Our Perspective

      • Harnessing benefits from a cup of Colombian coffee | Santiago Carrizosa

        22 May 2015

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        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

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        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

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        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

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        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

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        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

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        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

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        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

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        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

      • Inside UNDP: Jorge Álvarez

        07 Apr 2015

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        Jorge Álvarez with community members from UNDP’s sustainable land management project in Las Bambas, Apurímac, Peru. Photo: UNDP/Peru

        Jorge Álvarez, from Peru, is an agricultural engineer who has worked for UNDP for over five years and is on the roster of Peruvian national experts of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He is motivated by the desire to raise public awareness on the importance of taking care of the planet and its resources, to generate tangible changes in his country, and to leave to his children a legacy of a cleaner and sustainable Peru. 1. What do you do for work?  I manage the portfolio of energy and environment projects of UNDP in Peru, including more than 18 projects being implemented and another ten in the design/pre-implementation stage.  The projects are classified in five areas: climate change, biodiversity, desertification, environmental quality and environmental funding. 2. How long have you worked for UNDP? How did you end up working for UNDP? Where were you before?  My first experience with UNDP was as National Coordinator of "The Second National Communication on Climate Change" project, but worked at the Ministry of the Environment. I then became a Programme Officer and have worked in this position for over two years. Prior to UNDP, I worked for the National Environmental Council,  Read More

      • Maintaining HIV health services in the wake of disaster | Jean Thomas Nouboussi

        01 Apr 2015

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        Commemorating World AIDS Day in Petionville, Haiti. Photo: UNDP/Haiti

        In 2010, Haiti suffered an earthquake with devastating consequences.  225,000 people died and 1.5 million people were displaced. There was 10 million cubic meters of debris, 30 of the 49 hospitals in the country were ruined, and 80 percent of schools and 60 percent of the government structures were destroyed.  With very little infrastructure left, the internally displaced people were settled in 1500 camps in the metropolitan areas. What happened to us in Haiti has been referred to as the largest urban disaster in modern history. The humanitarian effort following the earthquake was extraordinary, with much global attention and donor support. However, there was little funding and planning for the HIV response and to address gender-based violence.  These needs had not been integrated into the larger humanitarian work, despite the fact that Haiti has the highest burden of HIV in the Caribbean region. Incidences of rape in the internally displaced camps were high, young people were turning to sex work for economic reasons, and the rates of HIV and TB transmission increased. Haiti had been receiving Global Fund grants since 2003, but the weakened systems and capacities after the earthquake challenged their implementation. UNDP was invited to be the interim Principal  Read More