• Zika is a wake-up call for all of us | Mandeep Dhaliwal

        05 Feb 2016

        A girl receives anti-malaria treatment in Bolivia. Through our partnership with the Global Fund and malaria programmes in nine countries, UNDP can share expertise on multi-dimensional mosquito control responses. Photo: UNDP Bolivia

        Monday, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern. Unlike other viruses spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito —such as dengue, yellow fever, or chikungunya — the Zika virus often went unnoticed and was considered a mild tropical disease with most virus carriers being symptomless.  Yet Brazil recently found itself in the throes of an unprecedented Zika outbreak — with more than a million people infected — and an unusually high number of babies born with microcephaly. There is growing international consensus, although not yet definitive proof, that the virus has potentially catastrophic implications for infected pregnant women and their unborn children, as well as possible links to other serious neurological conditions. Experts believe that environmental destruction caused the Zika virus to infect humans and is fuelling its dramatic spread through the Americas. There is no vaccine or cure for Zika, and a health sector response will simply not be sufficient to stop its spread. This means that fear of infection is mounting among people living in the most vulnerable communities across Latin America, where cased have been reported in 25 countries and territories. Some countries have responded to the threat  Read More

      • Young people building peace in Colombia | Karin Andersson

        02 Feb 2016

        UNDP has supported efforts for over 10,000 university students from across the country to participate in direct conversations with the office of the Colombian government in charge of the peace talks. Photo: UNDP Colombia

        Why have young people embraced the opportunity to lead and participate in the efforts to build peace in Colombia? Perhaps it is because in over sixty years, Colombians haven’t known one day of peace? At a festival for peace last year in the province of Norte de Santander, a young woman told me that “this is a unique opportunity to get to know a country that I’ve never really known, a country in which no one dies because of a war.” Colombia is a country with a unique geography and history that produced a rich cultural diversity. Each region of the country has its own unique cultural and social norms. With this in mind, the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the left wing FARC guerrillas highlight the importance of peace building at the local level. Even though a peace agreement is likely to be signed very soon, it is clear that a durable peace has to be built from the bottom up. The truth is, for a long time, young people all over Colombia’s different regions have created their own processes, projects, and initiatives aimed at building peace and promoting their rights and participation in the decision-making processes  Read More

      • Tackling Climate Change in the Caribbean: Natural solutions to a human induced problem | Jessica Faieta

        01 Feb 2016

        We have engaged with local stakeholders to develop climate smart agricultural projects, and climate resilient fisheries, among other activities in the tourism and water resources sectors. Photo: UNDP / Carolina Azevedo

        The world is still celebrating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the main outcome of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its ambitions are unprecedented: not only has the world committed to limit the increase of temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” it has also agreed to pursue efforts to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.” This achievement should be celebrated, especially by Small Island Development States (SIDS), a 41-nation group—nearly half of them in the Caribbean—that has been advocating for increased ambition on climate change for nearly a quarter century. SIDS are even more vulnerable to climate change impacts —and risk losing more. Global warming has very high associated damages and costs to families, communities and entire countries, including their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.   What does this mean for the Caribbean? Climate change is recognised as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities. Moreover, scenarios based on moderate curbing of greenhouse gas  Read More

      • The role of SDGs in achieving zero hunger | Paloma Durán

        18 Jan 2016

        1 in 9 people are undernourished in our world today. Photo: UNDP Peru

        It is a well-known fact that 795 million or one in nine are undernourished in our world today. This figure only goes up to more than one in eight for the developing world. Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. At the same time, the food industry is a major source of jobs and livelihoods. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that food is going to play a pivotal role in achieving sustainable development and as such in ensuring Zero Hunger. Various commentators recognize the pivotal role that Goal 2 of the SDGs (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture) plays in achieving the other goals. So what can we do facilitate the achievement of Goal 2 in practical terms?. The Sustainable Development Goals Fund, the first mechanism established for SDG achievement, is already devising new platforms for joint engagement of UN Agencies, governments, civil society, businesses and communities in sustainable development with its work on the ground. With food security and nutrition defined as one of its key focus areas the SDG Fund is already funding four joint programmes that directly contribute towards achieving Goal 2. With our support, El Salvador’s government is  Read More

      • For a young Haitian, hope beyond the earthquake | Alejandro Pacheco

        12 Jan 2016

        Oriental was born in a slum area of ​​Port au Prince. Before the earthquake struck, life had already hit him hard: he became an orphan when he was 15. Photo: Raúl de la Fuente - Kanaki Films.

        Oriental Meliance was born in Haiti in 1990. When he was 10 years old, world leaders agreed on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Oriental was among the 2 billion poor worldwide classified as living on less than US$1.25 a day. By the time he turned 25 in 2015, the world had halved the number of poor. These huge numbers eclipse the real faces of people, like Oriental. What does it mean to live in poverty?  We now have more complex definitions of poverty that go beyond income, which address multiple needs and shortcomings. Beyond living on less than US$1.25, the lack of adequate housing, water and sanitation, access to health services, and education classify a family as “multi-dimensionally poor”. This second definition is more interesting: it allows us to shift our understanding of Oriental (or Tattoo Love, as his friends call him) from being an income-related number to a real person living under certain conditions. We know, for example, that the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 affected him. Since then, he has lived in a shack he built with his own hands, with no access to running water and a ceiling and walls made of corrugated iron. He cannot  Read More

      • Six ways to define poverty, according to 5-year olds | Carolina Azevedo

        05 Jan 2016

        Only one last child mentioned money or income, contrary to the traditional concept that being poor means living on less than US$1.25 or $4 a day. Photo: Renato Contreras / UNDP Peru

        Forget about the ‘grandmother rule’ of journalism—or the ‘aunt rule’, depending on the country. According to this principle, you have to explain your message as simply as possible so even your grandmother, or aunt, will understand. I wonder why it’s never the grandfather or the uncle. But that’s a whole other topic... After lecturing to a group of 20 kindergarten students on what UNDP does (sustainable development, disaster risk reduction and other weird terms) I realize that the rule should be: communicate clearly enough so even a 5-year-old will understand your message. The easiest way to explain the concept of ‘resilience’ was to remind them of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf. In the story, you’ll remember, the brick house (yes, the one that took more time and effort to build) was the only one that withstood the wolf’s ‘huffing and puffing’ (and very heavy wind and rain too, the children understood). Surprisingly, when I asked the group of New York City girls and boys from different cultural backgrounds what they thought poverty meant, they answered, in this order: 1.      “Not having a proper house.” 2.      “Not having a proper school.” 3.      “Not having enough to eat.” 4.       Read More

      • I am a migrant

        18 Dec 2015

        "Migration means diving into a new reality and picking yourself up every time you fall." - Photo: I am a migrant

        This blog post is part of the campaign "I am a migrant", migrants telling their own stories in their own words. The project aims to help change the lens through with people view migrants and migration, and build a more tolerant world. When I lived in Haiti, I used to study business management. In 2010, the earthquake struck and a year later the situation became very difficult for young people. It wasn’t easy for us to continue our studies. This is when we found a religious organization that worked there and had links with Ecuador. They were dedicated to helping young Haitians who wished to continue their studies by offering them a scholarship. We would only have to pay for the flights. My family realized this was a great opportunity and made all the efforts possible to gather enough money for the ticket, which cost almost 2,000 US Dollars. I had never thought I would move to another country. In fact, I was always more interested in contributing to the development of Haiti by helping those who need it the most. However, given the conditions, I accepted to come to Ecuador. My plan was to study here and go back to  Read More

      • The ripple effect of volunteering for planet and people | Jennifer Stapper

        10 Dec 2015

        Volunteers can be the educators who bridge the gap between policies and communities. Photo: UNDP Peru

        What role can volunteerism play in the future of planet and people? Now that the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been adopted, we at United Nations Volunteers (UNV) are trying to gauge how our work can contribute to advancing those goals. As the world turns its attention to climate change, how can we be a part of the solution? UN Volunteers will be part of implementing practical and concrete tools to combat climate change. They will be the ones observing the tactics that work well on the ground and deciding whether these can be passed on across cultures. They will identify the players who would be most apt to contribute and the multiple angles that can be addressed. Furthermore, they will steer into action the strategies developed at national, corporate, and research levels. Volunteerism brings concepts of sustainable development closer to people and their communities. In order to have a more sustainable future, people need to be involved in the changes that will make a difference in their lives. Volunteerism can help inspire this involvement.  When people volunteer their time and energy, they often bring an enthusiasm and passion. Their inspiration can have a ripple effect, becoming the impetus for driving change. People see the  Read More

      • Let’s talk about corruption. But let’s start with transparency and accountability | Adriana Ballestin

        09 Dec 2015

        We has been enhancing the capacity of governments, civil society and the private sector in designing and implementing tools to improve transparency and accountability. Photo: IPC Brazil

        According to the Barometer of the Americas nearly 70 percent of Latin American interviewees admitted having been asked for a bribe in the past year. But there’s room for hope: 86.3 percent of interviewees stressed that paying a bribe as unjustifiable, according to the same survey. In recent years Latin Americans have increasingly demanded more accountable, open and transparent governments that can readily respond to citizens’ needs. In this context, adopting transparency and accountability practices and mechanisms are essential create trust, dialogue and cooperation between institutions, private sector and civil society. These are necessary steps to boost institutions and public authorities’ legitimacy. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Latin America and the Caribbean has been enhancing the capacity of governments, civil society and the private sector in designing and implementing tools to improve transparency and accountability—essential for the region’s democratic governance. The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and in particularly SDG 16, explicitly link good governance with peace, justice and inclusive societies, emphasizing crisis prevention mechanisms and transparency as crucial steps for strong institutions. Empowering and promoting citizen participation is key. In our region we particularly focus on youth, women, indigenous peoples and  Read More

      • Afro-Brazilian women take to the streets. How about also taking up seats in parliament? | Carolina Azevedo

        30 Nov 2015

        More than 20,000 women took to the streets during the March of Black Women on 18 November in Brasilia, calling for the protection of human rights. Photo: Vinícius Carvalho/Marcha das Mulheres Negras

        “The power structure [in our region] is macho, white and old,” said Creuza Oliveira, President of the National Federation of Domestic Workers of Brazil. Creuza’s speech during the ECLAC-UNDP Regional Conference on Social Development brought many ministers and country delegates – men and women – to tears. Her words give witness to the experience of African descendants, who make up around 30 per cent of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the region Afro-descendants face discrimination and experience disproportionate levels of poverty and social exclusion. Often they face multiple and intersecting forms of inequity based on other factors such as gender, religion or disability. Creuza became a domestic worker when she was only 10 in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia. Working long hours during the day and studying at night “whenever the boss allowed”, she managed to finish elementary school by age 16 and high school by 32, she told me in an interview in Lima, Peru. Black women compose 62 percent of the domestic work force in Brazil, according to official figures. More than 70 percent do not have a formal contract. Moreover, 60 percent of women who die giving birth are black. And in the last 10 years the  Read More

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