In remote Kyrgyzstan, itinerary justice under a tree

04 Aug 2017 by Lucio Valerio Sarandrea, Chief Technical Adviser on Peace. Justice and Accountability, UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Photo: UNDP in Kyrgyzstan
At 10 in the morning, when I arrive in the village of Baitik, it’s already 30 degrees and there is not a single cloud in the sky. Today, I took a break from the computer and meetings and am following the “Bus of Solidarity” of the Ministry of Justice, which our team working on access to justice is supporting. The idea is as simple as it is effective: a group of lawyers are touring remote villages on a bus, giving free legal aid to those who can’t afford going to court or obtaining paperwork. After setting up a small tent a table and few chairs in the shade, the consultations begin. There are about forty women and men waiting in line, having been informed about the arrival of the bus through a village message board. Once the consultations with the lawyers are over, I decide to speak to them. … Read more

“From Russia to Tajikistan”: changing the way money moves

25 Jul 2017 by Marina Petrovic, George Harrap and Jamshed Kardikulov

Relative to GDP, remittances flowing into Tajikistan are among the largest in the world. Photo: Mashid Mohadjerin
Citizens of Tajikistan rely heavily on remittances. A lack of job opportunities means that up to 1 million (out of a population of 8 billion) migrate elsewhere for work, mostly Russia. Until 2014, the share of remittances made up around 43 percent of the national GDP, roughly US$4 billion a year. The global recession and the depreciation of the Russian and Tajik currencies against the US dollar has since caused a sharp decline in remittances. But its share is still significant at 20-25 percent, as labor migration continues to be attractive. … Read more

Crowdfunding for small businesses: what’s the story?

21 Jul 2017 by Robert Pašičko, Marina Petrović and Milica Begović, UNDP Alternative Finance Lab

We selected 12 entrepreneurs and helped turn their vision into a crowdfunding campaign. Photo: UNDP
Our experience taught us that crowdfunding is not just a new funding method. It’s also a tool to engage communities; a powerful outreach and advocacy mechanism; and a way to create new business models and use new technologies for tackling social problems. Can it be applied for funding small and medium enterprises (SME)? Donating money can help buy a blanket for one person in need. But crowdfunding a small business can help it to produce affordable blankets for hundreds of people in need. This can contribute to building a whole ecosystem of supporters and ambassadors, serving as a powerful leapfrog. This year, we’re trying to see whether crowdfunding can help small entrepreneurs access funding where mainstream banking is prohibitively expensive. We started with Ukraine. Our recovery programmes there have one challenging task: to inspire people from war-affected areas, many of whom worked all their life in mines and factories, to become entrepreneurs. … Read more

Designing a city for people, not cars

20 Jul 2017 by Lasha Nakashidze, Green Cities Project Manager, UNDP Georgia

Waterfront park in Batumi. Photo: Vladimer Valishvili / UNDP Georgia
When I walk to the office, I think about cities having their own personalities. I see Batumi as male, smart, well-groomed, and laid-back as if the salt and holiday spirit of the Black Sea have sunk into his system. He appreciates the fusion of the jumble in the old city, the scent of magnolia and coffee around the small cafes, and the sparkling new buildings along the boulevard. He enjoys the buzz of tourists heading to the beach and bicycles riding along the sea-side promenade. But when I turn away from the seaside towards the busy streets, I see the other side of this laid-back man. The mood of the city changes, becomes tense and anxious. The streets look grey and are full of cars and eccentric drivers. Batumi has grown dramatically in recent years, from a relatively small city of 18 km2 in 1990 into a 65 km2 urban conglomerate. It is not only a leading sea resort of Georgia, but plays a critical role in the national economy as a sea and land gate for the country. … Read more

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