Our Perspective

      • Bridging the gap: How the SDG Fund is paving the way for a post-2015 agenda | Paloma Duran

        23 Mar 2015

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        Photo: UNDP Peru

        We are fast approaching this September’s Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with world leaders debating the 17 goals and 169 targets proposed by the United Nations Open Working Group. The post-2015 development agenda will focus primarily on strengthening opportunities to reduce poverty and marginalisation in ways that are sustainable from an economic, social and environmental standpoint. The SDG Fund, created by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with an initial contribution from the government of Spain, has been designed to smoothen the transition from the Millennium Development Goals phase into the future Sustainable Development Goals. The rationale of the joint programme initiative is to enhance the development impact of technical assistance by combining inputs from various UN entities, each contributing according to its specific expertise and bringing their respective national partners on board. To illustrate, we are currently implementing joint programmes in 18 countries addressing challenges of inclusive economic growth for poverty eradication, food security and nutrition as well as water and sanitation. The majority of our budget is invested in sustainable development on the ground and is directly improving the lives of more than one million people in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Arab States and Africa. National  Read More

      • It’s time to listen to the poor | William Pleitez

        13 Mar 2015

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        Listening to the poor today in El Salvador thus means giving priority to decent work, education, health, food security, public safety, housing and opportunities for recreation. Photo: UNDP El Salvador

        Listening to the poor deepens the wisdom of nations. “We must look at things from the perspective of those who are directly affected,” advises Mahbub ul Haq, founder of the Human Development Index. On this basis, UNDP, with the help of TECHO, conducted fieldwork in 20 poor communities in El Salvador  and recently published its findings in the report Poverty in El Salvador from the Perspective of its Protagonists. Contrary to what public opinion polls reveal, when poorer communities themselves were asked to identify the country’s main problem, their response was the poverty in which they live. When asked what “living in poverty” meant to them, most people agreed on three points: •    “Look at what we eat,” said a woman, referring to her diet, which consists of salt, tortillas, beans and rice. She noted that her family was often unable to eat three times a day and had to skip meals. “When things become serious, even if I can’t eat, I try to make sure that at least my children can.” •    “Look at where we live,” commented another woman, referring to the many structural problems visible in the floor, roof and walls of her home, and deploring the lack  Read More

      • Haiti: What does it take to transition from humanitarian needs to long-term development? | Sophie de Caen

        13 Mar 2015

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        Haitians set up impromtu tent cities through the capital after an earthquake measuring 7 plus on the Richter scale rocked Port au Prince in 2010. Photo: Logan Abassi/UN

        Haiti has come a long way since the earthquake shook the country five years ago. In spite of the immense challenges, Haiti has made notable progress in health and education, as the Government of Haiti-UNDP Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Report shows. Today the country also has a more risk-informed approach to development, with more retaining walls, safer housing, and simulation exercises for better preparedness. National efforts, supported by both humanitarian and development assistance, have clearly made an impact. But a much bigger impact is needed.   Prior to the earthquake, there were several grave development challenges, including poverty (which today stands at 60 percent of the population). Building standards were poor and houses were built in risk prone areas. With such fragility, the consequences of a small earthquake would be dreadful.   But instead, a huge earthquake struck one of the most vulnerable areas—and hit the poorest hardest. Haiti can prevent future tragedies.  This entails working on priority issues such as education, health, employment, social protection, environment and, importantly, climate change and disaster resilience. This week, the Government of Haiti, the United Nations and partners launched a Transitional Appeal (TAP) seeking US$401 million for the next two years, focusing on boosting resilience  Read More

      • Economic growth is not enough | Jessica Faieta

        20 Feb 2015

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        Progress is a multidimensional concept and cannot simply reflect the idea of living with less or more than four or ten dollars a day. Photo: UNDP Peru

        Recent new data show a worrying picture of Latin America and the Caribbean. Income poverty reduction has stagnated and the number of poor has risen—for the first time in a decade—, according to recent figures from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. This means that three million women and men in the region fell into poverty between 2012 and 2014. Given the projected economic growth for this year, at 1.3 percent according to IMF figures, our UN Development Programme (UNDP) estimates suggest that in 2015, more than 1.5 million people will also fall into poverty by the end of this year. They could be coming from the nearly 200 million vulnerable people in the region—those who are neither poor (living on less than US$4 a day) nor have risen to the middle classes (living on $10-50 a day). Their incomes are right above the poverty line but still too prone to falling into poverty as soon as a major crisis hits, as another recent UNDP study showed. Up and down the poverty line - Our analysis shows a clear pattern: what determines people to be “lifted from poverty” (quality education and employment) is different from what “avoids their  Read More

      • Climate Change and Inequalities: How Will They Impact Women? | Susan McDade

        14 Dec 2014

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        Women are key drivers of sustainable development. Picture: UNDP Bolivia

        Among all the impacts of climate change, from rising sea levels to landslides and flooding, there is one that does not get the attention it deserves: an exacerbation of inequalities, particularly for women. Especially in poor countries, women’s lives are often directly dependent on the natural environment. Women bear the main responsibility for supplying water and firewood for cooking and heating, as well as growing food. Drought, uncertain rainfall and deforestation make these tasks more time-consuming and arduous, threaten women’s livelihoods and deprive them of time to learn skills, earn money and participate in community life. But the same societal roles that make women more vulnerable to environmental challenges also make them key actors for driving sustainable development. Their knowledge and experience can make natural resource management and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies at all levels more successful. To see this in action, just look to the Ecuadorian Amazon, where the Waorani women association (Asociación de Mujeres Waorani de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana) is promoting organic cocoa cultivation as a wildlife protection measure and a pathway to local sustainable development. With support from the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the women’s association is managing its land collectively and working toward zero deforestation,  Read More

      • Finding durable solutions for urban settings in Haiti | Jessica Faieta

        31 Oct 2014

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        The Government of Haiti and its people have made extraordinary efforts to recover from a traumatic experience. Photo: UNDP Haiti

        For those who arrived in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, the images of destruction in the capital city will be probably remain in our minds forever. They are in mine: at least 200,000 people dead and over a million displaced, thousands of buildings collapsed, houses damaged everywhere, economies disrupted, basic services interrupted, and tents and camps mushrooming in every small plaza or area where rubble had barely been removed. The earthquake took place in a very specific context, aggravated by pre-existing conditions:  lack of adequate housing, land tenure issues, and disorganized rural-urban migration patterns. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes for durable solutions in urban settings. One time initiatives may be effective – such as emptying the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps - but affected families need sustainable solutions. Affordable housing, basic services and income generating activities are some of the key components of any programme promoting the return from IDP camps. The government of Haiti and its people, men and women, have made extraordinary efforts to recover from such a traumatic experience. From the 1.5 million displaced after the earthquake, only 80,000 remain.  The country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rose from $1,548 to $1,602 per capita between  Read More

      • Eradicating poverty means thinking beyond income | Alfredo González Reyes

        17 Oct 2014

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        Poverty must be understood by identifying deprivations in factors that go beyond income. Photo: UNDP Peru

        Today, the 17th of October 2014, marks 21 years since for the first time the International Day for the Eradication of Extreme Poverty was celebrated. Notable progress has been made since then. According to World Bank data, among the 115 low-income countries of the world, the proportion of people in extreme poverty (that is, with an income of US$1.25 per day per person, adjusted for purchasing power parity) declined from 43.4 percent in 1990 to 17 percent in 2011; i.e. 912 million people were lifted out of extreme poverty over the past two decades. This drop was mainly concentrated in East Asia and the Pacific, where the incidence of extreme poverty was reduced from 57 to 7.9 percent during the same period (i.e. 750 million people). In Southeast Asia, it dropped from 54.1 to 24.5 percent (221.5 million people). In Latin America and the Caribbean, between 1990 and 2011, the incidence of extreme poverty dropped from 12.2 to 4.6 percent, meaning that 25.5 million Latin Americans no longer live in this extreme condition. Two decades ago, poverty was defined in monetary terms, based on a consensus around the concept that income was an adequate measure to represent wellbeing. Today, it is  Read More

      • Sustainability is the only choice | Alejandra Araúz

        25 Sep 2014

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        GUARANTEEING THE LONG-TERM SUCCESS OF PEOPLE, COMPANIES, BUSINESSES AND COUNTRIES WHILE CONTRIBUTING TO THE CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE ENVIRONMENT REQUIRES MORE THAN THE USUAL RHETORIC. PHOTO: UNREDD

        The term “sustainability” is increasingly being used among NGOs, governments, public sector and civil society, but unfortunately there is a huge gap between what is being said and what is being done. Looking at the most basic meaning of sustainability - meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations - the list of individual, collective, private and public activities that could be considered completely sustainable in this day and age is rather short. Guaranteeing the long-term success of people, companies and countries while contributing to the conservation of natural resources and the environment requires more than the usual rhetoric; it involves a social change based on an active, forward-thinking approach, which in turn drives a significant increase in the empowerment of all stakeholders. Besides improving their reputation, which also results in better yields and prosperity, both public and private organizations that include sustainability as an inherent part of their operations establish stronger, trust-based links with their stakeholders and partners, thereby ensuring loyalty in the medium and long term. How can we bring these same principles to the field of human development? What impact would this have on our societies? The concept of “strategic planning” has not  Read More

      • Latin America at a crossroads on climate and access to energy | Susan McDade

        22 Sep 2014

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        ABOUT 10 MILLION PEOPLE, MOSTLY RURAL POOR, HAVE GAINED ACCESS TO MODERN ENERGY SERVICES THROUGH UNDP-SUPPORTED PROJECTS OVER THE PAST DECADE. PHOTO: UNDP IN NICARAGUA

        World leaders gathered at the Climate Change Summit during the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 23 will have a crucial opportunity to mobilise political will and advance solutions to climate change. They will also need to address its closely connected challenges of increasing access to sustainable energy as a key tool to secure and advance gains in the social, economic and environmental realms. This is more important than ever for Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though the region is responsible for a relatively low share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 12 percent, according to UN figures, it will be one of the most severely affected by temperature spikes, according a World Bank Report. For the Caribbean region in particular, reliance on imported fuels challenges balance of payments stability and increases the vulnerability of key ecosystems that underpin important productive sectors, including tourism. And the region faces new challenges. Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2030, as per capita income rises and countries become increasingly industrialised—and urban. Although the region has a clean electricity matrix, with nearly 60 percent generated from hydroelectric resources, the share of fossil fuel-based generation has increased substantially in the past 10 years, mainly from natural gas. Now is the  Read More

      • Latin America at a Climate Crossroads | Susan McDade

        17 Sep 2014

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        Turbines at WindWatt Nevis Limited. In most countries of the region, the abundance of renewable resources creates an opportunity to increase reliance on domestic energy sources rather than imported oil and gas. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

        World leaders gathered at the Climate Change Summit during the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 23 will have a crucial opportunity to mobilize political will and advance solutions to climate change. They will also need to address its closely connected challenges of increasing access sustainable energy as a key tool to secure and advance gains in the social, economic and environmental realms. This is more important than ever for Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though the region is responsible for a relatively low share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 12 percent, according to U.N. figures, it will be one of the most severely affected by temperature spikes, according a World Bank Report.   For the Caribbean region in particular, reliance on imported fuels challenges balance of payments stability and increases the vulnerability of key ecosystems that underpin important productive sectors, including tourism. And the region faces new challenges. Demand for electricity is expected to double by 2030, as per capita income rises and countries become increasingly industrialized—and urban. Although the region has a clean electricity matrix, with nearly 60 percent generated from hydroelectric resources, the share of fossil fuel-based generation has increased substantially in the past 10 years, mainly from natural gas.  Read More