Our Perspective

      • Building resilience: The importance of disaster risk reduction | Helen Clark

        15 Aug 2012

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        Haitian workers in a UN cash for work initiative pass rocks hand to hand along a line on the hilly outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Photo: UN/Logan Abassi

        In 2011 alone, almost 30,000 people were killed in 302 disasters, and 206 million people were affected. Beyond the toll on human life, the costs of disasters were estimated at more than US$ 2 trillion over the last two decades. Earthquakes and violent weather-related catastrophes helped make 2011 the costliest year ever for response and recovery from disaster. Yet, many countries are still not investing enough in prevention and preparedness, and many development actors are not prioritizing enough such support to poor countries. The result is another stark reality of our times – that striking inequalities persist, with global disaster risk disproportionately concentrated in poorer countries with weaker governance. From a development perspective, therefore, disaster risk reduction is vital for building a more equitable and sustainable future. Making investments in prevention and preparedness, including through civil defence exercises, is a necessary part of systematic efforts to increase resilience to disaster. Five priorities identified for action are: 1) to ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority; 2) to identify, assess, and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning systems; 3) to use knowledge, innovation, and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels;Read More

      • Access to technology can help prevent violent conflicts | Ozonnia Ojielo

        07 Aug 2012

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        Mobile phones and other technology provide individuals with an opportunity to gain access to information and participation. Photo: UNESCO/Ian Redmond

        The last decade has seen advances in technology that help us to understand other people’s realities and better listen to each other. Over five billion people—around 77 percent of the global population—own or have access to mobile phones worldwide and the top ten social networking sites in the world have more than 4.6 billion combined users.     As the technology to take advantage of these advances decreases in price, more people in developing countries who had no access to so much as a phone ten years ago are now able to benefit from these new tools to improve their lives; manage commerce; seek emergency assistance; advocate for their own interests; and now also take part in the prevention of violent conflicts. Peacebuilders are now taking advantage of the new possibilities to reduce conflict on a local and global scale. For example, during the 2010 constitutional referendum in Kenya UNDP-supported peace monitors were trained to collect local information and rapidly respond to messages received via text messages, enabling local peace committees to intervene and mitigate emerging conflicts. More than 16,000 text messages were sent by concerned citizens, and an estimated 200 potential incidents of violence were prevented in the Rift Valley regionRead More

      • A step forward against HIV abuses | Jeffrey O’Malley

        02 Aug 2012

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        A woman and her child at Epembe in Kaokoland, Namibia. UN Photo/Alon Reininger

        In a landmark but little noticed decision, a Namibian court ruled this week that state hospitals illegally sterilized three HIV-positive women. While the judge found no link to their HIV-positive status, his decision paves the way for legal action by other women who claim they were coerced into sterilization because they are infected with the virus that causes AIDS, as part of an effort to slow its spread in the southern African country. The women said they were given forms authorizing the procedure just before and after delivering babies by caesarean sections without being told what they were signing—while they were either in acute pain or in labor. This important decision affirms the rights of all women to the important standard of informed consent and points to the specific vulnerability of women and girls living with HIV with regard to their reproductive rights. A just-released report by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, an independent Commission convened by UNDP on behalf of the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), highlights the issues of coerced sterilization and forced abortion among HIV-positive women. The report, HIV and the Law: Risks, Rights, and Health, found that “coercive and discriminatory practices inRead More

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