Our Perspective

      • How can advocacy NGOs become more innovative? Your thoughts, please | Duncan Green

        19 Mar 2014

        image
        The manager of a milk-chilling centre in India, part of a collaboration between UNDP India and the IKEA Foundation launched in 2009 to help empower women socially, economically and politically. (Photo: Graham Crouch/UNDP)

        Innovation. Who could be against it? Not even Kim Jong Un, apparently. People working on aid and development spend an increasing time discussing it – what is it? How do we get more of it? Who is any good at it? Innovation Tourette’s is everywhere. Most of that discussion takes place in areas such as programming (what we do on the ground) or internal management (the unquenchable urge to restructure), drawing on innovation thinking in the private sector, government and academia. But another (increasingly important) area of our work – advocacy/influencing – feels a bit absent from the innovation circus, so I’ve been asked to crowdsource a few ideas. Help me out here. In advocacy, we see plenty of innovation already, in new themes (e.g. a range of tax campaigns in the wake of the financial crisis) and players (online outfits such as Avaaz and change.org). But we also see a fair amount of business as usual: the cycle of policy papers, recommendations, lobby meetings, media work and consultations grinds on, not always to great effect. At a higher level, there is lots of really innovative thinking going on about how to operate in complex systems, but that tends to be Read More

      • Democracy: Where are women, youth, indigenous people and people of African descent? | Gerardo Noto

        10 Mar 2014

        image
        (Photo: Álvaro Beltrán / UNDP)

        In 2014, Latin America and the Caribbean will hold seven presidential elections, many of which are to be determined by run-offs. Fortunately, in general, our region has become accustomed to holding transparent elections where citizens can freely express their will in electing their representatives to public office. Empowered citizens demand better institutional quality: they call for more and better representation and participation in the processes of shaping and implementing public policies. From the perspective of a citizens' democracy, which UNDP strongly promotes in Latin America and the Caribbean, the right to elect and be elected is a key dimension of political citizenship. Thus, it is important to take the pulse of various sectors of society who participate in the elections, and how the elected representatives reflect the heterogeneity of our societies. Fortunately, there is good news regarding the exercise of voting rights and gender, as women effectively exercise their right to vote. However, there are still major shortcomings regarding the right to be elected. While the region has shown significant progress in recent decades, increasing from 8.2 per cent women’s representation in national legislatures in 1990 to 20.6 per cent in 2010, on average, there are still deep heterogeneities across countries. Read More

      • Is the Global Partnership relevant? | Jérome Sauvage

        06 Mar 2014

        image
        A post-2015 consultation with young indigenous Brazilians. (Photo: Juliana Wenceslau)

        In Washington, D.C., a number of U.S. Government agencies and think tanks are preparing for the forthcoming Mexico Ministerial Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. At a recent prep meeting, I met enthusiasts and skeptics. The optimists pointed at the progress achieved from Monterrey 2002 to Busan 2011 and how the Paris Declaration started to align programs with developing countries’ priorities. This brought more harmonization and accountability between donor and recipient countries. The process now includes inter-governmental, civil society and private-sector actors and addresses gender equality, climate-change financing and the fight against corruption. The skeptics think that the “aid business” is beyond repair, that the so-called aid effectiveness agenda does not measure "effectiveness" but "efficiency" — looking at bureaucratic processes rather than the actual impact of aid on reducing poverty. One of their spokespersons, American scholar William Easterly, attributes a good share of aid’s failings to a lack of feedback and accountability: “The needs of the poor don’t get met because the poor have little political power with which to make their needs known and they cannot hold anyone accountable to meet those needs.”   But optimists and skeptics seem to agree on one thing: the need to Read More