Our Perspectives

Treasure or tragedy – our ocean commons

23 Mar 2017 by Midori Paxton, Head of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Expanding marine protected areas is imperative for biodiversity and ecosystem health. It is also essential for social welfare and the economy. Photo: Shutterstock/divedog
In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water”. Bunaken National Marine Park, Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2011.   The sea was a bit too choppy for my liking. But there was a volcano erupting inland. The sea looked like a safer option! I took the plunge and jumped off the boat with my snorkel and fins. Around me was a new world. So serene, so many layers. Wonderfully coloured fish clustered around corals, sea turtles flapped by, and there was a darkness beneath a canyon wall that told of depths beyond the reach of sunlight. Down there, I knew, were coelacanths. Once believed to have gone extinct 66 million years ago, these fish have in fact out-lived the dinosaurs.          If aliens arrived from outer space, they wouldn’t call our planet Earth.  They would call it planet Sea. Seventy-one percent of our planet’s surface is covered in water. The depths are profound.  Just imagine having the whole Himalayan or Andean mountain range upside down beneath the ocean face. That is just a taster. The oceans sustain creatures we haven’t even discovered, … Read more

Human development means realizing the full potential of every life

21 Mar 2017 by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator

The Human Development Report 2016 emphasizes that poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups—including ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees and migrants—are being left furthest behind. Photo: UNDP
Human development is all about human freedoms: freedom to realize the full potential of every human life, not just of a few, nor of most, but of all lives in every corner of the world—now and in the future. Such universalism gives the human development approach its uniqueness. However, the principle of universalism is one thing; translating it into practice is another. Over the past quarter-century there has been impressive progress on many fronts in human development, with people living longer, more people rising out of extreme poverty and fewer people being malnourished. Human development has enriched human lives—but unfortunately not all to the same extent, and even worse, not every life. It is thus not by chance but by choice that world leaders in 2015 committed to a development journey that leaves no one out—a central premise of the 2030 Agenda. Mirroring that universal aspiration, it is timely that the 2016 Human Development Report is devoted to the theme of human development for everyone. The Report begins by using a broad brush to paint a picture of the challenges the world faces and the hopes humanity has for a better future. Some challenges are lingering (deprivations), some are deepening (inequalities) … Read more

Disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, two sides of the same coin

17 Mar 2017 by Matilde Mordt,Team Leader, Sustainable Development and Resilience, UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean

Development processes should seek to ensure that people, livelihoods and infrastructure have lower levels of risk. Photo: Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
Disaster risk reduction is an intrinsic part of sustainable development. This message came out forcefully during the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, held last week in Montreal, Canada, at which delegates debated the connections between disaster, climate change and sustainable development. One way of looking at this is by adopting the so-called “integrated risk management” approach. This is a conceptual and practical approach that today replaces traditional concepts about emergency or disaster management, which focus on the immediate response to an event and the subsequent recovery process. Integrated risk management requires a more thorough knowledge and understanding of the scenarios of risk. The notion of the "social construction of risk " is central, which points to the existence of chronic risk due to poverty (as expressed in unemployment, low income, malnutrition, etc.), environmental degradation and governance challenges. These drivers of risk reflect the structural conditions of unsustainable development models. In Central America for instance, El Niño is an event that adds stress to already existing environmental, climatic and vulnerability conditions. Thus, the causes of crisis in the agricultural, health or water sectors are more related to human actions, such as overexploitation of resources, poor land use … Read more

Co-creating partnerships to achieve the Global Goals

16 Mar 2017 by Juergen Nagler, UNDP Regional Partnership Advisor for Africa

With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) having significantly raised the bar regarding ambition and universality, there is agreement that we have to go well beyond business as usual. Achieving breakthrough progress in these rapidly-changing times requires a new mind-set and different behavior from all of us. "The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not the turbulence; it is to act with yesterday's logic", said Management Educator, Peter Drucker. Are we ready to step up our logic? What role can each of us play to realize the future we want? As a neutral broker, UNDP increasingly takes innovative approaches to coordinating, connecting and co-creating with partners, globally and locally. Coordination in a confusing world We live in transformational times with dynamics reinforced by globalization and technological progress causing threats and opportunities on an unprecedented scale. Within this context, multilateral processes are of critical importance for dialogue and coordination to overcome fragmentation and duplication. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “coordination [is] a permanent must: a results-focused, people-centered and delivery-oriented coordination.” Being the chair of the UN Development Group, UNDP brings together some 30 UN entities involved in development to coordinate related efforts, globally and locally. With offices in some 170 countries, UNDP also ‘connects the dots’ … Read more

Ocean Acidification – What it means and how to stop it

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

The ‘recipe’ for reversing ocean acidification is transitioning to an energy efficient model that relies primarily on renewable sources of energy. Photo: UNDP
In the Sustainable Development Goals, the world has set forth a bold new vision for global development and committed to achieving it by the year 2030.   SDG 14 calls for us to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” While most of the targets in SDG 14 cover ocean issues and challenges that are well known to most, such as pollution and overfishing, one SDG 14 target, 14.3, may not be so familiar: 14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels. What is ocean acidification, and why is it so important to ocean sustainability and therefore to the SDG agenda? Chemistry 101 Let’s start with some basic chemistry concepts. Water can be either acidic, basic, or neutral, depending on the relative levels of hydrogen ions it contains. The higher the hydrogen level, the more acidic the solution. This characteristic is quantified in its pH, which runs on a scale from 0-14. The scale is ‘logarithmic’ meaning that each increment of one is a 10-fold increase or decrease in hydrogen ion concentration. A pH below 7 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and above 7 is basic. On … Read more

Repensar el progreso

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
220 millones de personas (casi dos en cada cinco latinoamericanos) son hoy económicamente vulnerables: oficialmente no son pobres, pero tampoco lograron ascender a la clase media. Entre estos, de 25 a 30 millones de personas—más de un tercio de los que salieron de la pobreza en la región desde 2002— corren el riesgo de recaer en ella. En un nuevo contexto económico, ¿Qué políticas pueden evitar que se generen retrocesos y ayudar a seguir reduciendo la pobreza en la región? … Read more

La promesse d'un père - à mes filles et à toutes les filles

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
Je viens de rentrer du Kénya, où j’ai arbitré la Coupe du monde des Objectifs Mondiaux. Ce tournoi de football international rassemble des femmes et des filles ordinaires pour défendre les Objectifs qui leur tiennent le plus à cœur, notamment l’égalité des sexes et l’éradication de la pauvreté. C’était une expérience incroyable ! Ce fut également pour moi l’occasion de voir en personne le remarquable travail que réalise le PNUD, et les opportunités qu’il crée pour ces femmes et ces filles. J’ai rencontré des femmes qui m’ont raconté leurs histoires, comment elles essaient d’améliorer leur vie et celle de leur communauté. Elles m’ont étonné et inspiré. Et je sais que vous aussi, vous appréciez ce genre de récits sur la manière de bâtir des avenirs meilleurs. C’est quelque chose que nous partageons. En tant que père et mari, je suis particulièrement engagé dans la défense des causes qui me touchent personnellement. Je veux que mes filles grandissent sur une planète propre, sûre et prospère. Une planète qui leur permet de réaliser leurs rêves, de maximiser leur potentiel, et d’avoir un impact sur le monde qui les entoure. Une planète qui ne les relègue pas au second plan en raison de leur sexe. … 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$1.17 billion 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 … 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.
In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water”. 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 … 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
In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water”. 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 … Read more