Our Perspective

      • Optimism in the field of anti-corruption | Magdy Martínez-Soliman

        07 Nov 2012

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        "Fighting corruption is everyone’s business" Photo: Kenny Miller / Creative Commons

        Every year, corruption is estimated to cost more than 5% of global GDP (US$2.6 trillion). But its costs in terms of dignity cannot be calculated. Widespread rent-seeking and patronage have the power to undermine democracy and the rights of communities, especially those who live on the land of their ancestors, on mineral resources or surrounded by global commons.  These communities can then be subject to exploitation by companies or interest groups who push for environmental and social safeguards to be ignored or bypassed. High-profile corruption cases and publication of resources lost through illicit forms have begun tempting many to believe the fight against corruption is being lost. Weak anti-corruption agencies, porous institutions and opaque political party financing do not help. I would like to argue, however, that there is still hope for cautious optimism for the following reasons. First, even as gaps in enforcement and practice persist, over the years global instruments and related international initiatives have grown in number and fame. From international diplomatic conventions to new instruments to citizens armed with cellphones, fighting corruption is everyone’s business. Second, corruption has now been termed clearly as a governance deficit and a development challenge, rallying the forces that work on democratic  Read More

      • Men of the world, let’s unite for women’s empowerment | Martín Santiago Herrero

        05 Nov 2012

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        EMPOWERING WOMEN IS A TASK FOR EVERYONE. PHOTO: UNDP INDIA

        We continue to live in a world that is profoundly unequal, where the opportunities are not the same for men and women. Women represent 70 per cent of the world’s poor. On average their salaries are  10 to 30 per cent less than men’s for the same work, with the same tasks. Women are responsible for two thirds of the work carried out around the world, but receive only 10 percent of the benefits. They own 1 per cent of cropland, even though they perform 80 per cent of rural work. And as if this were not enough, two thirds (60 per cent) of women are victims of some type of violence or abuse (physical, sexual, psychological or economic) within or outside their homes. By continuing to deny this reality or leave the responsibility to women to "do something about it" themselves, the injustices against women are only exacerbated. We need to act, just as women's movements have done for years, but this time with greater support from men of all ages, and on a grand scale. A road less travelled until now is trying to debunk the underlying myths that sustain inequality between men and women:  Why do so many  Read More

      • UNDP has unique role to play in fighting non-communicable diseases | Olav Kjørven

        18 Oct 2012

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        Conditions have dramatically improved at the Haret Hreik health centre in the southern suburbs of Beirut, thanks to the UNDP ART GOLD programme. (Photo by Adam Rogers / UNDP)

        A year after the first UN High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases, The Washington Post this week convened an expert panel to review what progress has occurred and what work remains to fight diseases such as cancer, diabetes, stroke, and depression. A small invited audience on site and much larger audience online heard alarming statistics. Among them: One-third of humanity is projected to suffer from diabetes by the year 2050, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are leading causes of death and illness in developed and emerging economies alike—they account for the majority of health-care needs and spending and contribute to some 36 million, or 63 per cent, of 57 million deaths around the world every year. As the medical journal The Lancet has written, these diseases amount to a worldwide emergency requiring a global response that has to date fallen far short. According to the journal: “Despite the threat to human development, and the availability of affordable, cost-effective, and feasible interventions, most countries, development agencies, and foundations neglect the crisis.” Low- and middle-income countries bear the brunt, accounting for nearly 80 percent of global NCD deaths. These diseases drag down economic growth and can push families  Read More

      • What we owe our youth | Heraldo Muñoz

        16 Oct 2012

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        More than 30 youth organizations, young leaders and governmental counterparts will participate in a meeting in Mexico City to boost the involvement of young people in politics in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Photo: UNDP Mexico)

        Today we kick off a three-day meeting in Mexico City to boost the involvement of young people in politics in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 30 youth organizations, young leaders and governmental counterparts will participate. This is a crucial issue—and not only in Latin America. Almost half the world's population is under 25 and more than one third is aged 12-24. This fact, along with social and economic inequality among youth expressed in recent social movements like the Arab Spring, Spain’s 15M, Mexico’s YoSoy132 movement and the student protests in Chile reaffirm the need to address the young generation’s demands and recognize young people’s critical role in promoting social change. Of the 600 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean more than 26 percent are aged 15-29. This is a unique opportunity for the region’s development and for its present and future governance. The UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Reports have shown that young people have enormous potential as agents of change. But despite Latin America’s remarkable progress in reducing poverty and inequality—and its strides toward strong democracies with free and transparent elections—​​income, gender, ethnic origin, or dwelling conditions are all decisive barriers to young citizens’ rights.  Read More

      • Biodiversity and Ecosystems Essential for Human Development | Olav Kjørven

        15 Oct 2012

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        UNDP’s global biodiversity portfolio currently includes projects in 146 countries, covering an area larger than India and Indonesia combined. Since 2000, UNDP has helped leverage nearly US$ 5 billion in funding for biodiversity work around the world. (Photo: UNDP Lao PDR)

        Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth in all its forms, and protecting that life is fundamental to eradicating poverty and advancing human development, as was reaffirmed at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. People rely on biodiversity and ecosystems for their livelihoods – to meet their food, water, energy and health needs - and to cope with climate change. A study from India in ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ report, showed that ecosystem services contribute up to 57% of the GDP of the poor. When we lose species and ecosystems, we are losing essential services that sustain life. Recent assessments of global biodiversity find that species are continuing to decline and that the risk of extinction is growing; that natural habitats are continuing to be lost and are becoming increasingly degraded and fragmented. The 2011 IUCN Red List includes 44,838 species, of which 16,928 (38 per cent) are threatened with extinction. To halt this alarming trend, UNDP is calling for urgent action to achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Strategic Plan and the 20 Aichi Targets. UNDP’s new Biodiversity and Ecosystems Global Framework, which is being launched this week at the Eleventh Conference of the Parties to the Convention on  Read More

      • What we call “natural” disasters are not natural at all | Jo Scheuer

        12 Oct 2012

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        Over 4,000 families in Cambodia wait to return to homes inundated by flash floods in September 2012. Photo: ActionAid Cambodia/Savann Oeurm

        As you read this, over 4,000 families in Cambodia, where I used to live, wait to return to homes inundated by flash floods that have killed at least 14 people in the last few days. Most of these displaced people are subsistence farmers. Many will have lost everything they own, including their crops or food stores, and these floods may drag them further into a cycle of poverty. But these 4,000 Cambodian families are not unique. Every day around the world, disasters caused by natural hazards force thousands from their homes, strip people of their livelihoods and stop them from accessing schools, hospitals and markets. In 2011, the most expensive year on record for natural hazards, 106 million people were affected by floods, 60 million by drought, and almost 30,000 people were killed. Disasters put hard won development achievements at risk, reverse progress towards the elimination of poverty, and result in terrible suffering. But it doesn’t have to be like this. What we call natural disasters are not natural at all. A natural hazard only becomes a disaster when measures to mitigate its impact, such as earthquake resistant buildings, are lacking. We don’t have to resign ourselves to the devastation that  Read More

      • The future we want needs legal empowerment and justice | Magdy Martinez

        05 Oct 2012

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        Roma in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UNDP in Europe & CIS

        The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been successful on many levels. They could be understood by all. They could be implemented universally. They have become the development horizon for 140 governments in the South and the coherent cooperation agenda for another 50 governments of the North. Clear, quantifiable and time-bound goals and targets were at the core of this success. But new challenges have arisen. For development to be effective, inclusive and sustainable, governance values, systems and institutions are needed. Formulation of the post MDG development agenda needs to be a broad-based and inclusive process, which reflects the demands and priorities of the people most impacted by development policy, i.e. the poor and marginalized groups.   Recently, Ms. Aminata Toure, the Minister of Justice of Senegal, noted that while the youth in her country express patience with the slow pace of infrastructure and social development, they will no longer stand the injustice in their society. In last week’s Financial Times, George Soros and Sir Fazle Abed argue that legal identity and birth registration are universal rights and key to the enjoyment of many development goals including education, health and access to employment. It is a goal of legal empowerment of the  Read More

      • From the street to the Parliament: A growing democracy | Cihan Sultanoglu

        28 Sep 2012

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        Social mobilization in Iskra Village, Kyrgyzstan. Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan

        Kyrgyzstan has become the first country in Central Asia to adopt a parliamentary democracy and UNDP, a key partner in the country since its independence in 1991, played an essential role in helping draft the country’s new constitution. The latest changes in government, in September 2012, were carried out fully in line with this new constitution, and Kyrgyzstan saw a smooth and peaceful transfer of power. UNDP helped organize parliamentary hearings, trainings and study visits for the members of parliament and staff.  We also supported the creation of parliamentary information channels, such as a website, a dedicated radio and TV service. We will continue to work with the Parliament to improve the budgetary process and strengthen the audit system – to further promote accountability. Today, Kyrgyzstan’s government and parliament are closer to representing the voters’ will than anywhere else in Central Asia.  As Parliament Speaker Asylbek Jeenbekov recently said, “Kyrgyzstan is steadily moving from an aggressive street democracy to a parliamentary democracy”. However, high levels of poverty – touching nearly 50% of the population in some regions – youth unemployment, low participation of women in government, corruption, drug trafficking, ethnic tensions and environmental pollution are still challenges the country must face.  Read More

      • Youth hold the key to Somalia’s future | Sima Bahous

        28 Sep 2012

        For decades the world has heard only bad news from Somalia. Lawlessness, famine, piracy, and conflict have shaped our global view of this small, Horn of Africa country. The recent slaying of a member of Somalia’s new parliament underscores the severity of its challenges. Beyond the headlines, though, Somalia shows tremendous promise—it is strategically located, it has a promising agricultural sector, and recent estimates show that it may have a good deal of oil as well. But a better future will be driven neither by its location nor its natural resources: It will be driven by the country’s people—and Somalia’s hopeful youth hold the key. UNDP is today releasing its Somalia Human Development Report 2012, which focuses on the enormous potential that lies in empowering Somali youth to become an engine of peace-building and development in this country of stark contrasts. Today, 73 percent of Somalis are under 30, making theirs one of the world’s youngest countries. Typically, young people in conflict or post-conflict zones are viewed as either victims or aggressors, and indeed for decades Somali youth have known more than their fair share of violence and despair. Many young Somalis have never set foot in a schoolhouse— and still  Read More