Making energy efficiency visible

23 Oct 2015 by Marina Olshanskaya, Regional Technical Advisor, Energy, Infrastructure, Technology and Transport, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

kids in classroomIn an Uzbekistan school, the implementation of simple energy efficiency measures increased the classroom’s temperature from 10°C to 20°C, making for a much more comfortable learning environment. Photo: UNDP
In this blog series, UNDP experts and practitioners share their perspective on issues of climate change, in the lead up to COP21 in December. The buildings where we live and work are responsible for over one-third of global energy needs and a correspondingly high share of CO2 emissions. Improving the energy efficiency in buildings is one of the most cost-effective climate mitigation solutions we have: one “negawatt” of saved energy costs much less to produce than generating a new watt from conventional or even alternative energy sources. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, there is a vast number of highly inefficient buildings, and a tremendous potential for greenhouse gas emission reduction and the production of negawatts. As a member of UNDP’s Sustainable Energy team in Europe and Central Asia, I’ve been part of the effort to unlock this potential, and have learned many important lessons along the way. One major challenge with negawatts is that you can’t “see” them in the conventional sense; and if you can’t see them, you can’t sell them as a goal to both the public and private sectors. We need to make energy efficiency visible through systems like the Energy Management Information System (EMIS), which enables … Read more

Back to the Future Day – 5 futuristic improvements that are not hoverboards

21 Oct 2015 by Boaz Paldi, Communications and Partnerships, Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP and Simon van Woerden, Creative Communications and Partnership, UNDP

ClockWith a target date of 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals aim to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and respond to climate change.
If you’ve been online at all in the past few days, you know that today is “Back to the Future” or #BTTF Day. On this very day, 21 October 2015, Marty McFly and Doc Brown arrived to the future from their own 1985. Many of the science fiction predictions from the movie still haven’t come true. The famous hoverboard, for example, is still just a dream - although inventors and bigger companies are trying hard to make it a reality. So, although many of the futuristic things Marty and Doc witnessed in their version of 2015 are not here yet, the real 2015 would no doubt happily surprise the two time travelers. Check out five striking examples of how we have moved to the future since 1985 ourselves: 1.   No flying cars for everyone, but poverty cut in half In the universe of BTTF, the flying car is already real and apparently available and affordable to all. Our cars still do not fly (though again, there is progress!) and poverty is also still an important challenge. However, we did halve extreme poverty worldwide; between 1990 and 2014 it fell from 47% to 22%. 2. No pizza hydrator, but hunger down by … Read more

How will the world we shape affect their lives?

19 Oct 2015 by Nguyen Viet Lan, Communication Analyst, UNDP in Viet Nam

Mong womanSung Thi My, 18, hopes that, unlike her, all her children will have the opportunity to go to school, to get better jobs, and to have a life she could only dream about. Photo: Nguyen Viet Lan/UNDP Viet Nam
Can an 18-year-old living in one of the world’s most remote places have a say in how the world is shaped? I met Sung Thi My during a field visit to the mountainous province of Yen Bai, where we were surveying people about the world they want in 2015 and beyond. The UN’s MY World survey is aimed at capturing people’s voices, views and priorities so world leaders can be informed, as they define the next set of global goals. At 18, Sung was already married and had an 18-month-old daughter. She had never gone to school, and had never been to the local health care clinic. Sung – a member of the Mong tribe – told me she had given birth to her child at home, with the help of her husband. This is the way most Mong women give birth, she said. A month after the delivery, she was back tilling the fields with her baby tied behind her back. What did she want to change in her little corner of the world? For herself, her ask was modest. She said she planned to have two more children and hoped she would be able to stay home longer after delivery. … Read more

How are all countries rich and poor to define poverty?

16 Oct 2015 by Alessandra Casazza, Programme Advisor for MDGs/SDGs, UNDP

In Rwanda, a woman works in her tailoring shop. The World Bank recently updated the absolute poverty line to US$1.90 a day, reflecting changes in the average price of the goods and services people require in 15 developing countries, including Rwanda. Photo: Alice Kayibanda/UNDP Rwanda
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our new development compass. Its 17 goals and 169 targets provide countries – rich and poor – with the coordinates of the new ‘development north’, which more than 190 countries have committed to reach in the next 15 years. As of 1 January 2016, countries, like big vessels, will begin sailing towards this new development north from different harbors. But how will they calibrate their ‘navigation instruments’ to set their course? The 2030 Agenda is clear in this respect. Paragraph 55 reads: ‘[…] Targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each Government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances.’ As an example, let us consider Sustainable Development Goal 1: ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’. First and foremost, countries, both rich and poor, will need poverty lines (not all countries have one) to set targets and measure progress towards this goal. Countries have different options and these largely depend on their respective level of development: Absolute poverty lines (option 1), including the recently updated World Bank global poverty line of US$1.90/day,  are widely used by developing countries, since large portions of … Read more

Migration is neither good nor bad – but its impact can be great

15 Oct 2015 by Ben Slay, Senior Economist and Mihail Peleah, Programme Specialist in Green Economy and Employment

A worker in TajikistanRelative to GDP, remittances flowing into Tajikistan are among the largest in the world. Photo: Mashid Mohadjerin
With an influx of refugees and migrants making headlines in Europe and politicians around the world debating the merits of immigration, it’s important to take a step back and consider the development impact migration has for both sending countries and host nations. International labour migration has become a key driver of development around the world. One way migration impacts development is through the accompanying remittances, the money sent by migrant workers (and diasporas) to relatives back home. This is a significant force for development and a lifeline for many families here in Central Asia. Relative to GDP, remittances flowing into the less wealthy Central Asian countries are among the largest in the world. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have been world leaders in this category since 2011. These flows don’t just support the economy. They lift millions of people out of poverty. In Kyrgyzstan for example, remittance inflows reduced the number of people living below the poverty line by 5 to 7 percentage points annually from 2010 to 2014. That’s about 300,000 to 400,000 men, women, and children. But in recent years we’ve seen these numbers slipping. A new UNDP report “Labour Migration, Remittances, and Human Development in Central Asia,” reveals that migration … Read more