Challenges and opportunities for Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017

10 Mar 2017 by Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

Reducing inequality is a priority in Latin America and the Caribbean. The region includes 10 of the world’s 15 most unequal countries. Photo: UNDP Colombia/Freya Morales
Latin America and the Caribbean have made notable progress on development in recent decades. By 2015, the region had met most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a historical feat, especially with regard to poverty reduction, access to safe drinking water and primary education. From 2002 to 2013, close to 72 million people left poverty and some 94 million rose to the middle class. Even so, inequality continues to be a characteristic of the region. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 10 of the world’s 15 most unequal countries. According to our Human Development Report for the region, 220 million people (38 percent, almost two in every five Latin Americans) are economically vulnerable today. Officially they are not poor, but neither have they managed to make it to the middle class. Among these, 25 to 30 million are at risk of falling back into poverty. … Read more

A father’s pledge – for my daughters and every daughter

08 Mar 2017 by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup in KenyaUNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup women's football tournament in Nairobi. Photo: UNDP Kenya
I just returned from Kenya, where I refereed the Global Goals World Cup. The international soccer tournament brought together everyday women and girls to play for the Global Goals that matter to them most, including gender equality and ending poverty. It was a phenomenal experience! But equally impressive was my opportunity to see first-hand the great work that UNDP is doing creating greater opportunities for women and girls. I met women whose stories of improving their livelihoods and their communities amazed and inspired me. If you’re like me, you draw inspiration from stories of real people who are actively working to build better futures for themselves and for the world. I think that’s something we all share. As a father and husband, I’m passionate about advocating for issues that matter to me personally. I want a clean, safe, prosperous planet for my daughters to grow up in. I want them to live in a world that enables them to pursue their desires, maximize their potential, and strengthen those around them. One that doesn’t hold them back or dash their hopes because of their gender. … Read more

Lessons from a year of post-ISIL stabilization in Iraq

07 Mar 2017 by Moises Venancio, Adviser, UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States

The Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization project is designed to support early recovery in liberated towns and motivate millions of displaced Iraqis to return to their communities. Photo: UNDP
In Mosul a battle is raging to take back the city from ISIL. As the fighting ends, essential work is ramping up to make sure that people who have been displaced by occupation and war can return to their homes as fast as possible - and stay there. Already in the past year, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in close cooperation with the Iraqi government, the provincial authorities and the international coalition, has helped to re-boot social and economic recovery in 18 locations that have been liberated from ISIL, including Falluja and Tikrit. Our US$790 million Funding Facility for Immediate Stabilization (FFIS) project is designed to support the early recovery effort in liberated towns through a three-month, high-impact programme to motivate millions of displaced Iraqis to return to their communities from camps and informal settlements across the country. UNDP is making sure that people get services like water, clinics, schools, police stations, markets and government buildings. Families are receiving help to rebuild damaged homes, public infrastructure is being rehabilitated and small businesses are being supported with cash grants to get started again. These actions are essential to ensure those who were forced to flee are able to return and stay in the area, making them productive citizens once again. It is the first step towards post-conflict recovery and peace building. … Read more

The way forward for reducing marine pollution

06 Mar 2017 by Andrew Hudson, Head of Water and Ocean Governance Programme, UNDP

Some 8-20 million metric tonnes of plastics reach our oceans every year, leading to ‘garbage patches’ as well as visible impacts on nearly all the world’s coasts and beaches.
The Ocean Conference taking place this June at UN headquarters is a unique opportunity to promote and accelerate action, partnerships, commitment and progress on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, Life below water. The outcome will be a concise, focused, intergovernmentally agreed declaration in the form of a "Call for Action" to support the implementation of Goal 14. The SDGs and the ocean Goal 14 is part of the 2030 Agenda, adopted by world leaders in September 2015. It calls on us to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The SDGs set the global agenda for development through 2030 towards a vision of peace, prosperity and planetary health. And they include clear targets, against which we can measure progress. The first target for SDG 14 is to “prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution”. Given the fact that 80 percent or more of the pollution reaching the ocean is land-based, SDG 14 is further complemented by two targets under SDG 6, on clean water and sanitation: … Read more

From ‘Spice Isle’ to ‘blue innovation’ hub: Grenada’s vision for the future

01 Mar 2017 by Gail Hurley, Policy Specialist, Development Finance, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

With an ocean space 75 times larger than its land area, Grenada is one of the world’s first countries to develop a vision for an economy based on ‘blue growth'. Photo: Tre Packard
The Caribbean country of Grenada, known by many as ‘Spice Isle’ for its production of nutmeg, cloves and other exotic spices is now setting its sights on being known as a world leader for innovation in the ‘blue economy’. The ‘blue economy’ can be broadly understood as economic activity that is in balance with the long-term capacity of ocean and coastal ecosystems to support this activity and remain healthy and resilient. Grenada is one of the world’s first countries to develop a vision for an economy based on ‘blue growth’. Its ocean space is 75 times larger than its land area. Beyond its 345 square kilometres of land territory, Grenada has 26,000 square kilometres of blue ocean space. Such a large space presents opportunities for the country to diversify its economy, and by applying a ‘blue economy’ approach, it ensures that ocean development expands economic output, creates jobs, reduces poverty and builds local skills while conserving the natural environment. Grenada is the first country to initiate a national ‘masterplan’ for blue growth. It identifies opportunities for blue growth development in areas such as fisheries and aquaculture, blue biotechnology, renewable energy, research and innovation. … Read more

Do more than make some noise…

28 Feb 2017 by Mandeep Dhaliwal, Director, HIV, Health and Development Group, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

UNDP is working with governments, civil society, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and eliminate HIV-related stigma and discrimination, which often prevent people from seeking testing and treatment. UNDP photo
The theme of this year’s Zero Discrimination Day is make some noise. Raising our voices in solidarity for compassion, diversity, equality, inclusion and tolerance is core to our common humanity. Today we renew our commitment to achieving a world free of stigma and discrimination and a world where no one is left behind. History has taught us that noise can be a powerful tool. Today we pay tribute to the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, Intersex) community, people living with HIV and their friends, lovers, family members and allies who courageously mobilized to push past the chronic indifference and fear that characterized the early days of AIDS. Their tenacious advocacy means that today we have 18.2 million people on life-saving treatment and communities continue to hold governments to account, claiming their rights to participation, non-discrimination, information, access to treatment and new prevention technologies like pre-exposure prophylaxis. The global AIDS response has also taught us that noise alone is not enough. Without the elimination of HIV-related stigma and discrimination wherever it may be found – in families, communities, workplaces or health care settings - we will not succeed in ending the suffering caused by this epidemic. … Read more

Tackling the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin

23 Feb 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Part of UNDP's response to the crisis is providing skills training for women, who make up 54 percent of those displaced by the conflict in north-east Nigeria. Photo: UNDP Nigeria
Last May, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (USCFR) organized a briefing session on the situation in the Sahel region of Africa. During the session UNDP stressed the need for broad, concerted action to confront violent extremism and bring development solutions to the region affected by the Boko Haram insurgency that originated in Nigeria’s north-east seven years ago. It identified an “arc of instability” that stretches across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad Basin. As UNDP and partners gather in Oslo for the International Humanitarian Conference on 24 February, we intend to focus on the situation in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin with heightened urgency. As an organization with deep knowledge gained through practical experience in the field, UNDP firmly believes that an all-encompassing response is the best way to resolve this crisis. However, solutions must also be tailored to each country's specific needs. Observers readily admit the Lake Chad Basin situation has been egregiously overlooked. The crisis could affect the security, economic, environmental and institutional integrity of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger … Read more

Oceans and small island states: First think opportunity, then think blue

22 Feb 2017 by Craig Hawke, Principal Advisor, Small Island Developing States, Bureau of Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

For Small Islands Developing States like Haiti, the Ocean Conference and the blue economy can contribute to addressing some of the concerns associated with economic and environmental vulnerability. Photo: UN MINUSTAH
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are thinking differently, especially when it comes to the ocean. Their self-characterization as Large Ocean States is more than symbolic, more than just words. It represents a re-think on opportunities and challenges for small island states. At the UN Ocean Conference in June in New York, we will all need to embrace this new mind-set. SIDS have often been characterized by their constraints – smallness (in land area at least), distance from markets, fragile ecosystems, narrow economies and vulnerability to natural disasters. And now they stand on the frontlines of sea-level rise and the consequences of a warming climate. That is a deficit-based model. As large ocean states, the focus shifts to a strengths-based approach. SIDS are custodians of 15 of the 50 largest Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). Tuvalu’s EEZ is 27,000 times larger than its land area. SIDS represent almost 20 percent of the UN membership – if we are going to leave no one behind we need to think innovatively on development solutions tailored to the smallest countries, with some of the largest ocean estates. The Ocean Conference will be the time to continue to move this opportunity-centred thinking into action. And one opportunity is – ‘think blue’ strategy. … Read more

How a2i is using empathy to foster innovation in Bangladesh

21 Feb 2017 by Anir Chowdhury, Policy Adviser, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh and Nick Beresford, Country Director, UNDP Cambodia

a2i (short for access to information) helps government officials analyze and redesign workflows within and between ministries. It has established over 5,000 Digital Centres providing internet access throughout the country.
In the last eight years, Bangladesh has established a new development paradigm through its approach to socio-economic development which is high growth yet inclusive, self-reliant yet collaborative, and respectful of heritage yet ambitious in its use of new technologies. The country has moved up to low middle income status but, more importantly by human development indicators it has achieved a level of development commonly predicted for twice its per capita income. The Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021 agenda – the country’s launch pad for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals – is a long-term vision of poverty reduction and human development anchored in govpreneurship (entrepreneurship by the government) and hopes to empower Bangladeshis to co-create solutions to development challenges. Within this, a2i Public Service Innovation Lab+ was established by the Prime Minister’s Office with support from UNDP in 2007 to ensure easy, affordable and reliable access to quality public services which harnesses (but is not limited to) the power of digital. Bangladesh has significant advantages when it comes to harnessing new technologies, particularly as around 50 percent of the population is under the age of 24. Many of these youths have or will have jobs in industries that didn’t exist 20 years ago. They might be app developers, cloud computing experts, block chain specialists or big data analysts. … Read more

Rural communities: A hotspot for sustainable development

15 Feb 2017 by Jamison Ervin, Manager, Global Programme on Nature for Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

Fatima Ahmed (centre), President of Zenab for Women in Development, with community members. Photo: Equator Initiative
The Equator Initiative has launched a call for nominations for the 9th Equator Prize, a prize recognizing excellence in communities taking nature-based actions for local development . It is for people like Fatima Ahmed, and the community initiative that she founded, that this prize was established. Fatima is President of Zenab for Women in Development in Sudan, a women’s agricultural cooperative that empowers girls and women, promotes sustainable agriculture and helps reduce deforestation. The Zenab Initiative embodies the three basic principles of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: indivisibility – we cannot achieve one goal at the expense of any others; inclusion – we can leave no one behind in our race toward economic prosperity; and acceleration – we must focus on actions that have multiple development dividends. If we are to implement the SDGs, however, we need more than guiding principles. We also need to understand how key global trends affect development. The late Hans Rosling, a renowned statistician who was often called "The Jedi Master of Data Visualization” and the “Global Data Rock Star,” did just that. Whether the topic was the role of washing machines and poverty, or the role of religion and population growth, Rosling made analytics cool, and he left a legacy of helping us look past data points, trends, and correlations, and to step back and see a larger story. … Read more