Human Development Falls to 2016 Levels says UN Report
A report launched today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), says that the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row. It is only the second time a two-year decline has occured in the 32 years that UNDP has been calculating Human Development.
The latest Human Development Report entitled, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World” argues that layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways.
According to the report, the last two years have had a devastating impact for billions of people around the world, when crises like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back, and interacted with sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and massive increases in polarization.
The UNDP has warned that the world is lurching from crisis to crisis, trapped in a cycle of firefighting and unable to tackle the root causes of the problems faced. It predicts that without a sharp change of course, the world may be heading towards even more deprivations and injustices.
A statement from the UNDP states that the reversal is nearly universal as over 90 percent of countries registered a decline in their HDI score in either 2020 or 2021 and more than 40 percent declined in both years, signaling that the crisis is still deepening for many.
While some countries are beginning to get back on their feet, recovery is uneven and partial, further widening inequalities in human development. Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have been hit particularly hard.
Europe dominates the top-ten countries ranked highest in the Human Development Index with Switzerland at the top. Other countries in the top ten include EU member states Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands.
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said, ‘The world is scrambling to respond to back-to-back crises. We have seen with the cost of living and energy crises that, while it is tempting to focus on quick fixes like subsidizing fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics are delaying the long-term systemic changes we must make. We are collectively paralyzed in making these changes. In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges.’
The report explores why the change needed isn’t happening and suggests there are many reasons, including how insecurity and polarization are feeding off each other today to prevent the solidarity and collective action we need to tackle crises at all levels. New calculations show, for instance, that those feeling most insecure are also more likely to hold extreme political views.
The report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment, from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics, and insurance, including social protection, to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world. It also suggests that innovation in its many s, forms, technological, economic, cultural, can also build capacities to respond to whatever challenges come next.