Helen Clark welcomes Pope Francis' climate change encyclical

18 Jun 2015 by John Aravosis, Manager, Online and Digital Team, UNDP

UNDP Administrator Helen ClarkBuilding resilience to climate change in the agriculture sector is a central issue in Lao PDR, where almost a third of GDP (29.9 percent) is generated through the agriculture sector, and approximately 80 percent of the population is engaged in agricultural activities. Photo: Luke McPake/UNDP Laos
Pope Francis today issued an encyclical in which he called climate change a “principal challenge” for humanity. In the 184-page letter, Pope Francis noted that the poor are the most vulnerable to climate change, and the Pontiff urged that “swift action” be taken to “confront the crisis.” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark praised the Pope’s climate message. … Read more

Why rice farmers are key to tackling climate change in the Philippines

17 Jun 2015 by Alexandra Soezer, MDG Carbon Project Manager, UNDP

rice paddyIn the Philippines, rice is the most important crop and its agriculture represents 11% of the growing GDP of the country.
When I began supporting the Philippines Programme for rice cultivation, I saw it through the lens of climate change mitigation. The logic was, if we made some necessary improvements to cultivation methods, we could reduce greenhouse gas emission (GGE) and help mitigate climate change. This is especially important in a country where 29 percent of the GGEs come from rice cultivation. However, I quickly learned was that although you might be driven and committed to work towards reducing global warming, it does not necessarily lead to the critical buy-in of stakeholders like the Department of Agriculture, the National Irrigation Administration, and farmers. … Read more

Sustainable energy, climate change and disasters

18 May 2015 by Martin Krause, Head of Global Energy Policy and Regional Climate, Energy and Disaster Resilience Team Leader for Europe and Central Asia

Man lighting an improved wood stoveEnergy efficient cook stoves require less wood or charcoal and thus reduce deforestation and land degradation, helping to avert landslides and floods. Photo: UNDP Burundi
In 2007, a lack of rainfall resulted in low water levels in rivers and lakes in Albania, severely hampering hydropower generation and resulting in frequent power outages across the country. Examples such as this exemplify the relationship between energy and development, highlighting how insufficient and intermittent energy access hampers development progress. … Read more

Inside UNDP: Jorge Álvarez

06 Apr 2015 by Jorge Álvarez, Programme Officer, Energy and Environment, Peru

 Jorge Álvarez with community members from UNDP’s sustainable land management project in Las Bambas, Apurímac, Peru. Photo: UNDP/Peru
Jorge Álvarez, from Peru, is an agricultural engineer who has worked for UNDP for over five years and is on the roster of Peruvian national experts of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He is motivated by the desire to raise public awareness on the importance of taking care of the planet and its resources, to generate tangible changes in his country, and to leave to his children a legacy of a cleaner and sustainable Peru. … Read more

Technological hazards: From risk reduction to recovery

11 Feb 2015 by Armen Grigoryan, Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Advisor, Europe and Central Asia

Chernobyl, UkraineChernobyl exclusion zone in the town of Prypiat, Ukraine. Most of the Chernobyl-affected areas suffer from high unemployment and poverty, while residents suffer from victim syndrome, a dependency culture, and lack the information. Photo: UNDP in Ukraine
This past December marked the 30th Anniversary of the Bhopal disaster—3,000 people were killed and another 170,000 injured when a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, leaked chemical substances into the air. Regarded by many as one of history’s worst industrial accidents, Bhopal remains a horrific reminder of risks we continue to face today in an ever-industrializing world. According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, 192 technological disasters were reported worldwide in 2013.  Technological hazards are expected to grow as urbanization and industrialization spread, and as climate change brings increasingly unpredictable threats to technological infrastructure. To date, no global agreement is in place for preventing and preparing for technological disasters. While there are a number of regional and sectoral frameworks, as well as mechanisms and policies to address various types of technological disasters, we lack an overarching framework that is equipped to address the sheer complexity of issues and diversity of actors involved. The post-2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) offers a unique opportunity to address precisely this, and it gives us a real opportunity to strengthen national coordination and legislative frameworks, and to expand the capacities of all stakeholders for all risks, including technological ones. If … Read more

Latin America at a crossroads on climate and access to energy

22 Sep 2014 by Susan McDade

Woman in front of her fridge in Nicaragua About 10 million people, mostly rural poor, have gained access to modern energy services through UNDP-supported projects over the past decade. Photo: UNDP IN nICARAGUA
World leaders gathered at the Climate Change Summit  during the United Nations General Assembly have a crucial opportunity. In addition to mobilizing political will and advancing solutions to climate change, they will also need to address its closely connected challenges of increasing access to sustainable energy as a key tool to secure and advance gains in the social, economic and environmental realms. This is more important than ever for Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though the region is responsible for a relatively low share of global greenhouse gas emissions - 12 percent according to UN figures - it will be one of the most severely affected by temperature spikes.  And the region faces new challenges. Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2030, and, although nearly 60 percent is generated from hydroelectric resources, the share of fossil fuel-based generation has increased substantially in the past 10 years, mainly from natural gas.  Now is the time for governments and private sector to invest in sustainable energy alternatives—not only to encourage growth while reducing carbon emissions, but also to ensure access to clean energy to around 24 million people who still live in the dark. Latin America and the Caribbean is … Read more

How can we ‘walk the talk’ towards sustainable energy for all

04 Jun 2014 by Arun Kashyap, Resident Coordinator & Resident Representative

solar panelsUNDP and other sister UN agencies in Jamaica are using solar power for a green energy environment. Photo: UNDP Jamaica
Jamaica is an inefficient user of electricity, according to a recent Worldwatch Institute’s report. High energy costs, including electricity at $0.42 per kilowatt-hour, are increasingly becoming a burden for Jamaicans, directly affecting the country’s development. Jamaican citizens as well as the Government, are demanding and encouraging lower energy costs through new alliances with businesses and institutions to implement energy conservation measures while boosting the use of alternative energy sources. We’re in this together. UNDP has supported the Government’s Energy Policy roadmap 2009-2030 to transform the sector through energy efficiency and diversification. It commits to a minimum target of 30 percent renewable energy in its portfolio by 2030, in line with the UN Secretary General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.  We have also supported the National Energy Action Plan to improve energy efficiency and conservation. Energy affects us all, including our own UNDP bills. In line with what we preach, our office decided to “walk the talk” and pursue a clean energy path. This included applying a ‘cool roof’ technology in our UNDP Kingston office. Nearly 464 square metres of metal sheet roof were treated to cool down office temperatures by 5-10 degrees—greatly reducing the use of air conditioning. Additionally, over 600 … Read more

From science-fiction to reality: A world without electrical power

20 May 2014 by Bahareh Seyedi, Energy Policy Specialist

  Universal access to modern energy services is achievable by 2030. There are no fundamental technical barriers, and proven and innovative solutions exist.
This week is the season 2 finale of “Revolution”, an American science fiction television series that takes place 15 years after the start of a worldwide, permanent electrical-power blackout.  Now you may wonder why this is the start of a UNDP blog. Let me elaborate: Far from the entertainment industry and the fictional world depicted in this drama series, a world without access to energy is a reality for 1.3 billion people worldwide who are without electricity and for 2.6 billion living without clean cooking facilities. Energy affects all aspects of our livelihood, from the way we prepare our food and keep our homes warm to our education, health, and environment.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, close to 80% of people still use wood, animal waste, charcoal and other pollution-causing fuels to cook their food and heat their homes. In 2012 alone, 4.3 million people died because of indoor air pollution due to these types of fuels… more than those killed by malaria and HIV/AIDs combined.  In India, for the 25% of the population who lives without electricity, access to energy means more children can go to school and study after dark, more women can invest in starting up a business or taking … Read more