Peace: An opportunity for the environment in Colombia

22 Apr 2016

image 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

image The innovative portal, 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

The SDGs are here… Now what? | Helen Clark

05 Apr 2016

image We need to work together more closely than ever to help strengthen capacities, whatever the country context. Photo: UNDP Ecuador

We face the challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in a world faced with multiple and diverse forms of crisis. What do the SDGs mean for countries where families have to flee their homes to escape conflict, where rising sea levels threaten lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and where economies are devastated by the impact of epidemics or terrorism?. Clearly, the effects of such trends are not confined to the countries in which they originate. Instead, they spill over to neighbouring countries and far beyond, with regional and global consequences that are now posing challenges to many countries, north and south. The interlinked and comprehensive nature of the SDGs challenges us to identify entry points in many different contexts, and to address the critical bottlenecks that must be removed if no one is to be left behind.   Four areas are fundamental to achieving the SDGs. 1)      Strong national ownership and leadership: Theexperience of implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) showed that the most important determinants of progress include strong leadership committed to global goals and proactive and capable governance institutions at the national and local levels to ensure that the global agenda is translated into national strategies, budgets and actions. We need to work together more closely than ever to help strengthen capacities, whatever the country context.   2)      Active coalitions, engaged stakeholders and knowledge exchange: The 2030  Read More

Empowering youth to drive change in the Eastern Caribbean | Chisa Mikami

17 Mar 2016

image SocialINNOV4Change was conceived in our office in 2014 to support youth-led citizen-centred solutions to address crime and violence within their communities. Photo: UNDP Barbados

Crime has become one of the main challenges threatening economies and livelihoods in Caribbean countries, according to UNDP’s Caribbean Human Development Report, with murder rates exceedingly high by world standards. Therefore, boosting citizen security is at the heart of our work in the region. And I knew that was going to be a big part of our work at UNDP Barbados and Eastern Caribbean when I joined the team three months ago. When I learnt of the SocialINNOV4Change project, I was thrilled with this initiative that engages Caribbean youth on issues that matter to and affect their lives. We need to invest in people, particularly in youth, to boost development while preventing violence and crime. SocialINNOV4Change was conceived in our office in 2014 to support youth-led citizen-centred solutions to address crime and violence within their communities. This initiative was first piloted in the islands of St. Christopher and Nevis, and it was conceived as a methodology which includes the use of theatre education (partnering with the University of West Indies NGO, Arts-in-Action) to bring issues to the fore, ideation workshops to help participants develop concepts, and a final innovation lab to enhance their approach. Based on the success and lessons learned  Read More

Why the last 50 years are key for the next 15? | Jessica Faieta

14 Mar 2016

image What does achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development mean for the Latin America and the Caribbean region? Photo: UNDP Peru / Renato Contreras

Of the five decades that the United Nations Development Program celebrates this year, I have lived half in the organization, in different roles. Our story began focusing on world poverty, on the most at-need women and men in the post-colonial era, with the emergence of new, independent countries beginning to trace their own paths to prosperity. In Latin America and the Caribbean we have supported many countries in their transition to democracy, also in various national truth and justice commissions and strengthening institutional capacities. Our partnership with governments, civil society and the private sector has also been crucial to innovative public policies and job creation initiatives that have helped improve the lives of millions of people. This is also a momentous year for our region. Over 50 years ago Colombia’s internal armed conflict began; it is now on the verge of coming to a close. The recent steps towards the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States after more than half a century are also of historic importance, not only to these countries but to the entire region. Looking back 50 years, the concept of development has shifted. There was a change in the “what” and today it is  Read More

Post COP21: Costa Rica’s Innovation Must Become the Global Norm | Edgar Gutiérrez and Luis Felipe Arauz & Alice Harding Shackelford

14 Mar 2016

image From 2000, Costa Rica’s pineapple industry began growing rapidly and by 2012 the country was among the world’s biggest exporters of pineapples. Photo: UNDP GCP

The Paris agreement means countries and corporations will be compelled to act much more quickly on making agricultural commodity production more sustainable. Companies must look beyond their supply chains. Farmers need support to overcome barriers such as: struggle with ineffective farming practices, lack of investment and fluctuating commodity prices. Our remaining forests – the lungs of our planet and so vital to stemming climate change –need to be protected. It’s time to work together to make agricultural commodity production sustainable. Last week Costa Rica made history by showing the world how this can be done. In 2010, Costa Rica started responding to the environmental and social impact of the pineapple sector’s rapid expansion. The country set-up the National Platform for the Responsible Production and Trade of Pineapple in Costa Rica, designed to bring every group with a stake together. Supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Green Commodities initiative, this government-led platform engaged 900 people representing big companies, such as TESCO and Walmart, small-scale farmers, traders, government and civil society. The group came up with the Action Plan for Strengthening the Responsible Production and Trade of Pineapple in Costa Rica. This groundbreaking Plan has 12 sets of actions that represent a  Read More

50 Years of Empowering Lives and Building Resilient Nations | Helen Clark

23 Feb 2016

image UNDP is proud to have worked with many partners committed to poverty eradication. Photo: UNDP Colombia

Fifty years ago, one in every three people around the world was living in poverty.  It was against that backdrop that the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, was founded in 1966.  Ever since, UNDP has been a leader in working for a more fair and prosperous world for all. We have worked with governments, civil society, the private sector, and philanthropy to empower people and build resilient nations. As UNDP begins its second half century, the numbers of people in poverty have decreased to around one in eight.  UNDP is proud to have worked with many partners committed to poverty eradication. Indeed, for fifty years UNDP has been at the forefront of work to eradicate poverty, hunger and disease, create jobs and livelihoods, empower women, support recovery from disasters and other crises, protect the environment, and more.   Most of the work happens because of our dedicated staff and the thousands of organizations we partner with around the world who do the daily work of development.  I am proud to lead an organization that has transformed so many lives for the better, offering them opportunity, hope, and dignity. But there remains much work to do.  The world is not yet rid of poverty and hunger and  Read More

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

05 Feb 2016

image 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

image 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

image 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

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