DR. ARUN KASHYAP // National Launch of the HDR

Jun 4, 2013

• Senator the Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade,
• Honourable Ministers of Government
• Ambassador Yuri Gala, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
• Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
• Members of the United Nations Family
• Permanent Secretaries
• Members of the Media
• Distinguished Guests
• Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the United Nations, it is a pleasure for me to welcome you all to the launch of the 2013 Human Development Report – “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” in Jamaica. While its global launch took place on March 14, 2013 in Mexico City by the President of Mexico, UNDP Jamaica is pleased to host the national launch of the HDR today and we are indeed honoured that you have chosen to be a part of this important event.  Thank you for coming.

The Human Development Report (or the HDR as we normally call it) is UNDP’s flagship publication that has and continues to remarkably contribute to the way development is now discussed and practised.  To quote the NY times on the 20th anniversary of the HDR in 2010: “So far only one measure has succeeded in challenging the hegemony of growth-centric thinking.”  This is known as the HDI….

As in previous HDRs, a key message of this Report highlights that economic growth by itself does not translate into human development progress.  As Helen Clark, UNDP’s Administrator also emphasizes – Equity, dignity, happiness and sustainability are all fundamental to our lives but absent in the Gross Development Product (GDP).  Progress needs to be defined and measured in a way that accounts for a broader picture of human development and its context.  Equitable policies and meaningful investment in human capacities such as education, nutrition, health and employment skills can enhance access to decent work and improve human quality of life.

This year’s HDR celebrates a remarkable event – it identifies over 40 countries in the developing world – referred to as “the South” - that have, by their unprecedented speed and scale of progress, become for the first time in recent history, the driver of global economic growth and societal change.  While each of these countries has chosen its own distinct development pathway led by its own unique history, the common characteristics that they share and the common challenges that they confront, provide fresh insights and possibilities to undertake coherent policy reforms and help people across regions to effectively overcome shared human development challenges and replenish hope for a fairer and a better quality of life.

The better than predicted achievements (between 1990- 2012) of these high achieving countries, both in terms of income and non-income dimensions of human development have been led by three key factors:

• Most of these countries have had a proactive development state that has proactively developed polices and has been responsible for both public and private sectors;
• They have successfully tapped global markets and pursued inclusive growth by carefully and gradually integrating with the world economy based on their unique national circumstances/ priorities;
• They have benefited from innovative social programmes that have improved equitable access to education, health care, social protection and legal empowerment.

In fact these countries increased their share of global goods trade from 25% to 47% between 1980 and 2010 led by trade within the South – which increased from less than 10%to over 25% in the last 30 years.  Moreover, these countries are also increasingly important markets for the North.  For example in the past five years, the Report notes, US exports to OECD countries rose by 20%, but US exports to Latin America and the Caribbean increased by more than 50%. Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology partnerships – including in information and communication technologies have thrived within the South itself enabling greater numbers of people to influence decisions that impact their lives.  In highlighting the innovative social programmes as a hallmark of successful states, the HDR upholds the broader social and poverty reduction agenda of the South that embraces policies to address inequalities, institutional failures, social barriers and personal vulnerabilities as central to promoting economic growth.  This key message of the Report is excellently illustrated by the initiative taken by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to travel to Mexico to study its “Opportunidades” programme prior to launching “Opportunity NYC: Family Rewards”, the first conditional cash programme in the United States.  Incidentally, such innovative social programmes that also include Brazil’s “Bolsa Familia” – another programme whose lessons are included in the design of Family Rewards initiative - cost less than 1% of GDP – much lesser than traditional in-kind social assistance.

In the Latin America and the Caribbean region, Barbados, Chile and Argentina are in the very high human development group.  Jamaica is placed in the high human development group and its current ranking at 85th (out of 187 countries and territories) is equal to that of Brazil. While Jamaica’s HDI at (0.730) is below the average HDI for the Region at 0.741, it is above the world average of 0.694. However, the HDI value after incorporating inequalities falls to 0.591, a loss of nearly 19.1% caused by inequality in the distribution of the dimension indices.

The Report offers several recommendations that can also serve well for Jamaica in its efforts to build upon its achievements to accomplish Vision 2030 Jamaica.  As the policymakers in developing countries pursue ambitious and growing human development agendas that respond to complex global conditions including that of economic slowdown while addressing their urgent national policy priorities, the Report cautions the need to follow an inclusive and sustainable path that successfully tackles the challenges of demographic shifts by enabling greater participation of citizens - including youth, political and social exclusion to enhance equity, and environmental degradation.

Fostering greater equity is fundamental in its own right as well as for promoting human development.  This was also an outcome of the recently completed national Post 2015 consultations in Jamaica on the “Future we want for all”.  As the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz also reminds us “The evidence from history and from around the modern world is unequivocal: there comes a point when inequality spirals into economic dysfunction for the whole society, and when it does, even the rich pay a steep price.”   The Report projects that targeted investments in girls’ education promote equity, reduce future child mortality and lift human development.

And, there is ample evidence including from Brazil, Chile, and Mexico that innovative social protection programmes that include cash transfer programmes have not only helped to improve lives and livelihoods for poor and marginalized groups, they have also narrowed gaps in income, health and education.

The Report’s call for greater global ambition on and commitment to tackling environmental degradation including innovative policies and programmes to catalyse global action on the development threat of climate change is, I am sure, a welcomed recommendation especially for the Small Island Developing States.  We have witnessed vivid examples of the potential of adverse impacts of climate change to halt or even reverse human development gains that are made by countries of the South with the least adaptive capacity.

The recommendations of the 2013 HDR present us in Jamaica a promising opportunity to foster and facilitate South-South Cooperation and triangular cooperation to advance inclusive development while ensuring that the development paths of the future are sustainable.  We are very grateful to Senator the Honourable Arnold J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade for joining us today to launch this Report and voicing the support of the Government of Jamaica to its findings.  We are also deeply appreciative to the Ambassador of Brazil, the High Commissioners of India and South Africa and to the Director General of Planning Institute of Jamaica for having agreed to join us today in a Panel Discussion to share their experiences in the national context for advancing Jamaica’s development vision and priorities. 

We are hopeful that today’s discussions will contribute to advancing Jamaica’s leadership vision for the Caribbean, as it hosts the SIDS Regional meeting in July in preparation for the global meeting in Apia, Samoa in 2014, which is also the International Year of Small Island Developing States.  It would also provide an opportunity to the Government, as well as to the broader development community, to jointly assess the value of an aid effectiveness strategy to provide Jamaica with opportunities to advance its vision, to use its growing economic strength to lift a sustainable and inclusive development path for all.
The UN and UNDP have had the pleasure of working together with the Government of Jamaica to advance the quality of lives of children, youth and women including through job creation, poverty eradication, and improved services delivery for health and other services, while achieving progress in Energy, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction -   key programmatic areas to enhance the quality of life of all Jamaicans. Honourable Minister, please be assured of our commitment to continue to collaborate including to integrate recommendations of the HDR 2013, and work together with the Government and contribute towards your efforts to make Jamaica ‘the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’.

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