Human Development Report 2014: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Deepening Progress

09 Nov 2013

Opening Remarks
By
Eugene Owusu
UNDP Resident Representative


Consultations on
“Human Development Report 2014: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Deepening Progress”

Excellency Mr Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency in Charge of the National Planning Commission, South Africa;

Excellency Dr. Anthony Mothae Maruping, ANC Commissioner for Economic Affairs;

Dr Fannie Leautier, Executive Secretary of ACBF;

Ms. Eva Jespersen, Deputy Director of the Human Development Report Office;

Colleagues;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

On behalf of UNDP, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all of you on behalf of UNDP to the Africa consultation on the 2014 Human Development Report.

I would like to recognize the present of His Excellency Mr Trevor Manuel.

Allow me to say a few words about the Human Development Report to set the context for discussions of this morning.

Since 1990, the human development paradigm has changed the way we think about development. (This has decisively moved the discourse away from what seems like worshipping at the altar of GNP – as if GNP/K was an end in itself). To-date over 700 human development reports have been prepared including global, national, regional and local levels report in some 135 countries.

The concept of human development advocates for people-centred development, recognizing that people are the real wealth of nations. It has inspired the growing understanding that the basic objective of development goes well beyond economic growth.

Recommendations emanating from the reports have been a catalyst for change, generating attention and debate among stakeholders and policy makers as they raise public awareness about issues which concern us all: poverty, people’s participation, gender inequality, human rights, cultural liberty, water scarcity, climate change, migration, and most recently, the rise of the global South.

The last two HDRs indicated that there has been tremendous progress in human development over the last four decades. New economic powers have emerged, bringing along new forms of development partnerships. Globalization and new technologies are reshaping lives everywhere.

In my view, the theme of the 2014 Report, ‘Sustaining Human Development: Addressing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience’ could not be more timely. Its insights could contribute valuably to the discussions around the post-2015 development agenda.

More than that, as countries in the developing world seek to shore up their resilience in the face of shocks, whatever their nature, building capacities and societies which can bounce back in the face of adversity is increasingly urgent to all development actors.

Achieving resilience necessarily requires building on the innate strength of individuals, their communities, and institutions to prevent, mitigate the impacts of, and learn from the experience of shocks of any type, internal or external; natural or man-made; economic, health-related, political, or social.
 
Hard won gains need to be protected now more than ever, unless we are ready for them to be wiped away when difficulties strike. Sustainability of development is not guaranteed.

As these consultations are taking place in Ethiopia, allow me to say a few words about Ethiopia and the subject-matter of our consultations.

Here in Ethiopia, the country has made notable advances in recent years in shoring up resilience to shocks like droughts, and providing social protection measures for those who need them.

Underpinning these efforts is a strong Government commitment to address vulnerabilities and foster sustainable human development.

The messages and findings of the 2014 Human Development Report therefore have the potential to be of great importance to development discussions and interventions in Ethiopia.

My colleague Eva Jesperson, the Deputy Director of the Human Development Report Office, is here today to engage us in a discussion about the preliminary findings of the 2014 HDR.

We are also fortunate to have with us senior officials from the Ethiopian and South African Governments, and from the Economic Commission for Africa, amongst others to give their perspectives on some of the development opportunities and challenges facing countries in Africa.

I am confident that we will use this opportunity to reflect and engage openly and constructively on issues related to reducing vulnerabilities and deepening progress. This is an important occasion to help make the 2014 Human Development Report the best document it can be.

I am also delighted that today’s event affords us the opportunity to jointly assess the implications of the Report’s findings for Africa as we seek to improve resilience through our ongoing interventions.

I thank all participants for converging here in Addis to consult on this Report. Judging by the caliber of people gathered here today, I have no doubt that we will have very productive deliberations.