Our Perspective Articles

      • Road to RIO: Sustainable Development as Freedom in the Arab Region | Kishan Khoday

        09 May 2012

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        Chants of freedom have reverberated across the Arab region calling for more transparent, accountable and participatory governance, action against corruption and human rights abuses and policy reforms to create an innovative, employment-generating economy. The systemic transition underway is compelling countries across the region to craft new social compacts to usher a new era of inclusive and equitable development. In that context, the history of unsustainable and inequitable use of natural resources —land, water, energy and minerals— will likely emerge as a focus for reform. Control over the environment has for decades been central to state legitimacy and power in this region, shaping the nature of autocratic and centralized systems of governance, and rentier economies, and influencing how sovereignty and statecraft function. The social compact in many countries has been defined by a balance between the state control over natural wealth and provision of social development results. But development is about more than charity, it is also about justice and accountability. The vulnerability of food, water and energy resources brings serious risks to sustaining development in the long-term and brings risks to achieving a more inclusive and sustainable model of development in the post-revolution era. With much of the region’s poor heavily  Read More

      • Saudi Arabia: Charting a low-carbon future | Kishan Khoday

        01 May 2012

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        Saudi Arabia has seen one of the world’s fastest rates of progress on human development indicators in recent decades. As noted in the 2010 Global Human Development Report, the Kingdom ranked fifth globally in terms of rate of improvement on HDI criteria, and third globally if measured solely by non-income HDI components of per capita access to health and education. In achieving High Human Development status, the Kingdom has relied heavily on export revenues from its world-leading oil reserves. It currently relies on oil for 80% of public revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings. But as Saudi Arabia looks to the future, attention is also placed on the need for a development model which goes beyond oil. Out of approximately 10 million barrels per day that the Kingdom currently produces, about 3 million barrels per day of oil equivalent (mboe) is used within the domestic economy, as the country relies heavily on oil-burning power facilities for electricity generation alongside rising demands from transport and other sectors. But some project that local demand could grow to as much as 8 mboe per day by 2030, owing to growth of population, urban energy demands and energy-intensive industry.  With global oil  Read More

      • On Women’s Day, Remember Our Arab Sisters | Amat Al Alim Alsoswa

        07 Mar 2012

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        Arab women have fought bravely over the last year to demand dignity and new freedoms. And their courage has been noted: In December, my Yemeni sister Tawakkol Karman became the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Prize for Peace, in recognition of her principled democratic activism. But launching transitions was the easy part. Across the region, Arab women are realizing that while moves toward democracy can bring hope for long-suppressed rights, they can also unveil deep-seated discrimination that threatens to set women back. In Tunisia, admirable efforts by the interim government to achieve parity in the Constituent Assembly elected last October were thwarted as most parties buried the names of female candidates at the bottom of electoral lists. In Egypt, where a 12 percent quota for women’s representation was scrapped in the early days of transition, the new 508-seat People’s Assembly includes only 12 women—less than 3 percent.  And last week Libyans celebrated one of their first democratic elections, for the local council in Misrata. The result? Twenty-eight men, zero women. What’s more, women activists have faced harassment—not only by security forces but also by men who oppose to their presence in public life. In several countries, some newly empowered  Read More

      • Rural women key in fighting hunger | Helen Clark

        05 Mar 2012

        A few weeks ago I spoke with women farmers in Niger who are growing vegetables in some of the harshest climatic conditions on earth.  With severe drought a recurring problem in their country and across the Sahel, access to water for irrigation and to appropriate seeds, fertilisers, advisory services, and credit are all important for overcoming food shortages and malnutrition.  Rural women account for nearly half the agricultural labor force and are custodians of traditional knowledge about the land and their local environment.  Backed by small development investments, rural women can lead the way in building food and nutrition security for their families and communities, and thus in building resilience to future extreme weather events. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that if women farmers have equal access to fertilizers, seeds, and tools, the number of hungry people in our world could reduce by as many as 150 million, and the total agricultural output in developing countries could rise by up to four percent. In general, rural women in developing countries have the primary responsibility for cultivating crops, raising livestock, collecting water and firewood, and caring for families. Their family and domestic responsibilities are often heavy, leaving them with  Read More

      • Inclusive and sustainable growth is the answer | Ajay Chhibber

        23 Nov 2011

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        As leaders of the G-20 countries grapple with the immediate euro crisis, we must look beyond to a more fundamental problem facing the world – rising inequality, joblessness and ultimately a lack of demand, causing deep recession. This is not a cyclical problem that will be addressed by stimulus packages but a more structural problem, inherent in the current growth process. Addressing inequality is crucial in responding to the current economic, food and climate change crises across the globe. As the spreading Wall Street protests indicate, inequality and a sense that the system only works for the top one percent is under attack across the world. Rising inequality and unemployment is also cited as a major factor in the Arab uprisings which are still playing out.  And rising food and fuel prices are again ringing alarm bells. Even in Asia where there has been a sharp acceleration in economic growth in many developing countries, rapidly rising inequality is causing concern, and the poor continue to suffer disproportionately from high food and fuel prices—in addition to being the hardest hit by an increasing wave natural disasters and rising sea levels. Rather than trying to compensate those left out of the growth  Read More

      • Drought is Life or Death Issue in Horn Of Africa | Helen Clark

        13 Jul 2011

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        According to the latest reports by the World Food Programme, some 10 million people are affected by the Horn of Africa's worst drought in 60 years.  An estimated 3,000 people a day are arriving in Kenya and Ethiopia from Somalia seeking help.  People are arriving in a very weak condition and it is very distressing to hear of the fatalities this severe hardship is causing.   Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, has just been to Mogadishu and also to the refugee camp at Dollo in Ethiopia – both places where drought victims are heading.  UNHCR chief, Antonio Guterres, has also been to the Somali refugee camps and called for urgent help for the drought victims. My overwhelming concern right now is that people are dying because of the drought, particularly those who must leave their land and their homes to walk long distances, in a weakened condition, to try to find food and water.  Many Somalis are crossing borders to do that.  Sheer survival is a battle for many families right now. Looking ahead, more support is needed to develop drought-resistant agriculture and small holder farming in the areas affected.  As there has been insufficient support for  Read More

      • Opportunities for economic and political inclusion in the Arab Spring

        08 Jun 2011

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        Working together to build inclusive development in Egypt. Photo: UNDP Egypt

        There are moments when historic, transformational change is possible. This is one of those moments in the Arab States. In recent months, millions of people came onto the streets in a number of Arab states demanding change. Read UNDP Chief Helen Clark's recent article on the Arab Spring at the Huffington Post. In Tunisia and Egypt, these uprisings led to the downfall of regimes. Elsewhere, many lives have also been lost as regimes and their opponents have faced off against each other. Underlying these events are economic exclusion which has denied decent work and opportunity for many, and political exclusion which has denied a broad right to participate in the decision-making processes which shape nations’ futures. Now that broad-based popular movements are forcing political change, opportunities exist to build more inclusive societies, economies, and governance systems. To ensure peaceful transitions, advancing both economic and political inclusion is crucial. So often, impressive rates of economic growth have not led to significant reductions in poverty or the creation of decent work. To achieve inclusive growth, the sectors and regions where poor people live and work will need to be targeted. Support must be given to the formal multi-party national dialogue process, encouraging citizens  Read More