Leave no one and no city behind

02 May 2016 by Hanne Kristoffersen, Crisis Governance Specialist, UNDP

By Tammam Azzam, Freedom Graffiti II.By Tammam Azzam, Freedom Graffiti II
The world has witnessed rapid and often unplanned urban growth. Cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost. Between now and 2030, the world’s urban population is projected to grow by 1.5 billion people. More than 90 percent of that urban growth will occur in areas located in the developing world, mostly in Africa and Asia. Urbanization and cities present opportunities for enhancing the economic prospects of countries and improving the lives of many. But rapid urbanization and rapidly expanding cities also pose challenges, especially to countries already grappling with a range of development priorities. Frequently, the urbanization process is poorly managed, resulting in inequitable, exclusionary and fragmented cities with marginalized populations. This can fuel an increased risk of violence. … Read more

Laws criminalizing drug possession can cause more harm

20 Apr 2016 by Tenu Avafia, Team Leader, Rights, Law and Treatment Access, HIV, Health and Development and Rebecca Schleifer, Consultant, HIV, Human Rights and the Law

Coca farmers in BoliviaCoca farmers sell coca leaves at a market in Villa 14 de Septiembre village in Bolivia. Photo: Carlos Cazalis/Corbis
In many countries, a criminal record, even for a minor offense, can have serious implications. Being convicted of a crime makes you ineligible for certain jobs, social programmes or benefits or from even being able to exercise your right to vote. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has identified illicit drugs and crime as a “severe impediment” to achieving sustainable development. But poorly devised drug control policies can also be harmful to people and societies. … Read more

The road to transparency

12 Apr 2016 by Abdul Riza, Senior Operations Specialist, Transparency

Transparency teamUNDP's transparency team discusses best practices for the open.undp.org site. Photo: Freya Morales/UNDP
As UNDP marks its 50th anniversary year, we’re also now celebrating another milestone. We’ve been ranked as the most transparent aid organization by Publish What You Fund for the second consecutive year - a milestone in UNDP’s road to attain transparency by making its information publicly available. Looking back at this road, it all started with our commitment towards adopting the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard to report on development projects. The key to success is to “start with what you have” and take small steps towards making gradual improvements to achieve full compliance. When UNDP started publishing to IATI in 2011, our biggest challenge in adopting the IATI Standard was the cultural shift needed. UNDP operates in nearly 170 countries and territories. As country offices provide the main data sources, incorporating IATI into their daily routine was inevitable. … Read more

Securing our societies from the threat of senseless terrorism

11 Apr 2016 by Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

Ten of the eleven countries with over 500 deaths due to violent extremism in 2014 also have the largest number of refugees, migrants, and IDPs. Photo: Central African Republic
Since 2000, we have witnessed a more than ten-fold increase in the number of deaths from violent extremism and terrorism - from 3,329 victims in 2000 to 32,685 in 2014. And the death toll keeps rising. During the first months of 2016, more than 200 terrorist attacks claimed over 2500 victims. These incidents have taken place in all corners of the world and the diversity of countries shows the ubiquity of the challenge. Many attacks have been linked to well-known violent extremist groups, while others were perpetrated by lone wolfs or attributed to ongoing conflicts and civil wars. … Read more

If prevention is the best cure, we have to do better in fragile states

04 Apr 2016 by Claire Leigh, Advisor, New Deal Implementation Support, Strategic Policy Unit, UNDP

Justice and security are central to crisis recovery in fragile countries. In Somaliland, Sexual Assault Referral Centres have been established with UNDP’s support. Photo: UNDP Somalia
Not all humanitarian crises can be anticipated or prevented, but man-made crises involving conflict and state failure can be and must be. This puts states affected by conflict and fragility front and centre of discussions leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit in May. This week, the 5th Global Meeting of the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding in Stockholm will emphasize the connection between revitalising the fragile states agenda and addressing the recent surge in humanitarian crises. In 2011, the International Dialogue oversaw the adoption of the New Deal For Engagement In Fragile States, a landmark international framework signed by over 40 major bilateral and multilateral agencies and countries. … Read more

Six reasons you should care about (yet) another international summit

01 Apr 2016 by Izumi Nakamitsu, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator, Crisis Response Unit leader

women at marketLebanese women sell clothes at the UNDP-supported Marj market in the village of Marj in the Bekaa Valley, east of Lebanon. The project helps support communities who are hosting Syrian refugees. Photo: Dalia Khamissy/UNDP
On May 23rd, world leaders will come together for the first ever World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in Istanbul. I know that sentence won't necessarily make you want to read on. I get it. But here are six reasons why this summit deserves your attention. 1. Because the scale of the humanitarian crisis is no exaggeration We have the highest level of humanitarian needs since the Second World War. More than 60 million people have had to flee their homes--the majority women and children. And the average length of displacement is now 17 years. Conflicts are more complex than ever before and, according to some estimates, the cost of conflict and violence now accounts for more than 13 % of the total global economy. Climate change adds extra volatility to the situation. … Read more

What pushes young people to extremism?

18 Mar 2016 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

 Violent extremism poses the single biggest threat to Africa's steady journey to prosperity. In Kenya, a peace building and conflict resolution programme targets youth. Photo: UNDP Kenya
Last April, Mohamed, a carpenter in a fishing town along Kenya's coast, saw a photograph of Suleiman, the second of his five sons, on the evening news. The 24-year-old was among six young men declared dangerous members of al-Shabab, with a bounty on their heads. Less than a year later, Suleiman was among four al-Shabab suspects killed in a reported shootout with the police. Suleiman's father says that growing up, his son was respectful, dynamic, and refused to accept that the circumstances of his birth should condemn him to a life of poverty. The entire family saw Suleiman as their way to a better life. To meet their high expectations, Suleiman concluded he had to leave not only his town, but also Kenya. He planned to become a driver in Saudi Arabia. But to get there, he needed money to pay agents to organize his trip. … Read more

The Paris Agreement brings potential for transparency

17 Mar 2016 by Rocío Noriega, Coordinator, Anti-corruption program, UNDP Chile and Sergio García, Communications Manager, Environment and Energy, UNDP Chile

In Paris, a public registry of NDC in the first half of 2016 was created, with the mission to collect all contributions to global climate action. Photo: UNDP Guatemala
COP21 closed with the adoption the first universal agreement to combat climate change. This agreement pledges to contain global warming well below 2° C, adapt better to climate impacts, and enable a more effective flow of climate change funding to developing countries. This is truly innovative because it will commit countries to be publically accountable regarding everything they do to combat climate change at the national level. The new global climate agreement does not impose quotas for reducing greenhouse gas emissions nor concrete adaptation plans. On the contrary, it relies directly on the commitments that each country decides to make internally – intended nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This is why it is necessary to reach the set reduction target of 2° C. … Read more

Open Innovation Challenges find new perspectives and solutions to complex problems

09 Mar 2016 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP

Students in Moldova are providing feedback on ideas developed during the EduSoft Challenge. Photo: Moldova
This week, UNDP launched a new policy. Another set of rules is usually not an occasion to celebrate. But this one is, because it mirrors what innovation can look like. UNDP tackles the toughest development challenges in the world. And we’re committed to finding the best-fit solutions to those challenges. Sometimes the best ideas come from outside our walls. The new policy formally makes “Open Innovation Challenges” a part of UNDP’s procurement rules, so offices can find and fund great solutions from any source. An Open Innovation Challenge is a structured process to find new solutions. Broadly it goes like this: identify a development problem, create and publicize an Open Innovation Challenge with prizes for solving that problem, get the most capable participants to compete, and offer the reward to the winner. Such an Open Challenge can also help to reveal more about the problem itself. … Read more

Transforming local communities amidst conflict

03 Mar 2016 by Hanne Kristoffersen, Crises Governance Specialist, UNDP

woman being interviewdLocal woman, of a family of six, is interviewed at the market place in Rutshuru, North Kivu. Photo: UNDP DRCongo
I’ve visited Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo several times over the last seven years. During this time, two violent conflicts took place between rebels and the Congolese state, with the citizens caught in between. The recurrent fighting for control of the mineral rich and fertile soils of Eastern Congo has uprooted and traumatized whole communities, leaving the local economy in ruins and people poor and powerless. Most valuable are cassiterite and coltan, used in the electronic equipment and cell phones underpinning the technological revolution. … Read more