Voices from Eurasia

Europe & the CIS

Creating Islands of Integrity around the Black Sea

05 Sep 2017 by Magdalena Nowakowska, Communications specialist, UNDP Georgia

Islands have been emerging recently around Eastern and Central Europe. But they’re not common islands at all - they are actually cities. We see these cities standing out as “island” enclaves of accountability and transparency in not-so-crystal-clear waters: systems of governance polluted by corruption. Post-communist countries, like Ukraine and Moldova, still struggle to filter malicious practices out of their systems. It’s difficult to get rid of the infamous soviet legacy, where public servants were largely serving their own pockets, rather than public interest. Georgia, known as the Black Sea region’s top reformer, made a significant leap 10 years ago. It substantially decreased corruption levels in the public sector by conducting a thorough reform of administration and implementing institutional methods to ensure transparency. But has this change been sustainable? And what are the next steps in a journey to decreasing corruption throughout the region? … Read more

20 years of peace and justice in Eurasia: Four key trends

28 Aug 2017 by Shelley Inglis, Regional Team Leader, Governance and Peacebuilding, UNDP Eurasia

The past 20 years has seen the Europe and Central Asia region undergo tremendous changes. Our recently launched platform on Sustainable Development Goal 16 details some of those changes and how UNDP is supporting progress. Here are four quick takeaways. 1. Conflicts end, but their shadows remain After several violent conflicts in the 1990s, the Western Balkans region has progressed significantly. Two countries are now fully fledged members of the European Union (Slovenia and Croatia), and the remaining countries and territories are positioning for accession. … Read more

Are young women a key to the growth of Uzbekistan’s ICT industry?

25 Aug 2017 by Anvar Meliboev, Partnerships and Communications Specialist, UNDP Uzbekistan

Young women participants at the Technovation Challenge. Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan
Do you know who Margaret Hamilton is? Not many do. She was the computer scientist and systems engineer who programmed the Apollo 11 spaceflight. There is currently a greatly untapped resource of women programmers, who are essential to the understaffed global ICT industry (an estimated 800,000 extra professionals will be needed in Europe by 2020). But women programmers, especially those in management roles, make up a small minority of the world’s IT professionals. The landscape for women programmers is not much different here in Uzbekistan. The share of women in technical universities is only 16-22 percent of the total number of students. … Read more

All young people deserve the chance to dream

11 Aug 2017 by Dragana Jovanovska, Secretary General, Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID), fYR Macedonia

Photo: Giulia Annibaletti
We often say everyone deserves to have the same opportunities, and everyone should be given a chance to follow their dreams. But what does that actually mean? Is that just a bunch of words we say because it sounds nice? If not, how do we put it into practice? A 17-year-old girl changed the way I see things. She came from school to the Youth Centre where I work one day. She told me she heard from some friends that there is an opportunity for paid volunteership abroad. I was happy to explain what it was about, and even happier to hear she would like to go. She just needed to finish her CV and motivation letter, and we would schedule an interview. … Read more

Three lessons I’ve learned from building peace as a young person

11 Aug 2017 by Liridona Osmanaj, Municipal Project Officer, UNDP Kosovo*

Introductory session of participants from Serbia and Kosovo during the Feminist Spring School. Photo: Artpolis NGO
Being from Kosovo, and growing up in the 90s, I know intimately the development challenges that arise post-conflict. Rebuilding societies torn apart by conflict is more than just about silencing guns. The real complexity lies in working to restore trust and reconstruct the shattered social fabric. My war story is a reminder of how old nightmares can rise from the freezer of history. Before the war, we thought that Yugoslavia buried the idea of national and religious identity, but we saw it spring back to life with pitiless savagery. I have since nurtured a fierce passion for conflict prevention and transformation, youth empowerment, social inclusion and development; in a way to do my part so that ethnic conflict does not return to haunt this region ever again. So that people don’t have to go through the experience I went through. … Read more

Making “Women’s Work” Count

09 Aug 2017 by Bharati Sadasivam, Regional Gender Adviser, UNDP in Europe and Central Asia

Over the next few months, the 12,000 employees based at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California will complete their move to an extravagant new campus. The “spaceship,” covering 2.8 million square feet, includes a two-story yoga studio, running paths, and even revolutionary pizza boxes that keep slices crisp. One thing it does not have, however, is daycare. When it comes to ignoring the importance of childcare for working parents, Apple is far from unique. And that omission places a powerful drag on parents’ ability to achieve their economic potential, with women suffering the most. … Read more

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

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