Sustainable agriculture key to green growth and reducing poverty

02 Jul 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

palm oil in IndonesiaIndonesia’s palm oil smallholders, who produce about 40% of the country’s palm oil, are plagued by bad production techniques. Photo: UNDP in Indonesia
The production of agricultural commodities, such as palm oil, beef, soy, coffee, and cocoa, plays a pivotal role in global efforts to improve livelihoods across the globe. Sadly, agriculture is also the main driver of deforestation today, and is threatening to devastate the very environment upon which we depend to survive. In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues … 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

If oceans were a country...

08 Jun 2015 by Johan Robinson, Technical Advisor for Sustainable Development, UNDP Asia Pacific

Fishermen in waters off São Tomé and PríncipeIf the ocean were a country it would have the seventh largest economy in the world – larger than Brazil’s or Russia’s. Photo: UNDP São Tomé and Príncipe
I recently went diving among some of the amazing coral reefs of Indonesia. Their sheer beauty is beyond description, and their value is beyond calculation. But let’s try to put it in perspective. The World Wildlife Fund recently estimated that the total asset base of the ocean is valued at US$24 trillion, and the annual “gross marine product” is at least US$2.5 trillion. If the ocean were a country it would have the seventh largest economy in the world – larger than Brazil’s or Russia’s. … Read more

How agro-commodity traders can help the SDGs and reduce poverty

29 May 2015 by Andrew Bovarnick, Global Head of the Green Commodities Programme, Sustainable Development Cluster, UNDP

cocoa podsGhana’s cocoa is produced by thousands of smallholder farmers, spread over six of the country’s 10 regions. Photo: COCOBOD
With the global population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, we face a dual challenge: ensuring the continued production of agricultural commodities, such as soy, palm oil, cattle, coffee and cocoa, without destroying the planet’s natural resources that humanity depends on to survive. Agricultural commodities are the bedrock of many rural developing economies, contributing to vital economic growth and the ongoing fight against poverty. As such, they play a critical role in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. … Read more

A cup of coffee, spiced with biodiversity

22 May 2015 by Santiago Carrizosa, Senior Technical Advisor, Sustainable Development Cluster

farmers plant seedlingsFarmers in Colombia plant seedlings of native plants for a biological conservation corridor in an area of coffee farms. Photo: UNDP in Colombia
Today is the International Day of Biological Diversity, which has for me deep personal, professional and cultural significance. Working in Latin America and Caribbean region, I have witnessed firsthand the profound dependence that we all have on the natural world – especially people who work closely with the land and sea. In UNDP, we are committed to harnessing this reliance in ways that improve biodiversity and people’s lives. … 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

POPs Hunter: Smartphone game spreads serious message about pollutants

08 May 2015 by Patrick Haverman, Deputy Country Director, UNDP China

Primatologist and conservationist Jane Goodall holds a POPs publicity poster during a visit to UNDP.Renowned conservationist and UN Messenger of Peace Jane Goodall shows support for the #StopthePops campaign during a visit to UNDP in Beijing. Photo: UNDP China
Heptachlor, Mirex, Toxaphene, Endrin – these are not part of our everyday vocabulary, but without knowing it many of us come into contact with them on a regular basis. In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice. … Read more

Financing for development in resource-rich countries

01 May 2015 by Degol Hailu, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development

Photo: UNDP in Zimbabwe
Decline in commodity prices is threatening the availability of funds for development. A promising option for resource-rich countries is to capture a bigger share of the profits generated from the exploitation of their natural resources. In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues … Read more

Vanuatu begins rebuilding but faces severe challenges

14 Apr 2015 by Silke von Brockhausen, Communication Specialist, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy

Damage from Cyclone Pam in VanuatuCyclone Pam has passed, but Vanuatu residents will need months, if not years, to recover from its devastation. Photo: Silke von Brockhausen/UNDP
Descending into Vanuatu’s international airport in Port Vila, I could see the devastation Cyclone Pam caused on March 13, sweeping nearly two dozen islands. What used to be a lush green landscape is washed brown by saltwater, trees are dead and uprooted, and houses have lost their roofs. … Read more

Why more tigers in India is good news for us all

25 Mar 2015 by Midori Paxton, Regional Technical Advisor, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Bangkok

 There were roughly 100,000 tigers in 1900; that number has tumbled to 3,200 in 2014. UNDP Photo
My first encounter with a wild tiger was pure drama. I was on safari in India’s Nagarhole National Park and only a few minutes into our game drive, the forest erupted into bedlam. There it was, slipping effortlessly through the dry season undergrowth as everybody held their breaths in a spellbound silence. But, once the safari over, I felt the pangs of loss. How much longer before this majestic creature is extinct? Tigers’ decline has been catastrophic. There were roughly 100,000 tigers in 1900.  Poached for traditional medicine, hunted for sport and hounded by the destruction of their habitats this number has tumbled to just 3,200 in 2014. Last month, for the first time in decades, tigers featured in some good news. The Indian government announced an increase in wild tiger numbers from 1,706 in 2010 to 2,226 – a 30 percent bounce back. These astonishing results didn’t come out of nowhere. India is the only country that has an official body, mandated to ensure the nuts and bolts of tiger recovery: regular population surveys, habitat and population monitoring, law enforcement etc.   India is taking a landscape approach. To protect a tiger one needs to set aside areas strictly for … Read more