Zambia Launches the Human Development Report 2023/24

May 17, 2024
An image of the cover the Human Development Report 2023/24: Breaking the Gridlock

For Immediate Release

Lusaka, Zambia, 17th May 2024 – Uneven development progress is leaving the poorest behind, exacerbating inequality, and stoking political polarization on a global scale. The result is a dangerous gridlock that must be urgently tackled through collective action, according to a new report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

Today, UNDP Zambia held the national launch for the 2023/24 Human Development Report (HDR), titled “Breaking the Gridlock: Reimagining cooperation in a polarized world", alongside the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, and the UN Resident Coordinator for Zambia, Ms Beatrice Mutali.

The report reveals a troubling trend: a rebound in the global Human Development Index (HDI) – the summary measure reflecting a country’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, education, and life expectancy – has been partial, incomplete, and unequal. 

When the report was first published in 1990 with an introduction of a new Human Development Index (HDI), Zambia has an HDI of 0.417, today its HDI value has grown by over 36% and currently sits at 0.569 – leaving the nation with a rank of 153 out of 193 countries and territories. While this grants Zambia middle-income status, the nation has many strides to make before it can be considered a high-income state.

The HDI was projected to reach record highs in 2023 after steep declines during 2020 and 2021. But this progress is deeply uneven. Rich countries are experiencing record-high levels of human development while half of the world’s poorest countries remain below their pre-crisis level of progress. 

Global inequalities are compounded by substantial economic concentration and disasters.  As referenced in the report, almost 40 percent of global trade in goods is concentrated in three or fewer countries; and in 2021 the market capitalization of each of the three largest tech companies in the world surpassed the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than 90 percent of countries that year.

“The widening human development gap revealed by the report shows that the two-decade trend of steadily reducing inequalities between wealthy and poor nations is now in reverse. Despite our deeply interconnected global societies, we are falling short. We must leverage our interdependence as well as our capacities to address our shared and existential challenges and ensure people’s aspirations are met,” said Achim Steiner, head of the UN Development Programme. “This gridlock carries a significant human toll. The failure of collective action to advance action on climate change, digitalization or poverty and inequality not only hinders human development but also worsens polarization and further erodes trust in people and institutions worldwide.”

The also report emphasizes how global interdependence is being reconfigured and calls for a new generation of global public goods. It proposes four areas for immediate action: 

  • planetary public goods, for climate stability, as we confront the unprecedented challenges of the Anthropocene; 
  • digital global public goods, for greater equity in harnessing new technologies for equitable human development; 
  • new and expanded financial mechanisms, including a novel track in international cooperation that complements humanitarian assistance and traditional development aid to low-income countries; and 
  • dialling down political polarization through new governance approaches focused on enhancing people's voices in deliberation and tackling misinformation.


In this context, multilateralism plays a fundamental role, the report argues, because bilateral engagements are not able to address the irreducibly planetary nature of the provision of global public goods. Speaking at the national launch of the HDR, Mr James Wakiaga, the Resident Representative of UNDP Zambia, stated, “Zambia is vulnerable to climate change. Scaling up climate finance and technology transfer through multilateral funds and South-South cooperation is crucial to support Zambia's adaptation and low-carbon development efforts.”


For further details, contact the UNDP Zambia’s Communication Analyst, Ms. Mercy Khozi at

To view the full report, visit 


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About UNDP Human Development Report Office

The mission of the Human Development Report Office (HDRO) is to advance human development. The goal is to contribute towards the expansion of opportunities, choice, and freedom. The office works towards this goal by promoting innovative new ideas, advocating practical policy changes, and 

constructively challenging policies and approaches that constrain human development. The office works with others to achieve change through writing and research, data analysis and presentation, support to national and regional analysis and outreach and advocacy work.



UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in some 177 countries and territories, we offer a global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.