UNDP chief calls for scaled-up development cooperation

Apr 18, 2013

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with USIP Senior Fellow and Special Adviser Frederick Tipson at a conference on 18 April 2013. (Photo: Jason Smith/UNDP)

Development challenges are increasingly complex, Helen Clark says

Washington — Increasingly complex and interrelated challenges posed by conflict, violence, and disasters demand scaled-up collaboration among governments and development partners, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark said here Thursday.

“Tackling problems of this complexity demands partnerships—no one can do it alone,” she said in remarks at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), adding that major development challenges are increasingly intertwined. “Our best hope lies in resilience-based approaches to sustainable development.”

“As resources become tighter and stresses multiply, we must lift collaboration to new levels,” she told a USIP conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and Conflict Prevention, noting that UNDP works closely with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), UK Department for International Development (DFID), and others.

“In our work at UNDP, we see conflict and violence destroy livelihoods, services, and infrastructure. They deter individuals and communities from making the very investments needed to build a better future,” she said. “Environmental pressures also have security implications. Resource depletion and contamination and climate volatility, intertwined with displacement and migration, urbanization, unemployment, and ethnic or religious tensions, can produce complex risk factors for conflict.”

The world’s poorest people, further, live largely in countries and regions affected by chronic violence and political instability, which undermine efforts to eradicate poverty as well as capacity to anticipate, prevent, prepare for, and recover from shocks and crises.

‘The quality of governance is key’

“For UNDP the message is clear. We need to apply development frameworks and tools that take into account multidimensional risks and enable all actors to respond more comprehensively and efficiently, and on the basis of much stronger partnerships and collaborative approaches than in the past,” Helen Clark said.

Building resilience aims to emphasize prevention—anticipating and better responding to crises—rather than relying on relief and recovery after a crisis or disaster occurs, she said, adding that “the quality of governance impacts greatly on development outcomes.”

“When state institutions cannot guarantee access to justice and functioning public services, and when they cannot adequately respond to shocks and volatility, including natural disasters, or provide an enabling environment in which citizens can flourish, discontent and tensions increase. Communities become more vulnerable to criminal or other violent entities…weak institutions and poor governance can lead to harm far beyond their national borders.”

Since leaders committed to the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, the world has seen great shifts in economic and political power and the emergence of large new middle classes in developing countries, documented in UNDP’s 2013 Human Development Report.

Other major shifts include worsening environmental pressures, the largest youth cohort in history, widespread urbanization, the ageing of developed countries and some emerging economies, intense pressures for new models of governance, and rising demand for better jobs and more inclusive economies and societies.

Patterns of violence have also changed, with traditional conflicts declining sharply while smaller-scale armed violence continues to surge, Helen Clark said, with a significant impact on development.

UNDP’s work to build resilience by strengthening institutions and communities includes:

•  In Colombia, since 2002, UNDP has supported 37 local governments in conflict-affected regions to work with marginalized groups, such as internally displaced and indigenous peoples and victims of the conflict. It has also supported development of the Victims and Land Restitution Law, under which some 75,000 victims of state violence have received reparations as of April 2012.

•  In Northern Uganda, UNDP helped strengthen the capacity of local governments and communities to manage conflicts related to natural resource allocation, while reviving livelihoods through small businesses. It supported construction of the Moruita Dam, benefiting more than 22,000 people and bringing together pastoralist communities to manage and share resources such as water and pasture.

•  In Somalia, where violent conflict, criminal groups, and natural disasters have exacted a devastating toll on lives and livelihoods, UNDP is supporting the justice and security sector, building courts and police stations, training police units and judges, and establishing legal aid networks accessible to women and other marginalized groups.

•  In Guatemala, UNDP has given long-term support to justice institutions. Homicide rates have dropped for three consecutive years after 10 years of dramatic increases, reflecting the improved ability of relevant institutions to exercise their functions.

•  In highly disaster prone-countries such as India, Bangladesh, Jordan, Iran, Ecuador, and Colombia, UNDP has been supporting municipal authorities to reduce disaster risks.

•  In Indonesia, UNDP supported the establishment of Disaster Management Agencies in 357 high risk districts and municipalities. Institutional mechanisms for disaster risk reduction are now in place at all levels of government.

•  In Bangladesh, UNDP supported development of a flood action plan and is helping local authorities develop local risk assessments and action plans in 40 districts.

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