Declines in fundamental areas of human development are being felt across most countries – rich and poor – in every region, according to a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) statement issued on Thursday.
Globally, human development can be measured as a combination of several indexes like education, health and living standards across the planet. That index could decline this year for the first time since 1990, a year when the measurement was unveiled by the Pakistani economist.
The declination of the human development caused mainly by the coronavirus pandemic, the UNDP has warned.
“The world has seen many crises over the past 30 years, including the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-09. Each has hit human development hard but, overall, development gains accrued globally year-on-year,” UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner said.
In reality, coronavirus – with its triple hit to health, education, and income – may change this correlation, the experts suggest. Taking into account that COVID-19’s global death toll has exceeded 300,000 people, the global per capita income this year is expected to fall by four per cent.
According to the UNDP report, the most alarming thing is school closures. This year, the percentage of primary-school-age children, adjusted to reflect those without Internet access—indicate that 60 per cent of children are not getting an education, leading to global levels not seen since the 1980s.
The combined impact of these shocks could signify the largest reversal in human development on record, UNDP said. The drop in human development is expected to be much higher in developing countries that are less able to cope with the pandemic’s social and economic fallout than richer nations.
This is particularly important for the ‘new necessities’ of the 21st century, such as access to the Internet, which is helping us to benefit from tele-education, tele-medicine, and to work from home,” Pedro Conceiçao, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP, said.
UNDP recommends steps to tackle the complexity of coronacrisis
UNDP recommends five priority steps to tackle the complexity of this crisis:
- protecting health systems and services; ramping up social protection;
- protecting jobs, small- and medium-sized businesses and informal sector workers;
- making macroeconomic policies work for everyone; and
- promoting peace, good governance and trust to build social cohesion.
UNDP called on the international community to rapidly invest in the ability of developing countries to follow these steps.
In 1990, the concept of human development was developed by the late Dr Mahbubul Haq, a Pakistani economist who worked for the UNDP. The same year the first UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) was launched under his leadership.