I work for UNDP and I am not a development expert

11 Mar 2016 by Nazife Ece

A young woman with a Turkish family
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. You get this feeling very clearly at UNDP in Turkey. It’s an office that has been around for more than 50 years. You could say UNDP and Turkey have evolved together. In the 1960s, Turkey had a population of 30 million with a thirst to develop. Per capita income was around 385 US dollars* and industrial reforms were beginning to take place rapidly. … Read more

Turning 50 together with UNDP

21 Feb 2016 by Peter Hulényi, Slovak Ambassador to Israel

Slovak Aid, turning 50
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. Act 1: Giving a hand to an ugly duckling Year: 1996, Place: UN Headquarters in New York Completing my first diplomatic steps as I joined the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I found myself representing Slovakia at the UNDP Steering Committee in New York. Frankly speaking, Slovakia was not in the best shape at that time. The country was economically and politically lagging behind the region, earning its nickname as the “black hole of Europe”. My mission, received with mixed reactions, was to present a proposal to establish a UNDP Center in the Slovak capital, Bratislava. Why move UNDP to a country with democratic deficits, many delegations asked. “Exactly because of that”, said the then Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS. … Read more

The long road to prosperity in Kosovo*

17 Feb 2016 by Andrew Russell

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. In 1999, following a decade of conflict in the Western Balkans, peace returned to Kosovo. Between 2000 and 2010, Kosovo’s economy grew faster than the European average. The international community has contributed enormously to the reestablishment of security, rehabilitation of infrastructure, and the creation and strengthening of public institutions. And our Kosovan partners have invested significant resources in reducing poverty, creating jobs, and improving welfare. … Read more

Talking in tongues: From crypto currencies to breaking blockchains

18 Nov 2015 by Milica Begovic Radojevic and Robert Pašičko

Bitcoin accepted in a Dutch café in 2013 (Photo: Wikipedia)
Lately, the language of funding has gotten very strange. From equity-based crowfunding and person-to-person lending, to crypto currencies and mobile money; entirely new players are disrupting the field of financing for development and public policy. So, what does this alternative finance space look like? Who are the new players and what are they up to? Crowd-power According to the World Bank, the crowdfunding market is expected to grow to US $100 billion by 2025. Recent research shows that – despite living in countries where the cost of doing business is quite high – entrepreneurs are successfully raising money by crowdfunding, and bypassing loads of red tape in the process. … Read more

How do we fight corruption in law? We tried something different in Kyrgyzstan

31 Aug 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgzstan

Despite tangible progress in the justice system, the trust of the Kyrgyz citizens to the court system remains very low. A recent survey shows that 51% of the population believe judges are “very corrupt”, with another 37% thinking they are “somewhat corrupt.” … Read more

How can we save the Saiga?

03 Jul 2015 by Talgat Kerteshev, Biodiversity Projects National Coordinator, UNDP Kazakhstan

Newborn saigas in 2010, in Kostanay oblast, the epicenter of the recent mass die off. Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan
In May, in the span of just two weeks, 134,000 Saiga antelope died in Kazakhstan. The statistics are shocking. All the more so when you realize that 80 percent of the world’s Saiga population live here. UNDP in Kazakhstan’s biodiversity project has analysed statistical data (shown below) to identify patterns of Saiga antelope die-offs in Kazakhstan over a period of 40 years. Some sources say that such mass deaths were observed in the 19th century; there is evidence that the spikes were even more frequent than now in the 20th century. Theories abound as to why the mass die-out of Saiga occur. However, comprehensive scientific surveys are required to know the full reason – and to stop it from happening again. … Read more

All Aboard the Big Data Express!

01 Jul 2015 by Vasko Popovski, Project Manager for Disaster and Climate Risks, UNDP, FYR Macedonia

Visualization of geo-located tweets, Serbia floods, May 2014, UNDP.
The world is changing fast—and so must our approaches to persistent development issues. An ever-increasing number of people and devices and objects now generate data – social networks, mass media, transportation, mobile phones, credit cards, etc. What matters now is not how much data we have, but rather what can we do with all of it. … Read more

Kyrgyzstan: what does it take to make the invisible visible?

16 Jun 2015 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Advisor on Rule of Law, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

And justice for all? Photo: UNDP Kyrgyzstan
A friend in Kyrgyzstan recently told me about the first time she saw a person with disabilities: She had just turned 19 and left the country to study abroad. Day-to-day life makes it easy to forget the people with disabilities who live among us. There are few accessible ramps in Bishkek. A recent trip to the northern part of Kyrgyzstan drove this point home even more. I was in Kara Balta, a remote town populated by fewer than 40,000 inhabitants, and an economy largely dominated by the mining industry. … Read more

Working in development? Here are 6 things not to do on social media

09 Jun 2015 by Mehmet Erdoğan, Communication Analyst, UNDP Europe and Central Asia

Photo: Jesse Knish Photography
I recently relocated to Istanbul where I work on UNDP’s online communications in the regional hub. I see countless blog posts,tweets, Facebook updates and more every week. Let me tell you: The good and the bad look as different as night and day. Here is a reflection on some of the most common mistakes I see happening on social media across the region. 1. Don’t photograph five men in suits sitting lethargically around a table. And if you happen to, don’t tweet it. When you post an image of men sitting around a table (and yes, the gender disparity is often glaring)you’re contributing to the impression that you’re doing nothing but reinforcing the status quo. Perhaps the men (and lone woman) in the photo are doing something really fantastic. That’s irrelevant here. A picture of people in suits – men or women – discussing “something” says nothing. We can’t hear the conversation so the photo does nothing but make us feel like outsiders. … Read more

Fighting TB in Moldova: Moving beyond the nudge

01 Jun 2015 by Lilian Severin and Alex Oprunenco, UNDP Moldova

Meeting with a local doctor to discuss the new trial. Photo: AFI
Over a year has passed since we started discussing how to leverage behavioural insights to tackle tuberculosis in Moldova. Back then Alex described how – together with BIT – we wanted to understand TB patients’ behaviour in order to identify the bottlenecks in adhering to treatment. Looking back, this part of our journey appears exciting and simple. … Read more