UNDP warns about emergence of new inequalities due to technological challenges and the climate crisis
The global Human Development Report “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st century”, launched today in the city of Bogota by the UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, and the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, reveals that a new generation of inequalities is emerging around the digital transformation, climate crisis and access to knowledge.
The Report shows that in addition to the already known gaps in aspects related with the most basic living conditions – in which enormous progress has been made but significant challenges remain- new gaps arise for people to live the life they want.
For instance, when looking at the growing inequalities resulting from the digital transformation, the HDR2019 finds that fixed broadband subscriptions are growing 15 times faster in countries with very high human development than in countries with low human development, and that the proportion of the adult population with higher education is also growing more than six times faster than in countries with low human development. These elements, until recently considered accessories, are now essential for people to be able to choose the life paths they want.
These gaps are increasing all over the planet. The same is happening with the climate change, aggravated by the fact that the countries that suffer most from its effects are not the cause of it. Latin America and the Caribbean is highly vulnerable to climate change, for example, in coastal cities such as Cartagena, which are at risk due to rising sea levels, or in regions as La Mojana or La Guajira, where extreme weather events increase in intensity and frequency, generating greater floods and droughts that affect the most vulnerable people.
Colombia, one of the most dynamic countries in the region, and host for the first time of the global launch in Latin America, has undergone major transformations in recent decades, evidenced by halving its monetary poverty from 49% in 2002 to 27% in 2018. This is undoubtedly an advance confirmed by the Human Development Index in 2019.
Colombia is ranked 79 out of 189 countries, which places the country in the High Human Development category. Between 1990 and 2018, the country’s Human Development Index rose from 0.600 to 0.761, a notable increase of 26.9%. Life expectancy at birth increased by 7.4 years, while years of schooling increased by 2.9, and average schooling increased by 5.5 years. Likewise, per capita income increased 74.5% (from 7,392 to 12,896 PPP$). However, when the Index is adjusted for inequality, countries such as Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia record significant declines in their human development. Latin America continues to be the most unequal region in the world, revealing a structural challenge accumulated over the past decades.
“What we are seeing today is the crest of a wave of inequality. What happens next will depend on the decisions we make. Inequality begins at birth, defines the freedom and opportunities of children, adults and older people, and is passed on to the next generation. Similarly, policies aimed at preventing inequalities can also follow the life cycle”, said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.
Particularly, the HDR2019 recommends, among others:
- Advance towards a new generation of measurement tools, to fill the data gaps, measure different types of inequalities and systematically go beyond averages.
- Avoid deepening human development inequalities in the 21st century by focusing on combating the new generation of inequalities, many of which are just beginning to emerge.
- In public policy, the HDR2019 suggests a series of policies to address inequalities in human development as part of a framework, linking the expansion and distribution of both capabilities and income throughout the life cycle.
This Report, which goes beyond averages and invites us to move forward with a battery of indicators to measure and inform policy decisions, is an opportunity to review how inequalities throughout the life cycle are impacting the future of people, even before they are born, and serves as a roadmap for achieving a more just and equitable development, where opportunities reach all people and places without leaving anyone behind.
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UNDP warns about emergence of new inequalities
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