Our Perspective

      • Social and political transformation can only be achieved with young people’s participation | Heraldo Muñoz

        17 Oct 2013

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        A group of young UN volunteers in Peru. (Photo: Win Bouden/UNDP Peru)

        Latin America and the Caribbean has around 156 million people between the ages of 15 to 29, which means that 26 percent of its population is young. However, only 1.63 percent of deputies and senators in 25 parliaments in the region are 30 years old or younger, according to a recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) assessment. More worrying still is the fact that women still lag behind: among the few young parliamentarians just 32 percent are women.     Having so many young people is an opportunity for any region. But in the case of Latin America, this demographic advantage coexists with unequal opportunities for its youth, which is reflected in low voter turnout among young people and a political representation crisis that feeds the recent social mobilizations. This confirms the need to boost efforts to meet young Latin Americans' demands and needs, and to recognize their capabilities and roles in promoting democratic change.     In this context, more than 22 young parliamentarians from 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean signed a pact to expand political participation of the youth of the region during a recent meeting in Brasilia, organized by UNDP, Brazil’s National Youth Secretary and the Ibero-American Youth Read More

      • Protecting people with disabilities in times of disaster | Jo Scheuer

        11 Oct 2013

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        Lahore resident Jamila Hasan and her disabled daughter negotiate their way across a flooded street. Photo: Tariq Saeed, IRIN

        Approximately 10 percent of the world's population lives with a disability. Often ignored, forgotten or stigmatized, people with disabilities not only struggle for daily recognition, but face life-threatening challenges in times of disaster. Those whose mobility is impaired cannot access evacuation routes; those with visual or hearing impairment don’t receive early warnings; and those dependant on health and other community infrastructure suffer disproportionately from disaster. During the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the death rate amongst people with disabilities was twice that of the general population, and when Hurricane Katrina hit the US in 2006, the immobile poor were disproportionately left behind in New Orleans. Fourteen percent of those who remained were living with a disability that made them physically unable to evacuate, while 23 percent were caring for a disabled person. October 13 is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction. The theme this year is ‘disability and disasters,’ a welcome move to draw awareness to the difficulties those with disabilities face in times of disaster. 157 countries have now signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities pledging, among other things, to protect persons with disabilities during conflict, humanitarian emergencies and disasters. In planning and preparing Read More

      • Energy and development: Did you cook your coffee with wood or with charcoal today? | Mina Weydahl

        09 Oct 2013

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        Christine Kyomugasho, 67, cooks using bio gas at her home in Uganda. (Photo: Matthias Mugisha/UNDP Uganda)

        With few exceptions, all of us engage in some sort of cooking every day, in various ways, and sometimes with varying success. Some of us cook with an electric stove, some with gas stoves, some cook outside, some inside. 2.7 billion people across the world cook with traditional stoves and with wood, charcoal and other so-called “traditional fuels.” Cooking with wood or charcoal is a bit more challenging than cooking with gas or electricity. First of all, it’s trickier to get – whether I buy wood or charcoal at the market or I actually go to the forest and get the wood myself, it takes a lot longer than turning on a gas flame or an electric stove. In the state of Himachal Pradesh in India, for example, rural women typically spend 40 hours collecting fuel every month, many of them walking more than 6 kilometers round trip. Secondly, traditional fuel is a lot heavier – a family cooking with wood will use, on average, 2400 kilograms per year. This can contribute to deforestation in areas where wood is the only affordable and available option. Thirdly, wood and charcoal produce more smoke than a gas or electric stove, depending on what Read More