City2City
HLPF 2020 Side-Event: Imagine a post-COVID-19 city—with women's human rights
08 July 2020 - This panel discussion will challenge us to imagine the post COVID-19 city that respects women’s human rights, builds resilience and prevents crises, and puts feminist and women’s movements’ aspirations into local action. Panelists will include representatives from the feminist and women’s movement, UN agencies and mayors. The event will open up to a Town Hall meeting using Zoom and will have simultaneous interpretation.

08 July 2020 - This panel discussion will challenge us to imagine the post-COVID-19 city that respects women’s human rights, builds resilience and prevents crises, and puts feminist and women’s movements’ aspirations into local action. Panelists will include representatives from the feminist and women’s movement, UN agencies, and mayors. The event will open up to a Town Hall meeting using Zoom and will have simultaneous interpretation.

This side-event to the High-Level Political Forum 2020 is being organized by the International Alliance of Women, Feminist and Women's Movement Action Plan, NGO CSW/NY, Habitat (To Be Confirmed) and UN Women (To Be Confirmed).

Event Details:

COVID-19 and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery
02 July 2020 - This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity.

02 July 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is unleashing a human development crisis. On some dimensions of human development, conditions today are equivalent to levels of deprivation last seen in the mid-1980s.

But the crisis is hitting hard on all of human development’s constitutive elements: income (with the largest contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression), health (directly causing a death toll over 300,000 and indirectly leading potentially to an additional 6,000 child deaths every day from preventable causes over the next 6 months) and education (with effective out-of-school rates – meaning, accounting for the inability to access the internet – in primary education expected to drop to the levels of actual rates of the mid-1980s levels). This, not counting less visible indirect effects, including increased domestic violence, yet to be fully documented.

The pandemic was superimposed on unresolved tensions between people and technology, between people and the planet, between the haves and the have-nots. These tensions were already shaping a new generation of inequalities—pertaining to enhanced capabilities, the new necessities of the 21st century, as defined in the 2019 Human Development Report. But the response to the crisis can shape how those tensions are addressed and whether inequalities in human development are reduced.

This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity. To assess the crisis, the note draws from original simulations that are based on an adjusted Human Development Index—with the education dimension modified to reflect the effects of school closures and mitigation measures—and that incorporate current projections of gross national income (GNI) per capita for 2020.

The simulations suggest conditions today would correspond to a steep and unprecedented decline in human development. With almost 9 in 10 students out of school and deep recessions in most economies (including a 4 percent drop in GNI per capita worldwide), the decline in the index –reflecting a narrowing in capabilities-- would be equivalent to erasing all the progress in human development of the past six years. Importantly, if conditions in school access are restored, capabilities related to education would immediately bounce back – while the income dimension would follow the path of the economic recovery post-crisis. The simulations also show the importance of promoting equity in capabilities. In a scenario with more equitable internet access—where each country closes the gap with the leaders in its human development category—the decline in human development would be more than halved. This would be eminently affordable. In 2018 it was estimated that $100 billion would be needed to close the gap in internet access in low- and middle-income countries—or about 1 percent of the extraordinary fiscal programmes announced around the world so far.

The note suggests three principles to shape the response to the crisis:

  • Look at the response through an equity lens.i Countries, communities and groups already lagging in enhanced capabilities will be particularly affected, and leaving them further behind will have long-term impacts on human development.
  • Focus on people’s enhanced capabilities. This could reconcile apparent tradeoffs between public health and economic activity (a means to the end of expanding capabilities) but would also help build resilience for future shocks.
  • Follow a coherent multidimensional approach. Since the crisis has multiple interconnected dimensions (health, economic, and several social aspects, decisions on the allocation of fiscal resources that can either further lock-in or break free from carbon-intensive production and consumption), a systemic approach—rather than a sector-by-sector sequential approach—is essential. A recent survey conducted in 14 countries found that 71 percent of adults globally consider that climate change is as serious a crisis as COVID-19, with two-thirds supporting government actions to prioritise climate change during the recovery. ii

The United Nations has proposed a framework for the immediate socioeconomic response,iii with which this note is fully consistent and meant to inform and further flesh out both the analysis of the crisis and possible responses.

Finally, the note also highlights the importance of collective action—at the community, country, and global levels. And the response to this crisis is showing how people around the world are responding collectively. The adoption of social distancing behaviour—which in some cases started before formal policies were put in place—could not possibly be fully enforced. It depended on the voluntary cooperation of billions of people. And it was done in response to a shared global risk that brought to the fore as a priority something other than having economies grow more rapidly. If we needed proof of concept that humanity can respond collectively to a shared global challenge, we are now living through it.

Read the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

COVID-19 and Human Development: Assessing the Crisis, Envisioning the Recovery
02 July 2020 - This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity. 

02 July 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is unleashing a human development crisis. On some dimensions of human development, conditions today are equivalent to levels of deprivation last seen in the mid-1980s.

But the crisis is hitting hard on all of human development’s constitutive elements: income (with the largest contraction in economic activity since the Great Depression), health (directly causing a death toll over 300,000 and indirectly leading potentially to an additional 6,000 child deaths every day from preventable causes over the next 6 months) and education (with effective out-of-school rates – meaning, accounting for the inability to access the internet – in primary education expected to drop to the levels of actual rates of the mid-1980s levels). This, not counting less visible indirect effects, including increased domestic violence, yet to be fully documented.

The pandemic was superimposed on unresolved tensions between people and technology, between people and the planet, between the haves and the have-nots. These tensions were already shaping a new generation of inequalities—pertaining to enhanced capabilities, the new necessities of the 21st century, as defined in the 2019 Human Development Report. But the response to the crisis can shape how those tensions are addressed and whether inequalities in human development are reduced.

This note takes a capabilities approach to document the severity of the unfolding human development crisis. Such an approach implies an evaluative framework to assess the crisis and shape the policy response that emphasizes the potential for people to be and do what they aspire in life as opposed to material resources or economic activity. To assess the crisis, the note draws from original simulations that are based on an adjusted Human Development Index—with the education dimension modified to reflect the effects of school closures and mitigation measures—and that incorporate current projections of gross national income (GNI) per capita for 2020.

The simulations suggest conditions today would correspond to a steep and unprecedented decline in human development. With almost 9 in 10 students out of school and deep recessions in most economies (including a 4 percent drop in GNI per capita worldwide), the decline in the index –reflecting a narrowing in capabilities-- would be equivalent to erasing all the progress in human development of the past six years. Importantly, if conditions in school access are restored, capabilities related to education would immediately bounce back – while the income dimension would follow the path of the economic recovery post-crisis. The simulations also show the importance of promoting equity in capabilities. In a scenario with more equitable internet access—where each country closes the gap with the leaders in its human development category—the decline in human development would be more than halved. This would be eminently affordable. In 2018 it was estimated that $100 billion would be needed to close the gap in internet access in low- and middle-income countries—or about 1 percent of the extraordinary fiscal programmes announced around the world so far.

The note suggests three principles to shape the response to the crisis:

  • Look at the response through an equity lens.i Countries, communities and groups already lagging in enhanced capabilities will be particularly affected, and leaving them further behind will have long-term impacts on human development.
  • Focus on people’s enhanced capabilities. This could reconcile apparent tradeoffs between public health and economic activity (a means to the end of expanding capabilities) but would also help build resilience for future shocks.
  • Follow a coherent multidimensional approach. Since the crisis has multiple interconnected dimensions (health, economic, and several social aspects, decisions on the allocation of fiscal resources that can either further lock-in or break free from carbon-intensive production and consumption), a systemic approach—rather than a sector-by-sector sequential approach—is essential. A recent survey conducted in 14 countries found that 71 percent of adults globally consider that climate change is as serious a crisis as COVID-19, with two-thirds supporting government actions to prioritise climate change during the recovery. ii

The United Nations has proposed a framework for the immediate socioeconomic response,iii with which this note is fully consistent and meant to inform and further flesh out both the analysis of the crisis and possible responses.

Finally, the note also highlights the importance of collective action—at the community, country, and global levels. And the response to this crisis is showing how people around the world are responding collectively. The adoption of social distancing behaviour—which in some cases started before formal policies were put in place—could not possibly be fully enforced. It depended on the voluntary cooperation of billions of people. And it was done in response to a shared global risk that brought to the fore as a priority something other than having economies grow more rapidly. If we needed proof of concept that humanity can respond collectively to a shared global challenge, we are now living through it.

Read the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

Cities as bridges between SDGs and citizens in a post-COVID-19 world: elements for socio-economic recovery

The Venice City Solutions Series is a yearly event addressing issues that are central to the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local level, with specific focus to the

role of local and regional governments as key drivers of the 2030 Agenda. In 2019, the event focused on how the SDGs can be an instrument to create citizenship and to promote the values of the Agenda as well as on strategies to bring the SDGs closer to the people.

Each year, the organizers of Venice City Solutions 2030 bring the recommendations of the event to the formal mechanism of the HLPF. This year, this official side event has adapted the narrative of SDG role in creating citizenship to the situation created by the COVID 19 pandemic. 

As the COVID-19 global health crisis has demonstrated, we live in an uncertain world; and recovering from the current crisis is going to require both strong individual action and a monumental collective effort. The contribution and collaboration of citizens in the recovery phase of the pandemic is going to be even more relevant than in our recent past. Local and regional governments are responding to the emergency by keeping essential services going, caring for the most vulnerable and finding rapid solutions to adapt to changing and unpredictable needs. Socio-economic recovery, with a global economy that has come to a sudden stop, is going to require local development and a lot of local action. Local and regional governments are going to play a substantial role in bringing the citizens along, on one end, and to support local businesses and local economic action, on the other. Within this new context, coordination between spheres of government and policy coherence between central and local governments will be more important than ever. Multi-level governance needs to be strengthened both vertically and horizontally.

The event will gather representatives of local and regional governments, their associations, Mayors, Governors and other governmental representatives and selected partners to discuss the way ahead for SDG implementation at local level.

This HLPF side event is co-organized by AICCRE, UCLG, UNDP, UN-Habitat and the UN SDG Action Campaign.

Tackling Social Norms: A game changer for gender inequalities
02 July 2020 - The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population. The analysis reveals that despite decades of progress closing the equality gap between men and women, close to 90 percent of men and women hold some sort of bias against women, providing new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality. The publication also includes the GSNI trends for 31 countries, representing 59 percent of the global population. The trends show that while in some countries there have been improvements, in others, attitudes appear to have worsened in recent years, signaling that progress cannot be taken for granted.

02 July 2020 - Gender disparities are a persistent form of inequality in every country. Despite remarkable progress in some areas, no country in the world—rich or poor—has achieved gender equality. All too often, women and girls are discriminated against in health, in education, at home, and in the labour market with negative repercussions for their freedoms.

This is the time for a reality check. The commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (Beijing+25) provides an opportunity to reassess the path to gender equality and adjust actions to close gender gaps.

The Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI) measures how social beliefs obstruct gender equality in areas like politics, work, and education, and contains data from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population.

The analysis reveals that, despite decades of progress closing the equality gap between men and women, close to 90 percent of men and women hold some sort of bias against women, providing new clues to the invisible barriers women face in achieving equality.

According to the index, about half of the world’s men and women feel that men make better political leaders, and over 40 percent feel that men make better business executives and that men have more right to a job when jobs are scarce. 28 percent think it is justified for a man to beat his wife.

The publication also includes the GSNI trends for 31 countries, representing 59 percent of the global population. The trends show that while in some countries there have been improvements, in others, attitudes appear to have worsened in recent years, signaling that progress cannot be taken for granted.

Read the full report here or download the attached PDF of the report.

Smart city initiative for a rapidly urbanizing eastern African city

There is currently a continental push for 'smart cities' amongst the leadership to incorporate 'smart cities' into their urbanization strategies. This move means cities can tackle unplanned urbanization and high population growth challenges. The Addis Ababa city administration is aware of this challenge and plans to host a Smart City Hub establishment programme with the support of UNDP-Ethiopia. 

Smart city initiative for a rapidly urbanizing eastern African city

Published by UNDP on 29 August 2022

Urbanisation in Ethiopia

Addis Ababa has been a vibrant city since its foundation, serving as Ethiopia's primary economic, social, and political centre for over 130 years. The city has witnessed several developments since its establishment as the capital, a driving force behind much of the continuous and linear population and urban expansion. 

But such developments have not been satisfactorily documented to inform urban developers, researchers, policymakers, and citizens. In developing cities like Addis Ababa, with a fast-growing economy and very complex social problems arising from high population growth and many unsatisfied demands, it is becoming challenging for city administrators to solve many societal problems. 

Throughout the years, the strain on infrastructure and urban footprint has meant that the city's development has lagged in delivering on demand for resources. 

The information gap could have been filled by having a proper urban database that will enable us to obtain data and information on every smart city dimension and open it to the public and the private sector. 

This lack of such an information centre has limited the participation of the different stakeholders in the generation of ideas and sourcing of urban-related data platforms for development planning.  

Following this, the Accelerator Lab plans to focus on exploring how we might create a space for urban innovators that respond to citizens' needs for information, finance, and ideation, which can shape the 'smartness' of the city.

Smart City Hub

Globally, the concept of a smart city is becoming more and more relevant. Despite this development, confusion remains about what a smart city is, and the use of the term is inconsistent. The Smart City approach demands the storage of big data in one centre and a consistent approach to recording data. This will require investment in both technological infrastructure and the human capital to use it.

The African Smart Cities Strategies for Agenda 2063 elaborates on how cities can shape the continent's future and demonstrates that smarter cities can reduce urban challenges. 

At the national level, Ethiopia has also launched 'smart city' efforts encompassing the four pillars of comprehensive development – institutional, physical, social, and economic infrastructure. 

The hub will provide a resource centre to support innovation in urban solutions and leverage already researched and successfully implemented work to facilitate sustainable urban development in the city. The hub will also act as a platform for urban-related data generation contributed by citizens and used by the government as a reliable source of feedback systems with its residents. 

Nevertheless, before the hub establishment, a contextual understanding of a 'smart city' could yield a meaningful definition and comparison among Ethiopian cities. 

What is Next?

The accelerator lab plans to host a series of collective intelligence sessions to understand the contextualized concept of 'smart city hubs' from resident and municipality perspectives. The insight from this exercise will guide thinking around what data and information, think tanks, and idea innovation could be integrated with the hub. 

In addition, we will use participatory design to engage citizens as problem solvers. In order to create an interactive space, the data needs to be visualized and mapped in an engaging and easily consumable way. 

This will allow us to see what type of information would be consumed and sought after. Questions include: Do our learning questions focus on how we can engage the community directly on the problem definition and ideation within the smart city hub? What type of infrastructure, information, and knowledge is needed/desired to set up the smart city hub? What type of partnerships and organizational structures are required? 

This exercise will help to identify the overall pathways to developing a smart city hub.

We will be sharing our findings and what we learned in the next blog, but we would love to hear your comments and suggestion, so feel free to reach out on social media or at ethiopia.acclab@undp.org

Retrieved from https://www.undp.org/ethiopia/blog/smart-city-initiative-rapidly-urbanizing-eastern-african-city

Cleaning the Air and Improving People’s Health in Almaty

What needs to be done to create a prosperous future for people and planet, a future to be realized through the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? Here at the UNDP Kazakhstan Accelerator Lab, our portfolio of innovative bottom-up solutions is  providing the answer to this question.

As part of the City Experiment Fund programme, we aim to provide the public and local authorities in Almaty with decision-making tools to accelerate sustainable development. Together with our local partners, we provide accurate real-time air quality data and interactive user features on the AirVision.kz platform.

Cleaning the Air and Improving People’s Health in Almaty

Through better air quality management tools

Published by UNDP on 5 September 2022

Authors:

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan/Alexey Malchenko

What needs to be done to create a prosperous future for people and planet, a future to be realized through the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? Here at the UNDP Kazakhstan Accelerator Lab, our portfolio of innovative bottom-up solutions is  providing the answer to this question.

As part of the City Experiment Fund programme, we aim to provide the public and local authorities in Almaty with decision-making tools to accelerate sustainable development. Together with our local partners, we provide accurate real-time air quality data and interactive user features on the AirVision.kz platform.

We are developing solutions that target different layers of air pollution in Almaty by using a holistic portfolio approach based on cutting-edge technology.

Almaty’s air pollution: magnitude, harm and costs. Spatial and temporal changes in the total concentration of volatile organic compounds and percentage of days per year with PM2concentrations above the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended limits.

Air pollution has become the biggest challenge to urban transformation in Almaty. Air pollution poses the greatest environmental health risk for the public, and has led to a significant number of preventable deaths and illnesses. The WHO Ambient Air Quality Guidelines show that PM2.5 concentrations in Almaty exceed the limits 17-fold in winter.

The economic and health-related costs of air pollution are detrimental for Kazakhstan

The health risks posed by air pollution come at a high economic cost. In 2022, the World Bank estimated that Kazakhstan would experience more than 10,000 annual premature deaths due to air pollution at an economic cost of more than $10.5 billion per year.

Cascading risk analysis

Navigating complexity: how to provide holistic solutions to environmental challenges

Our team identified the lack of air quality data as the overarching problem in tackling air pollution in Almaty. The lack of reliable real-time data has resulted in an air quality data warehouse that prevents accurate estimations, analysis and, as a consequence, an evidence-based developmental policy to target air pollution in Almaty.

As part of our efforts to obtain valid air quality data and to support decision-making by members of the Almaty public and  the government, we set out to monitor Almaty's air quality. To that end, we partnered with the public fund, Airvision.kz, which owns the air quality monitoring portal. The portal collects data from local air quality stations installed throughout the city and interprets the data based on the Air Quality Index (AQI), which includes measurements of PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2 and CO. The data can be accessed through the airvision.kz web portal and the mobile application.

The portal has an educational and a participatory component. It provides the public with news, educational content and recommendations on how to protect oneself from air pollution – the aim being to raise awareness. The portal also offers the Almaty public a one-stop-shop access to submit complaints, make suggestions and vote for ideas to improve air quality in the city.

Integrated approach

The adoption of an engage-inform-participatory framework meant that innovative solutions could be introduced to enhance its components. We are working to incentivize public engagement and to promote grassroots solutions through gamification. Building on the platform's existing engagement channels, including social media, offline events and bilateral meetings, we are using game-based activities to incentivize a broader audience to engage. With the goal of educating and promoting public and green transportation, we reward users who take part in sustainable activities and award points in the competition for grand prizes.

To better identify key air pollutants and capture air pollution dynamics, we have supplemented existing air quality data from local sensors with traffic emissions data and analysis of historical air quality data. In that way, we are providing a more informative decision-making tool.

Building a healthier Almaty through improved dynamic air management tool

Our air quality monitoring initiative is a successful start to unravelling the complex problem of air pollution in Almaty. With our integrated air quality analysis and integrative capabilities, we will provide improved support for public participation and for a robust evidence-based policy.

With our efforts, we can make Almaty a more attractive city and reduce per capita pollution. Our air quality findings will also accelerate Kazakhstan's pace toward carbon neutrality by 2060.

Retrieved from https://www.undp.org/kazakhstan/blog/cleaning-air-and-improving-peoples-health-almaty

UNDP Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025

UNDP’s Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025, aligned with its Strategic Plan, guides UNDP in its efforts to assist countries in accelerating progress on gender equality and the empowerment of women over the next four years. It aims to move beyond piecemeal efforts and to instead help countries to shift power structures and the economic, social, and political systems that perpetuate discrimination.

Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025

Published by UNDP on 13 September 2022

The Gender Equality Strategy 2022-2025 has been written in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has imperilled every dimension of our wellbeing and amplified a sense of fear across the globe, and there is an alarming escalation in armed violence. This strategy responds to reflections around two key concerns. First, why has progress towards gender equality been so slow and scattered, and even reversed? Second, what can UNDP best do in response?

In the next four years, UNDP will accelerate and scale up results, working with countries and partners to contribute to gender equality, including by:

  • Assisting 80 countries to expand care services and redistribute care work.
  • Supporting 250 million women to gain access to productive uses of clean energy.
  • Helping 1 million more women to access and control digital assets.
  • Mobilizing over US$100 billion to contribute to gender equality through taxation systems, public spending, debt instruments and private capital investments.
  • Certifying 500 public institutions and private companies with the Gender Equality Seal.

Access the full report and the summary version (in English and French) here: https://www.undp.org/publications/gender-equality-strategy-2022-2025

Human Development Report 2021/22 - Animated Explainer
Learn about the key findings from the new Human Development Report 2021/22 "Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World" through this short animated explainer video.

Human Development Report 2021/22 - Animated Explainer

Posted by UNDP on 8 September 2022

We live in a world of worry. The ongoing Covid-19 pan­demic, having driven reversals in human development in almost every country, continues to spin off variants unpre­dictably. War in Ukraine and elsewhere has created more human suffering. Record-breaking temperatures, fires, storms and floods sound the alarm of planetary systems increasingly out of whack. Together, they are fuelling a cost-of-living crisis felt around the world, painting a pic­ture of uncertain times and unsettled lives.

Uncertainty is not new, but its dimensions are taking om­inous new forms today. A new “uncertainty complex” is emerging, never before seen in human history. Constitut­ing it are three volatile and interacting strands: the desta­bilizing planetary pressures and inequalities of the Anthro­pocene, the pursuit of sweeping societal transformations to ease those pressures and the widespread and intensi­fying polarization.

This new uncertainty complex and each new crisis it spawns are impeding human development and unsettling lives the world over. In the wake of the pandemic, and for the first time ever, the global Human Development Index (HDI) value declined—for two years straight. Many coun­tries experienced ongoing declines on the HDI in 2021. Even before the pandemic, feelings of insecurity were on the rise nearly everywhere. Many people feel alienated from their political systems, and in another reversal, dem­ocratic backsliding has worsened.

There is peril in new uncertainties, in the insecurity, polar­ization and demagoguery that grip many countries. But there is promise, too—an opportunity to reimagine our futures, to renew and adapt our institutions and to craft new stories about who we are and what we value. This is the hopeful path forward, the path to follow if we wish to thrive in a world in flux.

Read the full report and more: https://hdr.undp.org/content/human-development-report-2021-22 

Multiple crises halt progress as 9 out of 10 countries fall backwards in human development, UNDP report warns

For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP have been calculating it, the Human Development Index, 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 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

Multiple crises halt progress as 9 out of 10 countries fall backwards in human development, UNDP report warns

The world must jolt itself out of its global paralysis to secure the future of people and planet by re-booting its development trajectory

Published on 8 September 2022 by UNDP

For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP have been calculating it, the Human Development Index, 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 levels, reversing much of the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Photo by UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP)

New York - The world is lurching from crisis to crisis, trapped in a cycle of firefighting and unable to tackle the roots of the troubles that confront us. Without a sharp change of course, we may be heading towards even more deprivations and injustices, warns the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The latest Human Development Report, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World”, launched today by UNDP, argues that layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways. 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, and interacted with sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and massive increases in polarization.

The reversal is nearly universal as over 90 percent of countries registered a decline in their HDI score in either 2020 or 2021 and more than 40 percent declined in both years, signaling that the crisis is still deepening for many.

While some countries are beginning to get back on their feet, recovery is uneven and partial, further widening inequalities in human development. Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have been hit particularly hard.

“The world is scrambling to respond to back-to-back crises. We have seen with the cost of living and energy crises that, while it is tempting to focus on quick fixes like subsidizing fossil fuels, immediate relief tactics are delaying the long-term systemic changes we must make,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “We are collectively paralyzed in making these changes. In a world defined by uncertainty, we need a renewed sense of global solidarity to tackle our interconnected, common challenges.”

The report explores why the change needed isn’t happening and suggests there are many reasons, including how insecurity and polarization are feeding off each other today to prevent the solidarity and collective action we need to tackle crises at all levels. New calculations show, for instance, that those feeling most insecure are also more likely to hold extreme political views.

“Even before COVID-19 hit, we were seeing the twin paradoxes of progress with insecurity and polarisation. Today, with one-third of people worldwide feeling stressed and fewer than a third of people worldwide trusting others, we face major roadblocks to adopting policies that work for people and planet,” says Achim Steiner. “This thought-provoking new analysis aims to help us break this impasse and chart a new course out of our current global uncertainty. We have a narrow window to re-boot our systems and secure a future built on decisive climate action and new opportunities for all.”

To chart a new course, the report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment — from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics, and insurance—including social protection— to prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world. While innovation in its many forms—technological, economic, cultural—can also build capacities to respond to whatever challenges come next.

“To navigate uncertainty, we need to double down on human development and look beyond improving people’s wealth or health,” says UNDP’s Pedro Conceição, the report’s lead author. “These remain important. But we also need to protect the planet and provide people with the tools they need to feel more secure, regain a sense of control over their lives and have hope for the future.”

Retrieved from https://www.undp.org/press-releases/multiple-crises-halt-progress-9-out-10-countries-fall-backwards-human-development-undp-report-warns

To learn more about the 2022 Human Development Report and UNDP’s analysis on navigating the new uncertainty complex, visit https://hdr.undp.org/human-development-report-2021-22

For media inquiries, please contact

Carolina Given Sjolander | Communications Specialist | Mobile: +1 347 908 4008 | Email: carolina.given.sjolander@undp.org

Victor Garrido Delgado | Media Specialist, UNDP | Mobile:1-917-995-1687 | Email: victor.garrido.delgado@undp.org