Invest in infrastructure, invest in development | Stefano Pettinato

20 Jul 2015

image During the year and a half project, it directly employed 314 men and 23 women and generated 1,500 indirect jobs. Photo: Mauricio Martínez / UNDP El Salvador

Roads, buildings, airports – seemingly practical infrastructure developments can not only meet the demands of society, but also fulfill the requirements and rights of individuals, leading to better human development. The development and strengthening of logistical and transportation infrastructure has a potential impact both on economic development and poverty reduction. Transportation infrastructure is of vital importance to the standard of living of a population. It links urban and rural areas, connects the country internationally, facilitates access to basic services such as education and health, and contributes to the sound functioning of cities, rendering them more competitive. Furthermore, logistical infrastructure can play an instrumental role when it comes to creating high-quality jobs and bolstering competitiveness in the production of goods and services, enhancing increased productivity and efficiency, which reflects lower costs. Taking into account these dynamics, UNDP in El Salvador has worked systematically over the last few years with the Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Housing and Urban Development (MOPTVDU) and the Autonomous Executive Ports Commission (CEPA), organizations responsible for most of the investment in logistical and transportation infrastructure. UNDP, in association with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), has worked in tandem with CEPA in the modernization of part  Read More

Haiti at a turning point | Hervé Ladsous and Jessica Faieta

16 Jul 2015

image There are over 38,000 candidates for the local elections alone. Photo: UNDP Haiti

Haiti will reach a major historic milestone this summer. Starting 9 August, some six million Haitians will choose 1,280 representatives for local administrations, 140 mayors, 139 Parliamentarians and finally, their President, in several rounds of electoral processes that could last until the end of the year. It has not been easy to arrive at this moment. The Haitian people have been waiting three years for these elections. A Parliament has been absent since January. Haiti has made significant strides to restore confidence in the political process and to hold these elections on time. The electoral council, appointed in January, has been impressive in taking on several challenging technical, logistical and financial tasks aiming to ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent process. The electoral law and calendar were promulgated in March, the majority of political parties have fielded candidates, and the national police have been working to ensure a secure environment for the elections. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti known as MINUSTAH, the United Nations Development Programme, and other UN partners have invested significant efforts over recent years in strengthening national electoral capacities. Much work has already been accomplished, but much more needs to be done to complete this electoral  Read More

Caribbean countries need urgent access to financing to meet new sustainable development goals | Jessica Faieta

15 Jul 2015

image Current barriers need to be lifted so the Caribbean countries and other SIDS can pave their way towards sustainable development. Photo: UNDP

Having lived and worked in four Caribbean countries I have witnessed first hand how these vibrant societies with enormous potential share serious challenges: from severe exposure to natural hazards and external financial shocks to slow economic growth and high debt. However, since the vast majority of the Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are ranked as middle-income countries—with per capita income levels above the international financial eligibility benchmark—they are shunned from receiving development financing. But the world has a unique opportunity to change this and help improve the lives and the future aspirations of Caribbean women and men. This week high-level political representatives are gathering in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to adopt an international agreement setting out how the post-2015 sustainable development agenda will be financed. The traditional international standards, based on national per capita income averages, are inadequate measures of these countries’ sustainable development needs, according to our new UN Development Programme (UNDP) titled “Financing for Development Challenges in Caribbean SIDS: A case for review of eligibility criteria for access to concessional financing”, which we are launching this week in Addis. As a result, Caribbean countries have very limited access to concessional financing and Official Development Assistance (ODA), with the exception  Read More

Eleven countries, one commitment: Youth inclusion | Pablo Gago

13 Jul 2015

image More than 160 million young men and women are struggling to end the inequality between different generations in planning and public policy. Photo: UNDP El Salvador

In Latin America and the Caribbean, there is approximately a 50 percent deficit in the share of public spending on youth in relation to other age groups, considering their demographic weight and the concept of evenly distributed spending. This is not consistent with the fact that one in four people in the region is between 15 and 29 years old. More than 160 million young men and women are struggling to end the inequality between different generations in planning and public policy. In order to boost investment in youth and their political participation and inclusion, last month we launched the Iber-American Programme, IberJóvenes, which will initially be implemented in 11 countries: Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal and Spain. The IberJóvenes Programme, is a joint effort of the Ibero-American Youth Organization (OIJ), the Iber-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It was created with the aim of strengthening public policies for Ibero-American youth and stems directly from the 2014 Ibero-American Summit of heads of states, in response to the challenges facing youth of the region. The programme aims to reach youth, organized or non-organized, and will particularly focus on:  rural populations; lesbian,  Read More

An HIV milestone achieved in Cuba | Carlos Cortés Falla

13 Jul 2015

image In Cuba, preventive services, like HIV testing for all pregnant women, contributed to the elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission. Photo: UNDP

This is a momentous moment for us working in Cuba. The World Health Organization recently declared that Cuba had eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child. Cuba is the first country to reach this goal and it is a great milestone for us. But it is also a landmark in the response to HIV globally. How was Cuba able to achieve this? Cuba’s comprehensive health system is available for all Cuban citizens equally, and is effective in integrating the health care of mothers and children with the health management of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Because of this integration, Cuba has been able to strengthen its HIV and syphilis prevention efforts by offering early access to prenatal care, testing both pregnant women and their partners for HIV and syphilis (as a standard test that also includes other illnesses), treating women who test positive as well as their babies, and offering caesarean deliveries and alternative solutions to breast feeding, such as pediatric supplements. These interventions are vital to preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child. While an HIV positive woman has between a 15 – 45 percent chance of passing the virus to their child  Read More

The paradox of development financing in Caribbean small islands | Stacy Richards-Kennedy

07 Jul 2015

image Small island developing states in the Caribbean continue to experience social development challenges related to citizen security, public health, climate change and natural disasters. Hurricane Sandy's impact in Jamaica, 2013. Photo: UNDP Jamaica

Small island developing states (SIDS) in the Caribbean are, for the most part, middle income countries and rank relatively high on the Human Development Index. In spite of this, they continue to experience social development challenges related to citizen security, public health, widening income gaps, retention of highly trained nationals, climate change and natural disasters. To address these challenges and advance a coherent and effective post-2015 development agenda, adequate levels of financing will be required. Yet, the possibility of accessing concessional financing is quite limited for Caribbean SIDS.  A recent study commissioned by the UNDP on Financing for Development Challenges in Caribbean SIDS, through the Country Office for Trinidad and Tobago and prepared by Prof. Compton Bourne (former President of the Caribbean Development Bank) highlights several paradoxes when it comes to the experience of Caribbean SIDS with development financing. For instance, despite the achievement of reasonable domestic savings rates by Caribbean SIDS, there is a shortage of investible resources. While foreign direct investment is an important source of development finance, this has been on the decline in many Caribbean countries since 2009. Moreover, Caribbean small states have experienced less success in accessing Official Development Aid (ODA), particularly since the onset of the global economic  Read More

Working for gender equality from a man’s perspective | Claudio Tomasi

16 Jun 2015

image The UNDP Gender Seal has encouraged allies to government and civil society using new measures to promote gender equality in Cuba. Photo: Carolina Azevedo/UNDP

Gender issues and concerns relating to equality and fairness involve women and men, in all different “shapes and sizes” - age, skin color, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity. Men are in a position to do far more to contribute to gender equality in all walks of life, in workplaces, families, and other groups to which we belong. For those of us who lead forums in the field of development cooperation, this has to be more than a policy and institutional mandate. It must be a binding obligation that we dare not ignore and which makes us grow as people. The Gender Seal is a UNDP certification process that provides incentives for ensuring that offices and their programmes work towards equality between women and men. In Cuba, with the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, have given our support to this process.  After months of diligent effort, I had the privilege of receiving, on behalf of my UNDP colleagues in Cuba, the ultimate certification honor: the Gold Seal. How did we achieve these positive results? We carried out a strategic, self-critical and forward-looking diagnostic assessment of the “health” of the office (results, progress, challenges) and its ability to achieve benchmarks for  Read More

South-South cooperation -- how can we maximize its impact on sustainable development? | Grace Wang

11 Jun 2015

image Risk Reduction Management Centers, a successful initiative in hurricane-prone Cuba, are being scaled up across partnering Caribbean states. Photo: Carolina Azevedo / UNDP

South-South Cooperation is gaining new momentum as global political and economic realities change rapidly. It is also adding critical value to development. So how can we ensure that the larger potential of SSC is reflected in ongoing discussions on financing for development, while recognizing its differences from more traditional forms of ‘North-South’ development cooperation? SSC encompasses elements of trade, investment and technology transfer as well as direct financial assistance between developing countries. In 2013, South-South trade in goods was valued at about US$ 5 trillion. South-South grants, concessional loans, debt relief and technology transfer were estimated between US$16 to 19 billion in 2011, and continue to rise. These figures undoubtedly underestimate the true scale of such flows since they are not reported in any systematic way. Much of it is also not directly quantifiable such as the amount of knowledge shared or technology transferred through SSC. SSC made, and continues to make, an important contribution to development and to people’s lives. It is also becoming more diverse. For example, while SSC continues to favour infrastructure investments (around 55% of its activities), it also supports the social sectors, agriculture and food security and, increasingly, social protection, as well as renewable energy. All these  Read More

My voyage on the Human Development Report "Enterprise" | Selim Jahan

11 Jun 2015

image Selim Jahan and Amartya Sen at the Human Development Report Office in the 1990s. Photo: UNDP

“It is an intellectual Enterprise,” Mahbub ul Haq, a Star Trek fan, would fondly say about the Human Development Report (HDR). The Report was his brainchild, and he was the captain of the HDR Enterprise. And it was this Enterprise’s dynamism, out-of-box thinking and intellectual courage that attracted me to it. What a journey I have had with the HDR over the last quarter of a century - a core-author of the Report, a vivid reader, and a committed champion of it. And it feels good to be ‘back home’, having taken the rein of the Report less than a year ago. From the very beginning, the HDR took the road not taken, and that has made all the difference. It pursued an alternative way of looking at, and measuring, development and was innovative in putting people, not the economy, at the centre of development as active agents and beneficiaries. Over the years, the HDR has changed the content and tone of the development dialogue around the world.  It has measured development results with indices, which may be as vulgar as the GDP per capita, but not as blind to the broader aspects of human well-being. It has provided advocacy tools  Read More

Innovation, the state of the art of development | Stefano Pettinato

09 Jun 2015

image Citizens in Latin America and the Caribbean are starting to emphasize the importance of innovation as the engine for confronting the region´s significant development challenges. Photo: UNDP El Salvador

Creativity fosters new concepts and ideas, or indeed fresh associations between these, producing original solutions to problems. Creative inspiration is a characteristic that is associated typically with human beings—commonly found among artists—and to some extent it is a phenomenon that it is hard to explain. Furthermore, living as we do in the age of Google and Wikipedia, and given the immediate gratification provided through answers to whatever kind of question we may have, the search for solutions that are inherently creative and innovative calls for a particular kind effort. However, some solutions do exist, and such solutions are used, for example, among artists—and they can help us to harness our imagination and creativity, including in our work as development stakeholders as we endeavor to promote innovation. So, what do we have to do in order to be innovative? We must continue to be receptive to the world that surrounds us, collect information and from this material draw lessons, seek new ways to listen to ideas and needs expressed directly by the ultimate beneficiaries of development work, take risks, question established paradigms of thought, break with the urgent routines that end up taking priority over other more important activities. These are just  Read More

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