Our Perspective

      • Rule of Law and quality public services are key enablers of development

        23 May 2014

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        A worker tallies the trucks at the Santo Nino dump site in Tacloban, Philippines. (Photo: Lesley Wright/UNDP Philippines)

        It is no longer enough for individuals to just receive services. It is equally, if not more important, to pay attention to service quality, as well as the quality of communication between public service providers and the people they serve. To bridge the knowledge gap on how to situate, understand and act on Rule of Law challenges in public administration, we developed a self-assessment tool for governments, in cooperation with the Swedish Folke Bernadotte Academy. This measurement tool uses six clearly defined Rule of Law principles: legality, accessibility, transparency, the right to be heard, the right to appeal, and accountability. The tool assesses ‘the governance of service delivery’, using a rights-based perspective to analyze gaps between the offer– which services people should be entitled to and under which conditions – and the delivery – what people receive in reality and how these services are delivered. Piloted in three countries – the Philippines, Ukraine and Sierra Leone – the tool focuses on selected administrative processes and services affecting the rights, liberties or interests of private persons, including the private sector. The ultimate aim of the assessment is to ensure that action is initiated at the appropriate level to address the weaknesses detected  Read More

      • In Africa, grassroots women tackle climate change

        12 May 2014

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        Organic vegetables grown for sale by members of the Gatundu Mwirutiri Women Cooperative in Kenya. Photo: UNDP in Kenya

        Small, portable stoves that require only one piece of wood to prepare a meal, bio-gas digesters that turn cow dung into gas for cooking, and drip irrigation techniques to save water were among innovations shared by grassroots women leaders from Africa during a recent policy dialogue and learning exchange in Nairobi on building resilience to combat climate change and disaster.   Organized by UNDP, Huairou Commission and GROOTS Kenya, the event brought together grassroots women leaders from 11 countries with policy makers from throughout Africa and representatives from the international community. Throughout the three-day workshop, it became evident that grassroots women in communities in Africa are not waiting to be told how to cope with climate challenges, but are initiating, adapting and sharing innovations themselves. “We have seen women mobilizing themselves before being mobilized,” said Isaac Kabongo, executive director of the Ecological Christian Organization in Uganda.  “Women are becoming the drivers of change in the communities in which they live, and are showing that they are very much willing to work together with all partners and institutions to move forward on the journey to resilience.” The need for reliable, sustainable energy was a cross-cutting, common need, and was voiced by women  Read More

      • Women’s empowerment and corruption prevention can go hand-in-hand

        18 Apr 2014

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        A WOMAN IN INDIA WITH A STATE-ALLOTTED BICYCLE THAT HAD BEEN DENIED HER WITHOUT EXPLANATION. UNDP HELPED MEMBERS OF HER COMMUNITY LEARN ABOUT THEIR LEGAL RIGHTS, EMPOWERING THEM TO SECURE THEIR ENTITLEMENTS, LIKE BICYCLES. (PHOTO: SHUBHANGI SINGH/UNDP INDIA)

        By Magdy Martínez-Solimán A recent discussion at the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women initiated by UNDP and partners highlighted what an asset grass-roots women’s organisations can be in the fight against corruption in their communities. The discussion was based on country stories about how women-led strategies strengthened transparency and accountability, leading to prevention of corruption. By way of background, UNDP funds and supports a programme in partnership with the Huairou Commission (a global network of grassroots women’s organisations) that so far has mobilized 2,300 community members and trained more than 500 people on social accountability strategies in Brazil, Nepal, Nicaragua, the Philippines and Uganda. Not only did women lead anti-corruption initiatives, their involvement also reaped important gender equality gains. For example, in less than a year, the programme yielded results that speak for themselves: in the town of Jinja in Uganda, because of women’s collective fight for land rights, 35 women received land deeds in their names, and 120 women are in the process of obtaining these deeds. In Brazil, since the start of the programme, 3,000 land deeds were granted to women as rightful owners. Corruption is not gender-neutral. For example, in many developing countries, women are often  Read More

      • In search of win-win ways to address climate change

        16 Apr 2014

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        BANGLADESH HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED BY THE INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE AS ONE OF THE COUNTRIES MOST VULNERABLE TO RISING SEA LEVELS. (PHOTO: UNDP IN BANGLADESH)

        By Jacques Van Engel Compelling scientific evidence indicates that reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) might slow down global warming by up to 0.5⁰C between 2010 and 2050. These SLCPs are agents with a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere that warm the climate, like black carbon, methane and Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that by reducing the presence of these pollutants we could prevent more than 2 million premature deaths  worldwide each year, and an annual crop loss of more than 30 million tons after 2030. But if nothing is done, the impacts of climate change could translate intodevastating consequences for sustainable development. The world is relentlessly trying to find solutions that reconcile economic growth and development with the need to control the increase of greenhouse gases. So is the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). By addressing short-lived climate pollutants we are implementing a model with positive impact on climate change, while improving the environment, economies and people’s health. And we are not alone. UNDP is a partner to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) and focuses on reducing the negative impact of HFCs on climate and energy use. This  Read More

      • The road to real progress against poverty and inequality | Antonio Vigilante

        30 Mar 2014

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        FISH FARMERS IN RURAL CAMBODIA ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE THANKS TO A PROJECT FUNDED BY THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION. (PHOTO: ALEJANDRO BOZA/UNDP CAMBODIA)

        This year marks the 10th anniversary of UNDP’s partnership with the European Union. This relationship was forged based on the reality that the only way to make real progress in the fight against poverty and inequality is through coordinated multilateralism – and it has.   In the last decade, the EU has provided 3.3 billion Euros to UNDP activities in 115 countries, bringing about tangible results: - In Pakistan, the UNDP-EU partnership supported about 5.5 million people to rehabilitate 4,000 villages after the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods. Temporary employment benefitted 1.3 million people, 40 percent of which were women. - Elections in 53 countries have been supported by the partnership - 28 countries have been helped to better prepare for natural disasters. - Within the framework of the Poverty Environment Initiative, which supports 24 countries across several regions, the partnership has helped countries incorporate poverty-environment linkages into national development planning. - In the area of climate change, the partnership supports 25 countries to carry out nationally driven climate-change mitigation actions. One of the key factors that make the partnership effective is that the cooperation takes place at multiple levels: policy, advocacy, knowledge-sharing and programmes, each feeding and complementing one another. This helps the partnership bring about change at the level of international policy  Read More

      • Equality for Women is Progress for All

        08 Mar 2014

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        Cambodian women receive training in producing programme for Community Women’s Radio in Kratie province. (Photo: UNDP Cambodia/ Thomas Cristofoletti)

        In observance of International Women’s Day, 8 March 2014 International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the progress Cambodia has made towards women’s empowerment and gender equality. Equality for women and girls is a human right, enshrined under the Constitution of Cambodia and within the international human rights treaties Cambodia has ratified. Ensuring gender equality has a powerful transformative effect on developmental progress as a whole. In prioritizing good governance in its Rectangular Strategy, the Royal Government has marked the path for Cambodia to move towards its stated goals of growth, employment, equity, and efficiency. In this path, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are key determinants of whether development will be inclusive and sustainable. Indeed, only with the fuller participation of women and girls can Cambodia reach its development goals. Cambodia’s young female population represents a development potential that has yet to be realized. When equal to boys in their safety and access to education and health, girls grow into women who undertake roles that are socially more advanced and economically more productive than when such equality is denied. Investments in girls and women enable them to assume leadership roles in society and allow them to  Read More

      • Welcome to a new generation of ‘development issues’ | Duncan Green

        16 Jan 2014

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        Health problems such as obesity, once more common in countries of the Global North, are increasingly rising in the South, and the development focus for health may need to shift as a result. (Photo: UNDP Fiji)

        As I browsed my various feeds over the Christmas break, one theme that emerged was the rise of the “North in the South” on health, or what I callCinderella Issues: things like traffic accidents, theillegal drug trade, smoking or alcohol that do huge (and growing) damage in developing countries, but are relegated to the margins of the development debate. If my New Year reading is anything to go by, that won’t last long. ODI kicked off with Future Diets, an excellent report on obesity that shows the number of obese/overweight people in developing countries (904 million) has more than tripled since 1980 and has now overtaken the number of malnourished (842 million, according to the FAO). Other key messages include that diets are changing wherever incomes are rising in the developing world, with a marked shift from cereals and tubers to meat, fats, sugar and fruit and vegetables. While globalisation has led to a homogenisation in diets, their continued variation suggests that there is still scope for policies that can influence the food choices people make, particularly in the face of the serious health implications. Meanwhile, the Economist ran a two-page report and editorial on “the new drugs war”: “The resurgence of conflict over drug pricing is the result  Read More

      • Consumption consumes you | George Gray Molina

        10 Jan 2014

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        CASIMIRA SANCHEZ PREPARES PIECES OF GYM EQUIPMENT AT A PLANT IN MEXICO CITY. A UNDP PROGRAMME TO STRENGTHEN SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESSES INCREASED THEIR ACCESS TO NEW MARKET TECHNOLOGY. PHOTO: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP FOR UNDP

        F. Scott Fitzgerald used to say about alcohol: “First, you take the drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.” The same thing could be said about consumerism as a way of achieving social status and recognition. First, let’s look at a few facts. Consumerism is the engine driving growth in Latin American economies. It represents 59 percent of the GDP in Brazil, 66 percent in Mexico, 69 percent in Chile, 77 percent in Honduras and 88 percent in the Dominican Republic — so more than two thirds of the economic growth in Brazil, Mexico and Chile over the past twelve months. Consumerism also led to a significant reduction in poverty and favored the emergence of the middle class in the region. Today, most of the population is no longer “poor” in the statistical sense of the term, but “vulnerable” as they work in precarious labour markets yet enjoy higher levels of income and purchasing power than before. Secondly, let’s look at some areas of concern. Consumption is intrinsically linked to high levels of liquidity, easy access to credit, and household debt. Household debt has increased throughout the region: According to Morgan Stanley, the ratio of household debt to income is 60 percent; in  Read More

      • Political quotas for women: Myths & facts | Elizabeth Guerrero

        09 Dec 2013

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        Salvadorian parliamentarians celebrate the approval of the new law that addresses violence against women (Photo: El Salvador Legislative Assembly)

        Women still comprise only 21.4 percent of members of parliaments (MP) around the world. While Latin America has more than 24 percent of women MPs — one of the highest shares in the world — the region still has a long road to travel towards gender parity. The provision of quotas — an idea that began in Europe and has spread to other continents — has effectively been used to boost women’s political participation, adopted as a temporary measure to encourage political parties to nominate a minimum percentage of women. This may take place as a voluntary action by political parties or through law-driven measures which push parties to nominate a certain number of women candidates. Yet several myths remain: Myth 1: "Quotas contradict the principle of equality before the law" This argument is based on the assumption that men and women actually have the same opportunities to run for elections. But that simply does not reflect reality. In many countries women can vote, but they cannot be elected. Evidence shows that women and men do not share the same opportunities to be appointed candidates because women face a number of barriers to be nominated by political parties. Therefore, the idea  Read More

      • Why gender equality at work must be a top development priority | Jeni Klugman

        02 Dec 2013

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        A woman farming in Togo, where only men inherit land. (Photo: UNDP Togo)

        “The future is grim for us women smallholder farmers,” a group from Togo told the World we Want survey on future development goals. In keeping with local custom, they said, “Only men inherit land, although women do most of the work in fields. This keeps us dependent on men and shackles us in poverty.” Discriminatory laws represent one of many obstacles holding back women’s economic participation. Social norms, lack of autonomy, and limited access to assets all play a part, and the costs—particularly in poor and emerging countries—are steep. Gender gaps are pervasive across continents and sectors. Female farmers tend to have lower productivity, smaller plots, and grow less profitable crops. Female employees are more likely to work in temporary and part-time jobs, and less likely to be promoted. In Mexico and Honduras, women accounted for 70 percent of all layoffs during the global economic crisis. Across advanced economies, women earn 16 percent less than men, even in the same occupations, hold fewer senior positions, and account for fewer entrepreneurs. Closing these gender gaps could yield enormous dividends for development. Having as many women in the labor force as men (PDF) could boost economic growth by 5 percent in the United  Read More