The Human Development Report finds that the Human Development Index has declined globally for two years in a row.
It identifies an emerging “uncertainty complex,” which is unsettling lives and impeding human development.
The report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment, insurance, and innovation, to tackle the roots of interconnected challenges.
The latest Human Development Report, published by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), warns that due to the impacts of the multiple crises, mounting layers of uncertainty, and increasing polarization, human development has dropped to its 2016 levels, “reversing much of the progress” towards the SDGs. Yet, it argues, there is “promise and opportunity in uncertainty” to “reimagine our futures, to renew and adapt our institutions and to craft new stories about who we are and what we value.”
The 2021/2022 report titled, ‘Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World,’ finds that for the first time in the 32 years that UNDP has been producing it, the Human Development Index (HDI) has declined globally for two years in a row. The HDI measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living.
According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and increases in polarization pushed the HDI score down for over 90% of countries in either 2020 or 2021, with more than 40% registering a decline in both years. Recovery, it argues, has been uneven, with Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia hit hardest by widening human development inequalities.
Further, the report identifies an emerging “uncertainty complex,” fed by three “volatile and interacting strands” of:
- the destabilizing planetary pressures and inequalities of the Anthropocene;
- the pursuit of sweeping societal transformations to ease those pressures; and
- the widespread and intensifying polarization.
This uncertainty complex, it stresses, is unsettling lives and impeding human development.
At the report’s launch, its lead author Pedro Conceição, UNDP, said “[t]o navigate uncertainty, we need to double down on human development and look beyond improving people’s wealth or health … to protect the planet and provide people with the tools they need to feel more secure, regain a sense of control over their lives and have hope for the future.”
The publication suggests that among the many reasons why the change isn’t happening is the loop of insecurity and polarization feeding off each other “to prevent the solidarity and collective action we need to tackle crises at all levels.” Calling for a sharp change of course to tackle the roots of interconnected challenges, it recommends implementing policies that focus on the “Three Is”:
- investment, including in renewable energy and preparedness for pandemics and extreme natural hazards;
- insurance, including social protection, to help protect everyone from “the contingencies of an uncertain world”; and
- technological, economic, and cultural innovation, to build capacities to respond to “unknown and unknowable” challenges of the future.
The report was launched in New York, US, on 8 September 2022. [Publication: Human Development Report 2021/2022: Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World] [Report Landing Page] [UNDP Press Release] [UN News Story] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Human Development Report 2019]