Humanitarian action makes sound business sense

31 May 2016 by Marcos Neto, Director, Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development

Private sector, individual companies and philanthropic actors support humanitarian action and development in many countries. Photo: UNCT
In this blog series leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on responding to conflict and disasters. In February, Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, resulting in loss of life, disruption to business supply chains and damage to properties. The estimated cost to the Fijian economy was US$470 million. Imagine the even greater impact to the Philippines, which is visited by an average of 20 typhoons every year, five of which are destructive. The challenges the world is facing right now are overwhelming. More than 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the world today. Some 60 million people have been forcibly displaced. UN-coordinated plans to provide life-saving aid and protection to the most vulnerable people require nearly US$21 billion each year. The potential involvement and impact of the private sector and philanthropic foundations is significant. On average, the private sector accounts for 60 percent of GDP, 80 percent of capital flows and 90 percent of jobs in developing countries. Philanthropic giving amounts to an annual US$60 billion from OECD countries to the global south. It’s a sound business argument: stable economic markets, healthy and secure employers, consumers who can purchase products … Read more

In high-risk areas, UNDP-Japan partnership delivers on human security

26 May 2016 by Mitsuaki Mizuno, Special Advisor, Japan Unit, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP

The Tokyo League uses sports to encourage Palestinian youth in the face of conflict and other hardships. Japanese Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs Takeshi Okubo attended the Tokyo League table tennis championships in Gaza. The league uses sports to encourage Palestinian youth in the face of conflict and other hardships. Photo: Shareef Sarhan/UNDP PAPP
I’ll never forget watching the final match of the Tokyo League volleyball tournament. It was heart-warming to see the students, wearing their scarves known as Hijab, playing the game with delight, their eyes shining with joy. It seemed like a memorable experience also for the team, who have no opportunity to explore the world beyond the wall. As you might have guessed by now, the Tokyo League doesn’t play in Japan. The league, which began as an initiative of the Japanese Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs, Takeshi Okubo, competes 9,000 miles away in Gaza. The project also includes a female table tennis league and a football league for boys. I decided to visit the Middle East for my first mission as the head of the Japan Unit at UNDP in order to take stock of the impact of Japanese funding in this complex region. As part of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, the Japan Unit’s role is to raise and manage funding from Japan, but also to deepen the policy coherence between UNDP and Japan. Our work in the Middle East is a prime example of this partnership, which centres on realizing human security on the ground. During my mission, … Read more

Cyclone Roanu is a reminder: We must focus on preventing crises, even as we respond to them

24 May 2016 by Khurshid Alam, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh

As leaders gather for the World Humanitarian Summit, Cyclone Roanu has displaced half a million people in Bangladesh. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
In this blog series leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on responding to conflict and disasters. As the World Humanitarian Summit unfolds and leaders discuss the humanitarian impact of rising crises and disasters, half a million people are currently displaced in Bangladesh. Cyclone Roanu pummeled the Bangladesh coastline on 21 May with 55mph winds and floodwaters several feet high. Making landfall in the country’s southeast, the cyclone brought devastation to areas unaffected by cyclones for the past 25 years. Where there used to be crops there is now salt water – the sea surrounding even the cyclone shelter. UNDP is already on the ground in Banshkali, the hardest-hit area and the site of seven of the 24 confirmed deaths caused by cyclone. The embankment protecting the people living there caved in, flooding homes, crops and freshwater fish ponds.   Meeting with survivors and surveying the damage, our team learnt that in some areas, as many as 90 percent of houses may be damaged, leaving families without shelter for the oncoming monsoon season. Many are now sheltering on a raised road nearby.   Further south, in the Chokoria sub-district, the embankment had … Read more

Building a better future for Syrians in Turkey

23 May 2016 by Kamal Malhotra, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Turkey

Syrian refugees crossing into TurkeySyrian Kurdish refugees cross into Turkey from Syria, near the town of Kobani. The war that erupted in Syria in 2011 has propelled it into becoming the world’s single largest driver of displacement. Photo: I. Prickett/UNHCR
In this blog series leading up to the World Humanitarian Summit, UNDP experts and practitioners share their experiences and views on responding to conflict and disasters. As thousands leave Syria for safer lands, images of white tents and perilous boat journeys have flooded the world’s media. But there’s another side to this story. In Turkey, the host of this week’s World Humanitarian Summit, only about 10 percent of the approximately 2.75 million displaced people from Syria live in refugee camps. The rest live in towns and cities like many of us. Across the country’s southeast, Syrians are silently trying to make a living and blend in. Imagine this: you have new neighbours that you would like to know, but the language barrier and customs make it difficult to reach out. Or you want to find short-term employment, but until recently obtaining a work permit was nearly impossible. These are real-life situations faced by hundreds of thousands of ordinary men and women. Syrians now represent more than 50 percent of the population of Kilis and 22.5 percent of the population of Gaziantep. Over the last five years, more than 150,000 babies of Syrian parents displaced by the conflict were born in Turkey. As the crisis on the … Read more

Why building peaceful societies is part of the sustainable development agenda

18 May 2016 by Patrick Keuleers, Director of Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP

woman in peaceParticipants of the Sudan Peace Symposium, a gathering of national and international experts on peace and conflict issues. Photo: UNDP Sudan
We tend not to worry when things are going well. If people can take care of their daily business and send their kids to school without fear of violence, resolve disputes through a functioning justice system when the need arises, express their views both in private discussions and in public processes, feel they can truly contribute to decisions that affect their lives, and know effective institutions are in place to deliver basic services to their families and communities without interruption or the need for bribes, chances are they will be broadly content with the way their society is managed. But, if any one of these public goods is absent, or if their access to safety, health, education or livelihoods is threatened, concerns are likely to be expressed quickly – and often very loudly. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the importance of these public goods as being at the heart of sustainable development. There is a strong focus on peaceful, just and inclusive societies in the 2030 Agenda – and explicit recognition that there can be no peace without sustainable development and no sustainable development without peace. Where safety is routinely and casually under threat, it will be impossible to … Read more

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