The 100-day dash for climate action

21 Aug 2015 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán

Aug. 22 marks 100 days until the U.N. climate conference in Paris, France. Countries have made commitments, which give hope that an ambitious agreement may be possible. What makes an agreement ambitious? Above all, a push on all sectors and stakeholders so that development is climate-conscious and risk-informed. Development practitioners and climate experts need to work together. During the next 100 days, the U.N. Development Program will do its part: Drawing on our climate change portfolio, which supports 140 countries, we will strive to share the lessons we have learned. From our collaboration in Latin America to expand wind energy, to our work on small-scale agricultural adaptation in Africa and Asia, we have gleaned best practices that showcase the tools and resources available to tackle climate change and sustain development. The ingredients are all there, the challenge now is to use Paris as a springboard to scale up those best practices and to seize the post-2015 opportunity. What happens in Paris will have significant implications for the way development work is done. Member states will begin implementing the new global agreements related to climate change and sustainable development. The commitments that countries will make in New York in September and in … Read more

How Will We Ensure the New Ebola Vaccine Reaches Those Most in Need?

10 Aug 2015

We have reasons to be optimistic about the news of a new tool in the fight against Ebola. As in the fight against HIV, science and solidarity have come together to save lives. The phase III trials on efficacy of the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine have yielded an impressive result in a relatively short time -- 100 percent effectiveness in those receiving the vaccine. While scientists still need to figure out how long the protective effect of the vaccine lasts, and how effective it will be among the general population and with different strains of the virus, without a doubt this is an important tool for the protection of health and community workers and possibly the wider community. This will certainly help in the on-going efforts to achieve the target of zero new Ebola cases and in overall recovery efforts. But how will this new tool be used? How will it reach those in need? Rapid availability of the vaccine is key and as with all health technologies, access to and delivery of the drug will depend on the capacity of the very health systems that have been decimated by Ebola. Researchers tell us that this particular vaccine has to be kept at … Read more

An HIV milestone achieved in Cuba

10 Jul 2015 by Carlos Cortés Falla, Principal Technical Advisor, HIV projects, UNDP Cuba

This is a momentous moment for us working in Cuba. The World Health Organization recently declared that Cuba had eliminated the transmission of HIV and syphilis from mother to child. Cuba is the first country to reach this goal and it is a great milestone for us. But it is also a landmark in the response to HIV globally. How was Cuba able to achieve this? Cuba’s comprehensive health system is available for all Cuban citizens equally, and is effective in integrating the health care of mothers and children with the health management of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Because of this integration, Cuba has been able to strengthen its HIV and syphilis prevention efforts by offering early access to prenatal care, testing both pregnant women and their partners for HIV and syphilis (as a standard test that also includes other illnesses), treating women who test positive as well as their babies, and offering caesarean deliveries and alternative solutions to breast feeding, such as pediatric supplements. These interventions are vital to preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child. While an HIV positive woman has between a 15 – 45 percent chance of passing the virus to their child … Read more

What are the development solutions for displacement?

08 Jun 2015 by Magdy-Martinez Soliman, Director, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

Aziza Galmi, 39, left Central African Republic for Chad with her three daughters after losing her husband. Photo: UNDP in Chad
The tumultuous events in countries like Yemen, Iraq, Ukraine, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have left millions of people displaced. Over 50 million people around the world are living as internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. According to UNHCR figures, over three quarters of the 50 million are in a state of protracted displacement— lasting for over 5 years. It is obvious that conflict in these countries may not end soon. We have also witnessed that natural disasters, such as the major earthquake in Nepal, contribute to enormous displacement. Such crises require development interventions early on alongside humanitarian support. On the other hand, displacement comes at a high cost to the host communities and host governments with increased demand for basic amenities such as water, sanitation, education, health care services along with the need to address job opportunities— one of the possible reasons to fuel local conflicts and destabilize the host communities. The challenges of displacement need to be addressed with commitment from both sides –the displaced as well as the host communities or governments. What are the development solutions for displacement and how can UNDP help with the reintegration of IDPs and returning refugees within in … Read more

How agro-commodity traders can help the SDGs and reduce poverty

29 May 2015 by Andrew Bovarnick

Ghana’s cocoa is produced by thousands of smallholder farmers, spread over six of the country’s 10 regions. Photo: COCOBOD
With the global population predicted to reach nine billion by 2050, we face a dual challenge: ensuring the continued production of agricultural commodities, such as soy, palm oil, cattle, coffee and cocoa, without destroying the planet’s natural resources that humanity depends on to survive. Agricultural commodities are the bedrock of a number of rural developing economies, contributing to vital economic growth and the ongoing fight against poverty. As such, they play a critical role in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. But deforestation and land degradation, a direct result of the growth of the agriculture sector, is irreversibly damaging our planet, its biodiversity, and the important ecosystem services it provides. In fact, the largest driver of deforestation today is the production of agricultural commodities. This is why UNDP set up the Green Commodities Programme (GCP) in 2009 to spearhead dialogue, decision-making and action in the agro-commodity sector between governments, the private sector and civil society. The goal is to improve the economic, social and environmental impact of agricultural commodities, with a specific focus on improving the lot of smallholders, most of whom live in poverty with no access to training, financing or land security. For example, an estimated 26 million coffee … Read more