Our Perspective

      • Road to Rio: Women 'out of sight, out of mind’| Helen Clark

        11 Apr 2012

        image
        Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia and former UNDP staff, is the first elected female head of state in Africa as well as Nobel Peace Prize winner. Photo: UNDP

        Today, there are only eight women heads of state – representing slightly more than five per cent of the total.  This seems extraordinary in the second decade of the 21st century.  The global average of women holding parliamentary seats remains under twenty per cent, which is well below the thirty per cent target set in the Millennium Development Goals.  At the current rate of progress, that target will not be reached globally before 2025, and long beyond that in many countries.  That is too long for women and the world to wait. The proportions of women in national legislatures in the world’s regions range from roughly 22 per cent in the Americas and Europe (with the 42 per cent in Nordic countries pushing the average figures up) to 20.2 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, 17.9 per cent in Asia, 14.9 per cent in the Pacific, and 10.7 per cent in the Arab States.  Five countries – all in the Gulf and the Pacific – have no women parliamentarians at all. Only sixteen per cent of ministers are women, and most often they are allocated portfolios like those for social welfare, women, and children.   When women are “out of sight, out of  Read More

      • Road to Rio: Partnering for the sustainable future we want | Sigrid Kaag

        10 Apr 2012

        image
        Installation of diesel-fueled engines in Mali was a joint partnership of the governments of Mali, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNDP, as well as other partners. Photo: UNDP

        When world leaders, NGOs, the private sector and others meet in Rio this June to discuss how to achieve a future we want, "sustainable development" will be the buzz word. But what does it actually mean and how can we achieve sustainable development?  Development that is truly sustainable must include economic, environmental and social aspects. It is paramount for the international community to forge strong partnerships with all parts of society to build a greener and more inclusive world.  But how can the international community establish successful collaborations between governments, the private sector and civil society to achieve the sustainable future we all want? Here are some possible solutions: - We need to focus on collaborations where there is a real, deep interest and rationale for the private sector to engage. Their engagement needs to be more than  philanthropic. - With support from the United Nations, governments and public organizations need to set policy frameworks and provide incentives for businesses to take action. - The United Nations can also help with systemic topics leading to large-scale investments, such as technology innovation or setting new rules and standards. - Finally, the UN can support large-scale change by establishing collaboration platforms and networks  Read More

      • Gender equality is central to democracy | Sezin Sinanoglu

        04 Apr 2012

        image
        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's  Read More

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

        27 Mar 2012

        image
        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 children  Read 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 societies  Read More

      • Road to Rio: Building a sustainable future we all want | Rebeca Grynspan

        22 Mar 2012

        image
        Sustainability needs to bring to the environmental dimension the economic and social objectives for green, inclusive and resilient growth. Development must be people-centered, promoting rights, opportunities, choices, and dignity. Photo: UNDP

        We have advanced in our understanding that development is not only about economic growth. Sustainability needs to bring to the environmental dimension the economic and social objectives for green, inclusive and resilient growth. Development must be people-centered, promoting rights, opportunities, choices, and dignity.  We need to empower women, youth and communities. Both the Report of the Global Sustainability Panel and the 2011 Human Development Report , and the United Nations Secretary-General  make a strong case for better integrating the economic, social, and environmental dimensions for sustainable development. 20 years ago in Rio these same three pillars where clearly stated as well. So the question is: What should be the priorities in Rio+20 to advance progress in sustainable development?  1 The dialogue needs to be inclusive - the environmental community, the social community, the private sector and other partners should be involved actively. 2 The integration of the environmental, social and economic pillars while engaging diverse actors - from energy companies to community groups - should be visibly included in the action plan. The Secretary General's initiative on Sustainable Energy for All is a good and important example for this. 3 To tackle complex and interrelated global challenges, countries need fair, effective  Read More

      • How to address surging violence in the Caribbean | Heraldo Muñoz

        20 Mar 2012

        image
        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. Photo: UNDP

        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. The consequences are devastating, as UNDP’s first Caribbean Human Development Report and an earlier report on human development in Central America show. The report Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security showed that homicide rates have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean —with the exception of Barbados and Suriname— while falling or leveling off elsewhere. The study covering Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago showed that a great deal of the violence stems from the transnational organized crime which has been active in the Caribbean. While murders in Jamaica dropped after the report’s completion to 1,124 in 2011, a seven-year low, the country has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and the third-highest worldwide, only surpassed by El Salvador and Honduras. Lives are lost and damaged. Productivity, social capital—and the trust of citizens in their national institutions—are also hindered. Crime deters investment, diverts youths from jobs to jail, and absorbs funding that  Read More

      • Why Equity and Sustainability Matter for Human Development | Helen Clark

        17 Mar 2012

        image
        Dried up river bed in Rayer Bazar, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inclusion and equity are indispensable for sustainable development. Photo: Mohammad Rakibul Hasan/UNDP

        Since 1990, the baseline year against which we measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. The world is within reach of seeing every child enrolled in primary school, and many fewer lives are being lost to hunger and disease. Overall people are healthier, wealthier, and better educated than ever before. Yet aggregate figures disguise some inconvenient truths: that ending poverty is a vast and unfinished agenda; that inequality is increasing in many countries; and that our planet’s eco-systems are under considerable stress.  The question which needs to be addressed is: What do we want our common future to look like? Uppermost in our minds must be the importance of integrated decision-making which seeks to weave together the economic, social, and environmental strands of sustainable development. Expanding access to sustainable energy offers a good example of how to advance all three pillars of sustainable development simultaneously. Living standards can rise, economic growth can be pursued, and environmental balance is maintained. Goals of equity and sustainability are advanced. Inclusion and equity are indispensable requirements for sustainable development. Just as development cannot be only about economic growth, nor can sustainability be only about protecting the  Read More

      • Remembering and learning from Fukushima | Kamal Kishore

        12 Mar 2012

        image
        Japan has developed disaster risk reduction systems, an investment that has paid off in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster. Photo: Patrick Fuller/ IFRC

        One year ago, a major earthquake struck off Japan's northeastern coast, causing a devastating tsunami. A massive tidal wave followed, overwhelming some of the tsunami protection systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, killing thousands of people and forcing 100,000 more from their homes. While radiation at the nuclear site has now been contained, it will take years to decommission the plant and gauge the radiation impact it has had. Three simultaneous major disasters—earthquake, tsunami, and radiation leak—this was a crisis without precedent. Japanese authorities drew sharp criticism from domestic constituencies. But we must recognize that some parts of the Japanese disaster management system worked well, preventing losses of an inconceivable magnitude as might have occurred in many other countries. In earthquake-stricken areas, trains came properly to a halt, electrical systems shut down, people were evacuated, lives and property largely survived. Most of the damage stemmed from the tsunami and nuclear leakage. The lessons from Japan are complex:  Prevention pays. Japan has developed disaster risk reduction systems – building codes, systems for implementation of buildings codes, emergency response systems, and public awareness of disasters, painstakingly over several decades.  This investment has paid off.  Take Indonesia as another  example reinforcing this message:  Read More

      • Asia needs more of the 'fair sex' on political front | Ajay Chhibber

        09 Mar 2012

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

        The political empowerment of women is critical to human development and to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Worldwide, women continue to be under-represented in national parliaments, occupying less than 20% of seats and accounting for just 18% of government ministers. The Asia-Pacific region has the lowest percentages of women in national legislatures of any region outside of the Arab states 18.2% in Asia and in the Pacific just over 15%. However, if you exclude Australia and New Zealand, it drops to just 5%. The winds of change though are blowing, though. The Asia-Pacific region is growing fast and more people are reaping the rewards of development. The gender gap in school enrolments is closing and there are many examples of women outnumbering men entering university. But what good does education do when it is not met with opportunity? To achieve political equality, we must give women the support they need to develop their full potential: we must empower women to see themselves as leaders. Social, political, economic and legal barriers have hindered participation at all levels of government. To make gender equality a political reality, governments need to craft policies and programmes that build the economic power of women, promote  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