Our Perspective

Unequal protection: Climate change and the acceleration of global inequality

20 Dec 2017

image The Middle East is the planet’s most water insecure region; climate change is exacerbating this and other challenges. Photo: UNDP Iraq

Among the various drivers of risk in the world today, two stand out: climate change and rapidly rising levels of inequality. While each by itself has serious consequences for achieving development goals, their convergence has become a subject of heightened attention. The convening of climate COP23 this year under the Presidency of Fiji has brought this issue to the fore. Climate change has now emerged as an existential risk to the very survival of communities living in climate risk hotspots around the world – from small island states and low-lying coastal zones, to mountain regions experiencing wide-spread glacial melting and the rapidly changing nature of dryland and desert ecosystems. Earlier this year, the UN Human Rights Council adopted, by consensus, UN Resolution A/HRC/35/20 on Human Rights and Climate Change, calling on member states and non-state actors from the private sector to address the human rights of climate-affected people. This followed the inclusion of human rights into the preamble of the new Paris Agreement on Climate Change, a historic step as the first global environmental treaty to do so. The goal of such efforts by the UN and country partners is to promote climate responses that address the most vulnerable in society,  Read More

The SDG-climate nexus: UN partnerships in the Arab Region

20 Nov 2017

image A farmer in Sudan, where the UN is helping build public-private partnerships to scale up innovative sources of climate finance, such as weather-indexed insurance. Photo: Fred Noy/UN

The Middle East is known for being the world’s oil capital, but did you know that it also has the world’s highest levels of solar radiation? Harnessing the region’s solar potential could help move the region beyond the conventional oil export economy and towards a brighter, more sustainable future for the next generation. It could also help build new climate-resilient forms of agriculture, water management, and infrastructure. Given the region’s record levels of water scarcity and food import dependence, these innovations take on a greater importance. The new Paris Agreement on climate change seeks to help countries shift to low carbon, climate-resilient pathways of development. But as countries try to implement and achieve these goals, they face a number of barriers. Some countries lack the right policies or regulations, others lack the institutional mandate, or the awareness needed to make such a shift. One of the biggest challenges is a lack of finance. How much is needed? Globally, the transition to low carbon, climate-resilient economies requires new investments of US$60 trillion between now and 2050. Government alone won’t be able to shoulder the burden, with a major role to be played by the private sector. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the  Read More

Confronting climate change as an accelerator of crisis

03 Nov 2017

image By contributing to more extreme weather and increased displacement, climate change acts as an accelerator of crisis and fragility. Photo: UNDP Somalia

More frequent and severe droughts, millions at risk of famine, the spread of conflict and mass displacement - these are the challenges of our time and have generated the worst humanitarian crisis since the establishment of the United Nations. While the UN and partners scale up immediate responses, an important focus is to ensure contribution to and complementarity with longer-term solutions that address the root causes of fragility. Climate change has arisen as a key driver of action in this regard. Around the world, climate change is affecting food security, generating social vulnerability and disrupting peace and security. The 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report notes how the world is witnessing the first rise in global hunger in a decade and points to conflict and climate change as the two key drivers. This is particularly relevant for the Arab region, where many of the countries affected by conflict are also among the region’s top climate risk hotspots. The Arab region is home to rising levels of conflict and the world’s largest population of refugees and displaced people. Simultaneously, it is now the planet’s most water scarce and food import-dependent region, and the only region where malnutrition  Read More

Basic services are key to stabilizing Libya

19 Oct 2017

image Solar panels provide a stable, clean and reliable energy supply. Photo: UNDP Libya

The call was grim and urgent. Worsening power cuts had knocked out electricity at a hospital in southern Libya, leaving kidney patients without the dialysis that was keeping them alive. After losing two patients, hospital staff phoned UNDP in despair. The answer was convincing: solar panels – a stable, clean and reliable energy supply. Kidney disease is common in the Arab region, and power cuts have worsened steadily in Libya over the last six years. This was a disaster waiting to happen. UNDP was able to help, supporting the authorities to improve access to basic services through ensuring constant and cost-effective access to electricity, while also mitigating the impact of climate change and advancing multiple Sustainable Development Goals, in a country with plenty of sun. Since a popular uprising in 2011—and a general election that erupted into conflict in 2014—Libya has grown increasingly fragmented. The country now has several political forces, each backed by different militias and tribes. Delivery of basic services such as power and water, health and sanitation, has in many instances failed. In 2016, some power cuts lasted as long as 48 hours. Insecurity, violence, a sharp drop in per capita earnings, and a major cash shortage in  Read More

Powering west Mosul’s water plants

16 Aug 2017

Mosul was one of the last major holdouts in Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who took control of the city in mid-2014. The military campaign to liberate the city started in October 2016 and continued for 10 months. Nearly one million civilians were evacuated during one of the largest managed evacuations in modern history. Mosul was declared fully liberated by the Prime Minister of Iraq in early July, and the difficult work of rebuilding has begun. More than 700,000 civilians are still away from their homes – waiting to restart their lives. Through its Funding Facility for Stabilization, UNDP has been implementing projects in Mosul in close proximity to the front line since late 2016. More than 300 are already under way and hundreds more are starting in coming weeks. In support of the Government of Iraq, the Facility focuses on speed and functionality and is designed to help jumpstart local economies once the fighting stops. Ninety-five percent of all stabilization initiatives are contracted through the local Iraqi private sector. This lowers costs, ensures high levels of local ownership and produces jobs in the areas where they are needed the most. In the case of  Read More

What's needed to help Mosul recover? UNDP Iraq's Lise Grande explains

20 Jul 2017

image "A UNDP-supported cash-for-work team removes debris from the campus of Mosul University. Photo: UNDP Iraq / Lindsay Mackenzie

Lise Grande, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, and UNDP Resident Representative in Iraq, gave the interview below to The Fiscal Times in response to a query on the scale of rebuilding needed to bring Mosul back life.   How soon can the rebuilding of Mosul begin? Do mines and booby traps have to be cleared before work could get started? Before any project begins, experts [from the UN Mine Action Service] check to ensure the area is free of explosive hazards. Immediate stabilization starts as soon as a district is declared safe by the Iraqi government, followed by expanded stabilization and then reconstruction. Eastern Mosul is already recovering. Things are not perfect, but there is tangible, very visible progress. Schools and businesses are open, and nearly the entire population has returned to their neighborhoods. The United National Development Programme’s Funding Facility for Stabilization, which focuses on immediate and expanded stabilization, has been active for months in eastern Mosul, and 230 projects are under way. Local contractors are repairing the electricity, water and sewage grids and thousands of people are being employed on public schemes, upgrading infrastructure and restoring public facilities. The situation in Western Mosul is incomparable.  Read More

Rebuilding lives and neighbourhoods after conflict

28 Jun 2017

image Children wait outside while repairs are made to their home in Fallujah, Iraq. Photo: Lindsay Mackenzie/UNDP Iraq

The fall of Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014 and the group’s quick advance across nearly one third of the country plunged Iraq into a deep political, social and security crisis. Almost 5 million Iraqis have fled their homes to safer areas in the country. Significant progress has been made to liberate towns and cities from ISIL, including the major cities of Ramadi and Fallujah in Anbar and large parts of Mosul in Ninewah. As of June 2017, more than 1.8 million people have returned to their homes in liberated areas. Iraqis who have returned have found their homes and neighbourhoods in ruins. Collapsed roofs, smashed windows, and broken doors are common. Household goods were looted or destroyed, fixtures and fittings damaged, and walls punctuated with bullet holes. The damage is not only a practical problem and safety hazard; for many Iraqis, the damage is a very tangible reminder of their immense suffering over the past years and makes it difficult to have hope in the future of a post-ISIL Iraq. UNDP’s Funding Facility for Stabilization (FFS) supports the Government of Iraq to rehabilitate public infrastructure and facilitate returns as quickly as possible. The  Read More

We can save lives and restore dignity in Somalia

15 May 2017

image The looming famine has rendered large swaths of land uninhabitable. In Somalia, the ground is parched. Riverbeds are dry. There’s no vegetation left, livestock are dead, and countless livelihoods lost. Photographer:UNDP in Somalia

I was just in Somalia, one of four conflict-ridden countries in Africa and the Middle East facing drought, a crisis that places 20 million people on the brink of famine. The situation is dire. But with your generous support, we can avert catastrophe. We can save lives and we can restore dignity.   The looming famine has rendered large swaths of land uninhabitable. In Somalia, the ground is parched. Riverbeds are dry. There’s no vegetation left, livestock are dead, and countless livelihoods lost.   Without adequate rainfall, many Somalis’ sources of income – farming and raising livestock – have evaporated. Hundreds of thousands sold what little they had and walked for days to reach displaced person camps where they can drink clean water and get rations from time to time. Inside the camp, people sit in makeshift tents, waiting for the rain. Somalia is especially vulnerable because of a years-long conflict and lack of a working government. Thus the humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly.   But we can save lives if we act now.   Our most urgent push at UNDP is to prevent the crisis from flaring into famine. Early recovery programs, like our cash-for-work initiatives, are making direct, immediate impacts.  Read More

Yemen needs broad support to stop its crisis

24 Apr 2017

image Photo:UNDP Yemen

At pledging conference, donors must stand and deliver SANA’A- Fragile, impoverished Yemen already ranked among the world’s poorest countries when political transition erupted into all-out war two years ago. To make things worse, the country is also suffering the largest food security crisis worldwide. It will take far more than emergency aid to address one of the worst food and humanitarian emergencies in recent memory. Yemen’s deepening crisis has reversed decades of hard-won development gains, with civilians paying an appalling price. Five years ago, for example, as a result of UNDP’s de-mining efforts, the country was nearly mine-free. Now, all 22 governorates are littered with explosives, in some cases severely. More than 3million people have been displaced, nearly 8,000 killed, and over 40,000 injured in the ongoing conflict. Yemen has historically imported 90 percent of its food, overwhelmingly through the embattled port of Hodeidah. With ports, roads, bridges, and other basic infrastructure badly damaged - and in some cases blockaded - and domestic agriculture disrupted, Yemenis are now on the brink of an avoidable famine. Some 17 million people now don’t know where they might find their next meal and 6.8 million face life-threatening malnutrition—in a country of only 27 million,  Read More

Brussels conference on Syria: Placing resilience at the forefront of the international response

03 Apr 2017

image Through its 3RP partnership with UNHCR, UNDP works to build resilience among refugees and host communities in the region. UNHCR photo

The 2016 London Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region drew world leaders from around the globe and raised more than US$10 billion dollars in pledges to address one of the largest, longest-running crises in modern memory. “Never has the international community raised so much money on a single day for a single crisis,” the UN Secretary-General observed. Hosted by Germany, Norway, Kuwait and the UK, London brought together OCHA, UNDP and UNHCR, integrating the need for urgent humanitarian with the need for more medium-term resilience approaches to support Syrians and the communities hosting them in surrounding countries and to assist the vulnerable populations inside Syria.. Significantly, it focused on education and livelihoods, yielding multi-year commitments including concessional loans inside Syria, and tried to spearhead a new “compact” with Jordan and Lebanon—with increased international funding aimed at boosting jobs for Syrian refugees. Together, these and other innovations acknowledged the need for a new, more robust approach to address what remains a vast and prolonged crisis. Giving falls short Yet resources made available to date have fallen short. The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for inside Syria has received only 49 percent of requested resources ($1.6 billion out of $3.2 billion), while the Regional Refugee and  Read More

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