UNDP in Pakistan Launches the Human Development Report 2013

28 Mar 2013

The Human Development Report (HDR) 2013 The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World was launched today in Islamabad by the United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP) in Pakistan.

The Human Development Report is an independent study intended to stimulate an informed debate on global development issues and to highlight trends for policy makers. The Report - The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World - analyses more than 40 developing countries that have made striking human development gains in recent years. It attributes their achievements to a proactive development state, a strategic engagement with the world economy and determined social policy innovations.

Following the presentation of the report by UNDP, H.E Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Ambassador of the European Union along with representatives of major political parties shared their views on how Pakistan can learn from other developing countries and implement wide reaching policy changes in favor of human development. The political panelists included Dr. Farooq Sattar, Deputy Convener and Parliamentary leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Ms. Razina Alam, Former Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and Technology of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Mr. Shafqat Mahmood, Central Secretary Information of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The 2013 HDR argues that developing countries can - and should - act as a powerful force in development. “The rise of the South is unprecedented in its speed and scale. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast,” says the Report.

UNDP also released its 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) along with the Report, which ranks countries in terms of economic and human development indicators. The Multidimensional Poverty Index, an alternative to income-based poverty estimates, shows the proportion of the population living in poverty is high throughout South Asia, with the highest rates in Bangladesh (58 percent), India (54 percent), Pakistan (49 percent) and Nepal (44 percent).

The report is instrumental in the context of Pakistan especially given the challenges faced today and policy choices it will confront. Pakistan’s HDI value for 2012 is 0.515 - in the low human development category - positioning the country at 146 out of 187 countries and territories. The rank is shared with Bangladesh and is just ahead of Angola and Myanmar.

According to the Report, countries which have made significant achievements in human development could be characterized into “strong, proactive and responsible states”. The following four features are common to such States (i) Commitment to long-term development and reform, (ii) prioritizing job creation, (iii) enhancing public investment in education and health and (iv) Nurturing selected industries. It gives example of China which pursued a long term vision to build the necessary institutions and capacities for transforming its economy.

Then, Pakistan has one of the lowest investments in terms of education and health – it spends 0.8% of GDP on health and 1.8% on education. The country needs to increase this investment as the report argues that investing in people’s capabilities – through health, education and other public services – is not an appendage of the growth process but an integral part of it.

On tapping of global markets, the countries should follow a gradual and sequenced integration process. There are three common features of the policies adopted by the fast developing countries of the South in tapping of global markets. First they have invested in people to make best of trade opportunities. For example, China increased the competencies of its workers and firms by requiring foreign firms to enter joint ventures, transfer technology or meet high requirements for domestic content. Second, some of the smaller economies have piggybacked into niche products. For example, Bangladesh took advantage of the market distortions in world apparel trade. It collaborated with multinationals to get connected to international standards. Third, they have expanded into non-traditional markets.

On social policy innovation, growth has mostly been more effective at reducing poverty in countries with low income inequality than in countries with high income inequality. Promoting equality – especially equality across groups, known as horizontal equality – also helps reduce social conflicts. Countries which have performed well, have introduced targeted and innovative approaches ranging from poverty reduction, access to health and education and social protection. For example, India has undertaken constitutional amendment to make education a fundamental right for every child. India spends 3.1 % of its GDP on education, the highest among the South Asia countries. Brazil has expanded education access by equalizing funds across regions and municipalities.

For accelerating this momentum in developing countries and for sustaining it in developed countries, the report suggests, the Report suggests four important areas to be facilitated: enhancing equity, enabling voice and participation, confronting environmental pressures and managing demographic change. The Report points to the high cost of policy inaction and argues for greater policy ambition.

H.E. Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Ambassador of the European Union, congratulated UNDP on the launch of the report and said, “The rise of the South should be seen as beneficial for all countries including Pakistan as it presents opportunities for new development partnerships. We need to be committed to human development and make this development sustainable for future generations.”

Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan said, “Rapid human development progress in South Asian nations is helping drive a historic shift in global dynamics. Just as the South needs the North, increasingly, the North needs the South. New institutions can facilitate regional integration and South-South relationships between and among developing countries including Pakistan. Pakistan can therefore learn from different countries on how to enhance the skills and productivity of its people. It should undertake more interventions to reduce poverty, expand infrastructure and improve governance.”

The event was attended by senior government officials, representatives of academia, media, civil society, development partners and UN agencies.

ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2013 Human Development Report in ten languages, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications, please visit: http://hdr.undp.org

Contact Information

For further information, please contact: Fatimah Inayet, Communications Analyst, UNDP Pakistan
Tel: +92-51-8355650 or email: Fatimah.inayet@undp.org