UNDP Releases its New Human Development Report Highlighting Heightened Global Uncertainty and Calling for New Development Course Forward

September 8, 2022


8 September 2022 – Beijing: The world is lurching from crisis to crisis, trapped in a cycle of firefighting and unable to tackle the roots of the troubles that confront us. Without a sharp change of course, we may be heading towards even more deprivations and injustices, warns the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The latest Human Development Report, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World”, launched by UNDP, argues that layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways. The last two years have seen devastating social and economic impacts for billions of people around the world due to COVID-19 and global conflicts, as well as food and energy shortages and increasingly extreme weather events.

For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP have been calculating it, the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally for two years in a row. Human development has fallen back to its 2016 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

The reversal is nearly universal as over 90 percent of countries registered a decline in their HDI score in either 2020 or 2021 and more than 40 percent declined in both years, signaling that the crisis is still deepening for many.

China’s HDI score however, during this two-year period, has increased to .768 from .761 in 2019 and its ranking has improved from 85 to 79. This is due in large part to the country’s pandemic prevention measures which kept deaths from COVID-19 down, and allowed schools to reopen sooner, while the economy benefitted from earlier re-opening and pent-up demand from abroad.

China’s continued role in supporting urgent global agendas, namely the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement will be critical. This particularly true given that global recovery from the combined crises has been slow and uneven. Across the globe, policies to address heightened uncertainties - driven by climate change, the social transformation brought by innovation and technology and polarization across and within countries - have been so far inadequate. This new report explores the reasons for this and looks at why the long-term systemic changes needed to build forward more sustainably aren’t happening.

“In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “This thought-provoking new analysis aims to help us break this impasse and chart a new course out of our current global uncertainty.”

The report recommends policies that focus on investment — from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics, and insurance—including social protection— to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world. While innovation in its many forms— technological, economic, cultural—can also build capacities to respond to whatever challenges come next.

“China has made steady progress on advancing human development including with the eradication of extreme rural poverty in 2020 and the investments that it is making into building a low carbon economy,” says Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative in China. “Moving forward, it will be important to stay ambitious and to build on progress made with concrete urgent actions. We must take advantage of this critical window to accelerate the structural transformations needed for a more sustainable, green, and inclusive world to safeguard the future of people and planet for generations to come.”


To learn more about the 2022 Human Development Report and UNDP’s analysis on navigating the new uncertainty complex, visit https://hdr.undp.org/human-development-report-2021-2