Our Perspective

      • Pulling Latin America out of the “inequality trap”

        25 May 2011

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        Urban Housing in Mexico. Photo: UNHabitat

        When we talk about development in Latin America, there are many reasons to be positive.  While the global recession left many developing countries with greater challenges in striving to reach the MDGs, Latin American and Caribbean economies have recovered more rapidly than expected reflecting the region’s economic resilience. On a different front, the region leads the world in social programmes that give financial aid to people in poverty on condition for maintaining children in school and keeping up with vaccines and medical checkups, a huge boost to reduce poverty in 18 countries in the region.  In spite of strong economic growth and advances in tackling poverty, high and persistent levels of inequality continue to be a great challenge. While the region is not the poorest in the world, it is the most unequal, as measured by the Gini coefficient. "Ten of the fifteen most unequal countries in the world are in Latin America", said Head of UNDP, Helen Clark at the Fourth Latin America Ministerial Forum on Development. "Our priority must be to take the fight against poverty even further and make inroads into reducing inequality". While economic growth is important for long-term development progress, it does not automatically translate into  Read More

      • Indigenous peoples’ contributions to human development

        19 May 2011

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        Delegate at United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Photo: UNDP

        This week 1,500 indigenous representatives have gathered in New York to discuss indigenous issues  related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. The 10th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an opportunity to reflect on the progress made in realizing the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples everywhere. It is also a chance to focus in on what can be done collectively to address the pressing priorities that remain. Expanding the rights, voice, participation and opportunities of the world’s 370 million indigenous people is essential to generate the kind of inclusive development that can build just, diverse and cohesive societies worldwide. Rebeca Grynspan, Associate Administrator at UNDP, opened the forum on Monday remarking, “Human development is not possible where discrimination, injustice, and social exclusion prevail, and where there is a lack of recognition that all groups bring value to society with their different worldviews.” Encouraging more effective dialogue and consultative process and strengthening access to justice remains a priority. This will help to bridge the cultural divide that gives rise to discrimination and exclusion and will increase the voice of indigenous people’s decision-making at every level. It will also help to  Read More

      • Changing our approach to the environment

        16 May 2011

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        Solar solutions for a family in Mongolia. Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

        Conventional models of development have done and continue to do huge damage to our planet. Productive soils are being lost to erosion and land degradation; water supplies are increasingly scarce or contaminated; and climate change is a present and pressing reality.  Business as usual cannot continue. Transformational solutions are needed to put us on a sustainable course, and achieving that will mean turning the old development models on their head. To start with, gone are the days when clearing the world’s great forests for other land uses can be regarded as synonymous with development.  Nearly 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions come from tropical forest degradation and outright deforestation.  Far sighted governments, including those of Indonesia and Norway, are working to tackle climate change by put REDD+ into action - the UN’s collaborative programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries – that  links development gains to forest preservation. But governments can’t produce the needed results alone. Win-win outcomes need to provide gains for local communities, and the private sector needs to be on board too.  In Brazil, for example, the soy industry has agreed not to purchase soybeans produced on rainforest lands deforested since  Read More

      • Why good governance makes for better development

        12 May 2011

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        A woman casts her ballot at a rural polling station in Catembe or the second day of elections in Mozambique. Photo: UN Photo/P. Sudhankaran

        Good, or democratic governance as we call it at UNDP, entails meaningful and inclusive political participation – basically people having more of a say in all of the decisions which shape their lives. Read UNDP Chief Helen Clark's remarks at the 2011 High Level Interactive Thematic Debate on Good Governance at All Levels in Istanbul. Giving people a voice and a stake in their governments and economies will help ensure that resource allocation and service delivery are more responsive to their needs. Making sure that the law works for everyone is critical for development. Bringing informal businesses into the formal sector, for example, helps poor entrepreneurs better protect their earnings, grow their businesses, and create additional jobs. Expanding strong and accessible justice systems is also crucial. If people are able to establish tenure or property rights this directly affects their chances of building a sustainable livelihood free from exploitation. Regulating investment increases predictability and reduces risk. It also ensures that private sector participation is beneficial for the country and works for, and not against, sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The entwined goals of achieving pro-poor economic growth, strong and stable societies, and healthy environments require that institutions formulate strong and transparent  Read More

      • Unlocking women’s economic power as the key to development

        04 May 2011

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        Women sell mango and sweet potato jam produced in a UNDP supported project in Senegal. Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

        Recognizing that the status of women is closely bound to other development issues, Head of UNDP Helen Clark has described investment in women as key to striving for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).   Sexual and reproductive health services, girls’ education and women’s legal rights all require investment if women are to lift themselves and their children out of poverty. Efforts to promote women’s economic power must begin by addressing the many barriers women face.  First, there must be a focus on removing the legal hurdles that stand in the way of women accessing financial services.  In Africa, where women make up a majority of the agricultural labour force, it has been estimated that they receive less than 10 percent of all credit going to small farmers and only one per cent of the total credit for the agricultural sector. Second, there must be a drive to strengthen women’s legal rights to own land and property and to inherit, which are often limited by social customs, as well as by law. At the moment, women not only lose out on the opportunity to produce and earn income, but they continue to be denied equal status in their families and communities. Third,  Read More

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