Calling all superheroes for civic engagement

08 Aug 2015 by Guergana Botchoukova-Farkova, Social Media intern, Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

kids in BurundiYouth in Burundi frame themselves. Get involved in #YouthDay like them by sending in a photo of yourself and civic engagement. Photo: UNDP Burundi/Rossignol
“Civic engagement.” The superhero term of our time is facing a big problem. It is virtually meaningless to the exact group of people (those between the ages of 14 and 25) which it is supposed to inspire and engage. Walking the halls of UNDP, you often hear the sentiment that if we could just get more youth to engage in their communities, the world would be a much better place to live. Yes, civic engagement is how modern day superheroes are born and you could be one of them.                                But what exactly is “civic engagement”? What does it entail? What is it not? And how can youth really take part in it? Hang on tight, as we decipher the meaning and ways in which you, the world’s youth, can use this phrase to make a real change in our world. First things first: What is civic engagement? It means active participation! Picture yourself as the principle of your school or maybe even the president of your country. As such you have the authority, power, and resources to improve the lives of your community. What would you do? Where would you start? Who would you ask for help? In answering these … Read more

Celebrating the worlds indigenous peoples declaring their rights

08 Aug 2015 by Patrick Keuleers, Director, Governance and Peacebuilding, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

indigenous manAn indigenous man at the Copán Ruinas Archaeological Site, Museum of Maya Sculpture in Honduras. Around the world, discrimination and structural inequalities disproportionately affect indigenous peoples. Photo: UN
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples celebrates the wealth and variety of indigenous cultures and the rights, achievements, and contributions of indigenous peoples worldwide. These rights are enshrined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), but are not always upheld. There are more than 370 million Indigenous peoples living in some 90 countries. It is estimated that they constitute 15 percent of the world’s poor, and one third of the 900 million people living in extreme poverty in rural areas. In vast numbers, indigenous peoples live in some of the world's most resource rich areas, but their own forms of conservation and resource management have been historically undervalued. Too often development projects and programmes undertaken near to and within their lands result in degradations to the environments upon which their physical and cultural survival depends, violate their human rights, and exclude them from equitable benefits. Around the world, discrimination and structural inequalities disproportionately affect indigenous peoples. Human development and peace is not possible where discrimination, injustice, and social exclusion prevail, and where there is a lack of recognition that all groups bring value to society through their different worldviews. In the Governance and Peacebuilding … Read more

Knowledge has life

07 Aug 2015 by Alejandra Pero, Coordinator, World Network of Indigenous Peoples and Local Community Land and Sea Managers, Equator Initiative

indigenous woman talking about plantsAustralian indigenous forest ranger Alison Hunt teaches people about Bush Tucker Yams. Photo: WIN/Anson Smart
How traditional knowledge is collected and shared is increasingly becoming an issue of both concern and opportunity for indigenous peoples and local communities around the world. Digital technology’s potential to record information can lead to great benefits, but also raise questions around consent and digital sovereignty. Who owns the data recorded, where is the data being stored, who has the right to the data, and can it be destroyed? There is potential for good use of the new available technology. The Wapichana of the southern Rupununi savannas of Guyana face threats such as illegal logging, mining, and cattle rustling, and hope to use drones to map and monitor land aerially to cut the risks faced by those exploring remote areas of land. The Dayaks in Setulang, Indonesia are doing the same in the hope of protecting their lands from illegal uses such as logging and clear cutting. In Kenya, some Maasai groups also seek to use drones to check illegal poaching activities in their area.  There is some concern that indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ sacred sites and deep millennial cultural knowledge could also be disclosed and documented without their involvement and consent. A mining company in Australia for example is … Read more

Decoding the alphabet soup of climate change

05 Aug 2015 by Carl Mercer, Advocacy, Partnerships & Communication, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team

 woman near waterA woman in Odisha, India on her way to fetch water. Women have been hit hardest by the extreme weather conditions. Many have to walk for long stretches in search of safe drinking water. Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/UNDP India
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. Join any conversation on climate change this year and you’re likely to hear a host of confusing terms and acronyms: INDCs, NAPs, NAMAs, the GCF, COP21. Expanding doesn’t help much: ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’, the ‘21st Conference of the Parties’ – they’re a mouthful and still not immediately clear. While this terminology was once restricted to technical reports, the terms are increasingly finding their way into newspapers, op-eds and social media. But many people don’t know what they are and insufficient attention has been paid to translating them into something accessible. This is unfortunate. Alienating people from a cause because we have not sufficiently explained or de-jargonized the language won’t help when global agreements need popular support or when local issues need to be addressed. We need to clarify these terms in a way that people understand. I say this as somebody who recently jumped into the climate change world. The learning curve has been steep and more than once I’ve had to google a term to figure it out and … Read more

UNDP missions powered by the sun

03 Aug 2015 by William Allen, Communications Specialist, UNDP

workers install solar panelsWorkers install solar panels on the roof of the UNDP offices in Sierra Leone.
UNDP offices are looking to the sky to power their programmes. It's interesting to see what we have already accomplished, and how much more we can do. Solar power is a champion for many of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals, including targets for resilient cities, infrastructure, and sustainable energy. It is a key to our global warming crisis, especially for sun-filled regions of the world. It creates an energy-independent environment with less noise and air pollution and sustainable, outage-free workplaces for UNDP and its partners. The U.S. International Energy Agency reports that the sun could be the largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydropower, and nuclear, with localized solar photovoltaic (PV) systems generating up to 16 percent of the world's electricity and solar power plants providing an additional 11 percent. As part of the response to Ebola, UNDP installed solar systems in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in 2014, and at three sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At UNDP Sierra Leone, 196 panels now provide power for 200 staff in the office, which also houses the UN Joint Medical services and security services for Freetown. Carine Yengayenge, Deputy Country Director, is excited, noting … Read more