Blog

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

Indigenous youth and the post-2015 development agenda | Laurence Klein

23 Apr 2015

image ACCORDING TO FIGURES FROM ECLAC, THERE ARE MORE THAN 800 INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN LATIN AMERICA, WITH A TOTAL POPULATION OF ABOUT 45 MILLION. PHOTO: UNDP COLOMBIA

“Children and youth are the future of humanity” (Álvaro Pop, Member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and Youth Focal Point) Imagine that instead of excluding marginalized groups, we include them in the new international post-2015 development agenda. Now, imagine the future development agenda built on the enormous potential of indigenous peoples with their ancestral knowledge. Now combine this knowledge with the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and the mobilizing and transforming capacity of indigenous youth. Wouldn’t you listen to these voices? We have decided that, yes indeed, we would listen to them and have provided them with the platform Juventud Con Voz (Voice of the Youth). It will serve as a forum for participatory dialogue in which the proposals and ideas of indigenous youth can be heard in order to have an impact, individually or collectively, on the post-2015 development agenda and to contribute effectively towards strengthening their organizations. Fifteen years ago, 189 heads of state committed to eradicate extreme poverty and multiple deprivations that threaten the well-being of individuals, with the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Despite the enormous progress towards achieving this ambitious project, the indignity of poverty is still violating the human rights  Read More

How will small island states finance our ambitious Sustainable Development Goals? | Gail Hurley and Stephen O'Malley

13 Apr 2015

image HELEN MANVOI AND HER CHILDREN STAND IN FRONT OF WHAT USED TO BE THEIR OUTDOOR TOILET IN PORT VILA, VANUATU. PHOTO: SILKE VON BROCKHAUSEN/UNDP

“Our development has been wiped out,” said Vanuatu’s President as Cyclone Pam laid waste to pretty much the entire South Pacific nation. It is reported that over 90% of the capital’s buildings have been damaged; disease outbreaks and food and water shortages are now a major concern. Millions, if not billions, will be needed to provide emergency assistance to affected communities and to rebuild the country’s infrastructure.  With major shocks such as these so common, how can small states – from Barbados to Cabo Verde to Samoa – better plan for such emergencies? And will the international community make sure that adequate finance is made available?  Small states often have special challenges when it comes to raising resources. Most often rely on one or two key industries, in particular tourism, for the majority of their exports. For countries spread out over many islands, revenue collection may not be cost-effective, yet remote communities still require basic social services. Many small states have reduced poverty and improved key social indicators over recent years. For example, Barbados has invested heavily in education, and has achieved almost 100% literacy, and enviable secondary and tertiary education levels. Paradoxically, this means donors are less interested in providing development  Read More

How can Latin America and the Caribbean boost youth participation and inclusion? | Jessica Faieta

08 Apr 2015

image The region has more than 150 million young people between 15 and 29 years but has a great challenge ahead: curbing inequality in decision-making and public policy shaping. Photo: UNDP El Salvador

Democracy is widely supported in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, institutions and policymakers don’t always enjoy the same positive perception, according to recent Latinobarómetro surveys. Clearly, anti-corruption demonstrations, lack of representation, as well as universal demands for quality education, health and transportation all respond to citizens' priorities and overall dissatisfaction with institutions’ performance. Latin Americans want better governments, stronger democracies and improved public services for all. Young people in the region have been playing a key role in recent peaceful demonstrations that demand more effective and transparent governments. And they do so not only by taking the streets but also by playing a role in their own communities and — increasingly — on social networks, bearing in mind that Latin America and the Caribbean has the youngest and one of the fastest-growing Internet populations worldwide. The region has more than 150 million young people between 15 and 29 years but has a great challenge ahead: curbing inequality in decision-making and public policy shaping. Institutionalized gaps must be closed, such as the scarce opportunities for participation, interaction and monitoring of public policies if we want to achieve more equal societies: for women, men, lesbian, gays, bisexuals, transgendered and intersex, and people  Read More