Our Perspective

      • Arab world needs broad governance reform | Mohammad Pournik

        03 Jan 2013

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        Libyan students at Tripoli University attend the first ever United Nations human rights workshop. UN Photo/Iason Foounten

        High unemployment and inequality fuelled Arab Spring uprisings that began in 2010, but the Arab world needs broad governance reform to achieve sustainable, equitable growth. Ousting dictators alone isn’t enough. People want bread, but they also want social justice and freedom. Experts at the UNDP Regional Center in Cairo reached that conclusion after lengthy study, culminating in the Arab Development Challenges Report that has now been launched in capitals around the world.  Having spent nearly three decades in the field, I believe this is indeed the case—governance and rule of law are essential to the sustainable, inclusive development the Arab world so acutely needs. In Egypt, the problem wasn’t simply political exclusion--it was political and economic exclusion. Reform will succeed only when it addresses both. Unemployment remains a critical challenge, but reliably measuring joblessness is difficult in countries without unemployment insurance and a system of registering for it. Enormous challenges such as food security, water scarcity, and management of natural resource also remain. Arab states must invest better in managing water resources and improving irrigation and agricultural productivity and devise incentives for investment in renewable energy. Governance failures helped create this situation: Here we see institutions that perpetuate themselves, corrosive constituencies Read More

      • A major step forward and a post-2015 challenge | Sheelagh Stewart

        24 Dec 2012

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        Women and girls in El Fasher, North Darfur, march for “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence”. UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

        Rule of law is fundamental to development. People who don’t feel safe and think that their property may be stolen or destroyed, do not invest in the future. Why buy seed if the harvest will be stolen? Why invest in a business whose profits will be swallowed by corruption?  Who would send their daughter to school if they thought she was going to be raped on the way? Communities that cannot deal with the past cannot move forward. Transitional justice, which allows post-crisis communities to address legacies of violence and hold perpetrators to account is therefore critical. Without transitional justice, no meaningful social contract is possible. In each case, the rule of law allows people to look forward to a brighter future, in which they find opportunities to achieve their potential and in which legal protection exists for all. The world has shifted on its axis since 189 diverse Member States settled more than a decade ago on the MDGs, excluding any discussion of sensitive issues related to governance, access to justice, and human rights. But with the Cold War now long behind us and the Arab Spring having re-opened discussion of the social contracts that must necessarily underpin a cohesive Read More

      • Budgeting for climate change and disaster | Ajay Chhibber

        13 Dec 2012

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        It’s the extreme weather season in much of the world. Deadly cyclones, blinding rains, ensuing floods and mudslides are becoming the norm from the Philippines to Haiti to Pakistan. Storms and floods are sweeping across the globe with increased regularity and ferocity. Recovery costs are high. How can countries find funds today to build “climate resilient” roads, bridges, schools and other vital infrastructure to prevent losses tomorrow?   One answer is of course in more international finance under the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. This means that developed countries should take the lead in combating climate change and its adverse effects. They are more likely to have the technical and economic capacity to address climate change, whereas developing countries may not. But another part of the answer can be found when developing countries take a look at how climate change is reflected in their own national budgets and expenditures. While the debates continue internationally about who should cover the costs of reducing carbon emissions or adapting to climate risks, developing countries themselves are also responding to climate change by examining more closely their own domestic resources from their own existing budgets. In simple terms, this means looking through the national Read More

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