Our Perspective

      • Let’s follow Aqaba’s lead on urbanization and disaster risk reduction | Jo Scheuer

        03 Jul 2013

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        Cities like Dhaka, Bangladesh, are urbanizing rapidly, and must be prepared and proactive in ensuring they are resilient to natural hazards. (Photo: Kibae Park/UN Photo)

        For the first time in history, a majority of the global population is urban, and this number is expected to rise. This isn’t necessarily bad — great cities can offer many benefits, especially when urban planning is prioritized. But cities present challenges when urban growth is fast, unplanned and unmanaged. These challenges include high population density, unregulated and unsafe construction methods, environmental degradation, and inadequate water and drainage systems. Lack of planning can create weaknesses, exposing dense populations to worse impacts from disasters associated to natural events. When a city doesn’t enforce building codes, for example, it runs the risk of high losses from earthquakes; poor and inadequate drainage systems can cause flooding and disease; disregarding shorelines and ignoring climate change can expose the populace to severe weather events. Only a few months ago in Bangladesh, more than 1,000 people were killed during the collapse of a single, improperly constructed building. What will happen then when there are hundreds of poorly constructed buildings and an earthquake occurs? The Aqaba Declaration notes that more than 56 percent of the Arab population lives in urban areas. In an urbanizing region, ensuring that cities are more resilient to natural hazards must be a priority.Read More

      • Focusing on prices of HIV medicines in middle-income countries | Tenu Avafia & Katie Kirk

        27 Jun 2013

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        Low-income countries are often offered special arrangements by pharmaceutical companies on medicine to treat HIV. Middle-income countries are left out of these arrangements and must address the challenge of helping their citizens access the drugs. (Photo: UNDP)

        A key determinant of middle-income countries meeting their health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be their ability to sustain and expand access to treatment for HIV and its co-infections, like TB and Hepatitis C. By 2020, the majority of people living with HIV will be living in middle-income countries, such as South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Ecuador and Thailand. Yet at the same time as new, more effective medicines to treat HIV emerge, many of these countries, based on their average income levels, are increasingly being left out of special arrangements offered by pharmaceutical companies to low-income countries, such as price discounts or voluntary licenses to use their patents. For instance, in 2011, using Global Fund grants, HIV medicine Darunavir was offered to Sub-Saharan African countries at US $1,095 per patient per year. Meanwhile, Nicaragua and Moldova (middle-income countries) had to buy that same medicine at $7,424 and $9,188 respectively. This pricing challenge will test the 2011 commitment made by UN Member States, at a UN High-level Meeting on AIDS , to place 15 million people in need on antiretroviral treatment by 2015. Eighteen middle-income countries and stakeholders met in Brasilia in June to confront these challenges. Whether discussing intellectual property, drugRead More

      • Local governance is the cornerstone of an effective post-2015 framework | Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi

        24 Jun 2013

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        A district police chief meets with local village heads and religious leaders in Farza, Kabul Province, Afghanistan. Through a UNDP-supported programme, citizens in Afghanistan are cooperating with police officers in community-policing initiatives. (Photo: Sayeed Farhad Zalmai/UNDP Afghanistan)

        Critical objectives of the post-2015 development agenda such as eradicating poverty, reducing inequalities and exclusion, and achieving environmental sustainability, depend on local action and leadership coordinated with all levels of governance. There is no doubt that effective development and service delivery require viable multi-level governance. At a recent meeting on Decentralization and Local Governance (DeLoG), I challenged development partners to go beyond advocating for local governments and to take more concrete actions to integrate them into decision-making processes. I encouraged them to improve their methodologies for facilitating governance at the local level, particularly in post-conflict and fragile situations. Beyond service delivery, local governments are critical agents for reconciliation and the re-establishment of the social contract between the state and the people. Decentralization and local governance partners agree that effective local development requires not only a multi-level process but also a multi-sectorial and multi-stakeholder approach. At UNDP, we recognize from knowledge and experience that effective development requires multi-level governance which will close the policy gaps, deal with capacity deficiencies, and look at resource inadequacies. The three-day event – where the United Nations (UNDP, UNCDF, and UN-Habitat) hosted representatives of 27 multilateral and bilateral organizations on effective multi-level governance – was also anRead More