Our Perspective

      • Latin America: The paradox of economic growth hand-in-hand with citizen insecurity | Heraldo Muñoz

        12 Nov 2013

        In recent years, Latin America has set the stage for considerable advances in two areas: economic and social progressand crime. Despite the headway that has been achieved in terms of growth and improvements in health, education and the reduction of poverty and inequality, Latin America has become the most dangerous region in the world. In fact, in this region, homicide rates exceed the "epidemic" level, with more than 10 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants.   This is one of the conclusions reached by the Regional Human Development Report, “Citizen Security with a Human Face: Evidence and Proposals for Latin America,” which we have recently made public. The finding that insecurity is a shared challenge and simultaneously an impediment to social and economic development in all Latin American countries resulted in our dedicating two years of research in order to assess the problem and suggest a number of remedies that would improve public policy as and when required.   The report highlights the fact that Latin America has witnessed low-quality growth, based on consumption and withinsufficient social mobility. The deterioration of citizen security is also related to demographic trends caused by rapid and uncontrolled urban growth as well as by changes in family structure and deficiencies in the school system:  Read More

      • Hurricane Sandy one year on: What have we learned? | Heraldo Muñoz

        26 Oct 2013

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        This week marks Hurricane Sandy's first anniversary. Most media attention will understandably focus on the destruction and suffering caused when Sandy struck the United States on October 29 last year, killing more than 110 people and causing more than $50 billion in damages. But what is likely to get less attention is that the US was just the last of many stops on the hurricane's tour of destruction. Beginning on October 24, Sandy, one of the largest Atlantic hurricanes on record, rumbled across the Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other countries before finally reaching the eastern seaboard of the US. The impact on this region was enormous. In Jamaica, most of the country was left without electricity, and public infrastructure suffered damages valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Nearby Haiti was even more exposed, with at least 50 dead and millions affected. Cuba, where the storm reached peak intensity, was left with at least $7 billion in damage, including to more than half of the housing in Santiago de Cuba. And one year on from Sandy, there are many lessons that we should learn from those living in the Caribbean, a region regularly tested by the Atlantic hurricane season.  Read More

      • Social and political transformation can only be achieved with young people’s participation | Heraldo Muñoz

        17 Oct 2013

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        A GROUP OF YOUNG UN VOLUNTEERS IN PERU. (PHOTO: WIN BOUDEN/UNDP PERU)

        Latin America and the Caribbean has around 156 million people between the ages of 15 to 29, which means that 26 percent of its population is young. However, only 1.63 percent of deputies and senators in 25 parliaments in the region are 30 years old or younger, according to a recent UN Development Programme (UNDP) assessment. More worrying still is the fact that women still lag behind: among the few young parliamentarians just 32 percent are women.  Having so many young people is an opportunity for any region. But in the case of Latin America, this demographic advantage coexists with unequal opportunities for its youth, which is reflected in low voter turnout among young people and a political representation crisis that feeds the recent social mobilizations. This confirms the need to boost efforts to meet young Latin Americans' demands and needs, and to recognize their capabilities and roles in promoting democratic change.     In this context, more than 22 young parliamentarians from 13 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean signed a pact to expand political participation of the youth of the region during a recent meeting in Brasilia, organized by UNDP, Brazil’s National Youth Secretary and the Ibero-American Youth Organization,  Read More

      • Colombia: Still a long way from home | Debora Barros

        04 Oct 2013

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        Like the Wayuu, the Tule people of Colombia also deal with discrimination and violation of human rights, an experience shared by many indigenous people. Photo: B. Heger, UNHCR

        When rebel forces killed the women in my community, our lives changed forever. In my culture, as an indigenous Wayuu in Colombia, women are sacred. We are the ones who transmit our language, traditions and lineage to future generations. To kill a mother is to kill the culture and the life of a community. As a child, I grew up without fear. I played in the desert with my cousins without any feeling of danger. It was a wonderful time. I became a happy, smart and organized woman and was chosen by my community to study law at university. When I came back during vacation, I would explain western music and traditions to the members of my community. But on 18 April 2004, rebels came and attacked my village. They raped, beheaded and killed the women by making grenades explode in their faces. It is too horrible to speak about. When we return to our destroyed village, we cry as if it had happened yesterday. Nine years later, we still don't know why this happened. But the 102 families in community have remained strong and united. With help in advocating for our rights from organizations like UNDP, we have convinced mayors  Read More

      • Guatemala: Proud to be a Mayan | Juan de Dios

        04 Oct 2013

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        Victims' memorial museum in Guatemala City. Photo: UNDP Guatemala

        I am a Mayan from Guatemala. Though I am proud to be an indigenous person, discrimination against us is a serious problem. Especially in the private sector and in the government, we rarely reach high-level positions and are often seen as a source of cheap labour. I come from a family of people who were displaced by conflict. When I was nine or 10 years old, my father was persecuted and tortured by the military during Guatemala’s civil war, which lasted between 1960 and 1996 and destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom were indigenous Mayans. During the war, 45,000 Mayans were abducted by security forces and “disappeared,” 200,000 families were displaced and 2.5 million children became orphans. After my father was tortured, my family, including my seven brothers and sisters, was forced to move to a new region. However, our troubles were not over. We were thrown out of our new home once again because the government planned to build a hydroelectric plant. When we resisted leaving our homes, the government labeled us enemies of the State and began organizing massacres of women, children and newborns, which nearly wiped out our communities in 1981 and  Read More

      • The art of the possible: listening to the real experts | Gonzalo Pizarro

        01 Oct 2013

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        Foto: PNUD Perú

        Several years ago I was taking part in a conference on the roots of the conflict in Darfur, and potential ways out of it.  After many of us so-called experts had presented our varied research findings and our different ideas, a representative from the Darfur pastoralists stood up and asked a simple question: what they were supposed to do, as many of us had contradicted each other with our suggestions. This gave us pause for thought. After several convoluted answers, a wise man told him: ‘The best thing you can do is stop listening to the experts and outsiders’. I witnessed that advice being used to good effect a few years later. I was in Belize at a consultation meeting with stakeholders to support the Government in the roll-out of the MDG Acceleration Framework on water and sanitation. As a group of international experts on the subject and a local consultant, we thought we had a pretty good idea of what the problems, and potential solutions, would be. All the relevant stakeholders were in the room: from the water company, to the different ministries in charge of water and sanitation aspects, to the representatives of water councils and villagers associations, most of them Mayans.  Read More

      • The time is right to place governance and anti-corruption at center stage | Rebeca Grynspan

        30 Sep 2013

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        STUDENTS IN EASTERN SUDAN PARTICIPATE IN ARTISTIC COMPETITION ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY, 2012.(PHOTO: UNDP IN SUDAN)

        Thirteen years ago, when the MDGs were formulated, governance-related goals or targets were not included, mainly for political reasons, but what we learned from that experience is that deficits in governance — such as corruption, elite capture of key resources, and low capacity of government institutions — hinder inclusive growth by squandering resources badly needed for development. I was pleasantly surprised that more than 1 million people, who voted through the MYWorld global survey, expressed their opinion that “an honest and responsive governance” should be one of the top priorities in the post-2015 development framework. It is reassuring that both the High-Level Panel Report and the Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly  corroborated many of the views expressed by citizens on holding their governments transparent, accountable and responsive. According to data from the World Bank, each year US $1 trillion is paid in bribes and it is estimated that corruption can cost a country up to 17 percent of its GDP. Imagine the impact of reversing this! A recent UNDP study found that 76 percent of women surveyed think corruption has prevented them from accessing public goods and services. To counter this, we are promoting and supporting specific anti-corruption measures integrated into basic service delivery systems. Momentum is shifting  Read More

      • Peace and stability must be at the heart of the global development agenda | Helen Clark

        26 Sep 2013

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        THOUSANDS OF FANS ATTENDED A LIVE CONCERT IN BAUCAU, TIMOR LESTE ON 9 OCTOBER 2013, PART OF A SERIES OF EVENTS ORGANIZED BY MTV EXIT’S NATIONWIDE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING. PHOTO: MARTINE PERRET/UN PHOTO

        This week, world leaders gather at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss, among other topics, a new global development agenda. The body's eight millennium development goals, which include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, expire in 2015, giving UN member states the opportunity to shape the future of development. They also have the chance to position peace and stability at the centre of the debate. In countries marred by conflict and disaster, development tends to focus on promoting economic growth and progress in specific social sectors such as health and education. Fundamental issues for lasting peace and stability – rule of law and justice, good governance, social cohesion, economic and environmental sustainability – are often left at the margins. To my surprise, I often hear arguments against including peace and stability in a new global development agenda. One of the most common of these arguments is that building long-term peace and stability is separate from the work of long-term human development. In fact, peace and stability do not fall outside of the boundaries of development. The two must go hand in hand. Violence not only claims lives, but also unravels the very fabric of society, leaving schools and  Read More

      • On the jobs crisis, people want to see action now | Selim Jahan

        22 Sep 2013

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        Beneficiaries of Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, the largest cash transfer programme in the world. (Photo: Bruno Spada/Brazil Ministry of Social Development)

        Sustainable and inclusive development will not be possible unless economic growth is combined with the creation of decent jobs. The International Labour Organization has warned that 470 million new jobs are needed for new entrants into the labour market between 2016 and 2030, in addition to jobs for 202 million currently unemployed people. Tackling the global jobs crisis is not an easy task; it will require bold national policies, private-sector dynamism and an enabling global framework. The discussions on the new post-2015 development agenda represent a unique opportunity to put job creation in the center of the new framework. “Growth and employment” was one of 11 themes at the heart of consultations we organized with nearly 1 million people, asking them what should replace the Millennium Development Goals after they reach their 2015 deadline. This global outreach helped us to better understand the concerns people have regarding employment; it also helped us combine and present their main recommendations to UN Member States and to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which are taking the lead in the post-2015 planning processes. And what are these recommendations from people all over the globe? Six key messages from the new report on  Read More

      • Women can be the best agents of peace — if we let them | Roma Bhattacharjea

        20 Sep 2013

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        A WOMAN WHO MANAGES A MILK-CHILLING CENTRE IN INDIA. A GREATER ROLE FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS HELPS PROMOTE LONG-TERM PEACE AND STABILITY. (PHOTO: GRAHAM CROUCH/UNDP)

        It is 21 September 2013 and the buzzword is peace. But when we talk about peace, we often think of men laying down weapons, signing treaties and rebuilding countries. On this International Day of Peace, however, we need to remember the fundamental role of women in countries affected by conflict. Remember women not as hapless victims, but as agents of change who invest in their families and communities and who have the potential to build peaceful and prosperous societies. The international community can do more to support women in accessing employment, property, markets and new skills. Supporting their financial independence may go a long way towards giving women a voice and the power to negotiate when it comes to making decisions within families and communities in even the most remote, war-torn corners of the Earth. Improving women's access to education, capital, jobs and markets promotes balanced and inclusive growth. The Asia-Pacific region loses $42 billion to $47 billion per year because of restrictions on women’s access to employment opportunities. This hurts social cohesion, stability and trust in institutions, which are fundamental for long-term peace. Women with jobs are also far more likely than men to invest their income in food, education and health care  Read More