Climate action to tackle hurricanes | Mario Peiró

12 Oct 2017

image Recent hurricanes affected up to 20 thousand dwellings in Dominica, housing for approximately 80 percent of the country’s population. UNDP photo

“To deny climate change is to deny a truth we have just lived.” With these words, delivered at the UN General Assembly on 23 September, the Prime Minister of Dominica alluded to the situation in his country in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and María. Four hurricanes rated category 3 or higher, including Irma, with maximum winds of up to 295 km per hour, have travelled the Atlantic in as little as six weeks, and experts warn of the possibility of more such events during this cyclone season. These hurricanes left a tremendous impact on the Caribbean islands. Recent analyses indicate that the impact on Puerto Rico's GDP per capita over the next 15 years may reach 21 percent; 100,000 homes were affected in Cuba; and between 17 thousand and 20 thousand dwellings were affected in Dominica, housing for approximately 80 percent of the country’s population. The infrastructure that was affected reached 92 percent in Sint Maarteen, 90 percent in Dominica and 75 percent in Barbuda, with severe damage also occurring in St. Barts, Anguilla, Saint Martin and the British Virgin Islands. In the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Irma put 24 provinces (a full 75 percent of the country) on red alert.  Read More

The subtle flutter of peace | Pablo Ruiz

04 Oct 2017

image Photo: UNDP Colombia

Recently I was invited by the Government of Colombia to an event in Cesar, in the north of the country, in a beautiful place called La Paz. In the presence of President Juan Manuel Santos, a woman victim of the conflict pointed out some improvements in her community, so subtle, she said, like the flutter of butterflies. I want to briefly outline some of those improvements, inspired by one of the many survivors of the armed conflict. First, Colombia has become a reference for a convulsive world, with thousands of lives saved since the beginning of the peace negotiations. After decades of conflict with the FARC-EP, and indescribable pain, the country has begun to close that chapter of its history. On 15 August, we attended the UN-certified FARC-EP laying down of arms, and on 4 September we celebrated the agreement reached between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) to implement a bilateral and temporary ceasefire. How not to contrast this episode with the tragedy of Syria, a country that years ago I visited several times, where the dark side of mankind continues to be on display with terrible consequences. The historic steps in Colombia are triggering a  Read More

Who is Latin America and the Caribbean leaving behind? | Jessica Faieta

14 Aug 2017

image Being a young person, a woman, afro-descendant, indigenous, LGBTI or a person with disabilities affects the opportunities and possibilities of social and economic advancement and access to services in Latin America and the Caribbean, a recent UNDP study shows. Photo: UNDP Peru

Last month at the High Level Political Forum in New York, more than 40 countries - 11 from Latin America and the Caribbean - shared their progress in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), within the new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The meeting has made evident the region’s political will to adopt and accomplish this universal agenda. Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Uruguay presented their progress, along with Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela that shared their reports in 2016. The SDGs recognize the virtue of inclusive, sustainable economic growth that respects the environment and strengthens institutional and regulatory frameworks. The agenda seeks to "leave no one behind," and admits that the market alone does not solve all problems. This is fundamental for our region, the most unequal in the world. During the Forum, the Secretary-General presented his global report on the SDGs, which also shows progress and challenges for Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the past two decades, the region has accomplished extraordinary achievements: the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty (or on less than $ 1.90 per day) fell from 13.9 percent (1999) to 5.4 percent (2013). In addition,  Read More

Every day is our day | Myrna Cunningham

09 Aug 2017

image 9 August is a date to make visible the different realities, histories and struggles of over 370 million men and women from some 5,000 indigenous peoples in the world. Photo: UNDP Peru

When 9 August approaches, as an indigenous woman, I tend to ask myself, what does it mean for there to be an International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on the calendar? If 9 August is Indigenous Peoples’ Day, then what are all the other days? As with many of these celebrations, those of us who belong to the peoples, groups or sectors referred to by these days cannot help but ask this question, whether it is 8 March (International Women’s Day), 1 May (Workers’ Day), or many others. But for indigenous women, every day is our day, because our status as women and as indigenous is permanent. For the men and women of indigenous communities, every day is our day. 9 August is a day about us, but it is particularly relevant for those who still do not see us or do not want to see us, and who refuse to consider us as peoples with all the rights and potential to build a better, just and sustainable world. It is a date to make visible the different realities, histories and struggles of over 370 million men and women from some 5,000 indigenous peoples in the world. 9 August 1982  Read More

Costa Rica paves the way to end single-use plastics | Edgar Gutiérrez, María Esther Anchía and Alice Shackelford

14 Jul 2017

image In Costa Rica, 20 percent of the 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily are not collected. Photo: UNDP

Costa Rica has ambitious and innovative plans to boost gains on the economic and social fronts while protecting the environment. Just a decade ago the country announced that by 2021 it would be carbon neutral. It now announces another goal for the next four years: to be the first country in the world with a comprehensive national strategy to eliminate single-use plastics. It's a win-win for all: Costa Rica, the people and the planet. Although the country has been an example to the world by reversing deforestation and doubling its forest cover from 26 percent in 1984 to more than 52 percent this year, today one fifth of the 4,000 tonnes of solid waste produced daily is not collected and ends up as part of the Costa Rican landscape, also polluting rivers and beaches. Single-use plastics are a problem not only for Costa Rica but also for the whole world. It is estimated that if the current consumption pattern continues, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish - measured by weight. For this reason, we began our journey to turn Costa Rica into a single-use plastic-free zone. On 5 June, World Environment Day, the country officially  Read More

Why we need to save our ocean now—not later | José Troya

05 Jun 2017

image Latin America and the Caribbean have 746 marine protected areas covering 300,000 km2 and several countries have committed to expanding them. Photo: UNDP Dominican Republic.

What if the blue fades away as seawaters become brown and coral reefs become white as marine grasslands wither and life below water vanishes? This is already happening at a staggering rate. It’s a lose-lose for all: people and planet. Fish stocks are declining. Around 80 percent of fishing is either collapsing or just fully exploited. The ocean is also being polluted at an alarming rate. Fertilizer run-off and 10 to 20 million metric tons of plastic debris enter the oceans each year and destroy biodiversity and ecosystems. At this rate the number of dead zones will increase and by the year 2050 the oceans could contain more plastic than fish, measured by weight. If we don’t take action now this trend may become irreversible. Recognizing this urgency, country representatives will gather at the Ocean Conference, 5 to 9 June at the UN headquarters in New York to address marine pollution, declining fisheries, loss of coastal and marine habitat and the vanishing life below water. The Conference will focus will be on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources. This SDG along with 16 others compose the sustainable development agenda globally  Read More

Tobacco: a threat to our oceans | Roy Small

31 May 2017

image Cigarette filters are comprised of thousands of chemical ingredients, including arsenic, lead, nicotine and ethyl phenol, all of which leak into aquatic environments. Photo:

In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life below water. Ask the person behind you what the public health enemy number one is. Chances are the answer will be tobacco. And for good reasons. Smoking, including secondhand smoke, kills more than 7 million people each year, most in the prime of their lives. Less well-known are tobacco’s negative impacts on sustainable development, including on oceanic systems. Yes, you read that right – tobacco is a significant threat to our oceans. Each year, 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide, by far the most littered item, with a significant percentage finding their way into our oceans and onto our shores. The problem is only likely to get worse, particularly as smoking rates continue to escalate in many low- and middle-income countries. This “last socially acceptable form of littering” is far more than just an unpleasant aesthetic. Cigarette filters are comprised of thousands of chemical ingredients, including arsenic, lead, nicotine and ethyl phenol, all of which leak into aquatic environments. In one lab study, the leachate from just one cigarette butt, placed into no more than one litre of water,  Read More

Decision time? First take a look at what makes you crazy | Jacinda Fairholm

26 May 2017

image In the Dominican Republic, UNDP created a risk analysis that improves knowledge about seismic threats and physical vulnerability of the Gran Santo Domingo area. Photo: UNDP

This post is part of a series from UNDP experts sharing their views and experiences in the lead up to the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction taking place in May and the World Reconstruction Conference in June. The most read New York Times article in 2016 was, ‘Why you will marry the wrong person.’ In a follow-up podcast, author Alain de Botton outlines how a romantic ideal obstructs a clear analysis and application of time-tested criteria before entering into, arguably, one of the most important decisions an individual can make. Marriage - at extreme ends both possibly rich and fruitful or miserably impoverishing - is often calculated in heady moments of euphoria and dreams. Poor decision making can have enormous emotional and financial costs, potentially spreading beyond the couple down to children and into the future. He suggests that the vetting process should include one key question: “What makes you crazy?” In other words, analyzing one’s flaws as well as considering what might be risky to the partnership or to one’s self, will result in a much  better decision over the long haul. Indeed, any significant decision should consider the risks, the payoffs and the costs.  Risk assessment. A pragmatic approach to making a decision that could  Read More

Protecting the rights of people affected by disasters | María del Carmen Sacasa

05 May 2017

image In addition to saving lives, the response to the flooding in Peru must seek to promote the active participation of people affected by the disaster. Photo: Mónica Suárez Galindo/UNDP Peru

In the past few weeks we have witnessed the devastating consequences of intense rains and landslides in Peru, affecting thousands of people. In counterpoint to the tragedy, the situation has also presented a unique opportunity to bring the country together. In the best-case scenario, Peruvians can demonstrate to the world that it is possible to emerge from difficulty through solidarity. This means uniting different levels of government, politicians, civil society, people of all ages and the international community behind a common purpose: helping people recover. Humanitarian assistance should be timely and reliable to prevent loss of life. We know that disasters increase existing gaps and vulnerabilities. An estimated 700,000 could join the ranks of the poor because of the coastal El Niño phenomenon, according to research from the Lima Chamber of Commerce. In light of this, it is important to uphold the rights of all people who are affected by disasters. We must guarantee that people have a dignified life, ensuring their safety and security and the recovery of their livelihoods. Children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and older adults need special and immediate attention. We also have to keep in mind that the aftermath of a disaster exacerbates the risk  Read More

In Belize, local stewardship key to marine conservation | Leonel Requena

25 Apr 2017

image Local communities are at the forefront of marine resources management and their engagement in conservation and shared governance is crucial to ensuring sustainable use of ocean resources. Photo: Avelino Franco/Fragments of Hope

In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water”. The reef was in plain sight, a majestic view with sandy white beaches surrounding cayes with magnificent frigate birds and booby birds flying overhead at Halfmoon Caye Natural Monument. I was eager to put on my diving gear and see the wonders of the 186-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Colorful coral reefs, whale sharks, turtles, and hundreds of cubera snappers aggregating three days before full moon at the Gladden Spit Spawning Aggregation Site in Belize.  It was May 2002, and I was participating along with a research team to collect data on Nassau Grouper abundance and distribution which would inform the declaration of eleven Nassau Grouper Spawning Aggregation Sites. Our ocean is rich in biodiversity and is a crucial carbon sink. Coastal wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs support a diverse array of marine life. According to a recent economic study of the Belize Barrier Reef, the estimated services derived for tourism and livelihoods is US$559 million per year with a population of 380,010 people. A healthy reef ensures healthy people and a resilient country. Two decades  Read More

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