Our Perspective

      • Measuring the high expectations of Latin America’s youth | Heraldo Muñoz

        22 Jul 2013

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        Two thirds of young people in Latin America are more optimistic about the future than the present. Photo: Wim Bouden/PNUD Perú

        Recent demonstrations sparked by young Latin Americans urge us to understand the demands of young people, and to address lingering structural problems in our societies, especially inequality. These protests are also an opportunity to rethink democratic governance in the 21st century, in the digital age of flourishing social media activism. The increasing frequency of such mobilizations tells us that young people want to actively participate in their society’s development. The first Ibero-American Youth Survey—which we launched with the Ibero-American Youth Organization and other partners on 22 July in Madrid— shows that young people in Latin America, Portugal and Spain expect their participation to increase over the next five years. Institutions should provide formal spaces for this, or protests will become the most effective way for young people to make their voices heard. And the region will waste an opportunity to enhance the quality of its democratic governance. We introduced in this survey the first Youth Expectation Index, based on our decades-long experience in the production of Human Development Indices. This new Index—which reflects young people’s perceptions and subjective values of social, economic and political rights—  revealed the same messages that young people in the region are conveying in the streets: they Read More

      • Rule of law key to maintaining development gains | Magdy Martinez Soliman

        19 Jul 2013

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        12,000 police officers have received basic police training in Somalia. Photo: UNDP in Somalia

        For the first time in history, the possibility of eradicating poverty is a reality. The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen across every developing region over the last 12 years. Yet, we face considerable challenges to human development largely shaped by growing inequalities within countries. Bad governance, poor health, low quality education, the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation continue to be the drivers of universal poverty. The rule of law is essential to address the current threats to progress on human development. No country affected by widespread conflict or fragility has achieved a Millennium Development Goal target. Effective security and justice systems are necessary to facilitate transitions out of fragility and conflict and to prevent violent crime. Moreover, the rule of law as the principle of governance that no one is above the law reinforces accountability to the law and establishes checks on power that reduce abuse of authority and corruption. Of course, the relationships between the rule of law and human development are complex and multi-faceted. The challenge will be to develop measurable targets and indicators for the Post-2015 framework that resonate within diverse country contexts and enable the political and social action at the Read More

      • Can states empower poor people? Your thoughts please | Duncan Green

        17 Jul 2013

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        Mobile money services have reached 450,000 people in five Pacific countries, a shift from an insecure, costly cash system. Inexpensive payment and savings services increase financial access for the poor.

        I’m currently writing a paper on how governments can promote the empowerment of poor people. Nice and specific then. It’s ambitious/brave/bonkers depending on your point of view, and I would love some help from readers. First things first. This is about governments and state action. So not aid agencies, multilaterals or (blessed relief) NGOs, except as bit players. And not state-as-problem: here I’m looking at where state action has achieved positive impacts. The idea is to collect examples of success and failure in state action, as well as build some kind of overall narrative about what works, when and why. Here’s where I’m currently at: Empowerment happens when individuals and organised groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realise that vision by changing the relations of power that have been keeping them in poverty. The current literature suggests a neat fit with a ‘three powers’ model first proposed by our own Jo Rowlands (I think). According to this reading, power for excluded groups and individuals can be disaggregated into three basic forms: - power within (a sense of rights, dignity and voice, along with basic capabilities). This individual level of empowerment is an essential precondition for collective action. Read More