Impact investing for a sustainable future

28 May 2015 by Priscilla Sani-Chimwele, Programme Analyst, Private Sector Development and Engagement

Big players are already engaging heavily in various impact investment ventures in various parts of the globe. Photo: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In this blog series, our experts share their thoughts on key financing for development issues. Business does not take place in a vacuum. It takes place in countries, within communities and amongst people. Some say that the most critical aspect of a successful business is the customer. I would agree: A business that contributes to the wellbeing and affluence of its customers, by giving back, ensures that in the long run those clients are able to afford and continue to consume the goods and services that the business provides. Smart business sense.    While many business people have given back to communities through philanthropic ventures over the years, some investors rather only prefer to ensure that their investments are responsible, wherein they explicitly acknowledge the relevance of environmental, social and governance factors to their investment, without necessarily aiming to have a positive social or environmental return from their investments. Taking responsible investment (PDF) a step further, impact investment is a concept which responds quite strongly to the driving force behind running a private corporation… the need to make a profit, and in addition to a financial return, ensures measurable positive social and environmental impacts from an investment. Impact investing has been … Read more

Let’s make 2015 a turning point for youth participation

27 May 2015 by Noella Richard, Youth Policy Specialist, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

2015 has a special significance for all of us. We look beyond the Millennium Development Goals and feel increasingly excited about the bold, ambitious and inclusive development agenda that is shaping up. It is vital to ensure that 2015 is also a turning point for youth participation. Youth are eager and ready to contribute. Youth not only expect to have a say in defining the sustainable development priorities for the next 15 years, but they also want to be seen as equal partners in the implementation and monitoring of this agenda. It is no secret that young people remain largely excluded from political, civic, economic and social processes at all levels. At UNDP, our Youth Strategy for 2014-2017 outlines a vision for engaging and empowering youth in governance, in jobs and livelihoods, and in strengthening their communities and societies. That work includes promoting youth political participation and young women in decision-making, advocating for youth-led monitoring and accountability and strengthening the capacities of youth organizations and networks of young social innovators. And we want to make this programming more coherent and sustainable, and to open more doors for youth to get involved with our work, propose solutions, share experiences, participate in our … Read more

In Haiti, a neighbourhood converts ideas into innovation and opportunities

26 May 2015 by Rita Sciarra, Head of the Poverty Reduction Unit, UNDP Haiti

Forty initiatives were selected and an initial capital of US$500 to $1,500 was awarded, so they could transform their "idea" into a reality. Photo: UNDP Haiti
Fort National is a very poor and dangerous neighbourhood of Puerto Príncipe, a neighbourhood identified with high crime rates, violence, and large numbers of weapons. The mere mention of its name sets off alarm bells, warning you "Do not enter". In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on innovation in development practice. … Read more

Africa: Navigating the grey scale

25 May 2015 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

woman working with fabric in BurundiTo transform economic growth into shared prosperity, African countries must boost employment creation. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
The recent news out of Africa offers a mix of optimism and gloom, defying simple theories that the continent is either rising or hopeless. What is missing in either of these narratives is the admission that development involves a process of ebb and flow, full of progress and setbacks. On that grey scale, economic growth can lead to increased levels of inequality and even co-exist with political instability and conflict. When this reality is taken into account, the question becomes not whether a country is growing but how to make the transition from economic growth to a situation of shared prosperity and stability. Breakthroughs are possible, and they can lead to marked improvements in the lives of ordinary women and men. Take Mauritius. The island nation has transformed itself from a poor sugar producer into a diversified, modern economy that exports textiles and excels at providing international financial services to the rest of the world. Ethiopia is another example. Over the past three decades, the country became one of Africa’s fastest-growing, non-energy economies and its exports have diversified to include leather goods, agricultural products and textiles. The government is investing massively to transform its agriculture, climate-proof the economy and eliminate child … Read more

Harnessing benefits from a cup of Colombian Coffee

22 May 2015 by Santiago Carrizosa, Senior Technical Advisor, Sustainable Development Cluster

farmers plant seedlingsFarmers in Colombia plant seedlings of native plants for a biological conservation corridor in an area of coffee farms. Photo: UNDP in Colombia
Today is the International Day of Biological Diversity, which has for me deep personal, professional and cultural significance. Working in Latin America and Caribbean region, I have witnessed firsthand the profound dependence that we all have on the natural world – especially people who work closely with the land and sea. In UNDP, we are committed to harnessing this reliance in ways that improve biodiversity and people’s lives. Thinking about the significance of this day and the importance of this work, I am reminded of Dora Garcia, a Colombian coffee farmer who participated in an innovative UNDP-supported, GEF-financed project. How surprised she was when she began receiving additional income based on the carbon sequestered by native trees she planted almost five years earlier! Mrs. Garcia is one of the coffee farmers who embraced this opportunity and received social, economic and environmental benefits when she decided to produce a cup of coffee spiced with biodiversity-friendly policies, sustainable practices, and ecosystem services. In Colombia, for over 50 years coffee has been the main engine of economic growth and development in the biodiversity-rich landscapes of the Andean region. Colombia’s excellent growing conditions, paired with an aggressive marketing campaign by the National Federation of Coffee … Read more