Talking points at the workshop on selecting a theme for NHDR 2013

24 May 2013

Speaker: UNDP Country Director, Ms. Louise Chamberlain
Date:       Friday 24th May 2013
Event:      Workshop on Selecting a Theme for NHDR 2013
Venue:     Meeting Room 3D, VASS, 1 Lieu Giai, Ha Noi

Mr. Nguyễn Giang Hải, Director of Department for International Cooperation, Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences

Distinguished guests, colleagues and friends

I would like to welcome you all to today’s workshop. Today’s workshop marks the beginning of a series of consultations, which are a core part of the process of preparing the next Vietnam National Human Development report.

The Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences (VASS) and UNDP have a long history of collaboration on human development reports, starting with the first ever national Human Development Report in 2001. The first VNHDR focused on doi moi policy reforms and their impact on poverty reduction and human development. The second human development report, launched in 2011, highlighted the importance of social services for human development. Both reports provided timely and critical policy recommendations on some of Vietnam’s most important development challenges.

Since the first NHDR was launched Vietnam has seen remarkable change. Vietnam’s human development has been rising steadily, the country is now at the medium human development stage and has ‘graduated’ to middle income country status. As such, it faces new development opportunities as well as new challenges which will need to be tackled, particularly if Vietnam is to overcome the so-called ‘middle income trap’ and to accelerate its human development progress.

As you are all aware, recently the growth momentum has lost steam, due to external and internal factors. Poverty reduction has slowed and inequalities, particularly inequalities in voice and power, have been rising. These inequalities are exacerbating Vietnam’s economic and structural challenges and affect the pattern and pace of growth as well as human development progress. The next NHDR will, like its predecessors, provide an important contribution to the discussion about how to address some of these challenges.

Human Development Approach

I would like to reiterate the core principles underlying the human development approach and start by quoting one of its most notable advocates, Amartya Sen, and I quote: "Human development, as an approach, is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it." End of quote.

The central thesis of human development reports is therefore that it is people who matter--beyond GDP growth or macroeconomic stability. People must be at the centre of our development debate-- what really counts is how they participate in economic growth and how they benefit from it. Human development is the process of enlarging people’s choices by expanding their capabilities to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have a decent standard of living and to participate actively in community life.

Globally this concept has guided more than twenty years of global Human Development Reports, more than 600 National Human Development Reports as well as many regionally focused reports.

In our session here today, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Ha will provide you with an overview of the NHDR process and its requirements. So I would just like to emphasize a few issues that we consider to be of particular importance:

  • A National HDR is primarily a policy advocacy document. It engages key stakeholders from government, civil society, media and academia in an informed and consultative manner on long-term issues of critical policy relevance to a country.
  • A participatory and inclusive process is therefore central and will allow ownership and buy-in among a wide range of audience. The preparation process for the NHDR includes a series of consultations with government, civil society, media, technical experts and development partners. As I mentioned already, today marks the beginning of this process.
  • Other core principles are the importance of quality of analysis using evidence-based research as well as independence of analysis. The report should draw on a variety of sources, to the extent possible generate new data and promote innovative ways of examining human development trends. In this context we will work with many partners, both national and international to ensure that synergies are maximized and that the report also builds on already available material.

I look forward to a fruitful and constructive discussion today. Your inputs will ensure that the next National Human Development Report advocates effectively for national policies that ensure more equitable and sustainable development.

Thank you for your attention!