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Avoiding future famines: strengthening the ecological foundation of food security through sustainable food systems

The report provides detailed analysis of the many factors threatening the world’s food supplies and its ability to continue to generate calories and proteins in the 21st century. It also provides a series of forward-looking recommendations and remedies to the many grim scenarios that often accompany the food security debate.

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Barbados' green economy scoping study

The inclusion of green policy objectives in Barbados can be traced to the National Strategic Plan (2006-2025) and the Budget Speech of 2007. The process was given further impetus in 2009 when the then Prime Minister laid down the challenge of committing Barbados to become the “most environmentally advanced green country in Latin America and the Caribbean”. It was against this backdrop that the government engaged the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the establishment of a partnership to support the country’s transformation.

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Valuing plastic: the business case for measuring, managing and disclosing plastic use in the consumer goods industry

The objective of this report is to help companies manage the opportunities and risks associated with plastic use. It articulates the business case for companies to improve their measurement, disclosure and management of plastic use in their designs, operations and supply chains. In order to provide a sense of scale, the report sets out to quantify the physical impacts of plastic use translated into monetary terms. This metric can be seen as the current value-at-risk to a company, should these external impacts be realised internally through mechanisms like strengthened regulation, loss of market share, or increased price of raw materials and energy. This metric can also be used to help understand the magnitude of the opportunities, and the tangible benefits to stakeholders, including shareholders, of using plastic in an environmentally sustainable way.

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Guidelines for integrated environmental assessment of urban areas

Planning and management for sustainable development require an understanding of the linkages between environmental conditions and human activities and encourage participation by all sectors of society in decision-making. This publication is a useful tool that will help strengthen institutional capacity to prepare environmental assessments and comprehensive reports on cities in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

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Water and sanitation interlinkages across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This UN-Water Analytical Brief analyses the central role of water and sanitation to describe the links and interdependencies between the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation and those of other Goals. It aims to stimulate United Nations Member States’ consideration of the water-related linkages within the Goals to facilitate an integrated approach to implementation. The Brief highlights the importance of mainstreaming water and sanitation in the policies and plans of other sectors, and how the management of interlinkages supports the social, economic and environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Who will be accountable? Human rights and the post-2015 development agenda

This publication is intended to help fill some of the more pressing accountability gaps that impede the realization of global and national development goals. We approach this challenge from the perspective of human rights, as a universal normative and legally binding framework embodying the minimum requirements of a dignified life, encapsulating universal values that a post-2015 agreement should strive to prioritize and protect as well as essential features of a road map to take us there.

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Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report 2016. Education for people and planet: creating sustainable futures for all

The Incheon Declaration for Education 2030 has been instrumental to shape the Sustainable Development Goal on Education to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. It entrusts UNESCO with the leadership, coordination and monitoring of the Education 2030 agenda. It also calls upon the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report to provide independent monitoring and reporting of the Sustainable Development Goal on education (SDG 4), and on education in the other SDGs, for the next fifteen years. The ultimate goal of this agenda is to leave no one behind. This calls for robust data and sound monitoring. The 2016 edition of the GEM Report provides valuable insight for governments and policy makers to monitor and accelerate progress towards SDG 4, building on the indicators and targets we have, with equity and inclusion as measures of overall success.

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Nature-based solutions for building resilience in towns and cities: case studies from the Greater Mekong Subregion

Urban populations are projected to increase from 54% to 66% of the global population by 2050, with close to 90% of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa. Cities and towns—a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions—will need to address challenges posed by climate change. A nature-based approach in identifying climate change vulnerabilities and developing relevant adaptation options was conducted in three towns of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Working with local governments, non-government organizations, women’s groups, and professional associations, town-wide adaptation measures were defined by overlaying climate change projections on town plans and zoning schemes for strategic infrastructure. This publication captures valuable experience and lessons from the project.

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The economics of greenhouse gas mitigation in developing Asia

This study uses an economy–energy–climate model to assess the long-term effects of Paris Agreement pledges on developing Asia, in comparison with business as usual and more ambitious scenarios to limit warming to 2°C. It finds potential for modest macroeconomic costs of ambitious mitigation, but that clean energy investment needs are substantial. When costs, benefits of avoided climate change, and cobenefits are considered together, investment in mitigation policy is found to have substantial economic returns for the region—if action is taken rapidly and international carbon market mechanisms are implemented to allow mitigation to occur where it is least costly.

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State of the Least Developed Countries 2016

The current report builds on the first and second editions, which considered the issues of productive capacity building as well as extreme poverty eradication in the least developed countries (LDCs) and the post-2015 development agenda. These reports provided analysis relating to the inclusion of LDC issues in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. This year’s report is dedicated to the implementation of the SDGs in LDCs using synergies with the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA). Part 1 of the report assesses progress towards achieving the goals and targets of the IPoA, particularly in the eight priority areas; reviews efforts towards this end; and identifies challenges ahead. The report argues that enhanced, coordinated and targeted support to the LDCs fulfilling ODA commitments but also going beyond, will remain critical to effectively implementing the IPoA. Part 2 of the report assesses the complementarities of the IPoA and the 2030 Agenda. It maps the goals, targets and actions of the IPoA with the SDGs, focusing on means of implementation. Furthermore it looks at how the implementation of the SDGs in LDCs can be fostered, including its mainstreaming and monitoring and followup. The conclusions and policy recommendations cover the findings in both parts of the report. As the report finds significant synergies between the IPoA and the Agenda 2030 it highlights the importance of leadership and political will and effective global partnership.

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Industrial Development Report 2016: the role of technology and innovation in inclusive and sustainable industrial development

This report addresses a challenging question: under which conditions do technology and innovation achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID)? The main finding of this report is that technology can simultaneously serve all three dimensions of sustainability. Rapid inclusive and sustainable industrialization can be achieved provided that policymakers resolutely facilitate and steer the industrialization process, which requires sound policies and avoiding the mistakes other countries have made in the past.

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The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: achieving the industry-related goals and targets

UNIDO’s vision to address today’s economic, social and environmental challenges is enshrined in the Lima Declaration, which was adopted by UNIDO Member States in December 2013. On this basis, the Organization pursues Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development (ISID) to harness industry’s full potential to contribute to lasting prosperity for all. The mandate is based on the recognition by Member States that poverty eradication “can only be achieved through strong, inclusive, sustainable and resilient economic and industrial growth, and the effective integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.” The present document summarizes the contribution of UNIDO’s mandate as well as current and planned future activities vis-à-vis the SDGs, with a special focus on SDG-9, which highlights and affirms the critical importance of ISID and its contribution to all 17 goals.

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The besieged Palestinian agricultural sector

The present study analyses the problems and prospects of the Palestinian agricultural sector. The study highlights the sector’s role, importance and contribution to the overall economy, and its strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities in the sector and constraints on the sector. The study underscores the distortions imposed by occupation and their impact on the state and prospects of the Palestinian agricultural sector.

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Enhancing the contribution of Export Processing Zones to the Sustainable Development Goals

This exploratory report suggests that changes taking place in the global market mean that Export Processing Zones (EPZs), and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) more generally, can be restructured as centres of excellence for sustainable development. Such restructuring would increase the appeal of EPZs to multinational enterprises (MNEs) and their suppliers, while simultaneously contributing to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as 'Global Goals'.

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Trade and Environment Review 2016: fish trade

This review examines issues pertinent to the promotion of sustainable use of living marine resources in healthy oceans and seas, bringing together a collection of independent articles by 24 leading experts and practitioners on fish governance systems; fish harvest, production and consumption; unsustainable fishing practices; fish and marine ecosystems management; and fish trade. The Review provides a succinct diagnosis of some of the key challenges to be faced in addressing SDG 14, as well as novel suggestions and innovations to advance its implementation.

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Commodities and Development Report 2015: smallholder farmers and sustainable commodity development

The report highlights the range of constraints that smallholder farmers face in developing economies and specifically provides new analyses of the state of their integration into the global economy. It underlines that smallholder farmers are both victims of climate change and key actors in the achievement of a more inclusive and environmentally friendly development path. The report argues for specific measures at the national, regional and global levels, including in international trade and investment agreements, for unleashing the full business potential of smallholders. It showcases good policy practices, including the role of strong political leadership in reversing the policy neglect that small farmers have suffered from. "Business as usual" is not an option if the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to be achieved. In light of this, the report calls for greater resources to be devoted to supporting smallholders. And finally, the report also urges for the establishment of an accountability mechanism for monitoring progress on key commitments related to smallholders on trade, investment, finance and technology.

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Establishing a workable follow-up and review process for the Sustainable Development Goals

The Open Working Group document proposes that governments will set its own national targets. They will be guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances. To make the Post-2015 agenda actionable, much more thought needs to be given to the process of target-setting, different actors’ responsibilities, implementation and accountability.

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Mind the gap? A comparison of international and national targets for the SDG agenda

The stretch required for low-income countries (LICs) to achieve SDG targets is generally greater than for middle-income and high-income countries (MICs and HICs). The gaps identified indicate where most work is needed to alter political priorities in order to realise the SDGs. Most hard work will be needed in areas that are highly politically contentious (climate policy) or expensive (secondary education, electricity and sanitation). This has implications for how governments structure a review process and how resources are mobilised for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. The report also found a great deal of variation in the approach to measuring targets at the national level. A standardised approach would make comparisons easier and hold governments more readily to account.

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Piecing together the MDG puzzle: domestic policy, government spending and performance

Policy-makers in most of the developing countries surveyed report that the MDGs were influential in setting priorities domestically. Analysis of the education and health sectors suggests these statements are not merely tokenistic as countries reporting high influence saw increases in budget allocations. However while many countries experienced increases in government spending in social sectors over the MDG period, the majority still spend less than the recommended international benchmarks. Significant increases in government allocations will therefore be required to match the ambition of the SDGs. Recommendations for the SDG period include ensuring better data on domestic use of targets, government spending and performance are available to better assess their influence over the next 15 years and ensure the 'leave no one behind' agenda will be fulfilled.

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National MDG implementation: lessons for the SDG era

As we approach the deadline for the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the start of the Sustainable Development Goals, at the end of 2015, this paper asks: how did governments respond at the national level to the set of global development goals in the form of the MDGs? Using five case study countries: Indonesia, Turkey, Mexico, Nigeria and Liberia, to reflect a mix of regions, income classifications and MDG performance, the paper draws out common trends and suggests five lessons for the post-2015 era.

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Projecting progress: the SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean

This paper presents Latin America and the Caribbean’s (LAC) likely progress across the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, if trends continue on their current trajectories. There are significant disparities across the globe in progress both between and within countries; LAC is no exception. There are a number of disparities across sub-regions and there are disparities within countries – ethnicity, for example, is a crucial factor in determining whether someone is likely to benefit from development gains. During the Millennium Development Goals era considerable gains were made in a number of countries in LAC. However, already strong outcomes in some areas compared with other developing regions will make continued progress towards the new goals difficult.

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Leather sector reform in Bangladesh

This paper examines the Asia Foundation’s efforts to support change in Bangladesh’s leather sector. Working closely with local partners, the Asia Foundation team has specifically supported efforts to move tanneries out of a dangerously polluted location to a modern industrial park that will improve compliance with health and environmental protection standards, and potentially lead to growth in the sector. As of the publication date, this critical relocation has already begun. This case study lays out the real-time decisions and processes which drove the strategy and implementation of this project, providing useful insights into how politically astute and flexible programs can be successfully implemented. This case has emerged from an action research process, which was led by a researcher from the Overseas Development Institute and conducted over the course of almost two years. By capturing and analysing the experiences of the programme team in Bangladesh, the paper provides practical insights for those in the development community intending to implement similar kinds of programming.

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Reforming solid waste management in Phnom Penh

This paper tracks the efforts of an Asia Foundation team working with local stakeholders to support improvements in the solid waste management sector in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The team worked in a flexible way with a range of partners, and with a particular focus on understanding the incentives and politics affecting service delivery. While reform of the sector remains in progress, steps have been taken to introduce more competition and better public sector management of solid waste collection in the city. This case study lays out the real-time decisions and processes which drove the strategy and implementation of this project, providing useful insights into how politically astute and flexible programmes can be successfully implemented. This case emerged from an action research process, led by a researcher from the Overseas Development Institute and conducted over the course of almost two years. By capturing and analysing the experiences of the programme team in Phnom Penh, the paper intends to provide practical insights for others in the development community aiming to implement similar kinds of programming.

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Agricultural use of groundwater and management initiatives in the Maghreb: challenges and opportunities for sustainable aquifer exploitation

The intensive use of natural resources in the Maghreb, in particular by the agricultural sector, is creating an urgent need to design governance mechanisms at both the local and national level. Groundwater has become one of the most fragile of these resources. The rapid development of groundwater use for irrigation in the Maghreb has resulted in significant agricultural growth, but in many regions, such development has become unsustainable because of aquifer overexploitation or water and soil salinization. Adequate instruments to address this unsustainable use are not easy to design and implement, for there are many informal groundwater withdrawals by farmers, and water resource management organizations have limited intervention capacity. The paper examines groundwater use and management in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia based on a study of national institutional and policy mechanisms and nine local case studies. Overexploitation creates environmental, economic and social risks, and there are already significant identifiable impacts in several of the case studies. Farmers address the problem of decreasing borehole flow-rates (or water salinization) either by constantly investing more in order to continue to have sufficient quantities of fresh water for their crops, or by adjusting their cropping systems to adapt to this decrease. In the absence of specific policies, there are increasing differences between those farms that have the resources to continue investing more in order to have sufficient water, and those that have to adapt their crops to the shortage. Legal frameworks have laid management foundations, but they only have a limited impact, in particular, because of the generally informal nature of such uses. Different strategies are currently being discussed at national level, and are often focused on contractual approaches with the farmers. Concomitantly, some collective initiatives have been conceived at local level. The range of policies implemented to address this unsustainable use is very broad-based, and entails both increased water resources and the adoption of instruments to limit increases in withdrawals. These instruments are based on control and incentive mechanisms. In the cases considered, jointly used instruments have made it possible to limit increases in withdrawals and to facilitate water enhancement, without, however, restoring the resource-use balance. The design and implementation of strategies for sustainable aquifer exploitation require the building of coalitions of actors, which should include organizations responsible for water resources, those involved in agriculture, but also - and especially - farmers. Support could be provided to the formation of such coalitions and to their reflections on possible options to assist an agricultural economy based on sustainable aquifer use.

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The unintended consequences of agricultural input intensification: human health implications of agro-chemical use in Sub-Saharan Africa

While agro-chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides are often promoted as inputs that increase agricultural productivity by limiting a range of pre-harvest losses, their use may have negative human health and labor productivity implications. We explore the relationship between agro-chemical use and the value of crop output at the plot level and a range of human health outcomes at the household level using nationally representative panel survey data from four Sub-Saharan African countries where more than ten percent of main season cultivators use agro-chemicals. We find that agro-chemicals use is associated with increased value of harvest, with similar magnitudes across three of the four countries under study, but is also associated with increases in costs associated with human illness, including increased health expenditures related to illness and time lost from work due to sickness in recent past. We motivate our empirical work with a simple dynamic optimization model that clearly shows the role that farmer understanding of these feedbacks can play in optimizing the use of agro-chemicals. The central role of information in determining that optimum underscores the role of agricultural and public health extension as modern input intensification proceeds in the region.

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