Our Perspective

      • Gender equality is central to democracy | Sezin Sinanoglu

        04 Apr 2012

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        Image from UNDP's documentary "The Glass Ceiling,” shining light on political inequality. Photo: UNDP Thailand

        While the world's attention focuses on Myanmar's elections this week, we should not lose sight of a more regional concern about women's political participation in Asia and the Pacific. This part of the world has the distinction of having the lowest percentages of women in national legislatures of any region outside of the Arab states. Roughly 18.2 percent of national legislature seats in Asia are held by women, and only 15 percent in the Pacific. If you exclude Australia and New Zealand, it drops to just five percent. Globally, less than 20 percent of the world's parliamentary seats are occupied by women. We are still far from reaching the United Nations Millennium Development Goal target of at least 30 percent by 2015. Why does it matter if women are so poorly represented? Women's perspective and their participation in politics are prerequisites for democratic development and contribute to good governance. Moreover, Asia is home to two-thirds of the world's population, but economic progress will be limited without equal opportunity for men and women to influence political and economic decisions. There are some basic prescriptions that could set the scene for more political equality: - Establishing consensus among party leadership to promote women'sRead More

      • Road to Rio: Green is not enough | Olav Kjørven

        27 Mar 2012

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        ONLY A ROBUST AND HOLISTIC APPROACH THAT BRINGS TOGETHER ENVIRONMENTAL, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ACTION WILL BRING ABOUT SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. Photo: UN Photo/Martine Perret

        Clean water is increasingly scarce. About a third of the world’s fisheries have collapsed and desertification now threatens the livelihoods of a third of the world’s people. Parts of our planet are in peril. For a comprehensive solution, green is not enough. To protect our home, we must empower people. The Arab Spring and the Occupy movement are clear calls for equality. We must heed them.  Only by working to ensure the next generation has jobs, basic services and opportunity, as well as a protected environment, can we ensure a truly sustainable future. Rio+20 is an opportunity to address these issues holistically. By cutting its fossil fuel subsidies Nigeria took a positive step for the environment and the economy, but people still rioted in the streets. Social protection was a missing link. The lesson was clear: only a robust and holistic approach that intertwines the three strands of development - environmental, economic and social - will bring about sustainable development. So how do we do it? For a start, we need more engagement to expand access to energy for poor communities, support clean and renewable energy development and improve energy efficiency. This will bring many benefits: it helps to keep childrenRead More

      • Road to Rio: Greening Human Development | Olav Kjørven

        22 Mar 2012

        In Istanbul this morning I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at our Global Human Development Forum on Sustainability and Equity, co-hosted with the Government of Turkey. This conversation happened in the right place at the right time. Istanbul is the place where East meets West – Europe meets Asia - across the Bosphorus Strait. Istanbul as a city illustrates how two unique and distinct cultures can come together, live together and thrive, creating a new, vibrant community. That is what needs to happen now with the three strands of sustainable development. As the UN SG said in his message to the Istanbul conference this morning, leaders will find themselves at a crossroads in Rio. It is an appropriate metaphor. Many of us in the sustainable development business come from the environmental movement. We have deep passion and belief in the obligation of today’s generation to preserve species, protect ecosystems and tackle climate change. We will never apologize for that. But we know that green is not enough. Sustainable development requires something more. In 2011 and so far in 2012, we have heard clear warnings from Nature that humanity is arrogantly pushing her boundaries, just as we have heard societiesRead More