Accurate accounts: Reflections from a weapons identification workshop


Filed under: Peace and security

24022015 Arms an old problem with new urgency for TPO Magazine online

‘Know what you don’t know,’ said one of the trainers.

I immediately took it as a philosophical cue, conjuring up an amalgamation of words I don’t know – from aardvark (is it an office supply item?) to zyzzyvas (a type of shoe?).

Right. I’m at a workshop for journalists on identification of small arms and light weapons. And what the trainer actually means is that we should be aware of what we don’t know. Only then can we truly ask for help.

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I work for UNDP and I am not a development expert


Filed under: Development


I have to be honest with you.

Four years ago, just before my first day at UNDP in Turkey, I thought I knew everything about development. I was dead wrong.

Doing development is less about having a comfortable office and more about touching people’s hearts. It’s about being open to learning from others.

But that’s just what UNDP has taught me: There is no such thing as a development expert. There are only people who carry a passion for learning from and helping others.

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Growth for all: Some thoughts after #talkinequality


Filed under: Development


How can we ensure that economic growth benefits everyone, not just the privileged elite?

It’s a question often asked these days as the topic of inequality becomes more and more visible.

Simon Kuznets, the Nobel laureate, argued that the relationship between inequality and income is like an inverted U: inequality initially increases with economic growth, but eventually declines. This is also known as the Kuznets curve.

In my recent study, I assessed Kuznets hypothesis against the experiences of 26 ex-socialist East European countries.

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The three gentle giants of Prespa


Filed under: Environment

Photo: UNDP/Ljubo Stefanov

I recently spent a morning with the rangers of Ezerani Nature Park, and it was an eye-opening experience.

As I accompanied them to the first mission of the morning – a reported case of illegal logging in some far-flung corner of the park – the sheer scale of the task confronting these guys became instantly clear.

This is a BIG area for just three people to cover, and protecting it is a LOT of work.

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Major funding experiment under way! Here is everything you need to know.

by and

Filed under: Development 2.0

Comic Strip: Dilbert.

As development practitioners, we often wonder how effective our interventions are and what we could have done differently.

The burden on our shoulders is even higher when we are testing a prospective government policy that, once scaled up nationally, might have considerable social impact and would affect public purse.

Evaluation of the public policies or development programs is a science in itself. These days, doing Randomize Control Trials has become part of a major trend.

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The rise of the “middle class”: Are the rumors true?


Filed under: Central Asia Other Social inclusion


In much of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, what we are witnessing is not so much the “rise” of middle classes, but rather their post-socialist reconstitution.

Prior to the 1990s, virtually all of the region’s transition economies had “socialist” middle classes (Turkey excepted). These consisted of well-educated blue- and white-collar workers, engineers, and other members of the technical, creative, and administrative intelligentsia.

While not necessarily possessing wealth that corresponded to middle-class societies in OECD countries, these middle classes were nonetheless forces of stability.

Since the 1990s, many of these countries—as well as Turkey—have experienced significant increases in per-capita income, with relatively low income inequality levels still.

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Without trust, a vicious cycle of poverty and inequality


Filed under: Development Governance Peace and security


Real and perceived governance deficits pose risks to progress made in addressing inequalities in the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.

Although the new development agenda places inclusive societies, peace and institutions as a priority, the relationship between governance and inequality is still not well understood.

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Turning 50 together with UNDP


Filed under: Guest posts


I am a bit younger than UNDP. 31 days younger, to be precise.

But I enjoy the idea of celebrating this half-century together. Not because we belong to the same generation, but because I have spent almost half of my career working with or for this UN agency. So allow me to be more personal as I recall three memories.

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The long road to prosperity in Kosovo*


Filed under: Development Human rights and rule of law Peace and security


The recent news out of Kosovo has been bleak.

The tensions between the ruling coalition and opposition is growing, while public protests against recent agreements with Serbia and Montenegro have turned violent.

But let’s take a step back and look at the other side of the story.

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