Avoid stigma when measuring SDG achievements

10 Sep 2015 by By Degol Hailu, Senior Advisor, UNDP

The methodology used to measure MDG progress underestimated the relative good performance made by the least developed countries, particularly Sub-Saharan African countries. Photo: UNDP Burkina Faso
At the upcoming United Nations Summit, member states will reach an agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Development practitioners will then engage in monitoring the achievements of the goals and targets. As was the case with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), country, regional and global level progress reports are likely to proliferate. Just to recall, MDG monitoring reports were not free from criticism. First, the reports stigmatised countries that showed slow but positive progress. For instance, when a country fell short of meeting a target, say in maternal mortality, the country was called “lagging”, “sluggish” and “off track”. Second, the MDG goals were set as global targets and therefore country comparisons were inaccurate. Goals and targets, which were global averages and uniform across countries, severely penalised countries that started from low levels. Third, the methodology used to measure MDG progress underestimated the relative good performance made by the least developed countries, particularly Sub-Saharan African countries.    Finally, setting unrealistic goals and targets, while expecting that they can in fact be universally met, runs the risk of undue pessimism about development. Going forward, the SDGs need to be measured in terms of the commitment of countries, as measured by theireffort to … Read more

How do we communicate global goals

08 Sep 2015 by Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

women in NepalIn Nepal, the Interim Constitution of 2007 requires that political parties ensure that women constitute at least one-third of their total representation in parliament. The constituent assembly, in office between 2008 and May 2012, comprised 32.8 percent women. Photo: UNDP in Nepal
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on working with the Millennium Development Goals. As a communicator, it has been both extremely exciting and a challenging journey to be a part of the Millennium Development Goals era at UNDP. Things were not that simple back in 2001 when we had to explain to our country partners what MDGs were all about and what our role was in it. At the time, I had just started working as the Communications Officer for UNDP in Nepal, where we desperately tried to introduce the MDGs to the NGOs, media, and the general public. To most, the MDGs sounded vague and alien, as if they had come from a different planet. The development goals were hard to explain just by calling them ‘MDGs'. To our dismay, many people called them the 'UN Goals’. As communicators, we had to go through each goal and relate them to our own national issues and development priorities. We pushed the local media to talk about the goals, to explain that they were not UN-imposed, but rather about basic targets that our own country had set to reduce poverty and hunger, to improve education and … Read more

Closing the Gap: Delivering impact for gender equality in Europe and Central Asia

04 Sep 2015 by Bharati Sadasivam, Team Leader, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, UNDP Regional Hub in Istanbul

Women attending a workshop on DIY solar water heatersParticipants practice bending cuprum pipe for do-it-yourself solar water heaters during a workshop in Jilikul, Tajikistan. UNDP Photo
In Namangan in Uzbekistan, a long-standing dream for a crafts centre came true. In Misi village in Turkey, a silk unit for niche products, another dream child of a group of women, is having a fourth year of success, against all odds. In Jilkul village in Tajikistan, another group of women have gained more income and more time for their families by learning to set up solar water heaters. These are some ways in which UNDP is supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Europe and Central Asia region. In our newly published report, Closing the Gap, we present some of the work we’ve done for gender equality in 19 countries and territories in the region over the past year. We chose projects with measurable impact in a range of areas: economic empowerment, access to resources and essential services, combating discriminatory social norms, promoting participation in decision-making, and building resilience. In highlighting these initiatives, I found that they had some factors in common that were key to their success. One was a mentoring approach adopted by UNDP. To develop the crafts centre in Uzbekistan (as part of the UNDP Aid for Trade project), we supported Risliq Djuraeva and three other … Read more

Learning from adaptation experience means breaking down the context

03 Sep 2015 by Jennifer Baumwoll, Project Coordinator, Canada-UNDP Climate Change Adaptation Facility

woman farmer in fieldIn Tarrafal, Cabo Verde, Ms. Maria “Katy” Zaidy Soares Barbosa is one of the farmers working with extension workers to apply the agricultural research. Photo: UNDP/Jennifer Baumwoll
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to the COP21 climate change conference in Paris in December. When it comes to climate change adaptation, it is often said that we must identify the lessons learned and share these lessons with other practitioners. Given the enormous challenge posed by climate change, we must constantly ask ourselves: how can we replicate or scale up what works? And yet, adaptation couldn’t be more context specific. What I’ve learned from working with adaptation initiatives across the world is that not only are adaptation priorities different—from agricultural and water management to health and tourism—but measures that work in one location often will not work in another. For example, both Cabo Verde and Niger are dealing with water shortages, but the reservoir and water canal systems being built on a mountainous island in Cabo Verde are not feasible in the savannahs of Niger. To complicate things further, adaptation is fundamentally a question of behavioral and social change, both of which are deeply rooted in specific cultural values and practices. In Cabo Verde, researchers from the National Institute for Agricultural Research and Development explained to … Read more

An AIDS free generation was simply unimaginable

01 Sep 2015 by Kazuyuki Uji, Policy Specialist, HIV, Health and Inclusive Development, Bangkok Regional Hub, UNDP

community activistsIn Asia, the community of people living with HIV contributed to achieving the MDG 6 targets of halting and reversing the spread of HIV and putting 15 million people on HIV treatment by 2015. Photo: UNDP/Kazuyuki Uji
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on working with the Millennium Development Goals. On 14 July 2015, the UN Secretary General made a historical announcement: “Together, we have achieved and exceeded the AIDS-related targets of Millennium Development Goal 6... [W]e are on our way to an AIDS-free generation.” This was simply unimaginable around the period I joined UNDP in early 2000’s when HIV was still thriving in Asia and HIV treatment was a luxury for the privileged few. As I read the Secretary General’s statement, my thoughts drifted to the faces of community activists in India with whom I worked closely but who passed away because they did not have access to affordable treatment. I recalled the small funeral of a 10-year-old girl in Sri Lanka who had died of AIDS, so thin and small as if she were a 4-year old. She did not have any friends, neighbours, or even relatives at the funeral. I was also recollecting stories of many people living with HIV who were pushed into poverty because they were too sick to work, lost jobs due to discrimination, or had to give up all their savings to pay for … Read more