Our Perspectives

Now is the time to climate proof Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19 Oct 2016 by Armen Grigoryan, Team Leader, Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

Only 40 cents in every US$100 spent on aid goes to disaster risk reduction, yet disasters have cost developing countries a total of US$1 trillion over the last 20 years. UNDP Photo
In this blog series, UNDP experts share their perspectives in the lead-up to the next climate summit, COP22, taking place in November in Marrakech, Morocco. Two years ago I remember watching catastrophic rains swallow entire swathes of land in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Serbia. Most of northern Bosnia was flooded. Thousands of people lost their homes. And in Serbia, the damage was estimated at 1.5 billion euros. The following year, it was Albania’s turn, then Tajikistan followed suit with the worst mud flows the country has ever seen. Finally, this summer, a thunderstorm dropped 93 litres of rain for every square metre of the capital, Skopje, within the space of a single night. Whether we are talking about drought, failing crops, rising temperatures or the resurgence or appearance of new diseases, the list of possible climate catastrophes is long. According to some analyses, the crisis in Syria, which has caused thousands of people to cross the Western Balkans in search of better lives in northern Europe, also has root causes associated with climate change. It’s no secret that climate-related disasters are becoming more common and more devastating. From a human development standpoint, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which I cover … Read more

Unlocking climate action: Why cities are at the forefront

18 Oct 2016 by Bahareh Seyedi, Policy Specialist, Climate Change, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

By 2060, more than a billion people will be living in cities in low-lying coastal zones, the vast majority in developing countries. Photo: Igor Rugwiza/MINUSTAH
In this blog series, UNDP experts share their perspectives in the lead-up to the next climate summit, COP22, taking place in November in Marrakech, Morocco. Tehran, Managua, Vancouver, Manila, Montreal, Ouagadougou, New York: seven cities I love and have had the pleasure of living in! Each is rich in beauty, history, and culture, and has its own unique urban characteristics.  But there is a shared threat faced by these cities that if left unaddressed has the ability to jeopardize their entire existence. The threat of climate change. From droughts, storms, and heat waves, to floods and hurricanes, these cities are all exposed to risks from climate hazards and natural disasters in one way or another. My hometown, Tehran, is at serious risk of water scarcity, with its major reservoirs reaching critically low levels in the past couple of years due to reduced rainfall and increase in temperature. Vancouver and New York are in coastal zones, areas particularly vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels over the coming decades. New Yorkers got a glimpse of what this may look like in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy shut down all services in my neighbourhood for days and in many others for weeks. A … Read more

Drivers of public services and policies of tomorrow – the role of government innovation labs

12 Oct 2016 by Benjamin Kumpf, Policy Specialist, Innovation at UNDP and Laura Schnurr, Social Enterprise and Social Finance, Canadian Government and Innovation Facility, UNDP.

Kolba Lab, run by UNDP and the government of Armenia, held a mapathon of accessible places in Yerevan. Photo: @gorkroyan
What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘innovation’? The public sector? – Thought not. But we are working on changing this. Over the last three years, UNDP has set up innovation labs in five countries to support governments in designing the next generation of public services and to embark on experimental policy-design and another one is being set up right now. From Brazil, Colombia and Canada to South Africa, Israel, Malaysia and Singapore – the world map of labs is constantly growing. Government innovation labs, sometimes referred to as change labs, social labs or design labs, have been opening up in more and more places since the early 2000s. What are Public Sector innovation labs and how do they work? Government or public sector innovation labs are teams that combine expertise in innovation methods and public sector reform to improve policy design and the way governments deliver services to the public. Another important role of the labs is to help governments reframe challenges and to broaden the perspective of policy makers by bringing in the perspective of users. Labs help governments in creating better solutions based on citizen feedback and inputs. But ideally they are more than quick-solution delivery … Read more

The nexus of climate change and conflict in the Arab region

12 Oct 2016 by Kishan Khoday, Regional Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

Conflict and climate change are major drivers of displacement in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab region. UNHCR photo
In this blog series, UNDP experts share their perspectives in the lead-up to the next climate summit, COP22, taking place in November in Marrakech, Morocco. Alongside the daily barrage of rockets and gunfire facing the Arab region is a more insidious but perhaps no less important foe – climate change. Climate change and conflict both have serious consequences and their convergence, particularly in fragile states, that has now arisen as a major concern. Leading UNDP’s climate change action in the Arab region, I see first-hand how this convergence is creating new forms of social vulnerability and reshaping the prospects for peace. The Arab region was the birthplace of agricultural civilization and for thousands of years has been able to cope with risks from climatic hazards. But climate change is now happening at a pace unlike anything before, stretching the ability of societies and governments to cope. The evidence shows that the region may well be in the midst of a 25-year climate change-induced mega drought, equal in strength only to historic droughts one thousand years ago that led to major civilizational shifts. Already the world’s most water insecure region, climate change is expected to see temperatures rise faster here than the … Read more

Ciudades sostenibles, si no es ahora ¿cuándo?

12 Oct 2016 by Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean

 During the Habitat III conference, UN Member States will adopt a New Urban Agenda (NUA) that will guide the sustainable development efforts of cities and territories for the next 20 years.
Por primera vez en la historia, más de la mitad de la población mundial vive en zonas urbanas. Y América Latina y el Caribe, con un 80% de la población residiendo en ciudades grandes, intermedias y pequeñas, siempre aparece como ejemplo de la región más urbanizada del mundo. Este proceso de urbanización supone, a la vez, una gran oportunidad y un gran desafío para un desarrollo humano sostenible. … Read more

La gestión del riesgo climático en América Latina y el Caribe

12 Oct 2016 by Matilde Mordt, Team Leader, Sustainable Development and Resilience, UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean

Hurricane MatthewHurricane Matthew is only the latest reminder of the relentless force of nature. In 25 years, disasters have claimed more than 240,000 lives and caused losses of more than US$39 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean. Photo: Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH
¿Estamos haciendo lo suficiente para crear esta resiliencia? Es verdad que hay una gran capacidad de respuesta ante desastres en muchos países, pero vemos también que en la región, la persistente pobreza generalizada, una urbanización rápida y descontrolada y la degradación del medio ambiente, han dado lugar a un aumento de la vulnerabilidad. El caso de Haití es notable, pero el Caribe en general es altamente vulnerable: según la CEPAL (2015), durante un período de 25 años, los desastres se han cobrado más de 240 000 vidas y han causado pérdidas por más de 39 000 millones de dólares en América Latina y el Caribe. … Read more

¿Qué estás haciendo por Haití?

10 Oct 2016 by Rita Sciarra, Head of Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

 UNDP projects in the South region helped local authorities to decide where to relocate evacuees before the hurricane. Photo: UNDP Haiti
Tras el devastador huracán Matthew, que azotó Haití este 4 de octubre, más de 2.1 millones de personas han sido afectadas, y la pérdida de medios de vida amenaza seriamente la seguridad alimentaria en el país. … Read more

Restoring Lives and Hopes for a Better Future in Haiti

10 Oct 2016 by Yvonne Helle, United Nations Development Programme Country Director, Haiti

Before the disaster, one million Haitians were acutely food insecure and almost half of the population was without jobs. Photo: UNDP Haiti/Guillaume Joachin
The destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti has been devastating. While the full scale of the damage and needs is still being assessed, the death toll has risen to over 300 lives lost. More than 60,000 have been displaced and are living in basic shelters, and over 25,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged. Behind these numbers are women and children who don’t have food anymore, as the little they had was lost, and who don’t have safe drinking water anymore because of overflowing water tanks, contamination from decaying animal carcasses and bodies washing out of cemeteries. Behind these numbers are young people whose future has been washed away, farmers who have lost all of their livestock, their crops and the life they had built for themselves over decades. Behind these numbers are people whose homes have been destroyed and who are now living in makeshift shelters, not able to provide for their families and depending on assistance. They urgently need our help in restoring their lives and hopes for a better future. UNDP has been working on the ground for over 40 years and will build on its experience and its network, working side by side with the Haitian … Read more

International Day of the Girl Child: How young women and girls are fighting inequality

10 Oct 2016 by Randi Davis, Gender Team Director, UNDP

Young women and girls throughout the world are demonstrating that they are willing and able to fight inequality and advocate for change. Photo: UNDP India
Two young women in Kosovo, frustrated by the low percentage of women in the technology sector, launched Girls Coding Kosovo, a non-governmental organization that empowers and trains women and girls in programming, engineering and computer science. A year later, the group has more than 500 participants and several products, including Walk Freely, an app aimed at fighting sexual harassment Along Egypt’s Nile River, a group of school girls travel from village to village to perform a song they wrote that is helping to change local attitudes and end female genital mutilation. They sing: ‘I am born perfect with my body whole. Why do you want to cut us, and take away the rights that God gave us?' Students at Albania’s Tirana University hired actors to enact a domestic violence incident and then projected a video of the scene around the city to test the reactions of the public. The video went viral in social and traditional media, taking the messages of the students’ public awareness campaign against gender-based violence to a wide audience. These initiatives, supported by UNDP, show how young women and girls throughout the world are demonstrating that they are willing and able to fight inequality and advocate for … Read more

Capacity development – the only sustainable way to implement the Paris Agreement

06 Oct 2016 by Frederik Tue Staun, Programme Analyst, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Capacity development is no longer limited to human resource development but covers issues of national ownership, policy-level impacts, and sustainability. Photo: UNDP
In this blog series, UNDP experts share their perspectives in the lead-up to the next climate summit, COP22, taking place in November in Marrakech, Morocco. On September 22, 2016, Uganda became one of the first African countries to ratify the Paris Agreement - a milestone that made me reflect on the two years I spent in the country  as the UNDP Climate Change focal point, but most of all, it made me proud on behalf of my former colleagues and tireless climate champions working in Uganda.  When I look back at my time with UNDP Uganda, our work on climate change mitigation and low carbon capacity development stands out. The Low Emission Capacity Building (LECB) Project was one of the first projects to focus on low carbon development in the country and more specifically aiming at strengthening technical and institutional capacities at the country level and enable national decision makers, public institutions and private sector to holistically address climate change and decouple economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions. When the Government of Uganda launched the LECB project in 2013 in Kampala, climate change mitigation and low carbon development were very new concepts and created confusion and many questions as climate change mitigation broadly … Read more