Our Perspective

      • South Sudan: Reflections on one year after independence | Lise Grande

        11 Jul 2012

        image
        Computer training programme for women in South Sudan. Photo: UNDP South Sudan.

        This has been an impressive year, but a difficult one. Let’s first recognize South Sudan’s achievements. South Sudanese are building their country from scratch. During the six-year Comprehensive Peace Agreement period, South Sudanese made huge progress. Nowhere else have so few people working from such a low base done so much. 29 ministries, 21 commissions, ten state governments, a national parliament and ten state legislatures were established. More than two million people returned to South Sudan, the number of children attending primary school tripled, measles was reduced from epidemic levels and 6,000 kilometers of roads were opened, connecting major cities and towns. Despite this progress, the state building exercise facing South Sudan is the largest of this generation. The human development indicators are amongst the worst in the world, with 80 percent of the population living on the equivalent of less than 1 USD a day. 4.7 million people are estimated to be food insecure this year. Less than half of the civil servants have the qualifications needed for their post. Much more needs to be done to ensure that proposed measures of accountability and transparency deter any mismanagement of public resources. During this first year of statehood, the UN agencies  Read More

      • Renewing commitments for Afghanistan’s sustainable development | Rebeca Grynspan

        10 Jul 2012

        image
        Today, more than 20 percent of public civil servants in Afghanistan are women, and girls make up 34 percent of the seven million children in school. Photo: UNDP

        The international community and the Government of Afghanistan have just agreed on how to engage further in Afghanistan. This was a crucial outcome at a conference I recently took part in, gathering representatives from over 70 countries, civil society and international organizations in Tokyo on 8 July. Participants decided to renew and monitor mutual commitments for Afghanistan’s long-term social and economic development by pledging US$16 billion in aid through 2015, with the Afghan Government pledging to tackle corruption resolutely. This is a vital boost as Afghanistan continues its path towards assuming full responsibility for its future—including its security, governance and development. The country has made huge strides comparing to its own recent past, when girls did not go to school at all, few boys got past third grade and incomes were at the bottom rungs of international subsistence levels.  Afghanistan has experienced a four-fold improvement in the number of expected years of schooling and per capita income tripled in the past 10 years. Women have seen advancements. Today, more than 20 percent of public civil servants are women, and girls make up 34 percent of the seven million children in school. From 2000-2011, adolescent fertility rates decreased 40 percent and maternal  Read More

      • Preparing for Disasters: A key to Development | Jordan Ryan

        03 Jul 2012

        image
        In the last decade, almost one million people have been killed by disasters and more than one trillion dollars have been lost. Yet only 1% of international aid is spent to minimise the impact of these disasters. #ActNow and join our campaign!

        Since the year 2000 one million people have lost their lives to disasters caused by natural hazards, and another one billion have suffered from the consequences of these catastrophes. The vast majority of those affected live in developing countries. Studies show that the poor of the world are exposed to much greater risk from natural hazards. Disaster risk reduction needs to be at the center of development. Every dollar invested in minimizing risk saves some seven dollars in economic losses from disasters. Investment in disaster risk reduction remains low around the world. It is estimated that between 2000 and 2009, donors provided the world’s 40 poorest countries with US $363 billion in development assistance, yet only one percent of this sum was allocated to disaster prevention. In addition to investing in risk reduction, attention needs to focus on building resilience in the face of recurrent disasters. Communities that repeatedly invest and reinvest in poorly planned projects will face a continuous cycle of recovery. To build back better requires an approach that embraces knowledge, an understanding of context and a willingness to improve. When planned well, recovery efforts can help restore and support development efforts, transforming communities while repairing and addressing immediate  Read More

      • Rio+20: Health is a sustainable development issue | Olav Kjørven

        22 Jun 2012

        image
        Technicians testing blood for HIV in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

        The global development framework is undergoing fundamental changes. Human challenges associated with climate change, decent work and access to quality social services are increasingly converging in the world’s developed and developing countries. The answers to these challenges revolve around the adoption of holistic, multi-sectoral national approaches that make use of best international practices, irrespective of where they come from. Nowhere are these new realities more apparent than in the health sector. Non-communicable diseases—cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases—are posing growing challenges for upper- and middle-income countries, as well as lower-income and least developed countries. In responding to the changing nature of global public health challenges associated with non-communicable diseases, I have three messages to share. First: many non-communicable diseases are a sustainable development issue. Up to ¼ of the disease burden could be prevented by reducing air, water and chemical pollution.   Second: Now more than ever, integration is the name of the game. Economic growth, environmental preservation and social equity can no longer be pursued as conflicting agendas. Let us look at the question of how to provide access to electricity for the 1.3 billion people who don’t have it worldwide? There is a carbon constraint that suggests that creating energy access  Read More

      • Universal access to energy: Getting the framework right | Veerle Vandeweerd

        19 Jun 2012

        Improving access to affordable and sustainable energy services is absolutely central to broader development efforts to reduce poverty, and improve education, health, gender equality and environmental sustainability. Globally, 1.4 billion people across the globe lack access to electricity (85% of whom live in rural areas), and 2.7 billion people (approximately 40% of the global population) rely on solid fuels for cooking and heating. Currently, the largest concentrations of the ‘‘energy poor’’ (that is, people who are both poor and lack access to sustainable modern forms of energy) are in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Recent projections suggest that the problem will not only persist, but in fact deepen in the longer term without an international recognition and commitment to effect change. The challenge of increasing access to sustainable and cost-effective energy for the poor has to be met by setting new and bold targets for financing and implementation at the global and country level. Given its capacity as the lead development organization of the UN, UNDP is supporting the publication of a Report on ‘‘Universal access to energy: Getting the framework right’’. This report is the unique outcome of collaboration amongst experts focused on addressing key issues emanating from Africa and  Read More

      • Rio+20: What are the parameters of success? | Nils Boesen

        15 Jun 2012

        image
        Community mobilization and participatory approach in Haiti involves people in building their homes, neighborhoods and cities in accordance with their expectations and needs. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        We are in the midst of a tectonic shift - from the post-World War 2 order to a new, very different order where new powers arise. But not only, as so often depicted, through the rise of new nations and economies. Important as they are, there is more to it than the welcome arrival of the “BRICS” –the countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, seen as the leading emerging economies. The broader tectonic shift is the move away from nation states being the dominant players to a much more diverse, complex - and exciting - multi-faceted set of players influencing (as opposed to single-handedly governing) the directions of change. Think civil society linking up and using social media. Think global corporations doing the same, and developing new corporate social responsibility approaches far beyond cosmetics. Think universities and think-tanks actively fostering innovations - be they social, technological, or managerial. And, not least, think cities (and maybe, even city-states, as competitors/alternatives/supplements to nation-states) with their amazing mass of energy, power and resources, and how they address sustainable development challenges - nearly by default across the strands of the social, economic, environmental and the technological. Little wonder that with such a mass of actors, interests  Read More

      • World must come together to reframe development | Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau

        12 Jun 2012

        image
        SCHOOLGIRL IN ADDIS-ABABA, ETHIOPIA. KOREA IS INCREASING ITS OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE. PHOTO: UN PHOTO ESKINDER DEBEBE

        The rise of Asia, economic challenges in the West, the increasing importance of foundations and the private sector in development mean global development partnerships must be broader than ever before.  It must also reflect the aspirations of the poor and marginalized, who are demanding to be heard. At the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2011, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and emerging countries, traditional donors, developing nations, the private sector, civil society and other groups came together to endorse a new Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation. The broad consensus reached at Busan lights the way for the world to work together in reframing development after the Millennium Development Goals expire in 2015. Consultations on a new development framework are underway. The United Nations is leading a comprehensive process within countries and regions on global themes to help build consensus. This is why 13 Asian nations are sharing views on what should come next . Their recommendations should feed into the post-2015 consultation process, which is as important as the end result.  If all actors do not buy in, the new framework will not work. The Republic of Korea  Read More

      • Road to Rio: People's voluntary involvement is key | Flavia Pansieri

        04 Jun 2012

        image
        One of the local volunteers participating in the UNV Sudan supported Diversity campaign in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Ayman Suliman

        Volunteering is a key driver of the changes needed in our societies to achieve sustainable development. If we - each one of us - don't engage, participate and be the change we seek, how can we expect to build a sustainable future for generations to come? Every single person is acting for sustainable development, by helping friends and family, by recycling waste, by teaching the kids how to turn off the tap. Most people engage voluntarily without even thinking about it, just because they know it is the right thing to do. Some people volunteer further, and get involved in development or environmental action for a week, for a month, for a year. Their work, big or small, might sometimes go unnoticed to the world. But their actions count in the communities that benefit from their hard work. That is where the power of volunteering comes in. Recent comparative international studies give an idea of the scope of volunteerism. For example, the Gallup World Poll (GWP) concludes that 16 per cent of adults worldwide volunteer for an organization. The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project (CNP) finds that the number of volunteers contributing through voluntary organizations in 36 countries, taken together,  Read More

      • Sharing development experience between Latin America and Africa | Helen Clark

        29 May 2012

        image
        Cash transfer programmes – such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia – target low-income households, help reduce poverty levels, and increase access to education and health services.

        More than 40 social development ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa are gathering this week in Brasilia to discuss how both regions can exchange experiences and increase co-operation to end poverty. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is proud to be the facilitator of this historic gathering. It takes place less than a month before the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  There, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations will gather to discuss how to build a more sustainable future—a crucial challenge for developing and developed countries alike.   It is clear that countries can no longer afford to grow first and try to clean up later. Or grow first and try to become more equitable later.  Growth divorced from advances in human development and without regard for the environment will not sustain advances in human development, and will damage the ecosystems on which life on our planet depends.   Two weeks ago, UNDP’s Africa Human Development Report on food security was launched in Nairobi with the President of Kenya.  Despite sub-Saharan Africa’s significant rates of economic growth, hunger continues to affect nearly a quarter of its population  Read More

      • How can Africa achieve food security? | Tegegnework Gettu

        22 May 2012

        image
        It is a harsh paradox that sub-Saharan Africa, a continent blessed with ample agricultural endowments, still faces hunger and malnutrition. Photo: UNDP

        It is a harsh paradox that sub-Saharan Africa, a continent blessed with ample agricultural endowments, still faces hunger and malnutrition. Adding to that paradox is the fact that the region’s high rates of economic growth in recent years – some of the fastest in the world – and improvements in life expectancy and schooling have not led to commensurate improvements in food security. More than one in four Africans – nearly 218 million – remain undernourished and more than 40% of children under five – almost 55 million in total -- are malnourished. The spectre of famine, all but gone elsewhere, continues to haunt millions in the region. Yet another famine occurred in Somalia in 2011, and the Sahel is again at risk in 2012. Chronic food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa stems from decades of underinvestment in the countryside, where infrastructure has deteriorated, farming has languished, gender and other inequalities have deepened and food systems have stagnated. Smallholder farmers, on whose shoulders the recovery of its agriculture rests, have long been pinned between a rock and hard place. Erratic weather patterns and seasonal food price variations, coupled with new threats from population growth, environmental pressures and climate change, have only made  Read More

The Speakers Corner
thumbnail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Speakers Corner helps connect think tanks, academia, the media and the public to a diverse group of experts who can speak to UNDP’s commitment to “empower lives” and build "resilient nations.”

Visit the Speakers Corner