Costing crises and pricing risk: delivering on ‘sustainability’

15 Jun 2015 by Jan Kellett, Advisor Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction

In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues. Earthquakes. Cyclones. Drought. Conflict. The Ebola outbreak. Oil price collapses. Shocks and stresses of different kinds strain countries, communities and families, many of them seriously and have been shown to have set back development, sometimes for decades.  For the Financing for Development (FfD) negotiations, this issue is critical. Volatility is the world’s new normal. We must consider the financing consequences in a world where shocks, crises and emergencies are commonplace. Disasters and economic collapse can, in some cases, lead to increasing and unsustainable debt. The particular vulnerabilities of least developed countries and small island developing states is well recognised. We need a change of mindset to recognize that shocks and stresses are part and parcel of development processes in countries at all income levels. Therefore investments in risk and resilience need to be an integral part of the process. Practically speaking we need to do two inter-related things: calculate the cost of crisis and price fully the reduction of risk. For the first, we already have some figures. We know disasters have cost between 2 and 3 trillion dollars over 20 years, and that individual disasters impact … Read more

When it comes to governance, millions have an opinion

12 Jun 2015 by Sarah Lister, Director, UNDP Oslo Governance Centre

Recently, the world was gripped by a global corruption scandal, involving alleged bribes and kickbacks across continents and institutions. In May, ten times as many people tweeted about issues related to transparency, corruption, and ‘good governance’ than about health or food issues. But even before the FIFA scandal broke, ‘honest and responsive government’ was consistently one of the most tweeted development issues. People care what their governments do, and how politicians and officials manage the budgets entrusted to them. They also care whether they are free to express their views publicly. As we move towards a new global development agenda encapsulated in the sustainable development goals (SDGs), we must find a way to capture ordinary people’s views about those who govern them. Debates about measuring governance have often been highly technical, among statisticians and experts with numbers and concepts that baffle ordinary people. When the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were decided, a governance goal was not included because it was considered too difficult and controversial to measure. Yet in the last 15 years, enormous progress has been made in this area. There are now numerous expert assessments of different aspects of governance, and in recent years nationally representative surveys have been … Read more

South-South cooperation -- how can we maximize its impact on sustainable development?

11 Jun 2015 by Grace Wang, UNDP's lead adviser on South-South and Triangular Cooperation

fishermen in CubaRisk Reduction Management Centers, a successful initiative in hurricane-prone Cuba, are being scaled up across partnering Caribbean states. Photo: Carolina Azevedo/ UNDP
In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues. South-South Cooperation is gaining new momentum as global political and economic realities change rapidly. It is also adding critical value to development. So how can we ensure that the larger potential of SSC is reflected in ongoing discussions on financing for development, while recognizing its differences from more traditional forms of ‘North-South’ development cooperation? SSC encompasses elements of trade, investment and technology transfer as well as direct financial assistance between developing countries. In 2013, South-South trade in goods was valued at about US$ 5 trillion. South-South grants, concessional loans, debt relief and technology transfer were estimated between US$16 to 19 billion in 2011, and continue to rise. These figures undoubtedly underestimate the true scale of such flows since they are not reported in any systematic way. Much of it is also not directly quantifiable such as the amount of knowledge shared or technology transferred through SSC. SSC made, and continues to make, an important contribution to development and to people’s lives. It is also becoming more diverse. For example, while SSC continues to favour infrastructure investments (around 55% of its activities), it also supports the social … Read more

My journey on the Human Development Report enterprise

10 Jun 2015 by Selim Jahan, Director, Human Development Report office

Selim JahanSelim Jahan and Amartya Sen at the Human Development Report Office in the 1990s. Photo: UNDP
“It is an intellectual Enterprise,” Mahbub ul Haq, a Star Trek fan, would fondly say about the Human Development Report (HDR). The Report was his brainchild, and he was the captain of the HDR Enterprise. And it was this Enterprise’s dynamism, out-of-box thinking and intellectual courage that attracted me to it. What a journey I have had with the HDR over the last quarter of a century - a core-author of the Report, a vivid reader, and a committed champion of it. And it feels good to be ‘back home’, having taken the rein of the Report less than a year ago. From the very beginning, the HDR took the road not taken, and that has made all the difference. It pursued an alternative way of looking at, and measuring, development and was innovative in putting people, not the economy, at the centre of development as active agents and beneficiaries. Over the years, the HDR has changed the content and tone of the development dialogue around the world.  It has measured development results with indices, which may be as vulgar as the GDP per capita, but not as blind to the broader aspects of human well-being. It has provided advocacy tools … Read more

Years of efforts are paying off in fighting female genital mutilation

09 Jun 2015 by Ignacio Artaza, Country Director, UNDP in Egypt

Egyptian women at meetingWomen attend a community meeting at Qena governorate to call to an end to female genital mutilation. Photo: UNDP in Egypt
I was recently in Aswan to meet with the local government, partner NGOs, and people working together to fight against female genital mutilation (FGM), a widely-spread practice in Egypt that predates both Christianity and Islam and was criminalized by Egyptian law in 2008. What a refreshing experience!  The commitment and dedication I found are not only commendable but quite encouraging:  Whole communities are taking a firm stance against a traditional practice that has no religious, medical or moral basis, as declared by both Al Azhar and the Coptic Church. In the village of Nagaa El Haggar, community leaders, local associations, women, men, and children gathered to watch a series of plays performed by young actors, intended to raise awareness and engage people in FGM-related discussions.  What ensued was remarkable: women describing the dramatic impact on their physical and mental health, men talking openly about the damage caused in their marital relations, and girls referring to it as ‘worst day in my life’. Since 2005, the Governorate of Aswan has taken a firm stance in combatting FGM.  To date, ten villages have declared their opposition to this harmful practice and are continuing to advocate for its end.  A community association member stated, … Read more