Our Perspective

      • The time is right to place governance and anti-corruption at center stage | Rebeca Grynspan

        30 Sep 2013

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        STUDENTS IN EASTERN SUDAN PARTICIPATE IN ARTISTIC COMPETITION ON THE OCCASION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY, 2012.(PHOTO: UNDP IN SUDAN)

        Thirteen years ago, when the MDGs were formulated, governance-related goals or targets were not included, mainly for political reasons, but what we learned from that experience is that deficits in governance — such as corruption, elite capture of key resources, and low capacity of government institutions — hinder inclusive growth by squandering resources badly needed for development. I was pleasantly surprised that more than 1 million people, who voted through the MYWorld global survey, expressed their opinion that “an honest and responsive governance” should be one of the top priorities in the post-2015 development framework. It is reassuring that both the High-Level Panel Report and the Secretary-General’s report to the General Assembly  corroborated many of the views expressed by citizens on holding their governments transparent, accountable and responsive. According to data from the World Bank, each year US $1 trillion is paid in bribes and it is estimated that corruption can cost a country up to 17 percent of its GDP. Imagine the impact of reversing this! A recent UNDP study found that 76 percent of women surveyed think corruption has prevented them from accessing public goods and services. To counter this, we are promoting and supporting specific anti-corruption measures integrated into basic service delivery systems. Momentum is shifting  Read More

      • On the jobs crisis, people want to see action now | Selim Jahan

        23 Sep 2013

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        Beneficiaries of Brazil’s Bolsa Familia, the largest cash transfer programme in the world. (Photo: Bruno Spada/Brazil Ministry of Social Development)

        Sustainable and inclusive development will not be possible unless economic growth is combined with the creation of decent jobs. The International Labour Organization has warned that 470 million new jobs are needed for new entrants into the labour market between 2016 and 2030, in addition to jobs for 202 million currently unemployed people. Tackling the global jobs crisis is not an easy task; it will require bold national policies, private-sector dynamism and an enabling global framework. The discussions on the new post-2015 development agenda represent a unique opportunity to put job creation in the center of the new framework. “Growth and employment” was one of 11 themes at the heart of consultations we organized with nearly 1 million people, asking them what should replace the Millennium Development Goals after they reach their 2015 deadline. This global outreach helped us to better understand the concerns people have regarding employment; it also helped us combine and present their main recommendations to UN Member States and to the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, which are taking the lead in the post-2015 planning processes. And what are these recommendations from people all over the globe? Six key messages from the new report on  Read More

      • Employment and social protection for inclusive growth | Selim Jahan

        29 Aug 2013

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        A FARMER AND HIS FAMILY IN INDIA, BENEFICIARIES OF THE NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE PROGRAMME, WHICH HAS SERVED AS AN EFFECTIVE SOCIAL PROTECTION PROGRAMME. (PHOTO: SAMRAT MANDAL/UNDP INDIA)

        We live in times that seem to be defined by shocks and crises, and these have the potential to slow down, or even reverse, impressive achievements in human development over the years. There is, in fact, evidence that certain human development indicators have suffered setbacks in the context of a crisis. For example, as a result of the Asian crisis of 1997, the poverty rate in the Republic of Korea went from 2.6 percent in 1997 to 7.3 per cent in 1998. Similarly, the poverty rate in Indonesia almost doubled in the same period.   Social protection can be an effective tool for helping people, households and economies to cope with vulnerabilities arising from economic shocks. Countries that had social protection programmes in place were better able to weather the recent economic downturn, and some economies were even able to recover faster. Brazil, for example, was one of the last economies to be hit by the recent crisis and one of the first to begin recovering from it. An important reason was an increase in cash transfers to families, which helped offset the negative effects of the crisis.   But social protection can only go so far unless it is linked  Read More

      • I dare you to finish this paragraph about peace | Ozonnia Ojielo

        29 Jul 2013

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        In Kenya, UNDP pioneered crowdsourcing for conflict prevention during the country’s constitutional referendum in 2010. A toll-free SMS service allowed people to report threats, which civil society groups and police responded to. The referendum passed without violence. (Photo: UNDP Kenya)

        “The core mandate of UNDP is to strengthen national capacities for development. From this basis, the concept of ‘infrastructures for peace’ has served to guide UNDP’s support to assessing and addressing country structural vulnerability. ‘Infrastructures for peace’ can be defined as ‘the network of interdependent structures, mechanisms, resources, values, and skills which, through dialogue and consultation, contribute to conflict prevention and peacebuilding in a society.’ Still here? Congratulations. You are probably in the minority. My point in presenting this eye-watering statement unedited is perhaps facetious, but important: All too often in development, jargon is used to obscure activities that are not only vitally important – but actually quite simple as well. The “infrastructures for peace” concept is a case in point. What could be more important in a conflict-ridden country than giving governments, police, quarrelling groups and factions the skills they need to engage peacefully? This means giving communities the resources and support they need to mediate and resolve conflicts, analyze where conflict may re-ignite, and to be warned in time so that rapid response is possible. For example: - In Lesotho in 2012, the political environment was becoming heated and violence was a possibility. UNDP gave mediator training to four  Read More

      • Can states empower poor people? Your thoughts please | Duncan Green

        17 Jul 2013

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        Mobile money services have reached 450,000 people in five Pacific countries, a shift from an insecure, costly cash system. Inexpensive payment and savings services increase financial access for the poor.

        I’m currently writing a paper on how governments can promote the empowerment of poor people. Nice and specific then. It’s ambitious/brave/bonkers depending on your point of view, and I would love some help from readers. First things first. This is about governments and state action. So not aid agencies, multilaterals or (blessed relief) NGOs, except as bit players. And not state-as-problem: here I’m looking at where state action has achieved positive impacts. The idea is to collect examples of success and failure in state action, as well as build some kind of overall narrative about what works, when and why. Here’s where I’m currently at: Empowerment happens when individuals and organised groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realise that vision by changing the relations of power that have been keeping them in poverty. The current literature suggests a neat fit with a ‘three powers’ model first proposed by our own Jo Rowlands (I think). According to this reading, power for excluded groups and individuals can be disaggregated into three basic forms: power within (a sense of rights, dignity and voice, along with basic capabilities). This individual level of empowerment is an essential precondition for collective action. For  Read More

      • Nothing threatens the future as much as the debt of the past | Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

        15 Jul 2013

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        The Police Training and Development Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) conducting a two-week training programme in criminal investigation at General Kaahiye Police Academy. (Credit: Tobin Jones/UN Photo)

        The "complementarity" principle embedded in the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court gives national criminal justice systems primacy in prosecuting serious international crimes. Whenever possible, international crimes should be tried by domestic courts, since this strengthens national ownership, legitimacy and confidence in the justice system. Transitional  justice is not a special kind of justice, but an approach to achieving justice in times of transition from conflict and/or state repression. I spoke recently at UNDP’s Annual Meeting on Strengthening the Rule of Law in Crisis-Affected and Fragile Situations about complementarity and the challenge for development actors (PDF) to effectively embed these efforts within transitional justice processes, rule of law assistance and the broader development framework. Holding perpetrators to account for serious violations is a complex and sensitive issue, which must be driven by the national society to be successful. Working with partners such as Denmark, South Africa and the International Centre for Transitional Justice, we can build and capitalize on the solid policy and knowledge base already developed. For example, UNDP and other UN agencies supported regional consultations in 2011 and 2012 in the Arab States, bringing together Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen to help national actors  Read More