Using ancient traditions to break new economic ground

21 Sep 2015 by Tashi Dorji, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Portfolio Manager, UNDP in Bhutan

group of farmers in BhutanThe farmers' group ‘Dangdung Menrig Tshogpa’ participates in an awareness programme on the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) framework in Bhutan. Photo: UNDP Bhutan
Here in Bhutan, the people of Namther and Dangdung communities have been collecting 47 different varieties of medicinal plants. After more than 50 years of collecting plants and making traditional medicine, the villagers have found another way to reap the benefits of biological resources to enhance their livelihoods. With support from UNDP, the Global Environment Facility and Japan’s Nagoya Protocol, the communities have taken a giant leap from collecting traditional medicine plants for personal use to providing resources for commercial products. For communities whose livelihoods primarily depend on seasonal subsistence farming, using biological resources helps them fill in the deficit. … Read more

Geothermal energy, a bet on the future

17 Sep 2015 by Leo Isidro Heileman, Resident Representative, UNDP in Comoros

The Karthala volcano, ComorosThe Karthala volcano, peaking at 2361 metres altitude, is a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, hitherto unexplored. Photo: UNDP Comoros
In the Comoros, a small southwestern island nation in the Indian Ocean, electricity is almost 100 percent from fossil fuels, and the government is struggling to meet the energy needs of the country’s 700,000 inhabitants. For example, the people in the capital Moroni have just over five hours of electricity a day. In the three islands of the archipelago, the rates of access to electricity do not exceed 50 percent which inevitably impacts the economic activities of the country. But there are solutions. Located on the island of Grande Comore (Ngazidja) is the Karthala volcano, a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, unexplored to date. This active volcano – its last eruption was 2007 – rises 2,361 metres above sea level and could shift from a pervasive threat into opportunity for development. … Read more

Learning from adaptation experience means breaking down the context

03 Sep 2015 by Jennifer Baumwoll, Project Coordinator, Canada-UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Facility

woman farmer in fieldIn Tarrafal, Cabo Verde, Ms. Maria “Katy” Zaidy Soares Barbosa is one of the farmers working with extension workers to apply the agricultural research. Photo: UNDP/Jennifer Baumwoll
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. When it comes to climate change adaptation, it is often said that we must identify the lessons learned and share these lessons with other practitioners. Given the enormous challenge posed by climate change, we must constantly ask ourselves: how can we replicate or scale up what works? … Read more

The 100 day dash for climate action

22 Aug 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York

man in Guatemalan national parkA man looks out over the mountains in Parque Regional Todos Santos Cuchumatán, La Torre, Guatemala. The Environment and Poverty initiative in Guatemala is promoting the relationship between natural resource management and poverty reduction. Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti/UNDP Guatemala
Aug. 22 marks 100 days until the U.N. climate conference in Paris, France. Countries have made commitments, which give hope that an ambitious agreement may be possible. What makes an agreement ambitious? Above all, a push on all sectors and stakeholders so that development is climate-conscious and risk-informed. Development practitioners and climate experts need to work together. … Read more

Too much, too little, never enough

21 Aug 2015 by Dylan Lowthian, Communications Analyst, UNDP Media and Advocacy team

Benito VelasquezBenito Velasquez, a farmer from Torota, Bolivia, says erratic weather is affecting his crops. Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP
"I beg everyone to think. It’s not just one country – we have to think about the whole world. We have to say this to our leaders.” Benito Velasquez has farmed a modest patch of land in central Bolivia all his life. “Climate change is taking place”, he says. “We have lots of work to do. Maybe in 50 years we can repair what we have destroyed. We have to repair it.” I have come to meet Benito to see firsthand how changing weather patterns are affecting Bolivian farmers. The interview is part of a visit to four countries on three continents, to document the effect climate change is having on agricultural communities. … Read more

Decoding the alphabet soup of climate change

05 Aug 2015 by Carl Mercer, Advocacy, Partnerships & Communication, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team

 woman near waterA woman in Odisha, India on her way to fetch water. Women have been hit hardest by the extreme weather conditions. Many have to walk for long stretches in search of safe drinking water. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/UNDP India
Join any conversation on climate change this year and you’re likely to hear a host of confusing terms and acronyms: INDCs, NAPs, NAMAs, the GCF, COP21. Expanding doesn’t help much: ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, the ‘21st Conference of the Parties’ – they’re a mouthful and still not immediately clear. While this terminology was once restricted to technical reports, the terms are increasingly finding their way into newspapers, op-eds and social media. But many people don’t know what they are and insufficient attention has been paid to translating them into something accessible. … Read more

UNDP missions powered by the sun

03 Aug 2015 by William Allen, Communications Specialist, UNDP

workers install solar panelsWorkers install solar panels on the roof of the UNDP offices in Sierra Leone.
UNDP offices are looking to the sky to power their programmes. It's interesting to see what we have already accomplished, and how much more we can do. Solar power is a champion for many of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, including targets for resilient cities, infrastructure, and sustainable energy. It is a key to our global warming crisis, especially for sun-filled regions of the world. It creates an energy-independent environment with less noise and air pollution and sustainable, outage-free workplaces for UNDP and its partners. … Read more

Two journeys to drive climate change action

30 Jul 2015 by Daniel Price, Climate change scientist and Founder, Pole to Paris

The weird thing about climate change is that the driving mechanism of the problem is actually very simple: you have a gas, which when put in the atmosphere traps heat and in turn changes the climate system. While we understand where the problem comes from, solving it is incredibly difficult given the complexity of global politics, the economic system, competing interests, and the capacities of countries and societies. A significant challenge around this is public engagement and the difficulty in effectively communicating the issue. Not everybody is a scientist and the cause and effect can be vague for many. But an emerging new dialogue is changing the discourse, emphasizing that climate change isn’t only an environmental issue, but an everything issue. … Read more

The gender gap in extractive dependent countries

28 Jul 2015 by Degol Hailu, Senior Advisor, UNDP and Chinpihoi Kipgen, Research Associate, UNDP

DR CongoIn high extractive dependent countries, the average unemployment rate for women is 15% and 8% for men. Photo: UNDP in DR Congo
It is time to shift policy attention towards a gender sensitive fiscal expenditure in resource dependent economies. This means investing the revenues from oil, gas and minerals in women and girls so that they enjoy equal access to leadership positions and employment in fields where they are traditionally underrepresented. … Read more

In adaptation, understanding economics is priceless

06 Jul 2015 by Pradeep Kurukulasuriya, Head of Climate Change Adaptation Programming, UNDP and Mariana Simões Technical Specialist- Adaptation, UNDP-USAID Capacity Building Programme on the Economics of Adaptation, UNDP

farmers in CambodiaIn Ou Village, Siem Reap Province villagers are trained in planting techniques and drip irrigation installation as part of a climate-proofing agricultural practices adaptation project in Cambodia. Photo: Narith Mao/UNDP Cambodia
What is the right policy or incentive to encourage climate change adaptation? One could simply pick the one that is politically expedient and implement it. If it doesn’t work, make adjustments and try again. In many instances, this is exactly how public policy is defined, despite what is in textbooks or what best practice would suggest. Clearly, this kind of reactive approach has its limits. It doesn’t necessarily result in the most economically efficient choices being made. Understanding the economics of climate change adaptation is critical. In a world with competing demands for limited resources, governments can ask critical questions to form the most efficient policy. … Read more