Cities will be big winners in 2015

21 Sep 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York

Kathmandu after the earthquakeDharahara, Kathmandu after earthquake in April 2015. Photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi /UNDP Nepal
In just a few days, the international community will meet in New York to finalize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In doing so, countries will roll out the path forward for the next 15 years. With a human population that is increasingly urban, a focus on cities and settlements is not only welcome but necessary. Having seen first-hand the fragility of many of our cities, I am thrilled that Goal 11 focuses on urban resilience. The numbers speak for themselves: nearly 54 percent of the global population already lives in urban areas and that figure is expected to reach nearly 66 percent by 2050. But the flipside of great growth is great vulnerability, and cities and urban areas find themselves uniquely threatened by both disaster risks and climate change. I saw for myself the devastation that can transpire in urban centres, especially those that are rapidly growing, when going to support our recovery teams in Nepal after the earthquake of 25 April. Having worked in Mexico before returning to UNDP New York Headquarters, I have also seen how serious, risk-informed urban planning allows a megalopolis to build back better, and ensure that future … Read more

Using ancient traditions to break new economic ground

21 Sep 2015 by Tashi Dorji, Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Portfolio Manager, UNDP in Bhutan

Here in Bhutan, the people of Namther and Dangdung communities have been collecting 47 different varieties of medicinal plants. After more than 50 years of collecting plants and making traditional medicine, the villagers have found another way to reap the benefits of biological resources to enhance their livelihoods. With support from UNDP, the Global Environment Facility and Japan’s Nagoya Protocol, the communities have taken a giant leap from collecting traditional medicine plants for personal use to providing resources for commercial products. For communities whose livelihoods primarily depend on seasonal subsistence farming, using biological resources helps them fill in the deficit. The Namther and Dangdung communities have partnered with Menjong Sorig Pharmaceuticals (MSP) and the Thai-based Institute of Cosmetic Science Institute at Mae Fah Luang University on a research study to develop personal care and therapeutic products from selected medicinal plants that are available in the two communities. It’s an exciting initiative that links the communities to the private-sector and works to ensure that the villagers benefit from the use of biological resources when they are used for commercial development.  Communities will move from simply collecting raw materials for traditional medicines to setting up manufacturing unites in their villages to produce cosmetic … Read more

The future is made in China

18 Sep 2015 by Louise Xi Li, Associate Communications Officer, UNDP in China

data visualizationFuturescaper combines human insight and analytics together with data visualization.
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice. China is a complex, diverse, and dynamic country. Home to internet companies worth billions of dollars, it has more web users than the population of the United States. Many are familiar with the “Made in China” label. But a label not frequently applied to China? “The Future is made in China.” At a UNDP Innovation Summit, Noah Raford showed how we might predict the future in this fast-changing world by using crowdsourcing tools like Futurescaper (a crowd-source strategy company that specializes in participatory scenario planning and foresight) to leverage the “wisdom of crowds”. The potential benefits of predicting future innovations can be felt across diverse fields from healthcare to banking. Discovering and mapping new ideas and innovations can yield effective solutions as the world prepares to adopt a new set of development challenges. Impressed by the concept, we quickly saw how difficult it would be to make something like this work in China.   On one hand, China’s rapid internet development has revolutionized people’s lives and unlocked a series of innovative business bonanzas by pooling everything from taxi services to restaurants to masseurs. … Read more

Geothermal energy, a bet on the future

17 Sep 2015 by Leo Isidro Heileman, Resident Representative, UNDP in Comoros

The Karthala volcano, ComorosThe Karthala volcano, peaking at 2361 metres altitude, is a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, hitherto unexplored. Photo: UNDP Comoros
In the Comoros, a small southwestern island nation in the Indian Ocean, electricity is almost 100 percent from fossil fuels, and the government is struggling to meet the energy needs of the country’s 700,000 inhabitants. For example, the people in the capital Moroni have just over five hours of electricity a day. In the three islands of the archipelago, the rates of access to electricity do not exceed 50 percent which inevitably impacts the economic activities of the country. But there are solutions. Located on the island of Grande Comore (Ngazidja) is the Karthala volcano, a clean and sustainable energy reservoir, unexplored to date. This active volcano – its last eruption was 2007 – rises 2,361 metres above sea level and could shift from a pervasive threat into opportunity for development. … Read more

Around the world, the Social Good Summit celebrates the Global Goals

16 Sep 2015 by Boaz Paldi, Communications and Partnerships, Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

Flag raisingThe 2015 Social Good Summit kicks off in Beijing with a flag-raising ceremony. Photo: UNDP China
Last week, the 100th UNDP country office confirmed participation in the 2015 Social Good Summit that will take place between the 25th and the 28th of September. From Gaza to Costa Rica, Kabul to Nairobi, and Tehran to Pyongyang, UNDP and UN country teams will be holding local events, all connecting together in the world’s largest conversation about the largest issues facing us over the next 15 years. The Social Good Summit (SGS) began its journey six years ago. A group of like-minded friends at the United Nations Foundation, Mashable and the 92Y decided that while the UN General Assembly holds a closed door meeting at UN Headquarters, they themselves would have a conference were everyone could be invited and have a seat at the table. I was privileged to be invited to join this initial conversation and immediately understood the immense power of this platform. Here was a committed community that could share knowledge, experiences, and the strong belief that together we could make the world a little better. But it lacked an international reach and flavor – to touch on the world’s problems, you need to include the world and have that reflected in the summit. And that is … Read more