerment. People without official identification often struggle to access financial services, such as opening a bank account or obtaining financial benefits. The most affected are marginalized societal groups, such as women and children, indigenous people and ethnic, linguistic or sexual minorities. As a means to tackle this global identity gap, numerous countries, over the last 15 years, have started to introduce comprehensive national identity schemes. … Read more

Connecting the dots for life below water

31 May 2017 by Shoko Noda, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative of the Maldives

Diving reminds us how above and under water lives are inter-dependent. Photo: Shoko Noda/ UNDP
I just finished my two dives for the day and was waiting for the boat to pick us up at our surface location. It was a beautiful calm day with the water as clear as crystal, all I had to do was look down to see the small colorful fishes beneath me. While waiting, my thoughts floated back to my childhood. Growing up in Kobe, Japan, I could not jump into the ocean whenever my parents took me to the beachside, because back then the nearby sea from home was polluted with industrial waste. Many years later, I feel very lucky to enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of the Maldivian ocean just around the corner of my apartment. While each dive is as breathtaking as my very first one, these days, I look beyond charismatic turtles and sting rays and appreciate smaller marine creatures that play such an important role in maintaining the much needed delicate marine life balance. The so-called “cleaning stations” are a perfect example of how all the elements in the food web and the ecosystem are interconnected in a seamless harmony.” The cleaning stations are the places on the reef where special “cleaning fishes or shrimps” live. Those colorful tiny fishes play a critical role by cleaning dead skin, bacteria and parasites, which are their main food supply, off the bigger fish such as Groupers. … Read more

The food situation in Ethiopia is also of great concern

30 May 2017 by David Das Neves, South-South Cooperation and Development Effectiveness Officer, UNDP Africa

Refugees in EthiopiaFew people are aware that Ethiopia is the African country that hosts the most refugees: 730 000 have been recorded, chiefly from Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya. Photo: IOM
Many people find it hard to imagine that people are still dying from hunger despite all the resources at our disposal. I joined UNDP's office in Addis Ababa after working in Geneva, where people usually do not have to worry about whether or not they will have something to eat that day. In contrast, when you live in Ethiopia, the challenges linked to food security stare you in the face, and it's impossible to ignore the crisis situation that the country is currently grappling with. However, one must be careful when using the term famine - a word with a distinct definition. At this very moment, areas of South Sudan arein a state of famine. Somalia and Nigeria are the two countries in Africa where the risk of famine is imminent. Beyond the continent, Yemen is also on the brink of famine. Though they are not among the countries facing the imminent threat of famine, many other countries are severely affected by food insecurity. The list includes Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Eritrea and Ethiopia. … Read more

Decision time? First take a look at what makes you crazy

26 May 2017 by Jacinda Fairholm, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor, UNDP

In the Dominican Republic, UNDP created a risk analysis that improves knowledge about seismic threats and physical vulnerability of the Gran Santo Domingo area. Photo: UNDP
The most read New York Times article in 2016 was Why you will marry the wrong person. In a follow-up podcast, Author Alain de Botton outlines how the romantic ideal obstructs the clear analysis and application of time-tested criteria necessary before entering into, arguably, one of the most important decisions an individual can make. Marriage - at extreme ends both possibly rich and fruitful or miserably impoverishing - is often calculated in heady moments of euphoria and dreams. Poor decision making can have enormous emotional and financial costs, potentially spreading beyond the couple down to children and into future. He suggests that the vetting process should include one key question: “What makes you crazy?”. In other words, analyzing one’s flaws as well as considering what might be risky to the partnership or to one’s self will result in a much a better decision over the long haul. … Read more

Tobacco: A threat to our oceans

24 May 2017 by Roy Small, Policy Analyst, HIV, Health and Development Group, UNDP

cigarettes and plastic duck in waterCigarette filters are comprised of thousands of chemical ingredients, including arsenic, lead, nicotine and ethyl phenol, all of which leak into aquatic environments. Photo: flickr.com/photos/aceofknaves/
Tobacco is a significant threat to our oceans. Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide, by far the most littered item, with a significant percentage finding their way into our oceans and onto our shores. The problem is only likely to get worse, particularly as smoking rates continue to escalate in many low- and middle-income countries. Less well-known are tobacco’s negative impacts on sustainable development, including on oceanic systems. Yes, you read that right – tobacco is a significant threat to our oceans. Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide, by far the most littered item, with a significant percentage finding their way into our oceans and onto our shores. The problem is only likely to get worse, particularly as smoking rates continue to escalate in many low- and middle-income countries. This “last socially acceptable form of littering” is far more than just an unpleasant aesthetic. Cigarette filters are comprised of thousands of chemical ingredients, including arsenic, lead, nicotine and ethyl phenol, all of which leak into aquatic environments. In one lab study, the leachate from just one cigarette butt, placed into no more than one litre of water, killed half of all exposed marine and freshwater fish. … Read more

Innovation for development in Africa: Focus on the public sector

23 May 2017 by Marc Lepage, UNDP Africa regional innovation expert

Innovation in the public sector often occurs as a pressing need arises for a solution that would deliver improved services with tighter budgets, to citizens with increasingly higher expectations. Photo: UNDP Burundi
Over the years there have been many definitions of innovation, which unfortunately left the concept rather belabored. The reality is that it is a journey that governments and public sectors need to undertake – with the aim to change the lives of citizens. For us at UNDP, it is summed up by three principles: 1) No innovation happens in isolation. Innovation exists within a particular context, and is usually prompted and driven by a the ‘need to do better’. 2) Innovation is not high-tech. Innovation is 5% technology and 95% imagination. At a practical level, it is about analysing pressure points and thinking about creative ways of dealing with that. 3) Steal with pride (and learn). In many instances, what constitutes the best knowledge would not be in our immediate or usual environment. It is highly advantageous to venture outside our comfort zone and explore partnerships for improved performance. Innovation in the public sector is not very different from other sectors. It often occurs as a pressing need arises for a solution that would deliver improved services with tighter budgets, to citizens with increasingly higher expectations. … Read more

Not just more, but better – effective financing of the SDGs

22 May 2017 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.

Photo UN Sylvain Lechti - A woman in Goma greeting the Technical Support Committee of the Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region. Photo: UN Sylvain Liechti.
As discussions begin this week at the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development (FfD) Follow-up, we will no doubt be reminded that the costs of financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are enormous and that inadequate resourcing of the agenda is critically hindering progress. While the sum needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is unprecedented, the international community should remember there is no silver bullet to fund the SDGs. Bankrolling sustainable development cannot happen through global financing agendas alone, but should instead be built from a bottom-up, holistic and context-driven approach. As countries strive to manage increasingly complex financing flows at the national level, as domestic public and private resources increase, and as the sources of external resources diversify, we need urgent and targeted solutions. How then, given such a complicated landscape, can governments effectively mobilise and manage money for real development results? … Read more

Dollars and 'sense': Paying for our planet

22 May 2017 by Midori Paxton, Senior Technical Adviser, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Tigers in IndiaIn India, a 2015 study valued six tiger reserves at US$24 billion and US$1.2 billion per year. People travel half the globe to see tigers. Photo: UNDP
As today’s celebration coincides with the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, it is worth noting the role biodiversity and ecosystems play as the backbone of tourism in many places, and equally worth noting the crucial role that the tourism sector can play in conserving biodiversity. This is undeniably a nexus to pursue, particularly for financing effective conservation. … Read more

Internal compass for the implementation of SDG 14: Putting local people and communities at the centre

19 May 2017 by Sulan Chen, Programme Advisor, International Waters and Chemicals and Waste Management, UNDP

man repairing a fishnetIn Malaysia, the Small Grants Programme supported an initiative to address accidental capture of sea turtles in commercial and artisanal fisheries. Photo: SGP Malaysia
On 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the comprehensive and ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since then, life has continued and gone on in thousands of communities around the world, for whom the SDGs are probably of little significance. Indeed, political declarations or statements, if left with no implementation on the ground, are barely anything more than good wills. If, on the other hand, SDGs are people-centered, the focus should be on local people, communities and the ecosystems they rely on for their survival and prosperity. This, in my view, is the internal compass for the implementation of the SDGs. Now that the upcoming Ocean Conference confronts the world to implement SDG 14: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”, there is a need to strengthen its implementation at the local level. Guided by this internal compass, the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by UNDP has provided financial resources and technical guidance to communities and civil society organizations for the environment and sustainable development. … Read more