Municipalities, cooperate!

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Filed under: Governance

Map of municipalities in Ukraine

Local development problems often require joint efforts of several neighboring municipalities to find comprehensive solutions.

Ukraine’s current administrative and territorial system is quite complicated; it is represented by over 12,000 local governments of different levels, including 454 urban communities.

Some of the problems that need coordination include solid waste management, infrastructure construction and maintenance, cleaning of rivers, forests, and parks, and developing common strategies for domestic and in-country tourism promotion.

In 2011 UNDP hosted an international mission to promote inter-municipal partnerships for improved public service delivery in Ukraine. The perspectives for inter-municipal cooperation were analyzed and experiences from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (pdf) (in Ukrainian pdf) were shared with the partner municipalities and relevant ministries in Ukraine.

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The Copernicus conspiracy

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Filed under: Development Governance

Enjoying several glasses of wine together after an inspiring opening day of European Development Days in the Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw, my co-conspirators and I get down to business.

There are real revolutions on the street, and agendas for change among donor and development groups are struggling to keep up.

How is it that all of that development aid for years didn’t result in real life improvements for ordinary people?

Could it be that donor money never made it to local governments that deliver services to people?

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Measuring the rule of law in Lviv

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Filed under: Development Governance Human rights Social inclusion

Measuring rule of law in Lviv

Every citizen who has ever had the chance to approach any state institution is worried about observing the rule of law of public administrations. It becomes particularly important when the services are considered essential, yet problems exist.

How can cities measure the level of rule of law in their own institutions?

In Sweden there is a government agency, the Folke Bernadotte Academy, dedicated to improving the quality and effectiveness of international conflict and crisis management.

In 2008 it conducted research on the problems and potential solutions in public administration, demonstrating that in many peaceful and state building environments, public administration reform as well as justice reform, are promoted as separate projects with different objectives.

Given that the rule of law is also a focus area of UNDP, we teamed up with the Folke Bernadotte Academy on a project to measure the rule of law in public administration. The project is being piloted in the Philippines, Sierra-Leone and Ukraine.

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Fairtrade is closer than you think

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Filed under: Poverty Social inclusion

Famous dried apricots, Tajikistan

Tajikistan is famous for its dried apricots

When a Finnish consumer buys Fairtrade products, in most cases that product comes from Africa or Latin America. But global poverty can be found closer to home, even in the countries that previously were our neighbors.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are ranked lower in terms of human development by UNDP than Namibia and South Africa. However, you rarely hear about the poverty in Central Asia (with the exception of Afghanistan) in Finland. The little space the region gets in the papers is mainly devoted to border disputes and internal unrest.

In November I attended the first Fairtrade conference in Central Asia, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The event was organized with support from the UNDP Aid for Trade programme. At the conference local farmers, businesses and Fairtrade International’s representatives explored the opportunities offered by Fairtrade.

The global consumption of Fairtrade products has grown despite the recession, and undoubtedly there is also room for new Fairtrade products from Central Asia. For now the region only has a few Fairtrade certified producers but there is potential for much more. The farmers in the area know how to do their work well and are proud of the quality of their product for a reason.

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Violence and the risk of HIV

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Filed under: Gender equality Governance HIV

There is increasing evidence that there is a link between gender-based violence and HIV transmission.

Women who have experienced intimate partner violence have double the risk of contracting HIV and sexually transmitted infections. (World Health Organization, 2011 Why address gender-based violence in HIV response & what are effective strategies?)

This finding is relevant for sex workers, men who have sex with men, transgender populations and injecting drug users since they often experience violence. For example based on two studies conducted in the USA, 68 percent of young men who have sex with men experience threats or violence from either family or partners and 25 percent of men who have sex with men experience threats or violence from both family and partners. Prevalence of rape among female sex workers is also very common with surveys showing 32 percent in Mombasa, Kenya and 31 percent in Karnataka, India (WHO, 2011).

Most governments, including those in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, don’t always take into account the link between violence and the risk of HIV when developing their national strategies plans on HIV and AIDS.

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Is substitution really such a big deal?

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Filed under: Development

Over the past few months I increasingly see statements in our UNDP documents that we are avoiding, or at least should be avoiding, the substitution of capacities. We seem to assume that if we (UNDP) are doing something that we believe the government should be doing, we are substituting and, hence, it is bad and should be stopped.

So I thought I would open it up for broader discussion.

UNDP boldly states (in the 2007 Practice Note: Capacity Development During Periods of Transition) that “evidence shows that a period of capacity substitution is often unavoidable. Recent applied research points to a period of not less than ten years for the full recovery of a country’s public services, administration, and functioning community structures following a serious conflict or natural disaster.”

The note proceeds with a number of lessons learned to handle such a situation, but doesn’t ask who is substituting who?

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Natural springs come back to life

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Filed under: Environment

Kids celebrating new freshwater spring, Ukraine

As everybody knows, water is essential for life – for people, plants and animals. Unfortunately, in many countries water is scarce or contaminated. Availability of a clean and safe supply of water can significantly improve people’s quality of life, and is a condition for sustainable development.

Ukraine faces the problem of access to safe drinking water. Despite the country’s large number of rivers, Ukraine has a significant water deficit. It is one of six countries in Central and Eastern Europe that receives between 50 percent and 75 percent of water from external sources. Natural springs, if available, could be one of the solutions to this challenge.

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Will BRICS take a lead in the global sustainability debate?

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Filed under: Development Governance

Sustainability is at the core of development. But there are diverse views on how it will affect the future growth of countries.

Few groups of countries are more important in shaping this debate than the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) – an informal but powerful and increasingly vocal group of large emerging economies). UNDP is currently engaged in a dialogue with the BRICS on sustainability.

Recently, UNDP and the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and the Russian International Trade Academy organized a seminarPreparing for the BRICS summit in 2012: key themes for Russia.

The seminar was a chance to discuss possible themes of Russia’s engagement with its BRICS partners. The central topics that emerged included: sustainable development and innovation policy cooperation.

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Sustainable development and coming to terms with complexity

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Filed under: Development

Sustainable development calls for environmental sustainability, together with social and economic sustainability. Sustainability requires that all three elements jointly move from an unsustainable to a sustainable development path. In other words: it’s not development if it’s not sustainable. (See: speech of UNDP regional deputy director Jens Wandel – well worth the read.)

However, insisting on social, environmental, and economic sustainability simultaneously brings complexity, and we are faced with substantial unknowns, including:

  • Assessing where we are,
  • Defining where we want to be,
  • Defining the path from where we are to where we want to be, and
  • Defining how UNDP can support our partners.

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Let’s make Slovakia more open – part 2

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Filed under: Development 2.0 Social inclusion

See: Let’s make Slovakia more open this weekend (17-18 Dec) – part 1

Open Slovakia December 2011

Last weekend (17 and 18 December) Bratislava’s Design Factory was full of activists, programmers, designers and journalists. This colourful crowd set out to come up with ideas for an open Slovakia.

We managed to convince the award winning teams to tell us little more about their open ideas for Slovakia.

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