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      • 2030 Agenda: Recognition for indigenous peoples, a challenge for governments | Álvaro Pop

        09 Aug 2016

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        According to figures from ECLAC, there are more than 800 indigenous peoples in Latin America, with a population of about 45 million. Photo: UNDP Guatemala

        We cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without recognizing that we live in multicultural societies. With this in mind, upholding the rights of indigenous peoples becomes a necessary imperative. Respect for indigenous peoples’ rights opens the door to enormous opportunities for advancing the SDGs. Their capacity to further develop their own systems of education, health, justice and traditional food will strengthen each country’s efforts and investments. There are more than 300 million indigenous people in the world, speaking more than five thousand languages and keeping their heritage alive. This is the true wealth of humankind. Indigenous peoples have suffered and survived holocausts over the past 500 years and more. They are the guardians of knowledge about the plants and animals that surround us; they have understood the cycles of nature in constant, mutually-respectful dialogue with Mother Earth. They have cared for more than 60 percent of the world’s water-producing forests. Today, from the core of our communities, we call on everyone to work for new and better ways of producing wealth for the benefit of all. The SDGs are the agenda of the present, safeguarding the future of humanity. Indigenous peoples take pride that their age-old struggle is reflected in it. Thus, an  Read More

      • Opportunity in tragedy: A reflection on the Ecuador earthquake | Jeannette Fernandez

        14 Jul 2016

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        For all its devastating impacts, the recent earthquake could open up opportunities for Ecuador's most vulnerable communities. Photo: Jeannette Fernandez Castro

        With a risk-informed approach to earthquake recovery, two of Ecuador’s vulnerable and exposed regions can not only protect against future disasters, but ensure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. I took this picture in Muisne, one of the most beautiful towns in Ecuador, my home country.  Muisne is in the Province of Esmeraldas, in the northwest of the country and is, I feel, home to our best soccer players, the best “marimba” music, the best dancers and the best seafood. For all of its promise, however, the region is challenged by poverty and is exposed to natural hazards, vulnerabilities that hold back social and economic growth. This vulnerability was evident in April 2016 when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit this province as well as five others (including Manabí, where the biggest impact occurred), producing large-scale devastation. Housing and infrastructure were the most affected, with over 30,000 homes and 875 schools lost across all six provinces. While understandable, this loss of infrastructure – and related loss of lives and livelihoods – should not occur in the future. We have the ability to build better and stronger. This is especially important in earthquake zones and even more so in regions going through recovery.  Read More

      • The Rule of Law and sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict contexts | Thelma Esperanza Aldana

        30 Jun 2016

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        While progress has been made in the implementation of the Peace Agenda, one of the groups whose rights are still lagging behind is women. Photo: UNDP in Guatemala

        Between 1960 and 1996, Guatemala suffered an internal armed conflict during which gross human rights violations were committed systematically. The United Nations backed Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) registered a total of 200,000 victims of human rights violations, 83% of which belonged to Maya indigenous peoples. The CEH determined that, in addition to all forms of human rights violations, women suffered specific forms of gender violence.  The most common form of violence was sexual.  Indigenous girls and women from the rural areas were the most abused.  According to the CEH, 88.7 percent of rape victims belonged to Maya indigenous peoples; 62 percent were aged 18 to 60; 35 percent were young girls and three percent were elderly women.  Peace was signed in Guatemala on December 29, 1996. While progress has been made in the implementation of the Peace Agenda, one of the groups whose rights are still lagging behind is women. Around the world, thousands of women have been victims of sexual violence in armed conflict situations.  Rape in these contexts is conceived as an instrument to strip victims of their sexual identity and as a form of violence against the community by damaging its most intimate sphere. In war, the  Read More

      • Social protection renews optimism for sustainable development | Romulo Paes de Sousa and Lebogang Montlana

        22 Jun 2016

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        Worker at the Warrap State Hospital, South Sudan. Photo: UN/JC Mcllwaine

        The media often supplements talks of the Global South with illustrations of humanitarian tragedies and persistent development bottlenecks. However, this traditional news coverage overlooks a very positive and impactful transformation taking place in Africa and the bigger South: the impressive growth in social protection systems, the establishment of new foundations for advancing sustainable development and for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Social protection programmes are among the most successful development experiences the world has seen in recent years. They have proven to be key in developing countries' efforts to fight poverty and hunger, as demonstrated by the substantial progress made in poverty reduction through the adoption and expansion of social protection schemes in countries such as Brazil, Ethiopia and Senegal. Making the transformation towards sustainable development by 2030 will require substantial changes in development practices. The steady increase in the number and quality of social protection systems throughout the Global South brings renewed hope and one of the most positive changes the world has witnessed in recent decades. In Africa only, 48 countries have established flagship programmes, with more than 120 different initiatives being implemented. Seizing this positive change as a catalytic force to advance sustainable development is a must. As an  Read More

      • Latin America and the Caribbean: What does it take to prevent people from falling back into poverty | Jessica Faieta

        15 Jun 2016

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        To achieve the ambitious goals laid out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need to take a multidimensional perspective, to build sustainable and holistic well-being – beyond income aspects alone. Photo: Javier Sagredo / UNDP

        Latin America and the Caribbean countries have experienced historic economic and social transformation in recent years. This has led to a considerable reduction in poverty and inequality and to advances in closing gender, labor and education gaps. These achievements are the result of a favorable economic environment as well as proactive social inclusion policies. Despite this, 25 million to 30 million people risk falling back into poverty—a third of all those who left poverty behind during the last decade. The most vulnerable are the newly employed, women and workers in the informal sectors of the economy. Many face social exclusion that cannot be resolved with higher income, such as discrimination due to ethnic or racial group, skin color, sexual identity, migrant status or disability. Last week the UN Development Programme (UNDP) launched its flagship regional publication, the Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean. The report, Multidimensional Progress: Well-being beyond income, proposes new metrics and new ways to act now to protect the social and economic achievements of the past decade and remove barriers that prevent lifting more people from poverty. This includes what we call “hard exclusions”, which go beyond income to factors like gender, race, ethnic group, sexual orientation and disability. How do  Read More

      • Preventing social conflicts is a commitment to sustainable development | Gastón Aín

        19 May 2016

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        Dealing constructively with social conflicts, preventing and resolving them peacefully are essential elements for a new generation of policies, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Photo: UNDP El Salvador

        The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development incorporates under goal 16 the massive challenge of promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, facilitating  access to justice and creating responsive institutions at all levels. Goal 16  is definitely inspired by the infrastructures for peace (I4P) concept firstly introduced by former General Secretary Kofi Annan in 2006: “Essentially,  the  aim  should  be  the  creation  of  a  sustainable   national   infrastructure   for   peace   that   allows   societies   and   their   governments  to  resolve  conflicts  internally  and  with  their  own  skills,  institutions  and resources. The elements of such an infrastructure are sketched out below”. Infrastructures for peace have been defined as dynamic interdependent nets consisting of structures, mechanism, resources, values and skills which, through dialogue and consultation, contribute to preventing conflicts and peacebuilding in a society. One example of these infrastructures are the early warning and response systems (EWRS). The EWRS are mechanisms for preventing and addressing conflicts that focus on the systematic collection, processing and analysis of information (quantitative or qualitative) about conflict situations for the purpose of warning decision-makers so that they can take measures or implement actions that will avoid the emergence or escalation of conflict. In Latin America and the Caribbean region, demands behind social conflicts combine  Read More

      • Despite global climate pledge, indigenous activists are under attack | Laurence Klein

        16 May 2016

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        Historically indigenous peoples have assumed an important role in the sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. Photo: UNDP Venezuela

        Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was the main promoter of the campaign against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project in Honduras. In 2015, her work won her the Goldman Environmental Prize, the highest international recognition for environmental advocates. On 3 March 2016, her dedication to her people and the environment likely got her killed. In a recent report entitled “How many more?” Global Witness analyzes 116 murders of environmentalists in 2014 and confirms that three-quarters occurred in Latin America. The report states that Honduras is the most dangerous country per capita for environmental activists, with 101 killed between 2010 and 2014. Equally disturbing is that the percentage of indigenous victims like Berta rose to 40 percent in 2015. Among the deadliest occupations are fighting the hydroelectric industry, mining companies and agribusinesses. These numbers illustrate a serious paradox. 177 countries have signed the Paris Climate Agreement in which they commit to reducing carbon emissions and curbing climate change. Yet those who are leading the fight to protect the environment are being killed almost on a daily basis. This contradiction exists because the number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that depend on natural resources for their economic and social development is growing. And this  Read More

      • UNGASS on Drugs: expectations, coherence and sustainable development | Javier Sagredo

        04 May 2016

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        The interpretation of the international drug conventions through national policies and legal frameworks, many of them hooked on social representations of fear, disease, deviation and crime, has done, in many cases, more harm than good. Photo: Javier Sagredo / UNDP

        Conventional wisdom states that the one of the secrets of happiness in life is to manage our expectations to avoid unnecessary disappointments, while striving to change those aspects of reality that we dislike. The 2016 special session of the United Nations General Assembly on drugs (UNGASS) was convened in New York during the past month of April, and like the previous ones, has delivered an outcome document that perfectly corresponds with the limited possibilities of reaching a meaningful universal consensus on an issue as complex as life itself. A “decaffeinated” end-product based on the lowest common denominator cannot leave everyone satisfied, especially those who had high hopes for either a major or even a modest reform of the international drug control framework. Many of the actors who have actively participated in the discussion process towards UNGASS agree that the most important results lie in the process of the debate itself and in the active participation of new stakeholders, mainly those communities, groups and populations most affected by the implementation of drug policies emanating from the international regime. Moreover, this debate has allowed for the growing emergence of evidence and increased awareness and preoccupation about the negative consequences (“unintended” is not a  Read More

      • Peace: An opportunity for the environment in Colombia

        22 Apr 2016

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        Peace will usher in an opportunity to showcase the environmental potential of the Colombian regions in addition to generating dynamic economic and social development. Photo: UNDP Colombia

        Today more than ever we need to pursue an optimistic approach in the firm conviction that we will be better off with peace than with war: and this outlook applies to all areas across the board – social, economic and environmental. The armed conflict has left an immense ecological footprint and has limited the extent to which Colombia can achieve development through biodiversity. There are many examples of the conflict's direct impact on goods and services that derive from nature: the planting of landmines (Colombia has the second largest number of victims after Afghanistan); violent incidents in protected areas; deforestation caused by the expansion of illicit crops; the growth of illegal mining, deforestation and soil degradation, among others. Let's talk about the opportunities that peace can bring. Firstly, the environment is essential for achieving post-conflict reconciliation and stabilization at the global level. In Colombia, a culturally and biologically diverse country, such resources are of paramount importance. The second opportunity relates to pursuing more concerted efforts in order to overcome social and institutional constraints. The geographical areas most seriously affected by the conflict, often the most biodiverse territories in Colombia, are also those with the highest Unmet Basic Needs indicators (the method  Read More

      • The road to transparency | Abdul Riza

        13 Apr 2016

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        The innovative portal open.undp.org, details more than 5,000 development projects. Photo: UNDP Colombia

        As UNDP marks its 50th anniversary year, we’re also now celebrating another milestone. We’ve been ranked as the most transparent aid organization by Publish What You Fund for the second consecutive year - a milestone in UNDP’s road to attain transparency by making its information publicly available. Looking back at this road, it all started with our commitment towards adopting the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard to report on development projects. The key to success is to “start with what you have” and take small steps towards making gradual improvements to achieve full compliance. When UNDP started publishing to IATI in 2011, our biggest challenge in adopting the IATI Standard was the cultural shift needed. UNDP operates in nearly 170 countries and territories. As country offices provide the main data sources, incorporating IATI into their daily routine was inevitable. But changing the mindsets of staff on how we operate and report was not easy. We had to prepare extensive guidelines and build systems to support data collection and processing. We created an internal transparency dashboard for country offices to monitor project information to identify the gaps and provide missing information and project documents.  As of 2016, we have greatly progressed toward setting up a fully automated  Read More


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