Our perspectives in 2016

29 Dec 2016

International Day of the Girl Child showed us how young women and girls are fighting inequality all over the world. Pictured here are young female computer coders in Kosovo. UNDP photo
This year UNDP celebrated its 50th anniversary and began the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was a momentous year. And helping to narrate it all was our huge network of experts and development practitioners around the world. At UNDP, one of our greatest strengths is our global reach; we’re on the ground in some 170 countries working with governments and citizens from all walks of life. Our blog is where UNDP officials and staff come to share their experience with you and offer their personal take on UNDP’s work. The blog is a space for UNDP colleagues to discuss their work and exchange ideas and opinions. But this year we also opened up our platform to outside voices through a guest blog exchange series with OECD Development Matters that focused on the SDGs. In case you missed it, here are some highlights from the many blog posts we published this year … Read more

South-South cooperation in conflict affected and fragile contexts

22 Dec 2016 by Xiaojun Grace Wang, Lead Adviser on South-South and Triangular Cooperation, UNDP

With US$15 billion in budget focusing on fragile states, India has positioned itself as a great player in SSC. With their help, women from Honduras have learned how to use sustainable energy. UNDP Honduras
We are in the era of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, leaving no one behind. However, one out of five people in the world live in conflicts and fragility. South-South Cooperation (SSC) can deliver important results in fragile and conflict affected contexts, as well as in stable situations. By 2014, international humanitarian assistance from Southern partners almost tripled 2012 levels. In 2015, the largest percentage increases mainly came from the Gulf States. Emerging economies including Brazil, China, India, South Africa, have considerably expanded their cooperation in crisis environments alongside traditional donors. India is estimated to have a budget of US$15 billion in 2012-2017 for fragile states. In addition to its substantial support to crisis recovery, China pledged to add $100 million to help deal with refugee and migrant crises at the UN this year. Neighbouring countries are often among the first to extend a helping hand. With UNDP's facilitation, Jordan provided training for Iraq government to better manage gender based violence, which often becomes more serious after conflicts. Indeed, Culture and language familiarities can group countries together to pursue SSC at scale. Timor-Leste, as the Rotating Presidency of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, expressed full support alongside with a contribution of $1.9 million to Guinea-Bissau for political stability and economic and social development. Such an effort was able to further mobilize over 1 billion euros in cash, goods and services, investments and concessional loans to finance related projects in Guinea-Bissau. This is also a demonstration of how Southern leadership can lead to scaled-up international efforts, including through triangular cooperation. … Read more

Why I have hope for my country, Haiti

20 Dec 2016 by Barbara Calixte, Project Manager, Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

My name is Barbara Calixte. I want to tell you about my people, the Haitian people and why we have hope for our country. I joined UNDP after the 2010 earthquake. Seeing such extensive destruction and damage, I knew I wanted to help rebuild my country. With reputation of working hand-in-hand with the Haitian people, UNDP was, for me, an ideal place. It was without a doubt one of the most important decisions of my life. After the earthquake, UNDP supported the government in relief and recovery work. We empowered communities to rebuild smarter and strengthened their ability to respond to future disasters. We talked to people who lost practically everything but who still had pride, will and hope that Haiti could get back on its feet. … Read more

When rights are protected, migration benefits all

16 Dec 2016 by Owen Shumba, Team Leader, Livelihoods and Economic Recovery, UNDP

According to the International Organization for Migration, remittances alone accounted for over 40 percent of Tajikistan's GDP last year. UNDP Tajikistan
Aujourd'hui, le monde compte plus de 244 millions de migrants - un chiffre record. L'immigration est une chance pour les migrants, les pays d'origine, de transit et de destination : à condition que la protection des droits des migrants soit respectée. Soyons honnêtes et convenons du fait que la migration présente à la fois des points positifs et négatifs. La pression exercée sur les services publics, la hausse du chômage, la baisse des salaires, les difficultés d'intégration et la fuite des cerveaux sont perçus comme des méfaits de la migration. Et pourtant, j’ai tendance à penser que les avantages sont plus importants que les inconvénients dans les pays d'origine et de destination. Parmi les aspects positifs de la migration, on peut citer la croissance économique, les envois de fonds, les services mis à la disposition d'une population vieillissante, la résorption du déficit de compétences, les innovations, la diversité culturelle et le tourisme. … Read more

Why should you care about public procurement reform?

15 Dec 2016 by Doyeun Kim, Communications Focal Point, UN Development Business

Public procurement accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP in developing countries and 10 percent to 15 percent in developed countries, according to the International Trade Centre. Photo: UNDP
Public procurement reforms have been rolling out since the 1990s in Africa. Targeting better efficiency – but also more accountability and integrity – in the management of public resources, these reforms can shape procurement into a powerful agent for development. In the past year, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Somalia, Malawi and Zimbabwe have benefited from projects financed by the World Bank and the African Development Bank in which procurement reforms were part and parcel of larger public sector management goals. Internal efforts, as well as assistance from international development agencies, are focusing on professionalizing and building capacity in national procurement systems. These efforts are consistent with the goals of good governance and prevention of corruption in the use of public funds, and they are also increasingly being linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, because public procurement can be used as a tool for achieving and sharing prosperity. What is public procurement? Public procurement, or the purchase of goods, works or services by public institutions, accounts for more than 30 percent of GDP in developing countries and 10 percent to 15 percent in developed countries, according to the International Trade Centre. It also accounts for a large percentage of government expenditures, in some countries covering more than half of government spending. Its economic significance is evident. … Read more

To leave no one behind, Least Developed Countries need new financing tools

14 Dec 2016 by Pedro Conceição, Director of Strategic Policy, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support and Philippe Orliange, Director of Strategy, Partnerships and Communication, AFD

To leave no one behind, the least developed countries need new financing toolsLike other Least Developed Countries, Zambia has pursued major structural reforms to attract the investment needed to finance sustainable development. UNDP photo
At the UN General Assembly last September, 193 countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an ambitious new agenda for sustainable development to be achieved over the next fifteen years. The central aim of the so-called “2030 Agenda” is to “leave no one behind”. And while it will be a challenge for all countries to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda, it is clear that it will be especially difficult for the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa. These are countries where levels of deprivation are acute, infrastructure is inadequate, economies are vulnerable and capital is in short supply. To enable the transformation of these countries to middle-income status, considerable investments will be required within a short time-frame. Many LDCs have made considerable social and economic progress over recent years: poverty has declined, more children are now in school, health indicators have improved and many have enjoyed sustained periods of unprecedented economic growth. At the same time, considerable challenges remain. For example, LDCs remain very vulnerable to shocks and stresses, such as extreme weather events, fluctuations in commodity prices, and disease outbreaks – as the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa demonstrated. Shocks can cause significant development setbacks. … Read more

Data innovation for development, from idea to proof-of-concept

13 Dec 2016 by Vasko Popovski , Milica Begovic and Jennifer Colville

Effective data collection, analysis and monitoring can help policymakers to course-correct programmes and policies more quickly. Photo: UNDP Armenia
New sources of data are growing with an unprecedented pace, yet in spite all the talk about ‘data revolution’ and many pilots, one could hardly point to a place that systemically uses this new resources for good. Making sense of the quickly-growing data sets in a way that they improve the lives of citizens, workings of governments and international organizations is one of the great opportunities of our time.   Identifying and integrating faster, more detailed insights into development planning processes can lead to better-targeted responses and more efficient resource allocation. Data innovation is also part of reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Effective data collection, analysis, and monitoring can help policymakers to course-correct programmes and policies more quickly, leading to cost efficiencies and greater returns on investments, as well as empower communities to use data to drive change processes. And the catch is you don’t have to be a data scientist to innovate with data. Therefore, twenty months ago a group of data enthusiasts from UNDP Europe and Central Asia and Arab States regions embarked on a big data for development exploration journey with support from the Government of Denmark. The quest was to test new sources of data to generate … Read more

Resilient people and institutions: Ecuador’s post-earthquake challenge

12 Dec 2016 by Carlo Ruiz, Recovery Unit Coordinator, UNDP Ecuador

Resilient people and institutions: Ecuador’s post-earthquake challengeIn the wake of the April 2016 earthquake, UNDP has trained hundreds of homeowners on the principles of earthquake-resistant construction. Photo: UNDP Ecuador
No one is really prepared for an emergency until they’ve had to live through one. And the 16 April earthquake in Ecuador put us to the test. With the drawdown in the humanitarian response phase that is providing relief to survivors and victims, the hustle and bustle is dying down. Remnants of the disaster can be seen everywhere, and an idea of what the near future will bring and people’s resilience – their capacity to cope – is taking shape. During tours of the affected areas, I saw that people have, to a greater or lesser extent, a natural conviction that pushes them to overcome the situation they are in. Shortly after a catastrophe hits, whether from the need to survive or from attempts to recover the normality that has been ripped from them, men and women begin to help each other out. They get together and cook, and they care for, console and support each other. In places such as Pedernales, one of the hardest hit areas, just days following the tragedy, people had set up cooking hearths and places to prepare food to sell outside destroyed businesses. They organized games of ecuavoley (Ecuadorian-style volleyball) in streets where rubble was still being cleared. Disasters hit poor people the hardest. This is why it is crucial to work on recovery of livelihoods starting in the emergency response period. People who can manage to earn a living can overcome the psychological impact of adversity more quickly. This has been a key factor in the post-earthquake process in Ecuador. The institutional structure is another element that affects how fast communities recover. Having a response system, with mechanisms to quickly and strategically identify needs, makes recovery efforts more effective. Communities are more vulnerable if local authorities are absent and exercise less authority to ensure, among other things, compliance with building and land-use standards. … Read more

On International Anti-Corruption Day: Development vs. corruption

09 Dec 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

International Anti-Corruption DayActivists take part in a demonstration to mark International Anti-Corruption Day on 9 December 2014 in Bangkok. Photo: UNDP Thailand
The 9 December International Anti-Corruption Day is probably a day of resolve, of fight against injustice, but also a day to feel good about. Many activists, civil society organizations, and honest people who hold public office or manage private businesses are united around an agenda for integrity and clean, proper management of collective affairs. This should give us hope that corruption can be curbed, and that we are many more demanding transparency than those who prosper in the dark shadows of white-collar criminal behaviour. This year, UNDP and the UN Office for Drugs and Crime are commemorating International Anti-Corruption Day around the theme “United against corruption for development, peace and security”. The effort takes forward the agreement 193 UN Member States adopted last year with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 of that Agenda, world leaders for the first time acknowledged a direct link between corruption, peace and development, and established that achieving peaceful, just and inclusive societies will not be possible without curbing illicit financial flows, tax evasion, bribery and corruption. … Read more

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls

09 Dec 2016 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Why we must fight harder for the rights of young women and girls In the scenic valley of Panjshir, a bridge built with UNDP support makes it possible for Bahara and her classmates to go to school. Photo: Omer/UNDP Afghanistan
In her 2013 memoir, activist Malala Yousafzai recounts a moment that changes not only the course of her destiny but that of many other young girls across the world. On a trip in northwest Pakistan, she comes across a girl selling oranges who is unable to read or write. Disturbed by the discovery that this girl had not received an education, Malala makes a decision that she famously continues to see through: “I would do everything in my power to help educate girls just like her. This was the war I was going to fight.” This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone's rights. Malala’s example is what we all need to do more of: stand up for the rights of young women and girls in health, education and beyond. … Read more