Working for gender equality from a man’s perspective | Claudio Tomasi

16 Jun 2015

image The UNDP Gender Seal has encouraged allies to government and civil society using new measures to promote gender equality in Cuba. Photo: Carolina Azevedo/UNDP

Gender issues and concerns relating to equality and fairness involve women and men, in all different “shapes and sizes” - age, skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity. Men are in a position to do far more to contribute to gender equality in all walks of life, in workplaces, families, and other groups to which we belong. For those of us who lead forums in the field of development cooperation, this has to be more than a policy and institutional mandate. It must be a binding obligation that we dare not ignore and which makes us grow as people. The Gender Seal is a UNDP certification process that provides incentives for ensuring that offices and their programmes work towards equality between women and men. In Cuba, with the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, have given our support to this process.  After months of diligent effort, I had the privilege of receiving, on behalf of my UNDP colleagues in Cuba, the ultimate certification honor: the Gold Seal. How did we achieve these positive results? We carried out a strategic, self-critical and forward-looking diagnostic assessment of the “health” of the office (results, progress, challenges) and its ability to achieve benchmarks for  Read More

South-South cooperation -- how can we maximize its impact on sustainable development? | Grace Wang

11 Jun 2015

image Risk Reduction Management Centers, a successful initiative in hurricane-prone Cuba, are being scaled up across partnering Caribbean states. Photo: Carolina Azevedo / UNDP

South-South Cooperation is gaining new momentum as global political and economic realities change rapidly. It is also adding critical value to development. So how can we ensure that the larger potential of SSC is reflected in ongoing discussions on financing for development, while recognizing its differences from more traditional forms of ‘North-South’ development cooperation? SSC encompasses elements of trade, investment and technology transfer as well as direct financial assistance between developing countries. In 2013, South-South trade in goods was valued at about US$ 5 trillion. South-South grants, concessional loans, debt relief and technology transfer were estimated between US$16 to 19 billion in 2011, and continue to rise. These figures undoubtedly underestimate the true scale of such flows since they are not reported in any systematic way. Much of it is also not directly quantifiable such as the amount of knowledge shared or technology transferred through SSC. SSC made, and continues to make, an important contribution to development and to people’s lives. It is also becoming more diverse. For example, while SSC continues to favour infrastructure investments (around 55% of its activities), it also supports the social sectors, agriculture and food security and, increasingly, social protection, as well as renewable energy. All these  Read More

My voyage on the Human Development Report "Enterprise" | Selim Jahan

11 Jun 2015

image Selim Jahan and Amartya Sen at the Human Development Report Office in the 1990s. Photo: UNDP

“It is an intellectual Enterprise,” Mahbub ul Haq, a Star Trek fan, would fondly say about the Human Development Report (HDR). The Report was his brainchild, and he was the captain of the HDR Enterprise. And it was this Enterprise’s dynamism, out-of-box thinking and intellectual courage that attracted me to it. What a journey I have had with the HDR over the last quarter of a century - a core-author of the Report, a vivid reader, and a committed champion of it. And it feels good to be ‘back home’, having taken the rein of the Report less than a year ago. From the very beginning, the HDR took the road not taken, and that has made all the difference. It pursued an alternative way of looking at, and measuring, development and was innovative in putting people, not the economy, at the centre of development as active agents and beneficiaries. Over the years, the HDR has changed the content and tone of the development dialogue around the world.  It has measured development results with indices, which may be as vulgar as the GDP per capita, but not as blind to the broader aspects of human well-being. It has provided advocacy tools  Read More

Innovation, the state of the art of development | Stefano Pettinato

09 Jun 2015

image Citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean are starting to emphasize the importance of innovation as the engine for confronting the region´s significant development challenges. Photo: UNDP El Salvador

Creativity fosters new concepts and ideas, or indeed fresh associations between these, producing original solutions to problems. Creative inspiration is a characteristic that is associated typically with human beings—commonly found among artists—and to some extent it is a phenomenon that it is hard to explain. Furthermore, living as we do in the age of Google and Wikipedia, and given the immediate gratification provided through answers to whatever kind of question we may have, the search for solutions that are inherently creative and innovative calls for a particular kind effort. However, some solutions do exist, and such solutions are used, for example, among artists—and they can help us to harness our imagination and creativity, including in our work as development stakeholders as we endeavor to promote innovation. So, what do we have to do in order to be innovative? We must continue to be receptive to the world that surrounds us, collect information and from this material draw lessons, seek new ways to listen to ideas and needs expressed directly by the ultimate beneficiaries of development work, take risks, question established paradigms of thought, break with the urgent routines that end up taking priority over other more important activities. These are just  Read More

Working to build an inclusive and sustainable future for all | Helen Clark

01 Jun 2015

image UNDP played a central role in devising, promoting and helping countries to achieve the MDGs. Photo: Caroline Trutmann / UNDP Guatemala

For UNDP and the entire United Nations system, 2015 is a year of historic milestones. It is the 70th anniversary year for the UN— founded in 1945. It is also the year in which the 15-year quest to achieve the Millennium Development Goals concludes, and a new era of global development commitments is expected to be launched with the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals by world leaders in September. UNDP played a central role in devising, promoting and helping countries to achieve the MDGs, and is now working with its national partners to prepare for the SDGs. We are helping to integrate the SDGs into national development planning, and are providing data-based support for measuring progress toward the new goals, both locally and globally. The new goals are likely to include completing the unfinished business of the MDGs, with the eradication of poverty being a central objective. Despite impressive progress on poverty reduction in recent years, there are still 1 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day. We also have an obligation to protect our planet for the sake of future generations and to safeguard today’s hard-won development gains. In December, climate change COP21 in Paris is scheduled to reach a new global climate agreement.  Read More

Harnessing benefits from a cup of Colombian coffee | Santiago Carrizosa

22 May 2015

image Farmers in Colombia plant seedlings of native plants for a biological conservation corridor in an area of coffee farms. Photo: UNDP in Colombia

Today is the International Day of Biological Diversity, which has for me deep personal, professional and cultural significance. Working in Latin America and Caribbean region, I have witnessed firsthand the profound dependence that we all have on the natural world – especially people who work closely with the land and sea. In UNDP, we are committed to harnessing this reliance in ways that improve biodiversity and people’s lives. Thinking about the significance of this day and the importance of this work, I am reminded of Dora Garcia, a Colombian coffee farmer who participated in an innovative UNDP-supported, GEF-financed project. How surprised she was when she began receiving additional income based on the carbon sequestered by native trees she planted almost five years earlier! Mrs. Garcia is one of the coffee farmers who embraced this opportunity and received social, economic and environmental benefits when she decided to produce a cup of coffee spiced with biodiversity-friendly policies, sustainable practices, and ecosystem services. In Colombia, for over 50 years coffee has been the main engine of economic growth and development in the biodiversity-rich landscapes of the Andean region. Colombia’s excellent growing conditions, paired with an aggressive marketing campaign by the National Federation of Coffee  Read More

The hidden aspects of women’s poverty | Claudia Vinay

22 May 2015

image We need a greater recognition of the disproportionate number of women working in the informal sector, often in vulnerable jobs without social protection. Photo: César Avilés / UNDP El Salvador

“Let’s make the invisible visible.” This statement, by Argentina Minister of Social Development Alicia Kirchner, captured a recurrent theme at the global conference on women and social inclusion, recently co-hosted by UNDP in Buenos Aires. Despite the gains that women have made over the past decades, there are still too many factors affecting women’s lives that are not recognized in public policies. Unless they are addressed, efforts to eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development will fall short. Topping this list is the substantial amount of unpaid work that women do throughout the world, in countries both rich and poor. According to a recent UN Women report, women do almost two and a half times as much unpaid care work as men, from caring for children, the elderly and the ill to preparing meals and gathering water and fuel for cooking. But despite this daily reality that women know all too well, official measures of poverty don’t take into account either the time women spend on unpaid work or the money they might spend to “outsource” this work – such as to arrange childcare so they can go to work. If these factors were recognized and included in poverty measurements, many more women would  Read More

In Haiti, a neighbourhood converts ideas into innovation and opportunities | Rita Sciarra

15 May 2015

image Forty initiatives were selected and an initial capital of US$500 to $1,500 was awarded, so they could transform their "idea" into a reality. Photo: UNDP Haiti

Fort National is a very poor and dangerous neighbourhood of Puerto Príncipe, a neighbourhood identified with high crime rates, violence, and large numbers of weapons. The mere mention of its name sets off alarm bells, warning you "Do not enter". For five years UNDP, Haiti has been a following a comprehensive approach to development in Fort National; initially, with the Debris Management Programme, where debris from the earthquake was removed, recycled and reused; and later in the rehabilitation phase with the 16/6 Project, which encourages the return of displaced persons to their neighbourhoods and works to create jobs. We have been working hard at the community level. Through community mobilization, we have earned the trust of the people of this neighbourhood, which was not easy to achieve. We were thus able to work there, listen to them, and engage in ongoing dialogue. Since we have come this far, why not continue our work there, where the unemployment rate is so high that it is frightening? We wondered – why not give voice to the ideas of the young people of this neighbourhood? Thanks to UNDP’s attention to innovation and supported by the Innovation Facility, we have begun a pilot initiative to give youth the  Read More

An opportunity for women’s equality | Helen Clark

08 May 2015

image 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty, and women continue to be more likely than men to be among them. Photo: UNDP Colombia

The Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 was a momentous gathering of women from around the world and from all walks of life. They committed to an agenda for full gender equality and women’s empowerment.  Their aspirations were enshrined in the Beijing Platform for Action which remains as relevant today as when it was adopted 20 years ago. The Beijing Platform envisages a world where every woman and girl can exercise their freedoms and choices and realize all their rights, including the rights to live free from violence, be educated, exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights choices, participate in decision-making, and earn equal pay for work of equal value. Now, in 2015, there is a new opportunity to establish gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, as both critical issues in their own right and as essential foundations for inclusive and sustainable development. In September, world leaders are expected to endorse an ambitious set of sustainable development goals, including a gender equality goal.  These goals must then be translated into concrete actions which will improve the lives of women and girls everywhere. Progress on development, including on gender equality and women’s and girls’  Read More

Why are drug policies relevant for the new global development agenda? | Javier Sagredo

06 May 2015

image Drug policies should facilitate sustainable and inclusive development for all. Photo: Javier Sagredo / UNDP

Imagine a world in which all people who have problems with substance abuse, especially women, will not suffer stigma but will be guided to find appropriate health, social and job-related support. Imagine a world in which justice systems and prison systems effectively fulfill their objectives to provide justice and social rehabilitation. This also entails generating alternative solutions that prevent keeping thousands of people imprisoned while awaiting trial, or experiencing grave human rights violations. Imagine a world in which public institutions and political parties firmly resist corruption attempts by criminal groups and their financial apparatus. This is not a utopian and unrealizable imagination exercise; or a dream sparked by overflowing optimism. Our societies must face the drug phenomenon addressing its complexity and specificity in each political, legal, territorial, social and cultural context. It should also reflect a logical exercise to imagine comprehensive public policies as vehicles for sustainable and inclusive human development. Alternative responses that reduce the negative impacts of current drug policies will be essential for several countries—in Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond— in order to kick start the new Sustainable Development Goals – the new global development agenda. Traditional drug policies can generate a heavy toll in many of  Read More