Our Perspective

      • What does Rio+20 mean for sustainable development? | Helen Clark

        21 Aug 2012

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        The challenge arising from Rio+20 is how to advance economic, social, and environmental objectives simultaneously, lifting integrated policy-making to new levels. Photo: UNDP Sudan

        The significance and relevance of global summits like Rio+20 lie in their ability to connect people and influence what they are doing on the ground around the world to “think globally while acting locally”.  “The Future We Want”, the Rio+20 outcome document concludes that, for development to be effective, it must be sustainable. It highlights how environmental protection and economic development are linked, and gives equal emphasis to the social – or people-centered - dimension of sustainable development. The challenge arising from Rio+20 is how to advance economic, social, and environmental objectives simultaneously, lifting integrated policy-making to new levels. In some quarters, economic growth is looked at as antithetical to environmental protection. Rio turns such thinking on its head – encouraging us all to identify how entrepreneurship, job creation, and social protection can be generated through and linked to environmental protection. The voluntary commitments made by businesses, development banks, cities and regions, UN agencies, and NGOs and civil society activists were among Rio’s most significant outcomes. More than 700 formal commitments were registered, and more than $500 billion dollars were pledged. These commitments suggest that motivated leaders from across the economic and social sectors and subnational governments can help accelerate sustainableRead More

      • From crisis to resilience: why inequality matters | Anuradha Seth

        17 Aug 2012

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        Kanchipuram is a small rural town about 75 km from Chennai in India. Its economy is heavily dependent on tourism, but a cooperation of women to grow their own food is helping the community to move forward. Photo: UNDP IPC-IG/Isa Ebrahim Ali

        Global financial and economic crises now occur so often they appear to have become a systemic feature of the international economy. We need now to rethink what’s behind these crises, recognize their unique impact on developing countries, and find ways to make these emerging economies more resilient in the face of serious shocks. One approach views currency, debt, or banking crises as driven mainly by fragile, imbalanced financial systems in developing economies. But this assumes markets are self-regulating and inherently efficient, which is open to question in many instances. Another focuses on identifying structural causes and the channels through which economies are exposed to crises. This approach regards the growing export-dependence of many developing countries as increasing their vulnerability to economic and financial shocks, although experts disagree on the specifics. But rising income inequality also poses major risks. The world’s richest five percent now earn in 48 hours what the poorest earn in a year. This staggering escalation in inequality fosters inefficiency, instability, risky investment behavior, and lower overall productivity. Understanding the links between income surging inequalities and worsening financial and economic crises is central to crafting policies that build resilience and promote less volatile growth. Income inequality reduces the purchasingRead More

      • Building resilience: The importance of disaster risk reduction | Helen Clark

        15 Aug 2012

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        Haitian workers in a UN cash for work initiative pass rocks hand to hand along a line on the hilly outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Photo: UN/Logan Abassi

        In 2011 alone, almost 30,000 people were killed in 302 disasters, and 206 million people were affected. Beyond the toll on human life, the costs of disasters were estimated at more than US$ 2 trillion over the last two decades. Earthquakes and violent weather-related catastrophes helped make 2011 the costliest year ever for response and recovery from disaster. Yet, many countries are still not investing enough in prevention and preparedness, and many development actors are not prioritizing enough such support to poor countries. The result is another stark reality of our times – that striking inequalities persist, with global disaster risk disproportionately concentrated in poorer countries with weaker governance. From a development perspective, therefore, disaster risk reduction is vital for building a more equitable and sustainable future. Making investments in prevention and preparedness, including through civil defence exercises, is a necessary part of systematic efforts to increase resilience to disaster. Five priorities identified for action are: 1) to ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority; 2) to identify, assess, and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning systems; 3) to use knowledge, innovation, and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels;Read More

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