Launch of the 2013 Human Development Report - Speech by Marc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan

28 Mar 2013

imageMarc-André Franche, Country Director, UNDP in Pakistan with representatives of the political parties during the launch of the Human Development Report 2013 in Islamabad. Photo: UNDP Pakistan/Torsum Khan

I am delighted to welcome you to the launch of the 2013 global Human Development Report, “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” - the 22nd report in this global series. We greatly value your presence today and appreciate the interest and engagement of so many partners from government, civil society, the international community and the media. I am particularly grateful to our panelists and the political parties they represent for having accepted the invitation to engage on crucial aspects of Pakistan’s future. I extend my appreciation to the Ambassador of the European Union for taking part in this event. We believe this launch is particularly relevant in the midst of the historical electoral campaign which will usher the first ever transition of power from one civilian government to another. The new government will have significant developmental challenges to tackle, first among them, lifting over 70 million Pakistanis out of poverty.

The development landscape is very different today from when the first Human Development Report was launched 23 years ago, thanks notably to the wisdom of the great Pakistani intellectual Dr. Mahbub Ul Haq, who pioneered, along with Amartya Sen, the concept of “human development”. We have now seen an impressive number of developing countries transform themselves into dynamic emerging economies with geopolitical influence. In turn, these countries now have a significant positive impact on human development progress in other developing countries around the world.

For the first time in recent history, the South as a whole is driving global economic growth and social change. Around the world, the living conditions and prospects of hundreds of millions of people have been lifted by transformations in the South. By 2020, the combined economic output of three key emerging economies – China, India, and Brazil – will surpass those of the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Canada combined. Much of the dynamism of emerging economies is being driven by trade, foreign direct investment, and technology partnerships within the South itself.

Developing countries nearly doubled their share of global merchandise trade from 25 per cent to 47 per cent between 1980 and 2010. Trade within the South was the biggest factor in that expansion, increasing from less than 10 per cent to more than 25 per cent in the last thirty years.

Innovation and entrepreneurship is impressive, and solutions to development challenges are increasingly being found within the South. The rapid spread and assimilation of technologies, including information and communication technologies, is providing more people with the means to positively impact their lives. Mobile phones, for example, are found in vast numbers of households. In Pakistan there are more people with cell phones than with access to sanitation.

The global middle class in the South is growing rapidly in size, income and expectations. This is particularly the case in Asia Pacific which will be home to two-thirds of the global middle class by 2030, 75% of it spread between India and China. Such expansion provides opportunities, like a greater consumer base, but it also brings added challenges, like a growing educated youth which will need decent jobs.

Despite this meaningful progress, 30% of the world population or 1.5 billion people still live in poverty subject to high levels of inequity. Income inequality is particularly acute and often diminishes any progress achieved in curbing health and education inequality. South Asia - Pakistan in particular - is suffering from disproportionately high levels of educational inequality.

Understanding trends to accelerate progress across countries

Yet, it is not enough simply to describe the rise of the South and observe its emergence from a distance. The real challenge is to understand what drives the acceleration of human development, and to share insights into what has succeeded. The Report explores the successes of more than 40 high achieving countries which performed better than predicted between 1990 and 2012 in terms of both income and non-income dimensions of human development. It then reviews the policies of 18 countries for which detailed information was available to ascertain what enabled them to perform particularly well. Before I hand over to my colleague Aazar to delve into those and their importance for Pakistan, I’d like to comment on two policy recommendations with significant implications for Pakistan: enhancing equity and confronting environmental pressures.

Promoting greater equity and social cohesion is not only an important goal in its own right: it is also central to raising human development. One of the most powerful policy instruments for promoting equity is education. This Human Development Report projects that targeted investments in girls’ education in particular, will have a significant impact on global and national human development, including in the reduction of future child mortality which is in turn linked to the level of education girls receive.

Slow national and global action on the major threat of climate change has the potential to halt or even reverse human development gains. The Report calls for greater global ambition and commitment to tackling environmental degradation. Innovative policies and programmes for achieving environmental sustainability, including new climate-friendly technologies developed in the South, exist and can help ensure that the development paths of the future are sustainable.

The rise of the South and global structures and development

Moving beyond policy recommendations at the country level, a clear message of the Report is that the rise of the South has implications for global governance and decision making, as well as for how development is financed.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected – through trade, migration, information and communications technologies, more coordinated action and greater co-operation between North and South is required. For this to happen, global governance arrangements are needed which are more legitimate, accountable, and transparent, and which recognize the changing geopolitics of our times by giving greater voice to countries of the South.

The Report argues that the South itself will be an increasingly powerful force in global development. Countries in the developing world are not only major trade and investment partners for other developing countries, but are also significant partners in development co-operation. The South also has substantial capital reserves, holding up to two-thirds of the world’s 10.12 trillion dollars of foreign exchange reserves and some three-quarters of the 4.3 trillion dollars in assets controlled by sovereign wealth funds.

Much can be learned by Pakistan from the success of the emerging economies of the South, which have used their growing economic strength to lift human development to a new level. The challenge now for Pakistan is to take the difficult political decisions on reforms, invest its considerable resources where they can make the most difference for its citizens and integrate with the global economy, especially in the South. The balance of influence in our world is visibly changing and Pakistan has an opportunity to take its place. It is our sincere hope that policy and decision makers, civil society organizations and citizens across this country will rise up to this challenge. You can count on the United Nations and its Development Programme to support you in this endeavor.
Bohat shukria