Our Perspective

      • Philanthropic organizations stepping up role in ending poverty | Sigrid Kaag

        14 Jun 2013

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        Pushpa Maurya, 35, the manager of a milk-chilling centre, and women suppliers from neighbouring villages. UNDP and the IKEA Foundation are collaborating on long-term projects in India to promote women's empowerment. (Photo: Graham Crouch/UNDP)

        Philanthropy has been evolving into a major building block in development assistance, not only by providing catalytic funding for initiatives, but for its ability to advocate, strengthen civil society and innovate. And as citizens around the world engage in the global conversation about the future they want, philanthropic organizations have been making their voices heard too. Along with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, OECD netFWD, Worlwide Initiatives for Grantmakers Support [WINGS] and Rockefeller Foundation, we recently co-hosted a dialogue with foundations to explore their views on the post-2015 agenda, and what they envision their role to be in effecting development change. Many of the organizations expressed their interest in advancing innovative solutions for health and education. They emphasized the importance of job creation and addressing inequalities as pre-requisites for eradicating poverty. In addition, climate change, food security and accountable public institutions are also common concerns to philanthropy and the UN. As one of many actors in the development sphere, the UN could do well to further deepen the dialogue and collaboration with philanthropic organisations as a means to broaden development impact. Some examples of venture philanthropy – where philanthropists invest for either a financial or social return – Read More

      • Will the Post-2015 report make a difference? Depends what happens next | Duncan Green

        14 Jun 2013

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        Climate change is causing unique challenges for countries such as Bangladesh, pictured above. The environment must be considered "if we are to sustain progress in tackling poverty," Green writes. (Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/FAO)

        Reading the report of the High Level Panel induces a sense of giddy optimism. It is a manifesto for a (much) better world, taking the best of the Millennium Development Goals, and adding what we have learned in the intervening years – the importance of social protection, sustainability, ending conflict, tackling the deepest pockets of poverty, even obesity (rapidly rising in many poor countries). The ambition and optimism is all the more welcome for its contrast with the daily grind of austerity, recession and international paralysis (Syria, climate change, the torments of the European Union). But then the doubts start to creep in. What’s missing is always harder to spot than what is in the text, but three gaps are already clear: The emerging global concern over inequality is relegated to national politics. The concept of poverty is pretty old school – income, health, education, and fails to recognize the considerable progress made in measuring "well-being" – the level of life satisfaction people feel. Finally there is too little recognition that the earth is a finite ecosystem, and that we need to make a reality of the concept of planetary boundaries if we are to sustain progress in tackling poverty. But Read More

      • Sustainability must combine environmental concerns with poverty reduction | George Bouma

        12 Jun 2013

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        Addressing poverty-environment issues is essential for achieving sustainable development. Above, children in Rwanda. (Photo: PEI)

        With 2015 around the corner, one question dominates the global development agenda: what will replace the Millennium Development Goals? Twelve years on from the historic Millennium Declaration, indicators show that our failure to protect our environmental systems is undermining much of the progress that has been made in helping the world’s poorest communities. The stories from around the globe are all too familiar. Small-holder farmers in Tanzania have been suffering smaller yields as a result of soil degradation; communities in Bangladesh are struggling to cope with increasingly erratic weather conditions as a result of climate change; indigenous peoples in Latin America and South-East Asia are searching for alternative livelihoods where high levels of deforestation have robbed them of their principal economic assets. It is now clear that the post-2015 agenda must tackle the relationship between poverty and sustainability if it is to bring about long-lasting change. Efforts to bring the three strands of sustainable development (social, environmental and economic) into a single policy lens have a long history, dating back to the 1980s and ranging up to more recent Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Despite progress in many areas, such plans have struggled to bring about enduring and institutional change. Often, international Read More