Post-Paris: paving the way for zero carbon growth

18 Dec 2015 by - Jo Scheuer, Director of Climate Change and DRR, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

women in mountainsIn 2016, we will build on our $2.3 billion climate portfolio across 140 countries and expand our support on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Photo: UNDP Turkey
Having witnessed the international community reach (and celebrate) a global climate deal in Paris last week, I have been reflecting on the journey that brought us here, as well as picturing the long but important road ahead. First, while there has been much talk about the relative significance of the Paris agreement, I would like to echo a sentiment expressed by the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert: the deal is a success simply because the alternative was no deal at all. Business as usual is not an option, and the Paris agreement, while not perfect, is a landmark that brings together 196 parties. The bottom-up nature of the agreement is certainly a worthy first step. … Read more

Here's to being called Ms. Cookstove for years to come

11 Dec 2015 by Kidanua Abera, Programme Analyst, Energy and Low Carbon Development, UNDP

Members of the Ethiopian government look at cookstove technology on a UNDP-supported experience sharing visit to India. Photo: UNDP Ethiopia
For the past few years, I’ve proudly been referred to in our office as ‘Ms. Cookstove’. I joined UNDP to work on the carbon market, specifically the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) capacity building programme for Eastern and Southern Africa. When people talk about international carbon trading, they usually talk about ‘big’ emitting industries. But in 2010, I learned about the importance of seemingly ‘small’ but equally devastating emitters such as the traditional three-stone open fire cooking method, used by the majority of rural households in Ethiopia. Three billion people across the world use this method of cooking, which not only contributes to serious health problems, but also contributes significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. … Read more

Ending violence against women: 3 ways to innovate

07 Dec 2015 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP

Egyptian women participate in the "Reporting on Violence Against Women Innovation Camp" to share ideas on how to report violence against women. The camp was supported by UNDP, The National Council for Women, and Vodafone Egypt. Photo: Ezzat/UNDP Egypt
The status quo is unacceptable. Globally, one out of three women experiences violence in her lifetime. Both the Sustainable Development Goals and the World Humanitarian Summit Report call for innovation to end this global pandemic. Given the complexity of gender-based violence (GBV) and its main underlying cause of persisting gender inequalities - how can development and humanitarian actors innovate? As a starter, let’s put the emphasis on the changes we want to achieve and not the “solutions” we create. … Read more

The ripple effect of volunteering for planet and people

04 Dec 2015 by Jennifer Stapper, Chief, Communications, United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme

youth planting treesStudents were mobilized to plant trees as part of education on sustainable agricultural practices from the Asia Youth Volunteer Exchange Programme in partnership with UNDP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Photo: UNV Zambia
What role can volunteerism play in the future of planet and people? Now that the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been adopted, we at United Nations Volunteers (UNV) are trying to gauge how our work can contribute to advancing those goals. As the world turns its attention to climate change, how can we be a part of the solution? UN Volunteers will be part of implementing practical and concrete tools to combat climate change. They will be the ones observing the tactics that work well on the ground and deciding whether these can be passed on across cultures. … Read more

Saving for a rainy day

02 Dec 2015 by Yusuke Taishi, Regional Specialist for Climate Change Adaptation, UNDP - Global Environment Finance Unit, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

people sitting around tableOne of the first farmers who received a WIBI payout for low rainfall in Tacunan, Tugbok District. Photo: UNDP Philippines
“Save for a rainy day” is probably the single most important piece of wisdom a farmer can follow. Farming is a risky undertaking everywhere, one that is at the mercy of capricious weather. But farmers in the Philippines (and many other developing countries) now face additional difficulties as climate change makes weather more unpredictable than ever. Traditional approaches to predicting the arrival of the rains are becoming less and less effective, with rain sometimes falling too sparsely and other times too hard. Crop insurance is a common safeguard. In the United States, 90 percent of total harvested cropland is insured. But in the Philippines, crop insurance products cover less than 10 percent of total rice and corn production. Moreover, insurance in the Philippines is “indemnity-based”, which means that the damage needs to be verified by an insurance agent and payouts typically take up to six months. … Read more

Cooperation and sharing can help combat climate change

27 Nov 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Chinese landscapeChina has pledged RMB 20 billion (US$3.13 billion) to support other developing countries in combating climate change through South-South cooperation. Photo: UNDP China
Around the world, countries are working towards ways to reduce climate change. And while individual countries must take into account local contexts, it is unnecessary to always “reinvent the wheel” with each new solution. Through the South-South cooperation (SSC), UNDP connects various stakeholders to form partnerships across the developing world for pursuing these solutions. On climate change and environmental sustainability, UNDP delivers a portfolio of US$2.3 billion, supporting over 140 countries in pursuing low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways. A central element of this work is South-South cooperation … Read more

Climate investment: burden or benefit for the poor?

30 Oct 2015 by Angelica Shamerina, Program Advisor for Climate Change and Regional Focal Point (Latin America and Caribbean), GEF Small Grants Programme

men in riverCommunity members work on a small hydro installation as part of the Small Grants Programme in the Dominican Republic.
Over time, most arguments against climate action have been pushed to the margins—we now have widespread acceptance of climate change’s threats and impacts, as well as an understanding of the mitigation and adaptation measures that need to be taken. However, one argument has stubbornly remained: that the issue is simply too costly to address. Thankfully, this thinking is starting to change. Technological advances, a better understanding of the relationship between energy access and poverty, and the importance of off-grid, low carbon solutions have all helped show that climate action is not a burden, but rather an essential aspect of poverty reduction. Indeed, prominent development thinkers argue that low carbon development is itself a path to growth. … Read more

Good practices for development: El Salvador’s contributions

27 Oct 2015 by Stefano Pettinato, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP in Belize and El Salvador

Good practices for development: El Salvador’s contributionsKids in Cojutepeque, El Salvador. In El Salvador, four MDG goals have been fulfilled (targets related to extreme poverty, education, gender equality, malaria and other major diseases, and access to water and sanitation). Photo: César Avilés / UNDP El Salvador
When El Salvador is at the center of international debates, it’s often focusing on the problems the country faces. People look at the glass half empty. But those of us who have the privilege of working and living in this country are aware of many valuable experiences that give El Salvador an edge in the process of adopting the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. If efforts are sustained, it might be possible to also achieve three targets that are lagged-behind (hunger, primary schooling, halt and reverse spread of HIV/AIDS). … Read more

Making energy efficiency visible

23 Oct 2015 by Marina Olshanskaya, Regional Technical Advisor, Energy, Infrastructure, Technology and Transport, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

kids in classroomIn an Uzbekistan school, the implementation of simple energy efficiency measures increased the classroom’s temperature from 10°C to 20°C, making for a much more comfortable learning environment. Photo: UNDP
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. The buildings where we live and work are responsible for over one-third of global energy needs and a correspondingly high share of CO2 emissions. Improving the energy efficiency in buildings is one of the most cost-effective climate mitigation solutions we have: one “negawatt” of saved energy costs much less to produce than generating a new watt from conventional or even alternative energy sources. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, there is a vast number of highly inefficient buildings, and a tremendous potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction and the production of negawatts. … Read more

As glacial lakes flood, the effect can be devastating

13 Oct 2015 by Rajeev Issar, Policy Specialist, Disaster & Climate Risk Governance, UNDP

glacier lakeTsho Rolpa Glacial Lake in Gaurishankar VDC, Dolakha district, Nepal. Photo: Deepak KC/UNDP Nepal
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 climate conference in December. Golf, yes. But GLOF? What is that? The increasingly apparent impacts of climate change have introduced this new term—an abbreviation for “glacial lake outburst flood”—to the world’s vocabulary. When glaciers melt, they sometimes form lakes on mountaintops. The water in these glacial lakes accumulates behind loose “dams” made of ice, sand, pebbles and ice residue. But these dams are inherently unstable and avalanches, falling boulders, earthquakes, or even simply the accumulation of too much water can unleash sudden, potentially disastrous floods in nearby communities. … Read more