UNDP

The Pursuit of Happiness: paying greater attention to Mental Health

Sunday marks the United Nations’ 5th International Day of Happiness. Few people are against the pursuit of happiness, but many argue that governments – and international organisations for that matter – have no business in setting happiness as a public policy goal. And yet leaders around the world, from France to Japan, Italy to Qatar, are increasingly paying attention to it. Bhutan has long advocated for the use of a Gross National Happiness Index to provide a fuller assessment of national development progress than what is captured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the US Surgeon General sees happiness as a part of the country’s public health agenda.   Economists and statisticians recognise that measuring happiness – or subjective wellbeing as it’s more accurately called – ...

Long Journey To Peace

Cambodia sets its sights on finally being free of landmines Tong Try remembers how, in the first years of his life, his father would polish his sky-blue moped out front of their flat in Phnom Penh. Now in his 50s, he can still hear the satisfying purr of the moped when idling, and taste the balut duck eggs his father would bring back from the market. That happy memory is from before more than 30 years of violence in Cambodia—civil war, foreign bombing, the Khmer Rouge regime, and ongoing conflict from 1979-1998, when warring factions laid an estimated 4 million to 6 million landmines around the country. Boyhood photo of Tong Try Tong Try is coordinator of the Mine Action Unit at UNDP Cambodia. © UNDP / Paul VanDeCarr Over a million mines have been cleared by the government, and many others...

A Hindu-Muslim Friendship That Helped Shape How the World Measured Poverty

One half of a friendship: Amartya Sen, the renowned Indian economist and a Nobel Prize winner, at a meeting in Brazil, 2012.  They were two young men studying at Cambridge University when they met in the wake of the bloody Partition of British India. One was a Kashmiri-born Muslim and the other a Hindu-born Bengali. But the two, Mahbub ul Haq of Pakistan and Amartya Sen from India, soon formed an intellectual bond and deep friendship. “It was an autumn morning in early October 1953 and Mahbub — elegantly attired (indeed I would say, nattily dressed) — was walking rapidly down King’s Parade on his way to the first lecture of the term by the redoubtable economist Joan Robinson,” Sen recalled in 1998, speaking at a memorial service for Haq, who had died that year at 64. “I was also going ther...

Disability and Vulnerability

The Human Development Report Office was fortunate to have #StephenHawking contribute to the #HumanDevelopment Report in 2014 with the message “disability need not be an obstacle to success.” Read his special contribution below: As a theoretical physicist I understand very well the concept of vulnerability: there is little in the cosmos that is not susceptible to harm. Even the very universe itself may someday come to an end. Humanity has always been vulnerable to different challenges. And there can be no doubt that great scientific discoveries—from penicillin to the periodic table, from evolution to electricity—have helped us to understand our world, reduce our vulnerability, and build more resilient societies. But, despite great and varied progress, vulnerable people and vulnerable groups...

A Symphony Of Hope

By UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME “I play the bassoon in the orchestra,” says Alberto Samudio. “This has become my career, my professional path, my life’s work. Alberto plays with the Orchestra Mario de Obaldía, which is part of the National Network of Children’s and Youth Orchestras and Choirs of Panama. “Being part of the Orchestra has encouraged many young people in my community to exchange weapons for a musical instrument, to stay off the streets … to change their lives for good,” Alberto says. Alberto Samudio (left) listens to directions while his partner plays a piece. Like Alberto, more than 1000 children and adolescents from Panama are part of the Network, a project of the National Institute of Culture (INAC) with support from the United Na...

10 Things We All Should Know About Indigenous People

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. To mark the occasion, the President of the UN General Assembly has convened a high-level event to take stock of progress and discuss what more needs to be done. It’s a good time for all of us to consider why it’s important to protect indigenous peoples’ rights. Here are 10 things we all should know about indigenous people. 1. WHEREVER WE LIVE, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ARE OUR NEIGHBOURS. There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. Indigenous communities are present in all geographic regions and represent 5,000 different cultures. 2. INDIGENOUS PEOPLE SPEAK AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF THE WORLD’S 7,000 LANGUAGES. Indigenous languages ...

Creative work

There is a charming anecdote about the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. According to the version our mathematics teacher in Istanbul told us, a class of high school students in Germany was misbehaving (much like we were), and to punish them, their teacher told them to add up all of the numbers from one to one hundred. One of the students— Gauss himself— suddenly realized that the sum of the first and last number, the second and second-to-last, and so on, was always 101. Noting, too, that there were 50 such pairs within the first hundred numbers, it took him two minutes to work out the total (5,050) and come up with his famous formula to find it— saving him hours, possibly even days of calculations. To me, this story is not just about mathematics, but about creativity and “creativ...

Mental health: A fundamental component of human development

  Mental health issues are a serious concern, and an area that is enormously underrecognized. Globally at least 800,000 people commit suicide each year: one suicide every 40 seconds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15–29-year-olds, and for every suicide there are many more attempts each year. But suicide is only one extreme manifestation of mental health issues. Mental and substance use disorders go much wider: they have consistently been shown as the leading causes of years of life lived with disability worldwide. Many mental health issues are not even counted in these statistics, most often because they are not diagnosed. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as, “a state of well-being in which an individual can realize his or her own potential, cop...

Working with African judges to protect rights of people living with HIV

  The third Judges’ Forum was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in June. Photo: UNDP Africa More than 30 judges from 14 African countries convened in Johannesburg, South Africa 15­–17 June this year for the third annual Regional Judges’ Forum to discuss HIV and tuberculosis (TB)-related jurisprudence as part of an ongoing initiative to sensitise senior judges and uphold the rights of people living with HIV in Africa. “The judiciary must be available for the minority, and in adjudicating cases on minority issues, we must be guided by information, by science, by law, by consideration of justice. If we do so, then we shall have served our purpose”, said Botswana High Court’s Justice Key Dingake, one of the participants at the UN Development Programme (UNDP)-supported meeting. Duri...

Multidimensional Poverty Index

  Read the full explanation of the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) on the HDRO website: http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/multidimensional-poverty-index-mpi

Gender Development Index (GDI)

  Read the full explanation of the Gender Development Index (GDI) on the HDRO website and learn more about this index: http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/gender-development-index-gdi

Expanding Women’s Leadership in Mongolian Politics and Business

For centuries, Mongolian women have played a central role in their society, holding positions of power ever since the Mongol Empire – hundreds of years before their counterparts in Europe, or elsewhere in Asia. Challenges Changes to the election law this year reduced the quota for female candidates to be nominated by political parties from 30% to 20%. Within the civil service sector, only 26.6% of State Secretaries are women. Only 56.6% of women active in Mongolia’s workforce, versus 69.3% of men Today, women remain integral to Mongolia’s economy, society and politics. In the home, they are often breadwinners, as well as caretakers. At work, they are increasingly influential, partly because they are often better educated, with more Mongolian girls completing school than boys. But partly al...

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