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On 5 December, the world celebrates International Volunteer Day. This year, the United Nations campaign to promote volunteerism in Uzbekistan is joined by none other than Iker Casillas, renowned goalkeeper, captain of both Real Madrid and the Spanish national football team, and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals.
“While my job on the pitch is to prevent goals, my job at UNDP will be to help score them,” says Iker Casillas about his mission as Goodwill Ambassador.
Through a public awareness campaign, Iker Casillas is encouraging young people in Uzbekistan to volunteer in their communities and take pride in helping others.
“I admire volunteers for their passion, energy and commitment,” said Casillas, adding that volunteerism will help them to develop both personally and professionally.
MDG and Poverty Reduction, Partnerships & Outreach, UN System Coord. & Cooperation » UN agencies
Young Kosovans share their priorities via Facebook
Of the estimated 1.8 million inhabitants of Kosovo, approximately half are under the age of 25, and the majority of government ministers are under 40.
After South Sudan, Kosovo is the youngest country in the world, and it is therefore no misnomer that Kosovans are now referred to as the “young Europeans.” Even Kosovo's president, Atifete Jahjaga, was just 36 years old when elected to office in 2011.
This immense youth population matters: this demographic will make up tomorrow’s voters, labour force, business and civil society leaders, and ministers.
And soon, young Kosovans will reap the benefits—or consequences—of the work initiated today to prepare Kosovo to listen when its young population assumes the responsibility of making its voice heard.
by Ben Slay
In the aftermath of last summer’s Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, and as the international community moves towards the next UN sustainable development conference in September 2015, we need to keep the spotlight on the world’s most pressing development challenges.
The more we can focus global governance processes around the construction of the post-2015 development agenda, the more successful both are likely to be.
MDG and Poverty Reduction, Social inclusion » Human Development, Pro-poor policy reform to achieve MDG targets
by Ben Slay
The politics around the Eurasian Economic Community’s (EEC) 23 October summit in Minsk attracted a flurry of media attention.
This was driven primarily by surprise announcements about India’s, Turkey’s, and Syria’s possible accession to (or association with) the EEC Customs Union, as well as by perceptions of the on-going competition between the EEC Customs Union and the European Union’s Eastern Partnership initiative for influence in the Caucasus and Western Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
By Snezana Marstijepovic
Europe is consuming increasing amounts of energy.
Average energy use in the European Union (EU) rose by 1.4 percent yearly from 1990 to 2012. Consequently, the EU has been encouraging its member states to explore alternative sources of energy, particularly renewables.
In depth: Click on each photo to see what staff from the Moldovan public sector have to say about programme based budgeting
The Slovak Ministry of Finance recently hosted staff working in Moldovan ministries and public institutions to share their experience with programme based budgeting.
The representatives from Moldova are supporting their central government with program based budgeting, which, according to Natalia Caraus, from the Ministry of Finance, includes comparing budget proposals with national plans and programmes, monitoring their progress, and conducting budget consultations with line ministries.
Moldova has already started implementing programme based budgeting - first in the Ministries of Education, Finance, Healthcare, and Social Protection, with plans to apply it throughout the whole state budget.
Galina Kulikova advocated for gender quotas in the Electoral Code, and served as a member of Kyrgyz parliament from 2007 to 2010.
New York – 2 October 2013 – Kyrgyzstan has worked to build a more just and stable parliamentary democracy, senior UNDP officials said last week, emphasizing that the UN system is committed to further assisting the country along its path of reform.
In a speech, Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP Associate Administrator, praised Kyrgyzstan for carrying out important legislative reforms, for holding free presidential and parliamentary elections, and for adopting a progressive constitution that guarantees human rights and the rule of law.
MDG and Poverty Reduction, Electoral systems and processes » MDG country reporting and poverty monitoring
The Government of Uzbekistan offers a wide range of fiscal incentives to help companies replace outdated equipment and otherwise modernize production. Many tax obligations have been lifted – including income tax, property tax, the single tax for small enterprises, and taxes on technology imports. In 2011, the total value of tax relief amounted to 847.9 billion soums, or 1.1 percent of gross national product (GDP).
The deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is less than two years away.
In the run up to 2015, many countries are taking stock of their achievements and setbacks. In Moldova, this exercise has demonstrated that further progress on the MDGs rests on successfully overcoming some key development challenges. This process offers new perspectives on how to shape the post-2015 development agenda.
Paper prototype of the new app to help young people find jobs
"Over 54 percent of young people in fYR Macedonia are unemployed but the country still doesn’t have any online tools to provide regular information and updates on job and career development opportunities," says Dejan Dokuzovski, one of the youngest recruits to UNDP’s Office in Skopje.
"That’s quite surprising when we know 90 percent of young people have access to the internet – at least half of them through cheap smartphone deals."
Dejan was already working on a youth project when he came up with the idea for an app for smartphones and a website that will map all existing data on opportunities for jobs, training, internships and volunteer programmes.
For years, Nastya Murzabekova didn’t leave her ninth-floor apartment. For months, she sat by a windowsill, cared for by her mother. Confined to a wheelchair and without the use of her legs, she was often overcome by feelings of helplessness.
Like Murzabekova, 570,000 people in Kazakhstan face physical or mental disabilities. Without proper support, they have no opportunity to attend school, get a job or have a family.
In summers past, all farmers in Kyrgyzstan’s Suusamyr Valley would take their livestock to pasture, leaving their villages virtually unattended. As a consequence, critical jobs such as taking produce to market and preparing for winter were neglected. (See: Farmers regain access to traditional pastures, help protect land)
This changed when local inhabitants were encouraged to make better use of jamaats, traditional community-based associations of eight to 10 families. Now one or two families for each jamaat take the livestock to pasture in the mountains, while others take care of work in the village.
"I started applying for jobs as soon as I completed my dentistry studies," says 30-year old Arta Alija. "But I had no luck with any of the state clinics."
A harsh lesson that many young people are learning in these difficult economic times is that educational qualifications, training and skills are not enough to guarantee employment after graduation.
While the number of people enrolling at university and the number of people continuing their studies to postgraduate level has risen in recent years, the percentage of unemployed graduates has only increased, with over 20 percent of graduates unemployed in 2011.
A key aim of the Government and UNDP’s self-employment programme is to encourage unemployed graduates and others to consider different ways of making use of their skills.
“This is the one everyone knows from cartoons - the little worm in the apple,” says Eftim Petkovski, scooping the larva of a codling moth from an apple in his orchard in Resen.
“But it’s no joke, I can tell you – if we farmers don’t spray for them early on, all our livelihoods are at risk."
"Timing is everything with these pests. You’ve got to predict their migrations – and that can be a matter of hours. Spraying too early or too late is much less effective and a lot more expensive because you need bigger amounts – often as much as three times the quantity. And you can guess what that does to the environment.”
Ivan Kalyta’s pension allows him to buy his medication and basic food (like milk, bread and potatoes), and pay his utility bill.
Two years ago he decided to sell two plots of his land to raise money to repair his house.
He started trying to register his land in 2010, but wasn’t able to get the necessary documentation – simply because the administrative fees for obtaining different documents were too high.
Mr. Kalyta would have had to pay more than $500 in various administrative fees, which he didn’t have. He also didn’t know what documents were necessary or where to get legal assistance.
Albania has made significant progress with electoral reforms
Albanians will go to the polls on 23 June to elect their 2013-2017 legislature. The elections, and the electoral reforms that preceded them, are of significant importance for the country’s democratization and prospects for European Union (EU) integration (pdf).
Nonetheless, political intransigence threatens to undo this progress. A volley of retaliatory actions was sparked when a member of the ruling coalition made a pre-election pact with opposition parties.
Grade nine student Annayeva Ashirgul and her 320 classmates now go to school full time.
Before their new school was built in the village of Belek in December 2012, students would go to school in shifts. The old school could not accommodate all the children at the same time, and was in need of major repairs.
"Classes in the second shift affected the quality of Ashirgul’s learning and organization of her educational process as a whole," says Ashirgul’s mother, Annayeva Bayramgul.
"As any other child, she wanted to have rest from school in the evening, enjoy the company of friends and family, and morning time was never enough for doing school homework."
Democratic Governance » Decentralization, local governance and urban/rural development
anketa#a#non00b#wed1c#7d#pol24ngo2 – sent from the village of Ditsi in the Shida Kartli region of Georgia, this mysterious SMS means that no security incidents have happened in the last week, there was one crossing of the boundary with South Ossetia for celebrating a wedding, the community sense of security is seven on a scale of one to 10, the police patrolled 24 times, and NGOs two times.
Text messages like this one are the basis of a simple community safety network, established by local residents over the past two years.
Volunteers from each of the 16 villages along the boundary line with South Ossetia send weekly information to this text messaging service and report on incidents as they happen.
A student at Aegean University holds a handful of the precious fertilizer. Photo: UNDP in Turkey
Earthworms are providing farmers with an appealing, organic alternative to chemical fertilizers in a part of Turkey that suffers from high levels of land and water pollution - with 45 farmers piloting the use of fertilizer made from earthworm waste in western Turkey’s Gediz River basin.
In recent years the Gediz River has seen rising levels of agricultural pollution – with a high incidence of nickel, copper, zinc and mercury – and many experts forecast water shortages caused by decreasing precipitation.
The area is home to almost 2 million people and one of the country’s most productive and ecologically diverse basins.
Energy & Environment » Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, Sustainable land management to combat desertification and land degradation
"It’s not right to say there’s no work in this country when people have so much potential they don’t realize," says Qerim Dauti.
"We should be trying to create jobs here - finding ways to use the skills we already have, not leaving our homes to find work abroad."
Qerim speaks from personal experience - like so many of the country’s citizens, he once left his life in fYR Macedonia behind to find work a long way from home. For twelve years, he lived in Australia working in the construction industry.
But despite successfully applying for Australian citizenship, Qerim eventually returned to his roots.
"Starting over again isn’t easy," he says. "When I first came back I had to make a living as a taxi driver. I’d gained a lot of skills in carpentry in Australia but I didn’t have the confidence and knowledge to make the most of them so I just worked on the side doing jobs for people informally - but that was no kind of stability."