Our Perspective

      • Why should companies care about human rights? | Heraldo Muñoz

        06 Sep 2013

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        Businesses must work together with governments and civil society to take protect human rights as they promote economic growth. Above, miners in Brazil. (Photo: Sebastiao Barbosa/UN Photo)

        What led more than 400 representatives of national and multinational companies, governments, trade unions, civil society and indigenous peoples’ organizations to gather to discuss the impact of business on human rights? I asked myself this question as I opened the first Regional Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean on the Business Impact of Human Rights in Medellin, Colombia this August. Hundreds of top executives from the mining, energy, oil, food, beverage, banking/finance and agriculture sectors held an open dialogue with local communities, including campesinos and indigenous peoples, NGOs and public sector officials. Certainly the region has grown in recent years, but investments, especially related to extractive industries and land tenure, tend to spark social conflicts. And that's a challenge we all have to tackle together for truly sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental spheres. The United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) recognizes human rights as a central component of human development. And of course, human development is linked to the universal rights to equality, non-discrimination, participation and accountability. So we convened this forum in partnership with the Government of Colombia and the UN High Commission for Human Rights to provide a regional platform to promote and help implement Read More

      • Employment and social protection for inclusive growth | Selim Jahan

        29 Aug 2013

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        A farmer and his family in India, beneficiaries of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, which has served as an effective social protection programme. (Photo: Samrat Mandal/UNDP India)

        We live in times that seem to be defined by shocks and crises, and these have the potential to slow down, or even reverse, impressive achievements in human development over the years. There is, in fact, evidence that certain human development indicators have suffered setbacks in the context of a crisis. For example, as a result of the Asian crisis of 1997, the poverty rate in the Republic of Korea went from 2.6 percent in 1997 to 7.3 per cent in 1998. Similarly, the poverty rate in Indonesia almost doubled in the same period.   Social protection can be an effective tool for helping people, households and economies to cope with vulnerabilities arising from economic shocks. Countries that had social protection programmes in place were better able to weather the recent economic downturn, and some economies were even able to recover faster. Brazil, for example, was one of the last economies to be hit by the recent crisis and one of the first to begin recovering from it. An important reason was an increase in cash transfers to families, which helped offset the negative effects of the crisis.   But social protection can only go so far unless it is linked Read More

      • Arendalsuka: Changing the conversation on environment | Olav Kjørven

        23 Aug 2013

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        National consultations on the Post-2015 Agenda with Guarani indigenous peoples in Panambizinho, Mato Grosso do Sul state of Brazil. (Photo: Julia Wenceslau/UNDP Brazil)

        Arendalsuka. Does it ring a bell? Probably not, unless you are Norwegian.  Arendalsuka is an interesting Norwegian creation: an annual open forum in the city of Arendal where stakeholders in politics and industry meet with citizens to debate public policies and policy development. I had the pleasure of attending and introducing our perspective on integrating environmental sustainability into the next global agenda that will follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As we approach the MDGs' target date of 2015, the United Nations is leading an unprecedented public outreach effort that has so far given voice to almost 1.3 million people in 194 countries on their expectations for the next development goals. This new approach is re-shaping multilateral decision-making by empowering citizens to come together, discuss and take concrete action on pathways to a more sustainable future. Their voices are being heard by Member States and feeding into the process to deliver the next set of development goals. This “global conversation” has revealed that people believe overwhelmingly that sustainable development needs to be approached in an integrated way – addressing the economic, social and environmental aspects simultaneously. It also indicated that the link between environmental sustainability, income poverty and inequalities has been Read More

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