Universal Basic Income: A Viable Policy Option for Poverty Alleviation?

04 Aug 2017

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By Patrick Haverman - Technological breakthroughs and innovations have been changing the way we live since the invention of the steam engine. They have changed the way we live and disrupting business models while challenging old systems to make them better, faster and more efficient in a challenging future. My interest and search into the “future” started 2 years ago when I participated in the World Government Summit in Dubai, an annual event bringing together prominent leaders from the public and private sectors, as well as globally-recognized thought leaders and pioneers. During the summit, I also took time to visit the Museum of the Future. The Museum of the Future takes you into a world where mankind has grasped the real value of innovation, re-inventing existing technologies and transforming the world into a place where everybody’s lives have improved dramatically. It is a future where we have challenged norms and found solutions for long-term sustainability. The future of work is a hot topic at the moment. According to Jack Ma, 30 years from now people will work a 16 hour week, while Kai-Fu Lee, founder of venture capital firm Sinovation Ventures, predicts that Artificial Intelligence could replace 50% of all jobs  READ MORE

Leave no persons behind, with or without disabilities

10 Jul 2017

image China Disability and Sustainable Development Forum

Last week I spoke at a symposium on the rights and entitlements of persons with disabilities in China, organized by UN agencies and the China Disabled Persons Federation (CPDF). The World Report on Disability estimates that there are 1 billion people living with a disability, 15% of the global population. Together with UN agencies, the China Disabled Person Federation (CPDF) we discussed how to mainstream the rights of 85 million men and women with disabilities in China in sustainable development. With growing inequality in the world, as Oxfam reported in January that just 8 men own same wealth as half the world, often the people with disabilities are the most vulnerable.  11 years ago, the world adopted the groundbreaking Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and then in 2015 agreed on a set of common goals, the Sustainable Development Goals. This new global agenda emphasizes “leaving no one behind" and should be used to move forward the progress needed for the people with disabilities. As UNDP we took a look at the economic and legal aspects of disability. Often families with members living with a disability have a lot of extra expenditures for care and less access to  READ MORE

Harnessing the Belt and Road Initiative as a Platform for Sustainable Development: Opportunities and Challenges

06 Jul 2017

image Credit: Xinhua

By Nicholas Rosellini - Last month the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation took place in Beijing, hosted by China with over 29 heads of state, the UN Secretary-General and many heads of international organizations and businesses attending. I was fortunate to be part of the UN delegation, which helped me see more clearly the enormous potential of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a platform for enhancing regional and global trade and connectivity as well as its potential to act as an accelerator for the 2030 Agenda. BRI represents a move away from standard development models that emphasize policy and institutional issues (and often accompanying conditionalities), towards a more investment-driven approach focusing on infrastructure, trade and jobs creation. It involves multiple sources of finance from the public and private sectors. While others are also looking at blended approaches involving public-private finance, BRI is by far the most ambitious. Realistically, both hard and soft investments are needed, but BRI responds to a strong interest in countries for more attention to infrastructure and economic development. The numbers themselves tell a compelling story. By 2016, Chinese investment in BRI countries totaled RMB 51.1 billion, whilst in 2015 bilateral trade volumes exceeded  READ MORE

The “Geeks” in our works

15 Jun 2017

image "Geek for Good", China’s first ever UN-led open design challenge.

By Louise Xi Li - Communication and Innovation Officer, UNDP China A giant, intelligent, multifunctional six-legged robot which can be deployed for early-stage recovery in disaster situations A device for converting sign-language hand signals into a phone type input to facilitate smooth communication for people with hearing and/or speaking difficulties A machine-learning system continuously collecting agriculture-related data to provide tailor-made solutions to farmers, reducing cost on both finance and the environment and cultivating eco-friendly farming behavior The above might sound like “geek” works from SXSW or TechCrunch, or any of those silicon-valley-style tech events, but these are just a few contributions of winning teams from a UNDP-led prize challenge: “Geek For Good”! In China, “innovation” is a buzzword, one of the most frequently-used words in government policy documents. In the “13th Five-Year” National Science and Technology Innovation Plan launched on August 2016, the government laid out its vision for leveraging innovation as a prime force for development. The aim is to substantially improve China’s technological capacity and raise the country’s innovation capabilities into the world’s top 15. Initiated and promoted by Premier Li Keqiang, China also adopted a top-down nation-wide innovation strategy. The “Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation” strategy calls for harnessing innovation  READ MORE

Sharing the Planet, One Bike at a Time

23 May 2017

image An Ofo bike parked outside the UNDP China office, Beijing

By Patrick Haverman - Bike sharing runs in the family. My brother is the inventor of bike sharing in the Netherlands, and in the 1990s he started a system where at most of the train stations you could rent a bike for 23 hours at relatively low costs to get from the station to your destination and back. The system is popularly known as ‘The Last Mile.’ When I first arrived at UNDP China, I was determined to follow in the footsteps of my brother, and soon with the office we introduced a bicycle-share scheme. First a quick prototype and later scaled up to 30 bikes for all UN agencies in China, donated by Giant Bikes. The bikes are free to use for meetings and staff can even use them to go for lunch, encouraging healthy habits and a low-carbon lifestyle. The world is moving at an astonishing pace, with new ideas and innovations appearing every day. While there are currently around 1.2bn petroleum-emitting vehicles on the world’s roads, in September 2016, Beijing witnessed a sudden explosion of bicycles, with thousands of colorful bikes covering the streets and hutongs in orange and yellow. The yellow bikes, rolled out by ofo, a  READ MORE

Multilateralism and the Chinese Dream

19 Apr 2017

image A wind farm outside Tianjin. Credit: Mitch Moxley/IPS

By Nicholas Rosellini - “Pursuing protectionism is like locking oneself in a dark room,” Chinese President Xi Jinping warned the assembled leaders at the World Economic Forum earlier this year. “While wind and rain may be kept outside, that dark room will also block light and air.” All signs are that China has been heeding its own advice. With the current geopolitical balance seeming to teeter on every tweet, China’s brand of multilateralism – which President Xi has described as “a win-win, opening-up strategy,” an engine of development for the world – is an alternative to the zero-sum calculus that has fed a wave of nationalism across developed countries. At the United Nations, where Member States have pledged to ‘leave no one behind’ with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, China has been positioning itself as a champion for inclusive growth and peace. China’s engagement combines development assistance, soft loans and direct investment, reimagining possibilities in a transformed landscape in which leveraged financing, rather than grant-making, is fast becoming the new normal. China has become the largest contributor of troops and second-largest contributor of funds to UN peacekeeping missions among the five permanent members of the Security Council, which also include  READ MORE

The need to move beyond Demonstration – expanding renewable energy solutions in partnership with China

17 Apr 2017

image Hawa Adams, a vegetable farmer with the the other leaders of the farmers' group. Credit: UNDP Ghana

By Nicholas Rosellini - I recently met Hawa Adams, a vegetable farmer. Hawa lives with her husband and eight children in Tamalgu, a farming community in northern Ghana. She complements her income through a pilot demonstration initiative together with UNDP and local NGO, New Energy. Over the past two years, she and 77 other families in the community have been testing enhanced agriculture production methods using drip- and regular irrigation. She smiles when I ask her to speak about some of the benefits of the initiative. Schooling for her children, access to health services and additional income for the household. And, most importantly: there are no more hungry months for her and the family to go through. Power is scarce across sub-Saharan Africa. Of the 1.2 billion people that live without electricity, half lives in Africa. Combined with the fact that by 2040, Africa will need 4 times of its current consumption given increase in GDP, a doubling of population, electricity-access levels reaching more than 70 percent by 2040, and overall increased urbanization. By 2040, sub-Saharan Africa will consume as much electricity as India and Latin America combined did in 2010. Given the key importance of expanding access to affordable and  READ MORE

Can Africa grab the window of opportunity and ride on China’s economic transformation?

10 Apr 2017

Industrialization for job creation and poverty reduction in Africa- case from Rwanda

By Nicholas Rosellini - When President Alassane Ouattara during the opening of the 2nd International Conference on Emerging Africa (ICEA) 28th March in Cote d’Ivoire declared that time has come for African countries to seriously and rapidly move forward in creating a conducive environment for industrialization, the Presidents of Guinea, Senegal and Liberia were quick to echo the call for Governments and private sector – local as well as international – to form stronger partnerships for economic growth. At the heart of this push lies the basic need for increasing industrialization as an important sustainable and long-term solution to job creation, peace and poverty reduction. Concrete examples from Rwanda and Ethiopia point to a significant potential for some African countries to attract Chinese investments in manufacturing that both creates jobs and expands exports to European and American markets of garments, textiles, shoes and other light manufacturing. Against the backdrop of the ICEA, UNDP launched a Senior Advisory board that aims at advocating for the potential but also challenges. But how representative are these experiences? Can a wider set of countries show similar trends? While Africa achieved impressive economic growth over the past 15 years with the average gross real domestic product  READ MORE

Innovation exchange in Pakistan - the Sky is the limit!

31 Mar 2017

image Patrick Haverman meets with UNDP Pakistan colleagues

By Patrick Haverman - Last month I visited Islamabad, where I joined UNDP Pakistan for a workshop discussing innovation. This was to be the first time I would visit Pakistan, a country I have heard a lot about from my colleagues who work there, and on my flight from Beijing I was excited and curious to find out more about the great work going on there. With almost 200 million habitants, and a 2% population growth rate, Pakistan is the world’s sixth most populous country. The South Asian country faces major development challenges, ranking 147th on the Human Development Index, with 30 percent of its population living below the poverty line and only a 60 percent literacy rate. The population is also extremely young, with almost 64 percent of people under the age of 30. According to the National Human Development Report (NHDR), over four million individuals reach the youth working age of 15 every year, and thus Pakistan is currently in the midst of a ‘Youth bulge’. However, the report has found that a large number of young people are currently employed in poor quality jobs, 25% in unstable low paid jobs without any security or benefits, and 35% unpaid  READ MORE

Where Are We Going With Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

16 Dec 2016


By Patrick Haverman - I just came back from Wuzhen, a nice ancient touristic town in Zhejiang province. Since president Xi attended last year’s “world Internet forum”, it has gained the attention of the Internet World. The ideas of these conferences are not only focusing on applying big data in justice systems, poverty and living standards, but also inspiring us to think about how technology will transform the next generations in the future. It gave me a lot of food for thought on several topics of the future. One of the sessions focused on the application of big data and smart tools in the judicial procedures, and as UNDP has been working for many years with the Supreme People’s Court of China, I was actively participating. During the session organized by the chief justice of China, Mr. Zhou on “Rule of Law and Building Smart Courts”, judges and experts from China, Samoa, Bolivia, UK, Russia, Vietnam and Kazakhstan had a good discussion on this topic. The presentations from the Chinese side were impressive. In this big country with its 1,3 billion people and numerous judicial cases each year, it is incredible that 91 million cases have been put together in the  READ MORE