Our Perspective

      • On the jobs crisis, people want to see action now | Selim Jahan

        23 Sep 2013

        image
        Beneficiaries of Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, the largest cash transfer programme in the world. (Photo: Bruno Spada/Brazil Ministry of Social Development)

        Sustainable and inclusive development will not be possible unless economic growth is combined with the creation of decent jobs. The International Labour Organization has warned that 470 million new jobs are needed for new entrants into the labour market between 2016 and 2030, in addition to jobs for 202 million currently unemployed people. Tackling the global jobs crisis is not an easy task; it will require bold national policies, private-sector dynamism and an enabling global framework. The discussions on the new post-2015 development agenda represent a unique opportunity to put job creation in the center of the new framework. “Growth and employment” was one of 11 themes at the heart of consultations we organized with nearly 1 million people, asking them what should replace the Millennium Development Goals after they reach their 2015 deadline. This global outreach helped us to better understand the concerns people have regarding employment; it also helped us combine and present their main recommendations to UN Member States and to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which are taking the lead in the post-2015 planning processes. And what are these recommendations from people all over the globe? Six key messages from the new report on  Read More

      • Women can be the best agents of peace — if we let them | Roma Bhattacharjea

        20 Sep 2013

        image
        A woman who manages a milk-chilling centre in India. A greater role for women in business helps promote long-term peace and stability. (Photo: Graham Crouch/UNDP)

        It is 21 September 2013 and the buzzword is peace. But when we talk about peace, we often think of men laying down weapons, signing treaties and rebuilding countries. On this International Day of Peace, however, we need to remember the fundamental role of women in countries affected by conflict. Remember women not as hapless victims, but as agents of change who invest in their families and communities and who have the potential to build peaceful and prosperous societies. The international community can do more to support women in accessing employment, property, markets and new skills. Supporting their financial independence may go a long way towards giving women a voice and the power to negotiate when it comes to making decisions within families and communities in even the most remote, war-torn corners of the Earth. Improving women's access to education, capital, jobs and markets promotes balanced and inclusive growth. The Asia-Pacific region loses $42 billion to $47 billion per year because of restrictions on women’s access to employment opportunities. This hurts social cohesion, stability and trust in institutions, which are fundamental for long-term peace. Women with jobs are also far more likely than men to invest their income in food, education  Read More

      • UNDP brings the Social Good Summit to Rwanda | Auke Lootsma

        19 Sep 2013

        image
        Rwanda's blooming youth population will be part of discussions on how technological innovations, social media and entrepreneurship can support Rwanda’s development. (Photo: UNDP Rwanda)

        The Social Good Summit is a three-day conference where big ideas meet new media to create innovative solutions. Last year, people gathered in nearly 300 cities and 150 countries to discuss how to make progress on local and global challenges. We at UNDP in Rwanda will be part of the bigger conversation about the challenges of the next generation, and how we can address them now. In Kigali on 23 September, we will investigate how key individuals in our country are already pioneering technological innovations to engineer social change that will leave lasting impacts. Young Rwandan entrepreneurs from different walks of life who are an inspiration to the nation will talk about their achievements and how organizations big and small can work together with individuals and national and world leaders to maximize their footprint. As in many African countries, Rwanda's youth population has boomed (65 percent of Rwandans are below 35 years of age). The Kigali Social Good Summit offers a unique opportunity to discuss how technological innovations, social media and entrepreneurship can inspire this youth population to support Rwanda’s development. UNDP Rwanda invited four reputable universities in Rwanda to a live-streamed meet up to connect with the panel and each  Read More

      • Myanmar today and the challenges ahead | Toily Kurbanov

        12 Sep 2013

        image
        Women in Myanmar's Chin State are empowered through UNDP skills training and workshops in finance. (Photo: UNDP Myanmar)

        If you’ve been following developments in Myanmar, you will surely know that the country is undergoing at least three simultaneous transformations:  •  Nation-building: shifting from a country at war with itself to a strong, harmonious Union  •  Political transformation: moving from decades of repressive military rule to participatory democracy  •  Economic transformation: emerging from an autarchic, command-based system to a market economy Hundreds of pages and thousands of cables have been written in the last year and a half—and studied scrupulously from Beijing to Brussels to Boston—about this transformation. Few reports seem to have left room for understatement, and rightly so, because the reforms we are witnessing here indeed merit adjectives such as “historic,” “dramatic” and “breathtaking.” But words alone fall short in capturing what we see inside the country:  more than 60 million human stories taking new turns here and now. For example:  •  A father in the former capital, Yangon, a former day labourer turned proud entrepreneur thanks to new openings in the economy;  •  A wife in the commercial capital, Mandalay, once a victim of domestic  violence and now an NGO activist advocating women’s empowerment;  •  A teenage boy in southern Mon State, once an escaped child soldier  Read More

      • Adapting to climate change in Tuvalu | Yusuke Taishi

        11 Sep 2013

        image
        A project to fight climate change in Tuvalu is helping islanders plant drought-tolerant crops and cultivate home gardens. (Photo: UNDP Fiji Multi-Country Office)

        Every time my Air Pacific flight approaches Tuvalu – an atoll nation consisting of nine inhabited islands – and I look through the window down at the narrow strips of land, my mind wanders back in time to the first Polynesian people who embarked on a long voyage more than 2,000 years ago. I don’t know what drove them to endure the hardship of traveling across the vast ocean, but I do know what stopped them once they reached the land that is now known as Tuvalu: fresh water. But, as climate change impacts rainfall patterns and rising sea levels increase the salinity of groundwater, the water that lured Polynesians to Tuvalu can now be a reason that drives their descendants away from their ancestral lands.    Tuvaluans can no longer rely on drinking groundwater and depend almost entirely on rainwater collected and stored in tanks. In 2011 Tuvalu went through one of its driest spells ever, with very little rainfall over a 6-month period, bringing the country into a national state of emergency. While the average person is estimated to consume 100 litres of water per day, the water ration was reduced to two buckets per day per household at  Read More

      • 'Neither a producer nor user be': Zambia and cluster munitions | Kanni Wignaraja

        09 Sep 2013

        image
        A survivor of two cluster bomb accidents in Iraq. Many communities around the world have suffered from the devastation caused by cluster munitions, the use of which Zambia is working to end. (Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti)

        Zambia is familiar with the issue of cluster munitions, a form of explosive weapon that can be air-dropped or ground-launched and releases smaller sub-munitions. Commonly known as cluster bombs, they are designed to kill people, destroy vehicles or buildings and disperse over wide swaths of land. The bombs that remain as unexploded ordnance stay dormant for years, and kill and maim children or farmers clearing forests and fields long after a conflict has ended. A national survey conducted in Zambia between 2006 and 2009 revealed that landmines, which pose similar threats, still existed in six border provinces, and remnants of cluster munitions were found in the western and northwestern regions of the country, a cruel legacy of neighboring conflicts. Cluster bombs are an impediment to development, and costly to locate and remove, a price borne by a country that was never a producer or a user of cluster munitions. This is not a new story, nor is it a Zambia story alone, as many communities around the world have suffered from the devastation caused by cluster munitions, across generations. But the motto “neither a user nor a producer be” accurately defines Zambia’s role as a standard-bearer on the issue, and should  Read More

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

        06 Sep 2013

        image
        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

        image
        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

        image
        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

      • Linking HIV and women's human rights | Petra Lanz & Susana Fried

        22 Aug 2013

        image
        Gender inequality exacerbates HIV risk, and new goals for development should work to protect women from violence while enabling them to access treatment. (Photo: Marguerite Nowak/UNDP Iran)

        Women living with and affected by HIV often suffer stigma and discrimination, along with egregious violations such as coercive sterilization. Gender-based violence (GBV), meanwhile, puts women at increased risk of contracting HIV: One South African study found that one in every eight new infections in young women is the result of GBV. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is unequivocal on women’s rights to equality and health. It sets out specific measures States should adopt to advance gender equality in all areas, including the elimination of sex- and gender-based discrimination in the context of HIV. Examples of how gender inequality exacerbates HIV risk vary widely and span the globe. They include inadequate or non-existent legal and property rights; child marriages; higher dropout rates; denial of life-saving health care; and intimate partner violence. Globally, HIV is still the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age  and contributes to at least 20 percent of maternal deaths. Every minute, another young woman is infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS (PDF). We have CEDAW, with its accountability mechanism, and abundant data and research on our side. How then,  Read More