‘’Since the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) first global Human Development Report (HDR) in 1990, most countries have registered significant human development. This year’s Report shows that overall global trends are positive and that progress is continuing. Yet, lives are being lost, and livelihoods and development undermined, by natural or human-induced disasters and crises’’ according to a new report launched today in Tokyo by the United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark.
The 2014 Human Development Report entitled Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience is the latest in the series of global Human Development Reports published by UNDP since 1990 as independent, empirically grounded analyses of major development issues, trends and policies.
The Report highlights the need for both promoting people’s choices and protecting human development achievements. It stresses the importance of identifying and addressing persistent vulnerabilities by building resilience and enhancing people’s capability to cope with shocks—financial, natural or otherwise.
“By addressing vulnerabilities, all people may share in development progress, and human development will become increasingly equitable and sustainable.” —United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark.
As successive Human Development Reports have shown, most people in most countries have been doing steadily better in human development. Advances in technology, education and incomes hold ever-greater promise for longer, healthier, more secure lives. Globalization has on balance produced major human development gains, especially in many countries of the South. But there is also a widespread sense of precariousness in the world today—in livelihoods, in personal security, in the environment and in global politics. High achievements on critical aspects of human development, such as health and nutrition, can quickly be undermined by a natural disaster or economic slump. Theft and assault can leave people physically and psychologically impoverished. Corruption and unresponsive state institutions can leave those in need of assistance without recourse.
This Report seeks to improve understanding and raise awareness about how reducing vulnerability and building resilience are essential for sustainable human development. In doing so, it makes the following central points:
- Vulnerability threatens human development— and unless it is systematically addressed, by changing policies and social norms, progress will be neither equitable nor sustainable
- Life cycle vulnerability, structural vulnerability and insecure lives are fundamental sources of persistent deprivation—and must be addressed for human development to be secured and for progress to be sustained.
- Strong universal social protection not only improves individual resilience—it can also bolster the resilience of the economy as a whole.
- Full employment should be a policy goal for societies at all levels of development.
- Vulnerabilities are increasingly global in their origin and impact, requiring collective action and better international governance.
- A global effort is needed to ensure that globalization advances and protects human development— national measures are more easily enacted when global commitments are in place and global support is available.
The Report makes the case that the sustained enhancement of individuals’ and societies’ capabilities is necessary to reduce these persistent vulnerabilities—many of them structural and many of them tied to the life cycle. Progress has to be about fostering resilient human development. There is much debate about the meaning of resilience, but our emphasis is on human resilience—ensuring that people’s choices are robust, now and in the future, and enabling people to cope and adjust to adverse events.
Additional resources related to the 2014 Human Development Report can be found online at http://hdr.undp.org, including complete editions or summaries of the Report in more than 20 languages, a collection of papers commissioned for the 2014 Report, interactive maps and databases of national human development indicators, full explanations of the sources and methodologies employed in the Report’s human development indices, country profiles and other background materials as well as previous global, regional and national Human Development Reports.