Our Perspective

      • Every day in every country – should be and can be a day without violence | Helen Clark

        21 Sep 2012

        More than half a million people die violently every year - in armed conflicts; from criminal activity; and from violent attacks in their own homes. An estimated 1.5 billion plus people live in countries affected by war, violence, and/or high levels of crime. The absence of peace exacts a terrible toll. Armed conflict terrifies communities and makes development progress very difficult. Deep inequalities may be reflected in levels of violence – and will be exacerbated by it. For example, women and girls, who suffer discrimination in many places, are disproportionately affected by armed conflict. War increases their economic and social vulnerability. Yet it is possible to tackle these challenges decisively, and UNDP sees progress being made in a number of countries in which we work. For example: · This year El Salvador recorded its first murder-free day in over three years. Murders there have fallen by an average of 12 per cent since the introduction of gun-free zones; · Liberia is on the road to recovery from many years of civil war, 2013 will mark a decade of peace there; and · In Angola, an arms amnesty led to the surrender of more than 76,000 illegal weapons. These examples all show  Read More

      • Improving human development among indigenous peoples: The Chiapas success story | Magdy Martinez-Soliman

        22 Aug 2012

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        Indigenous peoples in Chiapas, one of Mexico’s poorest states, have seen improvements in human development after the adoption of MDG-focused social policies. (Photo: UNDP Mexico)

        In many ways, history has been hard on the southwestern state of Chiapas, home to Mexico’s largest indigenous population. Poverty has been persistent, with the state lagging behind on most socio-economic indicators.    In recent times however, Chiapas has led the way in setting an agenda to improve the life of its citizens. In 2009 the state adopted the Chiapas-UN Agenda and amended its constitution, making it the first in the world to mandate a Millennium Development Goals-guided social policy. As a result, addressing poverty and its causes became a priority in Chiapas, with a strong emphasis on initiatives to improve health, education, environmental sustainability and extreme hunger. Following this constitutional amendment, public spending from the government at the federal, state and local levels followed the MDG priorities, producing some impressive results in a short period of time. Chiapas experienced progress in education, measured by literacy and enrolment rates from 2008 to 2010. During the same period the state also had the fastest improvements in life expectancy at birth. Many indigenous communities of Chiapas were at the origin of the Zapatista uprising in the 1990’s, which succeeded in obtaining new rights for indigenous peoples but also divided and displaced much of  Read More

      • Sharing development experience between Latin America and Africa | Helen Clark

        29 May 2012

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        Cash transfer programmes – such as Brazil’s Bolsa Familia – target low-income households, help reduce poverty levels, and increase access to education and health services.

        More than 40 social development ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa are gathering this week in Brasilia to discuss how both regions can exchange experiences and increase co-operation to end poverty. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is proud to be the facilitator of this historic gathering. It takes place less than a month before the Rio +20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.  There, world leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations will gather to discuss how to build a more sustainable future—a crucial challenge for developing and developed countries alike.   It is clear that countries can no longer afford to grow first and try to clean up later. Or grow first and try to become more equitable later.  Growth divorced from advances in human development and without regard for the environment will not sustain advances in human development, and will damage the ecosystems on which life on our planet depends.   Two weeks ago, UNDP’s Africa Human Development Report on food security was launched in Nairobi with the President of Kenya.  Despite sub-Saharan Africa’s significant rates of economic growth, hunger continues to affect nearly a quarter of its population  Read More

      • Haiti: The key to recovery | Marc-Andre Franche

        25 Apr 2012

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        Haiti’s ability to successfully manage people and resources, establish and enforce norms, monitor and report progress, is foundational to its development. Photo: UNDP

        The difference in Port-au-Prince today is striking. The visible progress is testament to the limitless dedication of Haitians towards rebuilding their country. It also shows unprecedented support from the international community. As the humanitarian effort winds down, it is crucial to understand Haiti will continue to face humanitarian situations, but these must be integrated into medium and long-term recovery and development strategies.  The international community cannot forget Haiti and must scale up the quality and quantity of its support.  In particular, support should ensure Haitians are genuinely front and center of the reconstruction process.  For their part, Haitians and in particular the economic and political elites must revive the extraordinary sense of unity and solidarity which was so moving after the earthquake.  Urgent decisions on realistic actions plans that count on actual available resources are needed.  Agreements between the legislative and executive and between ministries regarding division of labor and issues of leadership are critical for any progress to materialize. Furthermore, improving the quality of aid requires new focus and investments to build durable Haitian institutions.  Haiti’s ability to successfully manage people and resources, establish and enforce norms, monitor and report progress, is foundational to its development. The government and the  Read More

      • How to address surging violence in the Caribbean | Heraldo Muñoz

        20 Mar 2012

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        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. Photo: UNDP

        Twelve of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to 8.5 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 27 percent of all homicides. The consequences are devastating, as UNDP’s first Caribbean Human Development Report and an earlier report on human development in Central America show. The report Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security showed that homicide rates have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean —with the exception of Barbados and Suriname— while falling or leveling off elsewhere. The study covering Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago showed that a great deal of the violence stems from the transnational organized crime which has been active in the Caribbean. While murders in Jamaica dropped after the report’s completion to 1,124 in 2011, a seven-year low, the country has the highest murder rate in the Caribbean and the third-highest worldwide, only surpassed by El Salvador and Honduras. Lives are lost and damaged. Productivity, social capital—and the trust of citizens in their national institutions—are also hindered. Crime deters investment, diverts youths from jobs to jail, and absorbs funding that  Read More

      • Let’s put Haitians at the centre of rebuilding | Rebeca Grynspan

        11 Jan 2012

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        The Leogane debris management project in Haiti. Photo: Mariana Nissen/UNDP

        Two years ago this week, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, killing 200,000 and displacing 1.5 million people. The deaths and destruction highlighted the risks associated with a hyper-centralized government and population in Port-au-Prince, where hundreds of thousands of homes were demolished and 30 percent of civil servants lost their lives. In a matter of minutes, chronic challenges became urgent and acute, with life-or-death consequences in many instances. With the aim of “building back better,” UNDP has worked with other agencies not only to help Haiti recover but to make the country and its people more resilient, better prepared to weather any natural or man-made shocks the future will bring. That is our mission and our mandate, with Haitian people at the centre of every initiative. Since 2010, we have stepped up cooperation with the Haitian Government, expanding debris management and reconstruction while creating thousands of jobs. With 80 percent of Haitians living in poverty and some 60 percent jobless, we systematically privilege local employment and purchasing. We have helped create 300,000 temporary jobs since the quake, such as debris removal, river gabion or retaining wall construction, and garbage collection. This has given 60,000 families a chance  Read More

      • Pulling Latin America out of the “inequality trap”

        25 May 2011

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        Urban Housing in Mexico. Photo: UNHabitat

        When we talk about development in Latin America, there are many reasons to be positive.  While the global recession left many developing countries with greater challenges in striving to reach the MDGs, Latin American and Caribbean economies have recovered more rapidly than expected reflecting the region’s economic resilience. On a different front, the region leads the world in social programmes that give financial aid to people in poverty on condition for maintaining children in school and keeping up with vaccines and medical checkups, a huge boost to reduce poverty in 18 countries in the region.  In spite of strong economic growth and advances in tackling poverty, high and persistent levels of inequality continue to be a great challenge. While the region is not the poorest in the world, it is the most unequal, as measured by the Gini coefficient. "Ten of the fifteen most unequal countries in the world are in Latin America", said Head of UNDP, Helen Clark at the Fourth Latin America Ministerial Forum on Development. "Our priority must be to take the fight against poverty even further and make inroads into reducing inequality". While economic growth is important for long-term development progress, it does not automatically translate into  Read More