"Human development is about expanding human choices"

September 12, 2022
A person speaking, another person listens

UNDP RR Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labe’s addressing at the launch of the report in Kathmandu.

UNDP Nepal

‘I’m anxious’, ‘I'm tired’, ‘I'm stressed’, ‘worried’, ‘tensed’, ‘upset’ on the edge. These are some of the responses that we may get when we ask – ‘how are you doing?’. These are the uncertainties that the report we are going to launch today and been launched globally two days ago talks about. The report is going to present the modelling of these uncertainties and see how they shape the human development. And those feelings of anger, anxiousness, the worry or the fear, they're going high. And the mental distress is disproportionately higher among young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or other sexual minority.

These feelings are not different than what they used to be in the past but we think that they're going high and we know that people today are much more uncertain about their present situation and future. So, we know that they affect the mental health, the education or the state of living and also the trust between each other inside the family, inside the community, within the society and also the way we would exercise our freedom or the way that we want to be or the way we want to do the things. So that is simply the human development.

So, after discussing about the uncertainties, the report will definitely look into how these uncertainties and the human development are interacting. I know Dr. Wagle will go deep into that. But that is the second piece about human development and the uncertainty complex. The thought being that the how and what we can bring to these uncertainties and to the human development interaction, basically proposing innovation, insurance and investment as we speak some of the examples that we could propose so that we can reverse whatever that we are losing because of the climate, because of the crisis, because of the conflict and the planetary pressures that we are going through. So, this is what we are going to listen to with the eminent panel we have with us. 

Notably, the report also points to the fact that Nepal continues to incur substantive losses in human development due to persisting inequalities. This year’s report also shows that Nepal recorded a loss of over 25% in human development due to inequalities across gender, caste, geographic regions and other categories. As the inequality in a country increases, the loss in human development also increases. This means our development policies and plans need to place high priority in promoting equalities across gender, caste and other categories so that the losses in HDI can be addressed.

I really thank each one of you for being here. And also to tell you a bit how in 32 years on, the first human development report was in 1990, it has been 32 years that UNDP has been publishing this flagship product so that we can influence the development discourse and also influence the policies in countries that is what we have been trying and it is also to (incite) debate more than where we stand in terms of the index or where we stand in terms of the value. So, I hope that the today's discussion will contribute to that debate. 

I am very pleased to tell you as we launch it in Kathmandu, we are also launching the report in all seven provincial capitals of Nepal. So, from this morning, every provincial capital in Nepal is also launching this report in partnership with the universities, Provincial Planning Commissions. We hope the debate does not happen only in Kathmandu but the debate and the knowledge also goes to the provinces, local governments, the policy makers, the students and everyone that is interested in the human development.

Even it has been 32 years, the fundamentals have not changed: it's about people because human development is about people. It’s about the choices that the people make – it has not changed since 1990. It’s about the options that people should have and about the options we as policy makers, we as duty-bearers can perhaps make sure that a conducive environment can make it happen. So, this is what I think the human development is about and what we are trying to promote and basically, to stay open and flexible so that whatever the investment, the insurance or the innovation we do, will contribute to tomorrow's Nepal enhancing the choices that the Nepalis have in Nepal. So, thanking once again and wishing you a very fruitful morning, I wish you all very important session here. Thank you!


Speech of UNDP Resident Representative Ayshanie Medagangoda Labe during the launch of Human Development Report 2021-2022 in Kathmandu