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The 2019 Human Development Report will provide a comprehensive picture of the many forms of inequality that are shaping the 21st century.

UNDP’s Human Development Report (HDR) celebrates its 30th birthday next year, and the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) is embarking on a major effort to re-articulate human development for today’s world.

The HDR came at a turning point in the global development debate, marking a new era in which progress was not defined by economic growth alone, but by people’s opportunities and freedoms. Global development stands at another milestone today: the 2030 Agenda offers a roadmap to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy lasting peace and prosperity. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer an opportunity for human development thinking to inspire a new generation of work to revolutionize global development.

They also provide an opportunity to rethink development. We will start with inequality.

There is no doubt that despite some progress, today’s world remains deeply unfair. The prospects of a newborn in a poor country or household are radically different from those of wealthier children. Everywhere longstanding forms of inequality persist while gaps are opening in new aspects of life. The next Human Development Report, to be released towards the end of 2019, will focus on understanding those dimensions of inequality most important to people’s well-being, and what is driving them.

The 2019 report will provide a comprehensive global analysis of inequality using a brand-new framework that goes:

·         Beyond income – to consider other inequalities – health, education, access to technologies and exposure to shocks – that are important to wellbeing;

·         Beyond averages – to move away from an analysis dominated by summary measures like the Gini coefficient, leveraging new data to paint a more accurate picture of inequality across the planet;

·         Beyond today - taking a long-term view of inequality to 2030 and beyond.

Using such a framework will allow the report to tackle emerging challenges, including understanding how inequality in key areas of human development is converging and diverging at the same time. For example, in many places the gap between rich and poor children has closed when we look at their access to primary education. But differences between these children are widening when we consider the quality of that education.

HDRO will not do this work alone and the 2019 report builds upon a rich history of producing human development reports in partnership with others. Numerous consultations are already planned around the world including a symposium on Measuring Inequality in the 21st Century in New York at the end of March.

The Human Development Report has always sought to influence policy. This year the discussion about inequality will be central on the global stage. The High-Level Political Forum, the G20 and G7 meetings and the first SDG Summit for Heads of State and Government will give an opportunity to ensure UNDP’s very own human development thinking helps to shape both global understanding of inequality and global responses to tackle it. We hope that the Human Development Report will continue to evolve as a platform for analysis, debate and policy making, so that human development thinking can guide work for the achievement of the SDGs and beyond.

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