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UNDP Administrator Outlines Long-Term Development View

UNDP7 August 2014: UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark stressed the need to “get ahead of the curve of future crises and disasters to avert huge and costly development setbacks and lives lost,” in the Aspen Institute's Third Annual Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Lecture. In 'Making Sense of the World We Live In: The Development Contribution,' Clark highlighted: the work involved in achieving transformational change; the importance of investments in building resilience; challenges in nation building; and progress and next steps on the post-2015 development agenda.

“Bringing about transformational change is never about one swing of a wheel – it is more likely to be about a series of consecutive moves which over time will change the rules of the game,” Clark said. She stressed the need to take a long-view to achieve change, particularly in development.

Clark recommended increasing investments in building resilience, explaining that for “every dollar spent in disaster preparedness and mitigation, seven dollars will be saved when disaster strikes.” She recommended cost-effective interventions, including early warning systems, resilient infrastructure and systems and community and government capacity related to disaster risk reduction (DRR) and rapid response. Bangladesh and Mozambique are Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that have successfully implemented such interventions, she noted.

On nation building, Clark called for more attention to building reconciliation and cohesion in post-conflict states, using examples from Timor-Leste and South Sudan. She recommended more systematic support for nation-building, inclusive governance and reconciliation, stressing that development is “more than a technical process. It is ultimately a political process which requires leadership, vision, tolerance, and inclusion for its full benefits to be reaped and for serious setbacks to be averted.”

Peace and stability are the foundations for sustainable development, according to Clark. She said to lift people out of poverty and keep them out of poverty, it is necessary to address issues related to: inclusive, equitable, and peaceful societies; inequalities and marginalization; the rule of law, access to justice and accountable governance; DRR; and drivers of conflict. Clark welcomed the inclusion of a proposed goal on peaceful, inclusive societies, access to justice for all, and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels, in the outcome document of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs).

Clark recognized the magnitude of the task of negotiating the post-2015 development agenda, noting that world has faced challenges in negotiating outcomes on climate change, multilateral trade and women. She also recognized that many issues involved in building peaceful and cohesive societies and the rule of law are "controversial," and described “ongoing resistance to the full empowerment and equality of women and to sexual and reproductive health and rights” as “disturbing.”

Clark said UNDP will continue to work to build democratic governance, resilient nations and sustainable development pathways. [Clark Lecture] [Clark Blog] [Aspen Institute Blog on the Event]