"We have experienced disasters before, we have had conflicts before, but the confluence of what we are facing today is a major setback for the development of humanity,"
The world has gone back five years in terms of human development, according to a new UN report.
For the first time in its 32-year history, the UNDP Human Development Index -- which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living -- has declined for two years in a row, with human development globally falling back to 2016 levels.
At the same time, without a sharp change of course, we may be heading towards even more deprivations and injustices, warns the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The latest edition of the report, which came out on Thursday, highlights the “devastating impact” of the last two years for billions of people around the world, with the global COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, sweeping social and economic shifts, and dangerous planetary changes.
"We have experienced disasters before, we have had conflicts before, but the confluence of what we are facing today is a major setback for the development of humanity," Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator, told AFP news agency.
"It means that we die earlier, that we are less educated and that our incomes drop. With these three parameters, you can get an idea of why people are starting to get desperate, frustrated, worried about the future."
Over 90% of countries around the world registered a decline in their HDI score in either 2020 or 2021, with more than 40% seeing a decline in both years.
Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have been hit particularly hard, while European countries appear to be less badly affected.
European countries dominated the top of the list for HDI, with Switzerland, Norway and Iceland taking the top three spots, with nine of the top ten countries being in Europe.
“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 subsidising fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics are delaying the long-term systemic changes we must make,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “We are collectively paralysed in making these changes.”
“In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges,” he added.
UNDP Human Development Index 2021 - top 20 countries
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Japan, Korea