South Asian Regional Consultations for 2012 and 2013 Human Development Reports held in Sri Lanka

05 Feb 2012

image Hon. D. E. W. Gunasekera, Minister of Human Resources Development, speaking during the occasion

In preparation for the 2012 and 2013 HDRs, as part of its global consultation process, UNDP’s Human Development Report Office (HDRO) held a two day regional consultation involving over 40 participants from South Asia in Colombo on the 30th and 31st of January 2012. Jointly organized by the HDRO, UNDP Sri Lanka and the Institute of Policy Studies, the event brought together policy makers, academics and civil society representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Hon. D. E. W. Gunasekera, Minister of Human Resources Development was the Chief Guest at the opening ceremony.

The South Asian regional consultations saw participants deliberate on key areas of focus in the 2012 and 2013 HDRs, including discussions on the changing global dynamics and the diverse paths adopted by emerging and developing economies in their human development, role of the state, emerging development partnerships and accelerating human progress and defining goals beyond 2015. The consultations also aimed to identify new ways to measure the progress of human development since the first HDR in 1990.

Addressing the gathering during the opening ceremony, Hon. Minister Gunasekera noted that Sri Lanka has achieved most of the MDG targets and this was a result of the country’s social welfare policies. Dating back to the 1940s, these policies have been significant in improving the health and education status of the people. “The HDI indicator places Sri Lanka above all other south Asian countries. We’re infact third in the medium human development category. However, this does not mean there are no disparities and inequalities within the country,” he said. Noting that the Government is focused on improving the country’s human development, headed,  “we have now aggressively embarked on infrastructure development, regional development, development of rural economy and the SME sector and the informal economy too is now well within our focus.”

Focusing especially on South Asia, Khalid Malik, Director, HDRO, added, “The region faces a number of development challenges despite rapid economic growth. It also has enormous opportunities for human development. The poorest 26 regions of South Asia have a higher multidimensional poverty index (MPI) and more MPI poor people than Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also the second fastest growing region in the world after East Asia. Between 1990 and 2010, this region has added nearly 800,000 jobs per month on average. It is uniquely placed to accelerate growth, alleviate poverty and eradicate hunger in the next decades. If this potential is realized, South Asia will feature prominently within the rising South.”

The discussions that took place will help enrich the 2012 report titled ‘Rise of the Global South: Human Progress in a Diverse World’, and the 2013, titled, ‘Beyond 2015: Accelerating Human Progress and Defining Goals’

In taking some of these discussions forward, UNDP will initiate an annual Global Human Development Forum, with the first of this set to take place on the 22nd and 23rd of March in Istanbul. The HDRO will also present an issues paper in mid-2012 as a contribution to the global debates on the post 2015 world.