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

Happy Peace Day

21 Sep 2016

image Building Blocks for Peace. Image Credit: UN

By Patrick Haverman- On the 21st September every year is the International Day of Peace. In what has been a turbulent year on the international stage, maybe more than before it’s important that we stand still for a moment and give some thought to the fact that there is much more in life that connects all human beings than divides us. Unfortunately, there are still wars and conflict raging over the planet. A couple of years ago I started juggling for peace, hoping that by inspiring more people to juggle we could bring more joy to the world. This year, I was playing around with Apple playlists, and was inspired by some people who had created playlists of Peace Songs. There is something about music that seems to make it the perfect partner for social change. Music has the power to move us and inspire us. It can bring about change and make a difference. The power of music was one of the dynamic topics discussed in Beijing at the Social Good Summit last Sunday. Let me share with you today, on this 21st September, my own 21 favourite songs about peace. I hope that by listening to some of these  READ MORE

Being a flexitarian and contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas

22 Jun 2016


By Patrick Haverman - What good news yesterday to hear about China's plan to cut meat consumption by 50%. It’s been cheered by both climate campaigners and health experts alike. I stopped buying meat at the beginning of 2014. This change in my lifestyle was brought about mainly environmental reasons but also because it was becoming clearer that vegetables are simply healthier for your body then meat. To save the animals, reduce CO2 emissions on the planet and at the same time live longer and healthier…. It all seemed a logical choice to me. With my wife only eating fish the cut back was not that difficult to implement into our daily lives. To explain this new diet identity to people I use the term ‘flexitarian’. Here in China we often eat at large round tables with a “lazy Susan” in the middle, a big round glass plate which rotates on an axis. Everybody orders a couple of dishes and you all share during the meal. As I don’t wish to be the difficult person at the table during these dinners (and to taste some meat once in a while), I just eat whatever is ordered, which includes a little bit  READ MORE

Sharing is Caring: Replicating solutions to the global e-waste challenge

16 Jun 2016

image A collection of selfies from the highly successful 'Meet-you-walks' activity.

By Patrick Haverman -  Last week we invited delegations from 13 different countries to come visit us here in China. Our visitors came from India, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Jordan Mexico, Maldives, Egypt and Zambia. The visitors were not coming to China for the usual reasons, not to see the Great Wall, nor the Forbidden City. They were here to learn about something that amounts to more than 35 Great Walls of China, and that is e-waste! (Did you know there are 2.6 billion smart phones in use worldwide? If you were to lay them end to end you would have 35 Great Walls of China!) More specifically, they were here to learn about the innovations and solutions that China has been using to tackle the issue of e-waste and how these can be replicated and applied in their own countries. Over a three day interactive and diverse workshop organized by our colleagues from the innovation and environment team, the delegates visited the Ministry of Environment and Protection (MEP/FECO), took a field trip to a recycling factory and finished up at the headquarters of our private sector partner, Baidu. Determined to create a workshop that was engaging  READ MORE

Why Two New FOCAC Commitments Could Help Improve Africa-China Relations

23 May 2016

image Hannah Ryder at a special exhibition in the margins of the FOCAC Summit in Johannesburg. Discovering new projects in China has helped deliver in African countries over the last 60 years. In future, maybe all this information will be available to everyone and anyone, even online.

By Hannah Ryder (N.B. Hannah Ryder was Head of Policy and Partnerships from August 2014- July 2016) Late last year and early this year African heads of state and Government leaders gathered together at two key events. The first was the 6th summit of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The second was the 26th African Union Summit, hosted at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was built by China in 2012 as a signal of an ever-strengthening relationship with the continent. In the margins of both summits, various non-governmental and business organisations held ‘side events’ - on themes such as HIV and AIDS, women's empowerment, and wildlife protection. The DEGRP and SAIIA workshop on the future of China-Africa relations was one such event, and was striking both for the breadth of issues discussed and the diversity of perspectives around the table. Speakers and delegates addressed topics from industrialisation to peacekeeping, with both supportive and sceptical views represented. Yet one issue was consistently raised – the ongoing lack of credible, multi-country data to supplement and reinforce the rigorous research already being conducted. Many are working hard to address this. For instance, Professor Deborah Brautigam presented new information  READ MORE

Better a good estimate than an empty cell

26 Feb 2016


By Patrick Haverman - I recently attended the World Government Summit in Dubai, a conference to discuss the future of governance and how governments can shape the future of the planet, including how governments can optimize to serve their citizens better. UNDP China, along with our technology partner Baidu, went along to present the e-waste app, Baidu Recycle, we have developed with the Ministry of Environment and Protection (MEP/FECO) to show how innovation can contribute to solving today’s issues. During the conference there was also much discussion of how we can have a strong kick-off for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how we can best measure their progress. The discussion on these indicators turned into a heated debate. Some people argued we need to continue with the work we have been doing for years, while others advocated for, at least to complement, a new approach. Looking back at the MDGs, 8 goals and 23 targets, in theory, were promising but there were many unmeasurable targets and more data was missing than reported (see picture on top of this blog to illustrate Poverty measurements in Africa for the MDGs). What is needed is a tool for governments and other stakeholders are  READ MORE

SDGs Implementation Set in Motion: Where to Begin?

04 Feb 2016


By Zheng Yuan - I cannot remember how many times I have to remind myself that it’s already 2016! For many, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN Summit already belonged to the glory and milestone of development last year. Indeed, with the advent of 2016, development has started writing a new chapter, of which the central piece is now focused on how the SDGs can be effectively implemented. The 17 SDGs were brought forward with a good vision. If they are anything, they are the fundamental building blocks of a common, worldwide vision; a vision directed towards, if I may, human flourishing and happiness.  This, to be sure, is no small undertaking.  The SDGs are massive in scope.  But they need not be massive in implementation.  All big pictures are made up of small pictures, as they say. The whole is none other than its parts. So, where do we start?  When starting a 1,000-piece puzzle, for instance, it is advisable to begin with the border, with that which frames and directs the entire effort. Otherwise, all we typically end up with are scattered groupings of pieces, unconnected and suffocating from a lack of direction. What is  READ MORE

Hairstyles and the G20 - What to Pick in China?

02 Dec 2015


By Hannah Ryder - (N.B. Hannah Ryder was Head of Policy and Partnerships from August 2014- July 2016) Most women, if and when they can, love visiting the hairdresser, especially if the results are good. It's usually a time to get pampered, and also get an update on the latest styles and gossip. During my last visit, I asked about hair coloring. My hairdresser gave me three options. I could either stick with my own dark color; I could go for an "ombré" - which is a fancy word for having one uniform color on the top close to the roots, and then another uniformly towards the bottom tips of the hair; or I could have "highlights" - smaller streaks of a light color throughout the hair, all the way from the root to the tip.  In the end, despite the update, as winter was drawing close, I decided to simply keep with my own one color. I’ve been thinking about these three options recently in another context, the G20. The G20 is a group of the 20 largest countries in the world – e.g. in economic, population and greenhouse gas emissions terms - that was formed in 2008. Unlike the  READ MORE

From Reading to Listening: From Listening to Making a Podcast: An Interesting Journey

01 Dec 2015


By Patrick Haverman- About two years ago, UNDP China embarked on an innovative path. We received a visit from Giulio Quaggiotto, at the time the innovation manager of the UNDP, and he lit a little spark in our office. One of his statements was that very few people read a report from the first to the last page, and honestly I had to admit that when reading many UN and non-UN reports, I didn’t make it to the end cover too. Instead, people often quickly scan the executive summary. That statement made us ponder, and it drove me personally toward podcasts: Often, people have more time to listen then to read. Additionally, from an efficiency perspective, there are many "unproductive" hours in a day, which can be used for listening. Traveling, jogging, cycling, commuting are all examples of perfect times to listen to a podcast or an audiobook. For our first test in UNDP China, we made an audiobook from our National Human Development Report, Sustainable and Liveable Cities. Our NHDR of 178 Pages: the flagship publication of UNDP China: is now available in the biggest store in the world. It’s amazing; today we can offer our product in the largest  READ MORE

Panda’s, the Planet and the SDGs

16 Nov 2015


By Patrick Haverman - Everybody knows them, they are iconic globally - a symbol for China and the environment - but very few get to see them so close. Recently I had the privilege to meet them in person - the Giant Pandas. UNDP has partnered with the Chengdu Panda Base to adopt two recently born panda twins who will be our newest image ambassadors or “Pambassdors”, and we have started a naming campaign. In the office we have been joking that we should call one “UN” and the other “DP”, or perhaps “SD” and “G”, naming them after the recently launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will guide the world in sustainable development over the next 15 years. Since the SDGs were adopted by the world leaders, including President Xi, I have been speaking about them a lot. I have come to realize that the more I speak about them, the more I like them and what they represent. I feel it is utterly unique for the world to come together behind one set of goals. While nations may argue and clash over many issues, who can disagree that we want to live in a world without poverty, hunger and  READ MORE