What data innovation can tell you about a city

18 Jul 2017 by David Svab, Sustainable Development Programme Analyst, UNDP Kosovo*

Cities worldwide are increasingly using big data to identify trends before making decisions about services or infrastructure. Data innovation is becoming core to making cities smart and sustainable. Seoul follows its residents’ mobility patterns to optimize its public transportation, the Sudanese look at electricity at night as proxy metrics of poverty, and the City of Angels has a big data-driven approach to reducing cycling accidents on its roads. We’re riding a similar wave in Kosovo*. With the Emergency Management Agency, UNDP Innovation Facility, UN Global Pulse, UN Kosovo Team, and Open Data Kosovo, we looked at how we can use big data to improve public services. Our test focused on one particular theme: Can we use anonymous emergency call records to the 112 service as a way to improve emergency response in Kosovo? First, we ran an algorithm to find out initial patterns and timelines of emergency calls made in Prishtina. Then, we mapped the calls geographically with the help of Kosovars on a crowdsourcing platform we developed. … Read more

What kind of blender do we need to finance the SDGs?

12 Jul 2017 by Mara Niculescu, Partnership Development Analyst, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will take between US$5 to 7 trillion, with an investment gap in developing countries of about US$2.5 trillion. At the same time, the most recent OECD DAC report shows that in 2016 the total official development assistance reached a peak of US$142.6 billion, which is one order of magnitude smaller than the needs. … Read more

Companies are producing more responsibly, more sustainably

11 Jul 2017 by Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager, Business Call to Action

MUJI is sourcing wool and wool products from Kyrgyzstan. Photo: MUJI
The world is a riskier place to operate in. Populations are growing and feeding people is becoming trickier. Climate change is challenging our security and ability to make a living. Global markets have become more unstable. For companies, these global trends present both risks and opportunities, requiring them to rethink how to source and produce in a sustainable way. At the Business Call to Action, we work with companies who are applying sustainable principles in their daily operations. What have we learned from them? … Read more

Four easy ways to become a champion of responsible consumption

04 Jul 2017 by Enkhzul Altangerel, Communications intern, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

A pile of T-shirts on sale at a mall. Photo: UNDP
When I was a small child in the early 90s, Mongolia was transitioning from a centrally planned to a market economy. This sudden change brought many uncertainties to our small country. Goods were scarce, so people tried hard to make the best use of what they had. Our family recycled almost everything: soda cans became decorations; clothes were passed down to younger siblings. Fresh milk and yoghurt were sold in glass bottles, which we would return for another bottle. Nowadays, we have the convenience of supermarkets, shops, and malls that sell a huge variety of food and other product from all over the world. Unfortunately, we are consuming without thinking of the consequences. … Read more

7 things we learned about tackling displacement in the Western Balkans

20 Jun 2017 by Susanna Dakash, Youth and Civic Engagement Consultant, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

A refugee family in fYR Macedonia. Photo: UNHCR
In 2015, 900,000 refugees and migrants crossed through Southeast Europe in the largest displacement of people since World War II. Many crossed from Greece to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia on their way to northern Europe. Most towns on that route were taken by surprise. Many didn’t have the doctors, food stocks, waste capacity, or sufficient housing to handle hundreds of thousands of additional people. Their whole approach to planning was suddenly upended. And many refugees ended up staying for months. Displacement in this region is not a new phenomenon. But over the last two years, we’ve learned a great deal about how to deal not just with the humanitarian side of displacement, but with the long-term impact. … Read more

Saving the Black Sea monster

06 Jun 2017 by Olena Marushevska, Communications, EMBLAS, UNDP Georgia/UNDP Ukraine

The Black Sea has always made my imagination go wild. Its darkness is unlike any other sea, so you can only imagine what is happening at the bottom of it. In my childhood, I believed a mythical deep-water creature lived in there, breathing with the waves, powerful and moody. The sea lit up in the dark. And when the monster’s mood turned, animals were sometimes thrown out of the water. Seeing now the latest scientific research from our environment project, I fear for this powerful monster. Our Black Sea is at risk. Its biodiversity will die a slow death if no actions are taken to protect it from human activity. Despite all recent efforts to clean up the Black Sea, wastewater is still pouring in from all coastal regions, according to a recent survey I was lucky enough to work on. Medical waste such as paracetamol, but also caffeine, sun lotion components, pesticides and flame retardants make up a deadly cocktail that’s been poisoning the fish, molluscs and algae. … Read more

Can parliaments transform societies?

22 May 2017 by Jonathan Murphy, Senior Advisor, Parliamentary Development, UNDP Ukraine

Parliaments are at the heart of many debates on how to make democracies work. Yet in many countries they rank near the bottom of all institutions trusted by the public. In only four of 15 established democracies in the Europe and Central Asia region did at least half of voters express trust in parliament. Parliaments are often the only national institutions directly elected by citizens. By definition, then, parliaments hold the heart of citizens’ hopes for representative, effective, transparent, democracies. Parliaments are the place where diverse views are expressed, and where decisions are reached collectively. They debate and vote state budgets, ensuring these are invested in the right areas, and spent effectively. … Read more

How can we promote respect for LGBTI rights in Albania?

21 Apr 2017 by Nora Kushti, Communication & Advocacy Expert, UNDP & UN Albania

Gay Pride Parade in Tirana. Photo: UNDP Albania
Since the political and social transformation of the ‘90s, Albania has been working to put in place a system to secure human rights for all. As a candidate country for EU membership, one of the five priorities set for Albania entails re-formulation of the Criminal Code provisions regarding hate speech, discrimination, as well as the amendment of the Family Code. Among measures undertaken to comply with EU requirements is the adoption by Parliament of a comprehensive non-discrimination law that includes the protection of sexual orientation and gender identity. But in my country, implementation of laws is always under constant need of improvement. … Read more

How do you inspire entrepreneurship in a conflict-affected region?

12 Apr 2017 by Janthomas Hiemstra, UNDP Ukraine Country Director and Sofiya Oshchebska, National Coordinator - Crowdfunding Academy, UNDP Ukraine

Pavlo, 71, is a, blacksmith from Lugansk and will open his new workshop in Kharkiv region. Photo: UNDP Ukraine
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine has not only disrupted everyday life in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, but also led to staggering unemployment. Out of 23 major enterprises in Luhansk region, 19 are currently not operating, while half of the enterprises in Donetsk region have lost about 950,000 jobs. Supporting employment is challenging in the best of circumstances, and far more so in conflict situations. How do you talk about the benefits of entrepreneurship to people who lost everything and, after being displaced, are just trying to find their place in a new community? At UNDP Ukraine’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, we have an ambitious goal: to promote entrepreneurship in Donbas, inspire people who worked all their life in mines and factories to step in the unsure path of entrepreneurship, and make them believe in themselves and their country again. So we decided to start by showing the joy of creating and developing your own business through the stories of ordinary people. Stories of people like us who, despite all the difficulties, have succeeded. … Read more

Being intersex is hard, our silence makes it harder

07 Apr 2017 by Seda Karaca and John Macauley

The global silence around intersex lives reflects negatively on the mental health of intersex individuals and communities. A few weeks ago, during our sub-regional dialogue on #BeingLGBTI, we met Kris, an intersex and a trans person and an activist from Serbia, working actively on LGBTI rights issues. Kris has an intimate understanding of issues faced by intersex people and their families both through his personal experiences and professional work. One of the biggest obstacles for Kris has been to find people who are not traumatized enough to open up and talk about their experiences. In Kristian’s experience, there have been virtually no social support groups that would help him and other intersex individuals feel less isolated. That’s why these days he is part of an organisation providing support for LGBTI people. … Read more