Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls

09 Dec 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls In the scenic valley of Panjshir, a bridge built with UNDP support makes it possible for Bahara and her classmates to go to school. Photo: Omer/UNDP Afghanistan
In her 2013 memoir, activist Malala Yousafzai recounts a moment that changes not only the course of her destiny but that of many other young girls across the world. On a trip in northwest Pakistan, she comes across a girl selling oranges who is unable to read or write. Disturbed by the discovery that this girl had not received an education, Malala makes a decision that she famously continues to see through: “I would do everything in my power to help educate girls just like her. This was the war I was going to fight.” This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights. Malala’s example is what we all need to do more of: stand up for the rights of young women and girls in health, education and beyond. … Read more

Africa: To get the future we say we want, we’ve got to get rid of corruption

08 Dec 2016 by Njoya Tikum, ‎UNDP Africa Regional Anti-Corruption Advisor

One just needs to look at the newspaper headlines across Africa to see the continent’s struggle with corruption: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, all have seen corruption and bribery rise recently. According to the latest Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, “not a single country, anywhere in the world, is corruption-free”. But in sub-Saharan Africa, people in 40 out of 46 countries think theirs has a serious corruption problem. Africa has lost over USD 1 trillion to illicit financial flows over the last 50 years, as reported the African Union’s high level panel on illicit financial flows (IFFs), led by South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki. This is roughly equivalent to all the official development assistance the continent received during the same timeframe. According to the panel, companies and government officials are illegally moving as much as USD 60 billion out of Africa each year. From high-level political abuse to harassment by police officers, teachers, doctors or customs officials, corruption drains countries of resources, stifles small businesses and hampers education and healthcare. Together with lack of accountability and transparency, it is the most harmful barrier to development in Africa. … Read more

How to change the world in one word: Volunteer

05 Dec 2016 by Isabela Barriga, Communications Intern, United Nations Volunteers, Ecuador

UN Volunteers in Ecuador are working to improve conditions in areas affected by the recent earthquake. Photo: Juan Diego Pérez Arias/UNV
"Young people can change the world!" These words spoken by a youth representative from the Municipal Volunteer Network in Cuenca, Ecuador, made me think. In general, young people are told that they have the power to make a difference and create a better world, but this is often just left in words. How can youth really contribute to the development of their societies? My name is Isabela, I am of American and Ecuadorian nationality. I left the United States in July of 2016 through the United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) to explore how youth are contributing to the development of my second home, Ecuador, This is how I got to participate in the First Regional Meeting of Youth Volunteer Networks in Cuenca, where I had the opportunity to interact with young volunteers from Latin America and learn how volunteering contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region. … 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

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
Tobacco taxes have emerged as a proven gold standard intervention to stem the rising tide of health and development challenges. … Read more

Drivers of public services and policies of tomorrow – the role of government innovation labs

12 Oct 2016 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP and Laura Schnurr, Social Enterprise and Social Finance, Canadian Government and Innovation Facility, UNDP.

Kolba Lab, run by UNDP and the government of Armenia, held a mapathon of accessible places in Yerevan. Photo: @gorkroyan
What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘innovation’? The public sector? – Thought not. But we are working on changing this. Over the last three years, UNDP has set up innovation labs in five countries to support governments in designing the next generation of public services and to embark on experimental policy-design and another one is being set up right now. From Brazil, Colombia and Canada to South Africa, Israel, Malaysia and Singapore – the world map of labs is constantly growing. Government innovation labs, sometimes referred to as change labs, social labs or design labs, have been opening up in more and more places since the early 2000s. What are Public Sector innovation labs and how do they work? Government or public sector innovation labs are teams that combine expertise in innovation methods and public sector reform to improve policy design and the way governments deliver services to the public. Another important role of the labs is to help governments reframe challenges and to broaden the perspective of policy makers by bringing in the perspective of users. Labs help governments in creating better solutions based on citizen feedback and inputs. But ideally they are more than quick-solution delivery machines. … Read more

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

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