The SDGs need a new measure of GDP

08 Dec 2015 by Degol Hailu, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

GDP per capita growth can go up while household income decreases. Inequality is an outcome of such divergence. Photo : UNDP in Zimbabwe
One of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is achieving economic growth. The target of goal 8 is to achieve “at least 7 per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth per annum in the least developed countries”. Achieving 7 per cent growth is in the high range. In a rush to meet such a target, social and environmental outcomes may be compromised. … 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

Ending AIDS: it takes more than two and a half men

01 Dec 2015 by Ludo Bok, Team leader, Development effectiveness, HIV, Health & Development Group, UNDP

two men setting up AIDS candlesThe All Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV lay out candles during a World AIDS day commemoration. Photo: UNDP
The media has gone crazy over the disclosure of the HIV status of one of America's most controversial stars, Charlie Sheen. Much of the reporting has been sensationalist, focusing on his multiple marriages and struggles with substance abuse. The majority of it has been dominated by prejudice and moral finger-wagging. Social media went into overdrive, as #Charliesheen trended around the world. Responses have been mixed, with reactions ranging from admiration for his very public coming out to speculation about how he contracted the virus and the vilification of sex workers. It also sparked discussions around confidentiality, blackmail and the legal implications of not disclosing his HIV status to his ex-partners. … Read more

What has salt got to do with development?

23 Nov 2015 by Daniel Franks, Chief Technical Advisor and Programme Manager, ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme, UNDP

Salt mine in DRHaitian workers transport salt at the Las Salinas mine, Dominican Republic. Photo: Reuters/Ricardo Rojas
Do you know where the salt that flavours your food comes from? What about the lime to set our concrete walls, the aggregate and the sand that pave our roads, the pigments that colour our paints, or the bricks that hold up our ceilings? Construction materials, dimension stones, industrial minerals and semi-precious stones are the hidden bedrock of our society, and the people that mine them in many parts of the world are often humble small-scale miners. These so-called “low value minerals” may not generate the same attention as diamonds, copper or gold, but their value lies in their potential to be minerals of development, boosting the livelihoods of millions of people. … Read more

World Toilet Day is no laughing matter

19 Nov 2015 by John Aravosis, Manager, Online and Digital Team, UNDP

World Toilet DayTo raise awareness around World Toilet Day 2015, UN Water placed a giant inflatable toilet in front of the UN Secretariat in New York. Photo: John Aravosis
World Toilet Day is on 19 November. And while the topic might at first sound funny, its implications are deadly serious for billions of people around the world. Today, 2.5 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation; and 1 billion still defecate in the open, a practice that has led to a significant number of diarrheal deaths among children under-five, among other health implications. … Read more

Will enclaved development be the scenario of the future?

30 Oct 2015 by Patrick Keuleers, Director, Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

In the extractive industries, it is not unusual to see companies supported by political elite-pacts confining themselves to compounds protected by private security firms, literally walled off from the local communities. Food, supplies, and even labour are flown from outside, while the extracted resources are exported to other countries for processing. Where this happens, operations are hardly connected with the local environment. And when labour is imported, these developments also fail to promote local employment opportunities. Inequality and enclaved development is also increasingly visible in capitals and large cities. Some capitals in resource rich countries have become extremely expensive cities, despite widespread poverty. … 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

How will the world we shape affect their lives?

19 Oct 2015 by Nguyen Viet Lan, Communication Analyst, UNDP in Viet Nam

Mong womanSung Thi My, 18, hopes that, unlike her, all her children will have the opportunity to go to school, to get better jobs, and to have a life she could only dream about. Photo: Nguyen Viet Lan/UNDP Viet Nam
Can an 18-year-old living in one of the world’s most remote places have a say in how the world is shaped? I met Sung Thi My during a field visit to the mountainous province of Yen Bai, where we were surveying people about the world they want in 2015 and beyond. The UN’s MY World survey is aimed at capturing people’s voices, views and priorities so world leaders can be informed, as they define the next set of global goals. … Read more

How are all countries, rich and poor, to define poverty?

16 Oct 2015 by Alessandra Casazza, Programme Advisor for MDGs/SDGs, UNDP

In Rwanda, a woman works in her tailoring shop. The World Bank recently updated the absolute poverty line to US$1.90 a day, reflecting changes in the average price of the goods and services people require in 15 developing countries, including Rwanda. Photo: Alice Kayibanda/UNDP Rwanda
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our new development compass. Its 17 goals and 169 targets provide countries – rich and poor – with the coordinates of the new ‘development north’, which more than 190 countries have committed to reach in the next 15 years. As of 1 January 2016, countries, like big vessels, will begin sailing towards this new development north from different harbors. But how will they calibrate their ‘navigation instruments’ to set their course? The 2030 Agenda is very clear in this respect. Paragraph 55 reads: ‘[…] Targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each Government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances.’ As an example, let us consider Sustainable Development Goal 1: ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’. … Read more

MDGs: Perspectives from the Pacific Region

13 Oct 2015 by Patrick Tuimaleali’ifano, Poverty Analyst, UNDP Fiji Multi-country Office

women in FijiWomen in Korociri, Fiji participate in the Food Security and Livelihoods Development project. Fiji achieved four of the seven MDG goals, and many of the targets towards the remaining three goals. Photo: Tomoko Kashiwazaki /UNDP.
In the Pacific, progress towards achievement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) has been uneven. Only two Pacific countries have achieved all the MDGs targets, three countries least half, and the rest of the countries achieving less than half. The majority of Pacific countries have managed to reduce the numbers of child mortality under five years and increase the number of children accessing primary level education. However, many Pacific Countries are off track or stagnant in halving the population living under the poverty line, improving the economic and political empowerment of women, combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and ensuring environmental sustainability. … Read more