Asia-Pacific Regional Consultation for the 2023 Human Development Report Held Today; Consultations Centred on theme of Governance Mismatches

June 7, 2023

Photo of Panel Speakers: Joseph D’Cruz, Former Senior Advisor to the UNDP Administrator and Lead Author of the UNDP Strategic Plan 2022-2025, Ms Yanchun Zhang, Moderator, Chief Statistician, UNDP; Professor Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Executive Director, Sunway Centre for Planetary Health; and Tan Sri Azman Hj. Mokhtar, Chairman, Lembaga Tabung Haji and former Managing Director Khazanah Nasional Berhad.

Sunway Center for Planetary Health


KUALA LUMPUR, 7 June 2023– The Asia Pacific regional consultation for the next series of Human Development Reports kicked off today – a joint effort by the United Nations Development Programme and the Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, Sunway University. More than 100 attendees participated in the public panel session today. 

The consultations intend to ignite conversations, with the purpose of seeking input and advice from thematic and regional experts the upcoming report’s content. Consultations will inform the process of developing the report and ensure that it speaks to key human development issues and challenges for people and policymakers.

The Human Development Report (HDR) has been published annually by UNDP’s Human Development Report Office since 1990. Each year, HDRs explore different themes through the human development approach. The reports have extensive influence on development debate worldwide. In 2022, Malaysia maintained its position at number 62 out of 191 countries and territories with an HDI score placing it in the 'Very High Human Development' category. 

The recent series of HDRs (2021-22) found that average progress in traditional development indicators has not necessarily translated into increased individual life satisfaction. Globally, perceptions of insecurity and feelings of distress are reaching record highs: 6 out of 7 people report feeling insecure about many aspects of their lives, including in high-income countries; and stress and sadness are on the rise. Over the past two years, and for the first time ever, the global human development index has declined – setting global progress back to 2016-levels.

The 2023 HDR will be the first in a new series, focusing on why political and social polarization is intensifying across the world, and how to foster cooperation and collective action in the face of shared challenges.

During the panel session, panelist Professor Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Executive Director, Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, Sunway University said “The 2022 HDR explained the very real challenges that come with the transition to a period in human history where our actions have a determining consequence on the state of the planet; where the health of planet and people are irrevocably intertwined and where we are struggling with uncertainties that humanity has not previously experienced. This uncertainty complex is cascading, and colliding, and we have to find a way out of it.” 

Keynote speaker Tan Sri Azman Hj. Mokhtar, Chairman, Lembaga Tabung Haji Malaysia added “At the end of the day, the great variable is us, human beings. Hence, the Anthropocene. We have been given both a gift and a curse, and that is free will and personal agency. It is our actions that impact the state of the planet.”

Panelist Joseph D’Cruz said, “Governance of our economic systems are traditionally built on contestation. That limitless individual creative destruction no longer works when there are limits beyond our control – planetary boundaries. We need to bring citizens deeper into the process of developing policies, invest in social capital – education and healthcare, and political and economic governance systems can only function when built upon strong social foundations, trust, shared values and interest”. 

For further information, please contact:

Nur Hazirah Marzuki
Senior Communications Officer, Sunway Centre for Planetary Health, Sunway University

Niloy Banerjee
Resident Representative, UNDP Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei Darussalam
03-8689 6000