Remarks: UNDP Resident Representative at 2016 Human Development Report Launch

Mar 21, 2017

Remarks delivered at Wembley Centre of Excellence, Hayes, Clarendon


  • Hon. Lester Michael Henry, Minister of Transport and Mining
  • Hon. Rudyard Spencer, Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Member of Parliament for South East Clarendon
  • His Worship the Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Winston Maragh
  • Hon. William Shagoury, Custos Rotulorum for the Parish of Clarendon
  • Heads of United Nations Agencies in Jamaica
  • Board, management and staff of our partner organizations in this 2016 Launch:
    • Clarendon Parish Development Committee Benevolent Society
    • Combined Disabilities Association
    • Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme
  • Members of the Refinery Community Council
  • Leaders and residents of our host community, Hayes
  • Representatives of the private sector including management and staff of Jamalco
  • Principals and Teachers
  • Students
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.

I am honoured to join the wonderful community of Hayes in Clarendon for the global launch of the 2016 Human Development Report.

Since its first edition in 1990, UNDP’s flagship publication the Human Development Report has made fundamental contributions to how we all understand development. The 2016 edition, entitled "Human Development for Everyone” continues this tradition. It was launched just about an hour ago in Stockholm, Sweden, by Sweden’s Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven and UNDP Administrator Helen Clark.

So, what does the report say, what does it mean for Latin America and the Caribbean, and for Jamaica in particular – and why are we here in Clarendon to talk about it?

The 2016 Human Development Report urgently calls for a stronger focus on dismantling key barriers to development to ensure sustainable human development for all. It calls on us to ensure that those who are not always heard, women, rural populations, persons living with disabilities, have the opportunity to speak out about our shared challenges, our common solutions and the way forward. 

Many rural communities throughout Jamaica have vibrant, innovative and determined people. We picked Clarendon as an illustration that many rural communities can showcase to the world how they confront development challenges and setbacks with innovation and collaboration.

UNDP’s own experiences in Clarendon have been undoubtedly productive and rewarding. UNDP recently concluded, within the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme, the Colouden Brae Pipeline Project, a water harvesting initiative that has provided access to potable water to hundreds of residents. We have witnessed the transformative power of this project and its impact on small businesses, farmers, even school attendance. Business is looking up, chicken and pig farmers are back in operation, and construction is booming – all of this facilitated by the self-reliance of residents who came together and raised counterpart funds to the project.

Looking at the planet, the 2016 Human Development Report drills down past the averages – including those that seem to indicate that, on average, we are doing well – to see who is being left behind and why. The Report highlights that, while human development has advanced in general across the world, vulnerable groups such as women, rural communities, and people living with disabilities have experienced slower and more uneven progress.

This is evident in the high level of inequality that still marks our region. Yes, Latin America and the Caribbean enjoy high levels of human development, second only to Europe and Central Asia. However, when the data is adjusted for inequality, the Region’s Human Development Index drops by almost a quarter because of the unequal distribution of human development gains, particularly income among disadvantaged groups.

People living in small island developing states in the Caribbean like Jamaica continue to face numerous challenges, including economic barriers and extreme vulnerability to climate change. The obstacles for young people looking for work are especially high: youth unemployment ranges from 18 to 47 percent across the Caribbean. Also, Latin America and the Caribbean faces a pressing security issue. The region’s homicide rate, at 21.6 per 100,000 people, is 14 times higher than in East Asia and the Pacific.

The Report advances a number of solutions for consideration. It also calls for more refined analysis to inform action, including by assessing progress in such areas as participation and autonomy. It advocates for far greater attention to empowering the most marginalized in society by giving them a greater voice in decision-making. If they really mean to ensure human development for everyone, countries need to prioritize reaching out to those groups and bringing them into the mainstream of progress to.

Clarendon shows the way. As a powerful demonstration of what can happen when like-minded communities come together, to enable access to the facility by persons living with disabilities, the Refinery Community Council and the Combined Disabilities Association jointly sponsored the placement of ramps throughout this venue and of grab bars in select toilet stalls. Please join me in applauding this significant act of service and collaboration.


We believe that this kind of community spirit should be promoted as one means by which communities can mainstream their concerns, encourage debate and discussion on important issues, and advocate for change.

Under the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Project, UNDP will soon embark on other projects in Clarendon communities, focused this time on lessening the impacts of climate change on terrain, access to water and crop productivity.  UNDP will be working with a number of schools on gardening projects and with householders and farmers on adopting simple technologies that are effective and environmentally friendly.

Human development underlies the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the 193 member states of the United Nations endorsed in 2015 and committed to achieve by 2030, contain the blueprint for our shared vision and aspirations, and constitute a powerful platform for advancing human development.

Today, in Clarendon, we put the Sustainable Development Goals on show. I encourage students here in attendance to join us at the UNDP booth for puzzles, quizzes, virtual reality and other games that will enhance your knowledge of the goals and the creative ways you can ensure your government and your local community achieve them.

We’re now going to watch a short video that presents the overall report. I will leave you with the words of UNDP's Administrator Helen Clark: “By eliminating deep, persistent, discriminatory social norms and laws, and by addressing unequal access to political participation, which have hindered progress for so many, poverty can be eradicated and a peaceful, just, and sustainable development can be achieved for all." 

Thank you.



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