The fear factor: How a little alarm protects tigers, landscapes – and us

29 Jul 2016 by Midori Paxton, Senior Technical Adviser, Ecosystems and Biodiversity

The Fear FactorPoaching, hunting and habitat loss have reduced the global tiger population from roughly 100,000 in 1900 to just 3,800 today. Photo: Midori Paxton
“Alarm call!” My 12-year-old daughter whispered. Fear was in the air, and a successful tiger safari depends on it. The alarm calls of spotted deer and Hanuman langur told us that a tiger was on the prowl. I had always dreamed of seeing wild tigers, and India was the obvious choice. More than 70 percent of the estimated 3,800 remaining wild tigers live here. My alarm calls started in February this year when I was in the Ranthambore National Park. Once a hunting ground for maharajas of yore, it is now a tiger reserve with an 11th century fort cresting a towering plateau that overlooks its lakes, dry forests and meadows. Tigers, as well as all the birds and other wildlife, are a sufficient draw in their own right, but it is the ruins of human times past – gates, ancient stone slab roads, the foundations of long gone shrines etc. – that raise Ranthambore from the remarkable to the truly exceptional! Humans past. And humans present. And Tiger present! This small reserve, despite an estimated 62 wild tigers, is unfenced. Despite India’s dense population of roughly 1.3 billion, the same goes for all the country’s 49 tiger reserves. “The park … Read more

Our future is in cities: Add your voice and help shape a new urban agenda

25 Jul 2016 by By Joseph D’Cruz, Urbanization Global Task Team Lead, UNDP

Our future is in citiesMost young people in Mongolia will grow up in cities such as Ulaanbaatar. Photo: Joseph D'Cruz
I first visited Mongolia in 2005. Like most people, I pictured it as a country of nomadic horse riders herding livestock across the vast steppes.  I was surprised to learn that almost three-quarters of Mongolians now live in cities and towns - with more than half the population in the capital Ulaanbaatar alone. In 1960, only 35 percent of Mongolians were urban, but that proportion has doubled in the last half-century. A similar transformation is happening in developing countries all around the world. Millions of rural dwellers are migrating to cities and towns, drawn by the prospect of better lives - or driven by poverty, conflict and natural disasters. Cities and towns are growing fast, swallowing surrounding countryside and transforming nearby villages into suburbs. This process is called urbanization, and it is one of the biggest stories in development today. As a development worker I used to focus on remote, rural areas and the poor communities living there. My first trip to Mongolia was to work on a UNDP project in the remote Gobi Desert. But most of the people we serve now live in urban areas, and the challenges (and opportunities!) of sustainable development are also increasingly urban. We’ve recognized … Read more

The challenge: How can international co-operation help to put sustainable development at the core of business models?

18 Jul 2016 by Amina J. Mohammed, Minister of Environment, Federal Republic of Nigeria and former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning

Role of the private sector in Agenda 2030By helping to create decent jobs and build resilient infrastructure, the private sector can be a key partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. UNDP photo
The private sector has always been an essential actor in development, credited with fostering wealth, innovation and jobs – and many a time blamed for negative externalities. So in this new era, what is different about the role and the responsibilities of the private sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? It is different because sustainable development cannot be achieved without the active involvement of responsible businesses. The private sector will be essential in creating sustainable, productive and decent employment, economic prosperity, resilient infrastructure that underpins sustainable development, and innovations that create green growth and opportunities for all, especially the poor. Also, it is different because the business community has been involved from the beginning in defining the new agenda for sustainable development. Their voice was heard loud and clear. A recent study reveals that 71% of businesses say they are already planning how they will engage with the SDGs and 41% say they will embed the SDGs in their strategies within five years (PwC, 2015). So they are part owners of the new framework for development. Finally, it is different because the drivers of change within the business community are evolving. Of course, there is the moral case, which … Read more

Opportunity in tragedy: A reflection on the Ecuador earthquake

14 Jul 2016 by Jeannette Fernandez Castro, Recovery Specialist, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Team, UNDP

Opportunity in tragedyFor all its devastating impacts, the recent earthquake could open up opportunities for Ecuador's most vulnerable communities. Photo: Jeannette Fernandez Castro
With a risk-informed approach to earthquake recovery, two of Ecuador’s vulnerable and exposed regions can not only protect against future disasters, but ensure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. I took this picture in Muisne, one of the most beautiful towns in Ecuador, my home country.  Muisne is in the Province of Esmeraldas, in the northwest of the country and is, I feel, home to our best soccer players, the best “marimba” music, the best dancers and the best seafood. For all of its promise, however, the region is challenged by poverty and is exposed to natural hazards, vulnerabilities that hold back social and economic growth. This vulnerability was evident in April 2016 when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit this province as well as five others (including Manabí, where the biggest impact occurred), producing large-scale devastation. Housing and infrastructure were the most affected, with over 30,000 homes and 875 schools lost across all six provinces. While understandable, this loss of infrastructure – and related loss of lives and livelihoods – should not occur in the future. We have the ability to build better and stronger. This is especially important in earthquake zones and even more so in regions going through recovery. … Read more

We need more women in politics: Here’s how to make quotas work

11 Jul 2016 by Tanja Hollstein, Electoral Specialist, UNDP Moldova and Victoria Ignat, Project Manager for Women in Politics, UNDP Moldova

More than 600 women attended UNDP-supported policy forums to urge Moldovan MPs to adopt the 40 percent quota for the least represented gender. Photo: UN Moldova
The low representation of women in politics remains one of the most obvious obstacles preventing us from achieving gender equality in the world. In the Republic of Moldova, a medium income country in Eastern Europe that ranks 50th in the most recent Gender Inequality Index, we want to increase the pace of change and ensure that more women are getting involved in elections as candidates, voters, and electoral staff. In a context where gender inequality is constantly dismissed as a non-issue, we had to have data to back up our claims and push for change. So we partnered with the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission and developed the first-ever national set of statistics related to the participation of women and men in elections. To our surprise, the first thing we learned was that women in Moldova do get involved in politics. At the local level, there is a massive representation of women in political parties and in electoral bodies. However, the higher the decision-making level we were looking at, the fewer women we could find. For example, even though membership rates in political parties for men and women are strikingly similar, only two out of 46 political parties in the country are … Read more

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