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Uneven development progress is leaving the poorest behind-HDR

The 2023/24 Human Development Report (HDR) assesses the dangerous gridlock resulting from uneven development progress, intensifying inequality, and escalating political polarization, that the world must urgently tackle.

The report launches on Tuesday 9th July, 2024 in Malawi by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Malawi government following the global release of the report on 13th March this year.

It emphasizes how global interdependence is being reconfigured and proposes a path forward where multilateralism plays a pivotal role.

For the first time on record, inequalities in Human Development Index (HDI) values which measure a country’s health, education and standard of living- are growing between countries at the bottom and countries at the top of the index.

Fol­lowing the 2020 and 2021 declines in the global HDI value, the world had the opportunity to build forward better. Instead, the report shows that our global community is falling short.

The report highlights a troubling trend: the rebound in the global Human Development Index (HDI) – a summary measure reflecting a country’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, education and life expectancy – has been partial, incomplete and unequal.

The report among others highlights inequalities in Human Development Index (HDI) values which measures health indicators

“Uneven development progress is leaving the poorest behind, exacerbating inequality, and stoking political polarization on a global scale. The result is a dangerous gridlock that must be urgently tackled through collective action.

”Although the HDI is projected to reach record highs in 2023 after steep declines during 2020 and 2021, this progress remains deeply uneven. Rich countries are experiencing record-high levels of human development, while half of the world’s poorest countries remain below their pre-crisis level of progress”. it reads.

The context of novel uncertainty and mismanaged interdependence is also reflected in higher global poverty and hunger over the past few years, taking the world farther off course from achieving the Sus­tainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The year 2023 marked the midpoint to 2030, the deadline to meet the goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustain­able Development.

Progress has stalled or reversed for 30 percent of the SDG targets and is weak or in­sufficient for another 50 percent.

The publication notes that beyond setbacks in wellbeing, people are also feeling a sense of loss of agency—the inability to live lives guided by their commitments.

Fenella Frost, Resident Representative UNDP Malawi

Leading up to a decade of increasingly higher tempera­tures, 2023 has been the hottest ever recorded.

According to the report, the path of human development progress shifted down­wards and is now below the pre-2019 trend, threatening to entrench permanent losses in human development.

Whole noting that inequalities in human develop­ment can still be redressed, some lessons must rapidly be learned.

“The Report shows how the mismanagement of cross-border interdependencies (the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, for example) is at the root of many contemporary challenges, ranging from debt distress in numerous low- and middle-income coun­tries to threats to food security to a pervasive sense of disempowerment around the world.

“New analysis in the Report using data from the World Values Survey shows that only half the global population feels in control of their lives and that only one-third of people believe that their voice is heard in their political system”

The Report indicates uneven development progress is leaving the poorest behind

Looking ahead, there will only be more globally shared opportunities and challenges.

Besides the high economic interdependence, two main drivers of interdependence are likely to shape our future in the decades to come one of which is an unfolding Digital Revolution which has led to a dizzying increase in the sharing of data, ideas and culture across societies.

To break the gridlock, the Report is an invitation to reimagine cooperation by pursuing three ideas that it encourages the world to fight for.

Even though the global HDI value in­creased in 2022 and is projected to further increase in 2023, the recovery is projected to be highly unequal.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Devel­opment (OECD) countries are projected to fully re­cover or surpass their 2019 values, but 51 percent of the poorest countries with 328 million people are not projected to do so.

Gladys Nthenda

A journalist with over 10 years all round media experience in Television, print, radio, and online platforms with a particular interest in health and climate change reporting. I love writing stories on vulnerable and marginalized societies to bring about the necessary change in their lives. Loves travelling, reading news related articles and listening to all genres of music. emailg79@gmail.com

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