Our Perspective

      • Improving human development among indigenous peoples: The Chiapas success story | Magdy Martinez-Soliman

        22 Aug 2012

        image
        Indigenous peoples in Chiapas, one of Mexico’s poorest states, have seen improvements in human development after the adoption of MDG-focused social policies. (Photo: UNDP Mexico)

        In many ways, history has been hard on the southwestern state of Chiapas, home to Mexico’s largest indigenous population. Poverty has been persistent, with the state lagging behind on most socio-economic indicators.    In recent times however, Chiapas has led the way in setting an agenda to improve the life of its citizens. In 2009 the state adopted the Chiapas-UN Agenda and amended its constitution, making it the first in the world to mandate a Millennium Development Goals-guided social policy. As a result, addressing poverty and its causes became a priority in Chiapas, with a strong emphasis on initiatives to improve health, education, environmental sustainability and extreme hunger. Following this constitutional amendment, public spending from the government at the federal, state and local levels followed the MDG priorities, producing some impressive results in a short period of time. Chiapas experienced progress in education, measured by literacy and enrolment rates from 2008 to 2010. During the same period the state also had the fastest improvements in life expectancy at birth. Many indigenous communities of Chiapas were at the origin of the Zapatista uprising in the 1990’s, which succeeded in obtaining new rights for indigenous peoples but also divided and displaced much of Read More

      • What does Rio+20 mean for sustainable development? | Helen Clark

        21 Aug 2012

        image
        The challenge arising from Rio+20 is how to advance economic, social, and environmental objectives simultaneously, lifting integrated policy-making to new levels. Photo: UNDP Sudan

        The significance and relevance of global summits like Rio+20 lie in their ability to connect people and influence what they are doing on the ground around the world to “think globally while acting locally”.  “The Future We Want”, the Rio+20 outcome document concludes that, for development to be effective, it must be sustainable. It highlights how environmental protection and economic development are linked, and gives equal emphasis to the social – or people-centered - dimension of sustainable development. The challenge arising from Rio+20 is how to advance economic, social, and environmental objectives simultaneously, lifting integrated policy-making to new levels. In some quarters, economic growth is looked at as antithetical to environmental protection. Rio turns such thinking on its head – encouraging us all to identify how entrepreneurship, job creation, and social protection can be generated through and linked to environmental protection. The voluntary commitments made by businesses, development banks, cities and regions, UN agencies, and NGOs and civil society activists were among Rio’s most significant outcomes. More than 700 formal commitments were registered, and more than $500 billion dollars were pledged. These commitments suggest that motivated leaders from across the economic and social sectors and subnational governments can help accelerate sustainable Read More

      • From crisis to resilience: why inequality matters | Anuradha Seth

        17 Aug 2012

        image
        Kanchipuram is a small rural town about 75 km from Chennai in India. Its economy is heavily dependent on tourism, but a cooperation of women to grow their own food is helping the community to move forward. Photo: UNDP IPC-IG/Isa Ebrahim Ali

        Global financial and economic crises now occur so often they appear to have become a systemic feature of the international economy. We need now to rethink what’s behind these crises, recognize their unique impact on developing countries, and find ways to make these emerging economies more resilient in the face of serious shocks. One approach views currency, debt, or banking crises as driven mainly by fragile, imbalanced financial systems in developing economies. But this assumes markets are self-regulating and inherently efficient, which is open to question in many instances. Another focuses on identifying structural causes and the channels through which economies are exposed to crises. This approach regards the growing export-dependence of many developing countries as increasing their vulnerability to economic and financial shocks, although experts disagree on the specifics. But rising income inequality also poses major risks. The world’s richest five percent now earn in 48 hours what the poorest earn in a year. This staggering escalation in inequality fosters inefficiency, instability, risky investment behavior, and lower overall productivity. Understanding the links between income surging inequalities and worsening financial and economic crises is central to crafting policies that build resilience and promote less volatile growth. Income inequality reduces the purchasing Read More