Shaping our Future in a World in Transformation

September 12, 2022

The last two years have had a devastating impact for billions of people around the world, when crises like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back. Humanity’s biggest challenges – the climate and biodiversity crises, inequalities, and political polarization as well as technological upheavals - are piling up and feeding off each other. This is happening at a speed and scale beyond what humans have ever experienced.

The latest Human Development Report (HDR), “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World” just released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), argues that layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways. According to the report, 9 out of 10 countries fall backwards in human development. For the first time in 32 years, Human Development Index (HDI), 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 level, reversing 5 years progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Ghana is ranked 133 out of 191 countries in this year’s report. Between 1990 and 2021, Ghana's HDI value grew from 0.460 to 0.632 reflecting an increase of 37.4 percent. While Ghana has achieved medium human development, the HDI is 27.5 per cent lower when unequal distribution is considered, and the level of gender inequality remains high.

This 2022 HDR has come at a time when we need to make sense of these uncertain times and have a global outlook on collective approaches towards addressing these myriads of issues. With the view and understanding that “uncertainty engenders the possibility of change, also for the better”, the 2022 HDR intimates that implementing policies that focus on the three I’s – investment, innovation and insurance—will go a long way in helping people navigate the new uncertainty complex and thrive in the face of it.

Scale-up Investment in critical sectors

With the confluence of uncertainties and disruption to global supply chains, tailored investments are needed to build local economies that are robust, resilient, and sustainable. We need to invest in people and nature to leverage the role that natural and social capital can play in lifting people out of poverty and in achieving environmental resilience in a world where inequality is drastically addressed. Inevitably, digitalization and data will play a key role in driving the needed change towards sustainable development. Investment in digital infrastructure and economy can support the engagement between different actors resulting in improved transparency, accountability, and good governance.  

Deployment of Strategic Innovations

Innovation in its many forms—technological, economic, cultural—is significant in helping citizens to respond to the unknown challenges that humanity will face. Keeping the environment healthy is critical for our existence. As the 2022 Human Development Report rightly notes, “nature-based human development can protect and enhance natural resources while protecting people from shocks, promoting economic and food security and expanding the choices available to them.” Through our integrated MSMEs ecosystem support programme, we are committed to empowering and building innovative, environmentally sustainable, and resilient startups. This includes 200 young Ghanaian entrepreneurs who recently benefited from our Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation Scholarship Bootcamp with Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Enhancing Inclusive Insurance

Insurance helps protect everyone from the contingencies of an uncertain world. The COVID-19 pandemic not only revealed how little social insurance coverage was but exposed how much more needs to be done. Insurance coverage is particularly low in Africa. In Ghana for instance, a UNDP diagnostic study revealed that about 70% of Ghanaians do not have access to any form of insurance and most insurance products do not respond to the needs of the population. This calls for investment in inclusive insurance and risk finance to close the protection gap. The UNDP’s Insurance and Risk Finance Facility interventions in different countries including Ghana, is a great example of an innovative solution aimed at bridging the disaster protection gap.


With less than a decade left to realize the 2030 agenda of transforming our world for people, planet and prosperity, all may not be well, but all is not lost either, as highlighted in the report. The value lies in our collective approaches to increase investments in innovative development solutions, including preparedness for pandemics and social protection, to build back stronger and greener. UNDP remains committed to serving with all actors to make a difference in building resilience towards a sustainable society that leaves no one behind.


The value lies in our collective approaches to increase investments in innovative development solutions, including preparedness for pandemics and social protection, to build back stronger and greener.
Angela Lusigi