Our Perspective

      • Sustainable energy access critical for development in Africa | Helen Clark

        29 Dec 2011

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        Access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals. Photo: UN Foundation

        Almost 45 per cent of those who lack access to energy live in Sub-Saharan Africa, making up 69 per cent of the region’s population. They number 585 million people. Seventy eight per cent of those living in Sub-Saharan Africa use traditional biomass for cooking and heating (650 million). Energy needs extend well beyond having electricity available in homes. In Africa, where so many depend on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood, expanding access to energy for irrigation, food production, and processing is vital. It can boost agricultural productivity and rural incomes, and empower women who make up a significant proportion of the continent’s farmers. For UNDP, access to sustainable energy is critical for making societies more equitable and inclusive, and for encouraging green growth and sustainable development overall. We advocate for equity, inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability to be the guiding principles for efforts to achieve universal energy access.  We recognize that different groups have different energy needs. Therefore, governments need to balance the financing of large-scale energy projects with support for the off-grid, decentralized energy solutions which will help meet the needs of the poorest and most marginalised people. Cleaner cooking and heating fuels and motor power for productive activities are alsoRead More

      • Volunteering changes our world for the better | Helen Clark

        02 Dec 2011

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

        On the tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers coming up Monday, December 5, we celebrate the work of volunteers worldwide and the contribution they make to the development and wellbeing of communities.   Every day, volunteers make a difference for the environment, for peace, for meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and much more.  There are countless examples of volunteering having an incredible impact. In Nepal, nearly 50,000 female community health volunteers, supported by UNICEF, UNFPA, USAID, and the Gates Foundation, have helped cut child mortality by two- thirds over the past fifteen years. Japanese Red Cross volunteers played an indispensable role in dealing with the aftermath of the terrible earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. UN Volunteers form a significant part of UN peacekeeping missions, making up around one third of the international civilian staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Liberia, and elsewhere. A guiding principle for UN Volunteers is that people closest to the problems are also often the people most able to contribute to the solutions. The first State of the World’s Volunteerism Report to be released on Monday says that there is still plenty of room in development for volunteer and citizen action.Read More

      • Inclusive and sustainable growth is the answer | Ajay Chhibber

        23 Nov 2011

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        UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Zinedine Zidane visits one of UNDP's inclusive growth projects in Mali. Photo: UNDP

        As leaders of the G-20 countries grapple with the immediate euro crisis, we must look beyond to a more fundamental problem facing the world – rising inequality, joblessness and ultimately a lack of demand, causing deep recession. This is not a cyclical problem that will be addressed by stimulus packages but a more structural problem, inherent in the current growth process. Addressing inequality is crucial in responding to the current economic, food and climate change crises across the globe. As the spreading Wall Street protests indicate, inequality and a sense that the system only works for the top one percent is under attack across the world. Rising inequality and unemployment is also cited as a major factor in the Arab uprisings which are still playing out.  And rising food and fuel prices are again ringing alarm bells. Even in Asia where there has been a sharp acceleration in economic growth in many developing countries, rapidly rising inequality is causing concern, and the poor continue to suffer disproportionately from high food and fuel prices—in addition to being the hardest hit by an increasing wave natural disasters and rising sea levels. Rather than trying to compensate those left out of the growth process,Read More