Ukraine: Humanitarian assistance, recovery and development need to go hand in hand

10 Jan 2017 by Janthomas Hiemstra, Country Director, UNDP Ukraine

A metalware factory in Kramatorsk provides critical jobs for displaced people and local workers after being rebuilt through UNDP Ukraine's co-financing programme. Photo: UNDP Ukraine
The conflict in the Ukraine is, without doubt, a humanitarian crisis. Almost 10,000 people have been killed in the eastern region of Donbas alone. Among the victims, some 2,000 people were civilians. Another 22,000 people have been wounded, millions are displaced and living dangerously close to heavy fighting. This crisis has affected millions, despite repeated ceasefires. The Ukraine crisis is also a crisis of development. Amid the human tragedy, concerns about development are often easy to overlook. But the impact can be devastating in the long-term. Basic infrastructure is put under enormous stress in a conflicts like this one, and that stress can lead to economic decline, eventually weakening the delivery of crucial social services in regions like Donbas. If we do not address human welfare and social development concerns, the impact of the conflict is likely to worsen dramatically. The burden will fall particularely on the elderly, the disabled, the poor, women and youth. This is why UNDP has set up its presence in Eastern Ukraine. for the past two years, UNDP has made its priority to contribute in finding solutions to everyday problems affecting the local population. … Read more

Our perspectives in 2016

29 Dec 2016

International Day of the Girl Child showed us how young women and girls are fighting inequality all over the world. Pictured here are young female computer coders in Kosovo. UNDP photo
This year UNDP celebrated its 50th anniversary and began the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was a momentous year. And helping to narrate it all was our huge network of experts and development practitioners around the world. At UNDP, one of our greatest strengths is our global reach; we’re on the ground in some 170 countries working with governments and citizens from all walks of life. Our blog is where UNDP officials and staff come to share their experience with you and offer their personal take on UNDP’s work. The blog is a space for UNDP colleagues to discuss their work and exchange ideas and opinions. But this year we also opened up our platform to outside voices through a guest blog exchange series with OECD Development Matters that focused on the SDGs. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the many blog posts we published this year … Read more

Why I have hope for my country, Haiti

20 Dec 2016 by Barbara Calixte, Project Manager, Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

My name is Barbara Calixte. I want to tell you about my people, the Haitian people and why we have hope for our country. I joined UNDP after the 2010 earthquake. Seeing such extensive destruction and damage, I knew I wanted to help rebuild my country. With reputation of working hand-in-hand with the Haitian people, UNDP was, for me, an ideal place. It was without a doubt one of the most important decisions of my life. After the earthquake, UNDP supported the government in relief and recovery work. We empowered communities to rebuild smarter and strengthened their ability to respond to future disasters. We talked to people who lost practically everything but who still had pride, will and hope that Haiti could get back on its feet. … Read more

Resilient people and institutions: Ecuador’s post-earthquake challenge

12 Dec 2016 by Carlo Ruiz, Recovery Unit Coordinator, UNDP Ecuador

Resilient people and institutions: Ecuador’s post-earthquake challengeIn the wake of the April 2016 earthquake, UNDP has trained hundreds of homeowners on the principles of earthquake-resistant construction. Photo: UNDP Ecuador
No one is really prepared for an emergency until they’ve had to live through one. And the 16 April earthquake in Ecuador put us to the test. With the drawdown in the humanitarian response phase that is providing relief to survivors and victims, the hustle and bustle is dying down. Remnants of the disaster can be seen everywhere, and an idea of what the near future will bring and people’s resilience – their capacity to cope – is taking shape. During tours of the affected areas, I saw that people have, to a greater or lesser extent, a natural conviction that pushes them to overcome the situation they are in. Shortly after a catastrophe hits, whether from the need to survive or from attempts to recover the normality that has been ripped from them, men and women begin to help each other out. They get together and cook, and they care for, console and support each other. In places such as Pedernales, one of the hardest hit areas, just days following the tragedy, people had set up cooking hearths and places to prepare food to sell outside destroyed businesses. They organized games of ecuavoley (Ecuadorian-style volleyball) in streets where rubble was still being cleared. Disasters hit poor people the hardest. This is why it is crucial to work on recovery of livelihoods starting in the emergency response period. People who can manage to earn a living can overcome the psychological impact of adversity more quickly. This has been a key factor in the post-earthquake process in Ecuador. The institutional structure is another element that affects how fast communities recover. Having a response system, with mechanisms to quickly and strategically identify needs, makes recovery efforts more effective. Communities are more vulnerable if local authorities are absent and exercise less authority to ensure, among other things, compliance with building and land-use standards. … Read more

Financing the SDGs in the Pacific: Maximizing new opportunities

07 Dec 2016 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance, UNDP

Pacific island nations like Tuvalu must secure resources not only to meet development priorities but also to adapt to climate change. UNDP photo
Pacific island countries such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are among the countries most vulnerable to extreme weather events and climate change. Just last year, Cyclone Pam ripped through Vanuatu and caused damages estimated at over 60 percent of GDP, in addition to 11 lives lost and widespread damage to homes and livelihoods. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the Pacific loses US$300 million a year through disasters alone. And such events are expected to become more frequent and more severe with the predicted impacts of climate change. With Pacific islands at the forefront of climate change impacts, they need to secure resources not only to meet development priorities such as improving health and education but also to adapt to climate change, build resilience and withstand sudden (often very large) economic and environmental shocks. Where will these resources come from, and how can Pacific islands make most effective use of these funds? These were the topics of a recent workshop co-organized by UNDP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) in Fiji, which brought together policymakers from the Pacific islands and experts from major bilateral and multilateral finance providers. When it comes to resource mobilization, many Pacific islands have made important strides to increase domestic resources over recent years. For example, through the Narue Agreement – which establishes the terms and conditions for issuing foreign fleets with licenses to fish in the Pacific – eight Pacific island countries have been able to increase fishing revenues from $100 million to over $500 million over the last five years. And there is room to increase this even further in the future. … Read more

It’s time for a climate revolution. Can the Paris Agreement take us there?

01 Dec 2016 by Daniela Carrington, Climate Change Policy Advisor, UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub

It’s time for a climate revolution. Can the Paris Agreement take us there?The Paris Agreement on climate change represents a ground-breaking global accord. At the COP22 conference in Marrakesh, decision-makers moved to implement the deal. Photo:
A year ago, against all expectations, delegates in Paris agreed on a ground-breaking new deal to take action on global warming. In less than a year, the agreement came into force and was ratified by 113 nations, together accounting for 75 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. It was unprecedented in the history of international agreements. At the COP22 climate conference in Marrakesh, decision-makers moved quickly to begin to implement the deal. Here are a few of the key results. … Read more

Decarbonizing development

22 Nov 2016 by Kishan Khoday, Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

The Union Cement Company plant in United Arab Emirates uses a waste heat recovery system to generate 82 MWh of zero-emission electricity per year. UNDP photo
The Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force this month, following its rapid ratification by countries around the world. The Agreement has the goal of keeping global temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius rise relative to pre-industrial levels. This would avoid the worst effects of climate change, as rising greenhouse gas emissions jeopardize achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, threatening to exacerbate disasters, poverty and inequality the world over. The latest Assessment Report (AR5) issued by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights that to keep the planet within the 2 degree Celsius target, we must cut global emissions in half by 2050 and achieve zero net emissions by 2100. This entails a major change of course, with new zero-carbon models of development a key part of the action agenda. Energy consumption accounts for two-thirds of global emissions, so the goal of decarbonizing development hinges on reducing the energy intensity of growth, especially in countries with high carbon footprints. Morocco, host of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN climate change convention, is emerging as a leader in climate action. This year it launched the first phase of its Noor solar power plant. When fully operational this will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) facility. … 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

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate services

09 Nov 2016 by Bonizella Biagini, Manager, Programme on Climate Information for Resilient Development in Africa, UNDP

Sub-Saharan Africa needs next-generation weather and climate servicesA worker installs an all-in-one automatic weather station (AWS) on a cell phone tower near Kotido, Uganda. Five AWS have been set up across the country through the Strengthening Climate Information and Early Warning Systems project. Photo: Solomon Mangeni
In Tanzania, a lightning strike killed a teacher and six students in 2015 – another sad example of the thousands of deaths that could be avoided with the effective deployment of modern weather and climate services, including early warnings for extreme weather events like lightning, flooding and drought. Providing these services not only saves lives but also is central to building resilience to climate change, empowering nations and strengthening livelihoods across Africa’s most vulnerable communities. As we take the mandates established in Paris and move on to the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, it becomes very clear that providing accurate, timely and reliable weather, water and climate information will be key in supporting the efforts of leaders across sub-Saharan Africa to build resilience to climate change and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. When used to improve decision making, hydro-meteorological, or hydromet, information can empower nations, save thousands of lives every year, and strengthen livelihoods across a region that has contributed the least to human-induced climate change but is among the most vulnerable to its effects. … Read more