Celebrating the world's indigenous peoples, declaring their rights | Patrick Keuleers

07 Aug 2015


The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebrates the wealth and variety of indigenous cultures and the rights, achievements, and contributions of indigenous peoples worldwide. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), but are not always upheld. There are more than 370 million Indigenous peoples living in some 90 countries. It is estimated that they constitute 15 percent of the world’s poor, and one third of the 900 million people living in extreme poverty in rural areas. In vast numbers, indigenous peoples live in some of the world's most resource rich areas, but their own forms of conservation and resource management have been historically undervalued. Too often development projects and programmes undertaken near to and within their lands result in degradations to the environments upon which their physical and cultural survival depends, violate their human rights, and exclude them from equitable benefits. Around the world, discrimination and structural inequalities disproportionately affect indigenous peoples. Human development and peace is not possible where discrimination, injustice, and social exclusion prevail, and where there is a lack of recognition that all groups bring value to society through their different worldviews. In the Governance and Peacebuilding cluster  Read More

Caring about those who care for others | René Mauricio Valdés

28 Jul 2015

image In Argentina, women currently devote almost twice as much time as men to care-related tasks: 6.4 hours a day compared to 3.4 hours. Photo: UNDP Argentina

All societies have people to care for and care-givers. Although there are different forms of care-giving, it is often undertaken by family members, mostly women and girls whose labor is usually unpaid. Here in Argentina, a country which has made remarkable progress in women’s rights and gender equality, women currently devote almost twice as much time as men to care-related tasks: 6.4 hours a day compared to 3.4 hours. The ability to meet care needs is also critical to national well-being, and the economic dimension of care-work is becoming more visible in Latin America. Studies undertaken in Colombia and Mexico indicate that the economic value of care activities accounts for approximately 20% of GNP. The region is now facing a mounting care crisis. The number of people requiring care is increasing, due to greater life expectancy, while the number of people available as unpaid care-givers is diminishing, caused by a lower fertility rate and the mass entry of women and girls into the labour market and educational systems. In addition, the ‘demographic bonus’ – when the working population is larger than that of elderly people and children - is coming to an end in many countries, while the dependency rate will  Read More

Young Democracy Grows at the UN | Annika Savill

27 Jul 2015

image This youth generation is the largest the world has ever known. More than half the global population is under 25 years old. Photo: UNDP Barbados

When the founders of the United Nations drafted the Charter 70 years ago, they did not include the word democracy. This was hardly surprising. In 1945, still more than today, many of the UN's Member States did not espouse democracy as a system. Others laid claim to it but did not practice it. And yet, in the seven decades since the Charter was signed, the UN as an institution has done more to support and strengthen democracy around the world than any other global organization -- from fostering good governance to monitoring elections, from supporting civil society to strengthening democratic institutions and accountability, from ensuring self-determination in decolonized countries to assisting the drafting of new constitutions in nations post-conflict. Today, the UN is banking on a different constituency to advance its mission on nearly every front: young people. It is the year in which the UN must determine the post-2015 development agenda and define the future global development framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals. Those who are young today are the ones who will have to live with the outcome, and carry forward our efforts. In our time, young people hold the key to almost all the challenges facing  Read More

The case for a better approach to drug control policy | Tenu Avafia and Javier Sagredo

23 Jul 2015

image Men working in the coca field in Bolivia. Photo: Ryan Anderton

The relationship between drug control policy and human development is complex and multifaceted. Both share a common objective to reduce drug-related harms. Yet drug control, human rights, public health and human development agendas often exist in isolation from each other. Policies aimed at prohibition and punishment form the international approach to drug control. Yet, there is ample evidence of the negative consequences of these policies. For the many farmers affected by poverty, conflict, and insecurity, cultivating illicit drug crops is a viable livelihoods option, yet international drug treaties ban the cultivation of these crops and require their eradication. The enforcement of these bans and eradication efforts have in many cases negatively affected the public health and human rights of people living in poverty. They have destroyed the livelihoods of those who depend on cultivating and selling drugs to survive and forcibly displaced populations from areas where illicit crops are grown. The herbicide used in aerial fumigation of illicit coca crops has been associated with physical and mental health problems. In many instances, these bans do not necessarily lead to reduced cultivation or consumption of illicit drugs, as the cultivators and traffickers simply move on to other areas. Poverty can push people  Read More

Invest in infrastructure, invest in development | Stefano Pettinato

20 Jul 2015

image During the year and a half project, it directly employed 314 men and 23 women and generated 1,500 indirect jobs. Photo: Mauricio Martínez / UNDP El Salvador

Roads, buildings, airports – seemingly practical infrastructure developments can not only meet the demands of society, but also fulfill the requirements and rights of individuals, leading to better human development. The development and strengthening of logistical and transportation infrastructure has a potential impact both on economic development and poverty reduction. Transportation infrastructure is of vital importance to the standard of living of a population. It links urban and rural areas, connects the country internationally, facilitates access to basic services such as education and health, and contributes to the sound functioning of cities, rendering them more competitive. Furthermore, logistical infrastructure can play an instrumental role when it comes to creating high-quality jobs and bolstering competitiveness in the production of goods and services, enhancing increased productivity and efficiency, which reflects lower costs. Taking into account these dynamics, UNDP in El Salvador has worked systematically over the last few years with the Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Housing and Urban Development (MOPTVDU) and the Autonomous Executive Ports Commission (CEPA), organizations responsible for most of the investment in logistical and transportation infrastructure. UNDP, in association with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), has worked in tandem with CEPA in the modernization of part  Read More

Haiti at a turning point | Hervé Ladsous and Jessica Faieta

16 Jul 2015

image There are over 38,000 candidates for the local elections alone. Photo: UNDP Haiti

Haiti will reach a major historic milestone this summer. Starting 9 August, some six million Haitians will choose 1,280 representatives for local administrations, 140 mayors, 139 Parliamentarians and finally, their President, in several rounds of electoral processes that could last until the end of the year. It has not been easy to arrive at this moment. The Haitian people have been waiting three years for these elections. A Parliament has been absent since January. Haiti has made significant strides to restore confidence in the political process and to hold these elections on time. The electoral council, appointed in January, has been impressive in taking on several challenging technical, logistical and financial tasks aiming to ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent process. The electoral law and calendar were promulgated in March, the majority of political parties have fielded candidates, and the national police have been working to ensure a secure environment for the elections. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti known as MINUSTAH, the United Nations Development Programme, and other UN partners have invested significant efforts over recent years in strengthening national electoral capacities. Much work has already been accomplished, but much more needs to be done to complete this electoral  Read More

Caribbean countries need urgent access to financing to meet new sustainable development goals | Jessica Faieta

15 Jul 2015

image Current barriers need to be lifted so the Caribbean countries and other SIDS can pave their way towards sustainable development. Photo: UNDP

Having lived and worked in four Caribbean countries I have witnessed first hand how these vibrant societies with enormous potential share serious challenges: from severe exposure to natural hazards and external financial shocks to slow economic growth and high debt. However, since the vast majority of the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are ranked as middle-income countries—with per capita income levels above the international financial eligibility benchmark—they are shunned from receiving development financing. But the world has a unique opportunity to change this and help improve the lives and the future aspirations of Caribbean women and men. This week high-level political representatives are gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to adopt an international agreement setting out how the post-2015 sustainable development agenda will be financed. The traditional international standards, based on national per capita income averages, are inadequate measures of these countries’ sustainable development needs, according to our new UN Development Programme (UNDP) titled “Financing for Development Challenges in Caribbean SIDS: A case for review of eligibility criteria for access to concessional financing”, which we are launching this week in Addis. As a result, Caribbean countries have very limited access to concessional financing and Official Development Assistance (ODA), with the exception  Read More

Eleven countries, one commitment: Youth inclusion | Pablo Gago

13 Jul 2015

image More than 160 million young men and women are struggling to end the inequality between different generations in planning and public policy. Photo: UNDP El Salvador

In Latin America and the Caribbean, there is approximately a 50 percent deficit in the share of public spending on youth in relation to other age groups, considering their demographic weight and the concept of evenly distributed spending. This is not consistent with the fact that one in four people in the region is between 15 and 29 years old. More than 160 million young men and women are struggling to end the inequality between different generations in planning and public policy. In order to boost investment in youth and their political participation and inclusion, last month we launched the Iber-American Programme, IberJóvenes, which will initially be implemented in 11 countries: Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal and Spain. The IberJóvenes Programme, is a joint effort of the Ibero-American Youth Organization (OIJ), the Iber-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It was created with the aim of strengthening public policies for Ibero-American youth and stems directly from the 2014 Ibero-American Summit of heads of states, in response to the challenges facing youth of the region. The programme aims to reach youth, organized or non-organized, and will particularly focus on:  rural populations; lesbian,  Read More

An HIV milestone achieved in Cuba | Carlos Cortés Falla

13 Jul 2015

image In Cuba, preventive services, like HIV testing for all pregnant women, contributed to the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Photo: UNDP

This is a momentous moment for us working in Cuba. The World Health Organization recently declared that Cuba had eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child. Cuba is the first country to reach this goal and it is a great milestone for us. But it is also a landmark in the response to HIV globally. How was Cuba able to achieve this? Cuba’s comprehensive health system is available for all Cuban citizens equally, and is effective in integrating the health care of mothers and children with the health management of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Because of this integration, Cuba has been able to strengthen its HIV and syphilis prevention efforts by offering early access to prenatal care, testing both pregnant women and their partners for HIV and syphilis (as a standard test that also includes other illnesses), treating women who test positive as well as their babies, and offering caesarean deliveries and alternative solutions to breast feeding, such as pediatric supplements. These interventions are vital to preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child. While an HIV positive woman has between a 15 – 45 percent chance of passing the virus to their child  Read More

The paradox of development financing in Caribbean small islands | Stacy Richards-Kennedy

07 Jul 2015

image Small island developing states in the Caribbean continue to experience social development challenges related to citizen security, public health, climate change and natural disasters. Hurricane Sandy's impact in Jamaica, 2013. Photo: UNDP Jamaica

Small island developing states (SIDS) in the Caribbean are, for the most part, middle income countries and rank relatively high on the Human Development Index. In spite of this, they continue to experience social development challenges related to citizen security, public health, widening income gaps, retention of highly trained nationals, climate change and natural disasters. To address these challenges and advance a coherent and effective post-2015 development agenda, adequate levels of financing will be required. Yet, the possibility of accessing concessional financing is quite limited for Caribbean SIDS.  A recent study commissioned by the UNDP on Financing for Development Challenges in Caribbean SIDS, through the Country Office for Trinidad and Tobago and prepared by Prof. Compton Bourne (former President of the Caribbean Development Bank) highlights several paradoxes when it comes to the experience of Caribbean SIDS with development financing. For instance, despite the achievement of reasonable domestic savings rates by Caribbean SIDS, there is a shortage of investible resources. While foreign direct investment is an important source of development finance, this has been on the decline in many Caribbean countries since 2009. Moreover, Caribbean small states have experienced less success in accessing Official Development Aid (ODA), particularly since the onset of the global economic  Read More

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