International Gun Destruction Day: Reflections from the Balkans


Filed under: Development

In the Balkans, small arms are widely available.

From weddings to New Year celebrations, celebratory gunfire is a common occurrence.

Growing up in my neighbourhood in Belgrade, small arms were a common sight. Disputes between rivals, neighbours, or even family members all too often ended with the use of weapons.

Even today, stories of shoot-outs and killings in some of Belgrade’s most famous nightspots are a regular occurrence. The same holds true of much of the region.

These events still make the news, but no one is shocked anymore.

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Dreams Academy in Turkey: Waking up the sleeping giant


Filed under: Development Social inclusion

kids living their dreams

Children with disabilities take centre stage at Dreams Academy (Photos: UNDP in Turkey)

Last month, I got to witness a first for southern Turkey.

The Dreams Academy, an Istanbul-based centre that works with some of Turkey’s estimated 8.5 million people living with disabilities, is scaling out - further down the coast to be precise.

In June, I was happy to be a part of the crowd, welcoming the centre’s opening in the sunny coastal town of Kaş.

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Hunting black swans in Armenia

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Filed under: Development 2.0 Guest posts Social innovation

diy workshop

Not another toolkit? See how the DIY toolkit was designed to help people innovate better (Photos: Hasmik Soghomonyan)

The nature of global development challenges has changed dramatically.

While the foci remain the same – such as poverty and climate change – their pace and interconnectedness have caught many off guard.

Unpredictable events – so called “black swans” – are becoming increasingly common. Look no further than the frequency and unpredictability of natural disasters for examples.

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A new cycle: Interview from the frontlines of sustainable transport in Kazakhstan


Filed under: Development Environment Social inclusion

man and daughter on bike

Vitaliy Dyadchev and an excited young passenger hit the streets of Almaty

Here in Almaty, we’re working hard to not only green the streets but also to get people out on them.

That’s why part of our “City of Almaty Sustainable Transport” (CAST) project focuses on involving various social groups, communities and movements to work together.

This is how we got to know the Velo-Almaty crew, a grassroots collective working to get more bikes on their city’s streets.

I spoke to one their most active enthusiasts, blogger and social activist, Vitaliy Dyadchev.

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Here comes the sun: Solar energy takes root in the Aral Sea


Filed under: Climate change Development Environment

the solar team at work

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the Aral Sea was “one of the worst environmental disasters of the world”

Here at UNDP in Uzbekistan, we are working to better the lives of those affected by the Aral Sea disaster.

As part of this programme, we recently procured solar panels in order to provide access to alternative energy sources for rural healthcare facilities in the Muynak district.

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Women and entrepreneurship in Montenegro: The missing puzzle piece


Filed under: Development Gender equality Poverty

I was recently going through the results of our programme for the economic empowerment of women in Montenegro when it hit me: a missing puzzle piece had finally found its place.

Let me tell you the whole story.

In my country, women and men may be legally equal, but the reality of everyday life is much different.

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Towards a sustainable future in Kyrgyzstan


Filed under: Development Environment Poverty


Keeping Kyrgyzstan beautiful: Read more about how we’re working to ensure Kyrgyzstan ‘paddles in sync

We’ve all heard that sustainability is important.

But when it comes to decision making, many people still think that environmental conservation has little to do with economic or social well-being. If you share this opinion, you might want to take a look at Kyrgyzstan.

In the second-poorest country in Central Asia, the numbers speak volumes:

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Reflecting on futures and development: Five thoughts from Istanbul


Filed under: Development 2.0 Guest posts Social innovation

Albert Cottica discoursing on the edge

Alberto Cottica takes the audience in Istanbul to “the edge” (Photo: Tuna Ozcan)

What is the connection between foresight and development? How can foresight be used to improve development practices? What new participatory platforms are relevant for those working in international development?

These were the main questions driving this month’s research and development workshop in Istanbul where I was honoured to be both presenter and participant.

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Volatility and the ‘new normal’: A discussion with Helen Clark


Filed under: Development Development 2.0 Social innovation

ariel rubin and helen clark

Photo: Natalia Linou

Last week, at the International Development Conference for South-South Cooperation, I was lucky enough to have a conversation with my boss: former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Forbes Magazine’s 23rd most powerful woman in the world, and (to my delight) Blood on the Tracks-era Bob Dylan fan, Helen Clark.

Ms. Clark is presiding over the UNDP at a time when great change is underway, both within the organization and beyond.

Among all the things I wanted to know, one theme seemed to tie it together: How is UNDP preparing for a future that seems to be more and more difficult to predict?

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