Our Perspective

      • Financing for development in Asia and the Pacific

        09 Jul 2015

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        Construction workers are building an apartment in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: © Chansok Lay/UNDP Cambodia.

        The world eagerly awaits the outcome of the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development this month which will be a real test of the international community’s commitment to sustainable development. In this context, it is worth underscoring that the Asia-Pacific region – a dynamic and vibrant market - has already been at the forefront of deliberations on financing for development and has endorsed initiatives that will unleash its resource potential.  With substantial scope for tapping domestic resource mobilization and infrastructure financing, the region will build on the development achievements secured in past years which have simultaneously driven global growth. Our region has made impressive gains in reducing the incidence of extreme poverty from a staggering 53 percent in 1990 to 12 percent today, illustrating its resilience to the  2008 financial crisis given that most countries strengthened their financial systems regulatory frameworks in the aftermath of Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998. Trade growth has remained steady, with the level of intra-regional trade second only to that of the European Union. The key to financial stability and people’s well-being will be their improved access to financing for development, which involves broadening coverage of financing to all segments of society, including the unbanked  Read More

      • Cambodia needs to capitalize on demographic dividend

        01 Jul 2015

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        Ms. Vin Rattana, middle, supervises her colleagues at a car garage she manages in Siem Reap province. More skilled workers are needed for the country to grow faster and to compete with other nations, especially when ASEAN economic integration is coming soon.

        But, what is demographic dividend? A demographic dividend or bonus is a condition where greater proportion of the population is in the working-age against a diminishing total dependency ratio. It is a potential opportunity for countries to accelerate their economic growth through investment in education, health and economic opportunities as more and more resources are now freed due to lower dependency ration. How does it happen? Demographic window of opportunity begins with declining fertility and mortality rates. Eventually, population age structure changes, that brings more people into the working-age than the dependents. Then, the demographic dividend is opened up. In other words, more net producers than net consumers are in an economy freeing more resources for investment in education, health, and other wellbeing.  What are the benefits of demographic dividend? When birth rates decline, families start having fewer dependent children. This increase in the ratio of the working age population relative to the dependent population (child and elderly) can give the country an impetus for accelerated economic growth. With more people working, they produce more as a country. With more workers who now invest more in their children’s health and education without necessarily increasing family budgets – as they have fewer  Read More

      • Bringing about the 'Good Change' (together)

        04 Mar 2015

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        A woman washes clothes outside her flooded house. Heavy rains in 2013 resulted in floods in 20 provinces throughout the north-west and along the Mekong River in central and southern Cambodia, killing 188 people and affecting more than 1.7 million. Photo: Thomas Cristofoletti/Ruom for UNDP

        In the last decade, Cambodia has halved its poverty rate and improved the living conditions of its population. Yet because of extreme climate events that regularly descend on the country, Cambodia remains one of the most disaster-vulnerable countries in Southeast Asia. In 2013 alone, losses caused by floods added up to USD $356 million.   Disasters are tragic because of the consequences on human life and well-being, but they also present an opportunity to promote what UNDP now calls “risk-informed development.” Various actors and communities can—and should—work more closely together to create effective, multi-disciplinary approaches to respond to disasters and promote disaster risk reduction.     Take the 2013 floods as an example. A combination of heavy rains and the swelling of the Mekong River caused widespread damage to infrastructure and crops. 168 people died, most of them children, and 20 provinces were devastated, with thousands of hectares of rice destroyed and hundreds of kilometers of rural roads badly damaged.   Following the floods, the Cambodian government requested that UNDP work with various partners to carry out a Post Flood Early Recover Needs Assessment. Drawing on the expertise of UNDP’s country office, as well as the skills and knowledge of government  Read More

      • Lessons from the Past Help to Prepare for the Future

        17 Dec 2014

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        We have seen that involving communities in the recovery process brings special commitment and speeds up recovery. UNDP Photo

        In China there is an old proverb that goes: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” As we look at how things have changed since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami we can see how UNDP has worked with partners to help communities recover in the aftermath of disasters, and following through to educate people across the spectrum, to ensure that fewer lives are lost when disaster strikes. For years, we have been working to support governments in reducing risks from disaster, in helping communities build resilience, and in assisting to set up early warning systems. Recently, we supported the initiative of the government of the Philippines in creating the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery following Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). We helped set up its offices, provided equipment, and assisted with drafting the post-Haiyan "Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan" based on a bottom up needs assessment and under strong government leadership. Helping countries better deal with disasters has long been part of our mandate. But that objective took on new urgency following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Since then  Read More

      • Do-it-yourself Sustainable Development: The SDGs go DIY

        25 Sep 2014

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        WOMEN PARTICIPATE IN MANAGEMENT TRAINING, PART OF A UNDP PROGRAMME THAT AIMS TO ENHANCE THE GOVERNMENT’S EFFECTIVENESS IN FULFILLING THEIR MANDATE. PHOTO: UNDP BANGLADESH

        With the proposal for Sustainable Development Goals now available for all members of the General Assembly to consider further, the question on many of our minds is:  where to next?  Once global sustainable development goals are adopted next year, how can we best help governments, citizens, and the private sector take them from aspiration to reality? So far almost 5 million people in almost 100 countries have either voted on their priorities for a new development agenda through the MY World survey or engaged in face-to-face discussions on what is needed to improve their future. As part of our broader work supporting innovation for development (I4D), we are looking for new ways of inspiring action on these priorities. So far, some interesting approaches have emerged: Micro-narratives and qualitative research to learn more about complex issues    The World we Want consultations asked what people need for their future, engaging people who are not usually part of policy debates. For example, people living with disabilities in Belarus and youth at risk in Kyrgyzstan shared their experience through micro-narratives. This data was then used to advocate for policies better suited to meet their needs. In El Salvador the consultations provided data used to advocate for a multi-sector citizen security strategy.  Platforms for encouraging civic  Read More

      • Cambodia turns climate change crisis into opportunity

        22 Sep 2014

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        MS. KHEL KHEM, A MEMBER OF THE OLDER PEOPLE ASSOCIATION BAK AMREK VILLAGE OF BATTAMBANG, SHOWS HOW SHE ADAPTED HER HOME GARDEN TO FLOODS. PHOTO: UNDP CAMBODIA

        Cambodia is ranked among the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. This is not only due to climate risks, but also to lack of capacity to adapt and respond.  Eighty percent of the population lives in rural areas with limited knowledge, infrastructure and opportunities; and more than 70 percent rely on agriculture that is heavily sensitive to climate change, putting the country’s economic and social development at risk. Cambodia’s efforts to fight climate change began in 1995 when the country ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and later acceded to the Kyoto Protocol in 2002. In 2006, the Cambodia national adaptation programme of action to climate change (NAPA) was developed. In late 2013, the country launched its first-ever comprehensive Climate Change Strategic Plan, recognizing climate change as a challenge to development requiring urgent and joint attention. This is the highest political commitment in combating climate change in Cambodia. Now the crucial question is “What’s next?” – How will the strategic plan be effectively implemented in order to achieve its vision and strategic goals? We, at UNDP, have been providing technical and financial support to the Government to develop climate change policies and plans. One of our most successful programme is  Read More

      • Women are still being forcibly or coercively sterilized, it's time to end the practice

        08 Sep 2014

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        A MOM AND HER NEWBORN BABY AT THE MATERNAL & CHILD HEALTH TRAINING INSTITUTE FOR THE MEDICALLY NEEDY IN DHAKA, BANGLADESH. PHOTO: KIBAE PARK/UN

        Though voluntary sterilization is considered an important form of pregnancy prevention in many parts of the world, force or coercion should never be part of the equation. However, there continue to be cases of women, people living with HIV, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities, or transgender and intersex persons who are sterilized without their full, free and informed consent. Our report, “Protecting the right of key HIV-affected women and girls in healthcare settings” highlights the persistence of this practice amongst women and girls living with HIV, along with a range of other serious forms of abuse.  These practices are not only discriminatory, they are also violations of fundamental human rights. As reported in 2012 by the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, coercive and discriminatory practices in health care settings are rife, including forced HIV testing, breaches of confidentiality and the denial of health care services, as well as forced sterilizations and abortions. Voluntary sterilization is dependent upon a legal environment and social and health programmes, policies and practices that guarantee the rights of all individuals to free, full and informed consent. To this end, countries must prohibit the practice of forced abortion and coerced sterilization of women and  Read More

      • One number that tells a much bigger story in the Pacific

        02 Sep 2014

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        WITH SUPPORT FROM UNDP AND FUNDING FROM THE GEF, THE GOVERNMENT OF SAMOA HAS STEPPED UP TO INTEGRATE CLIMATE RISKS INTO THE AGRICULTURE AND HEALTH SECTORS AND INTO FORESTRY MANAGEMENT. PHOTO UNDP/SAMOA

        Small islands face big challenges. This week’s Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Conference in Samoa probes some of the most pressing ones. How do we protect our ocean resources for future generations? How do we prepare for the destructive forces of climate change on fragile islands? How can countries find the human and financial resources to sustain productive businesses, homes, schools and health services? How can countries stem rising youth unemployment? The list is as long as the oceans are wide. There is one important, often overlooked development indicator that lurks behind these larger issues and is a pre-condition for development progress in all countries. This worrisome indicator which is under discussion this week is mentioned in a new United Nations report, The State of Human Development in the Pacific: a Report on Vulnerability and Exclusion in a Time of Rapid Change. The report is being launched days ahead of the SIDS Conference in Samoa. What is it? Life expectancy. It provides a simple measure of the overall health status of a population. And the picture in the Pacific is not good. An average person in New Zealand or Australia can expect to live about 10 years longer than a person in Vanuatu and  Read More

      • Financing Post-2015: A quick run-down of the expert committee’s report

        13 Aug 2014

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        DRIP IRRIGATION SYSTEM INTRODUCED IN THE FARMLANDS OF AKMOLA REGION IN KAZAKHSTAN. PHOTO: UNDP IN KAZAKHSTAN

        The UN’s inter-governmental committee of experts on sustainable development financing met for the last time this month to put the final touches to their much anticipated report on how the world should finance the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals – or SDGs. I’ve had the opportunity to attend many of the committee’s sessions, and they’ve had a mammoth task. So what have they come up with? You can read the full report here, but below is a quick heads-up. The range of issues they’ve had to cover is massive: from assessing how much cash is needed to finance sustainable development to thinking about where the cash could come from and where these funds should be directed. The report draws up a ‘menu of options’ for the financing of sustainable development. This allows policymakers in different countries to make choices as to what policies and financial instruments are most suited to them. That makes perfect sense of course; the strategy that will be best for a climate-vulnerable small island state such as the Maldives won’t necessarily be the same for a larger resource-rich country such as Kazakhstan. On the other hand, it could also lead governments to ‘cherry-pick’ among the ideas presented, and to leave the  Read More

      • Making sense of the world we live in: The development contribution

        08 Aug 2014

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        SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEES IN A REFUGEE SETTLEMENT IN NORTHERN UGANDA. PHOTO: F. NOY/ UNHCR

        It’s hard to remember a time when more crises were jostling for space in the headline news, or when the world’s leading diplomats, like Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN Secretary General, were engaged in shuttle diplomacy on so many issues simultaneously. Top of mind by late last month were the conflicts in Gazaand eastern Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, South Sudan,Central African Republic and Mali, Nigeria. Meeting the costs of humanitarian relief is proving overwhelming. By the end of June this year, UN coordinated appeals for humanitarian crises had already reached $16.4 billion. This was before the latest conflict in Gaza began, and before a lot of the fighting in eastern Ukraine.  Could more be done to anticipate, prevent, or mitigate these traumatic events? The short answer is – yes and there is a compelling need to try to get ahead of the curve of future crises and disasters, to avert huge and costly development setbacks and lives lost.   Rough estimates suggest that for every dollar spent in disaster preparedness and mitigation, seven dollars will be saved when disaster strikes. It is also true that spending in fragile states which have been or still are immersed in conflict does absorb a significant amount of global  Read More