Head of UNDP Africa at launch of the global Human Development Report

Apr 14, 2014

2014 Global Human Development Report: "Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience"

Speech by Mr Abdoulaye Mar Dieye
Regional Director
UNDP Africa
Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, 4 August 2014

 
President of the Republic
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

President of the Republic, permit me first to pass on the warm thanks of Ms Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, for agreeing to Côte d'Ivoire hosting the African launch of the 2014 Global Human Development Report, and for kindly honouring this ceremony by being present and officially launching the Report.   

The theme this year concerns the vital importance of the sustainability of human progress. This refers especially to reducing the vulnerabilities confronting our world today, as well as strengthening our individual and collective capacity for resilience.

You will remember that previous editions of the Report hailed the positive trends in human development more or less everywhere around the world. Indeed, since 1980 each decade has seen a continuous growth in the global average of the Human Development Index (HDI). There have been instances of acceleration, positive turnaround and even convergence of low-income countries with countries of higher income. Nevertheless, since the international financial crisis of 2008-2009, deceleration in the growth of human development has been apparent. In almost every country, obstacles to human development have been exacerbated by persistent deficits in human security. In terms of inequalities, these include natural disasters, climate change, socio-political unrest and armed conflict.

The community of nations is now hastening to agree on a new development agenda for the post-2015 period. It is therefore imperative that we reflect on the vulnerabilities that limit human development so crushingly in order for us to overcome them. At all levels, we must create robust resilience to avoid seeing reversals to the gains in economic and social development, and to be able to absorb potentially destabilizing shocks of every kind.

That, certainly, is the aim of this new edition of the Global Human Development Report.
 
Really, it is extraordinary that this is the first time that there has been analysis of the various forms of what is known as human vulnerability. The concept of vulnerability is divided into two types: systematic and structural.

The first refers to certain categories of persons exposed to more fragilities throughout their lives. These include particularly children, adolescents, young people, women, older persons and those who are permanently caught in the poverty trap.

The second type, structural vulnerability, is associated with weakness of institutions and policies at all levels: global, national and local. Such institutions and policies are not yet effective at ensuring social participation or inclusion in development processes.  
 
The Report proposes general principles, policies and practical measures for strengthening resilience in order to overcome these vulnerabilities. These include, for example, the need for universal social protection; promotion of full employment as a central goal of macroeconomic policies; reduction of vertical and horizontal inequalities; deepening, and indeed establishing as sacrosanct, the principle of national and international solidarity; and finally, strengthening the capacities of institutions and communities to survive crises in the short term, and to increase their resilience in the face of challenges from future crises.  

The Report also calls for collective and coordinated action, both at global and national level, in order to rise to the challenges posed by the various forms of deficit in human security.  
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.  

The 2014 Report chimes perfectly with the current state of economic and social development in Africa, a continent that is today experiencing a paradox.
 
Since the beginning of the 2000s, Africa has, on average, been enjoying the highest rates of economic growth, along with human development. You will allow me express my satisfaction at those of human development rates. After all, between 2000 and 2013, the average annual growth was 1.37 per cent. This compares with a world average of a mere 0.73 per cent. In other words, the rate for Africa was almost double.  

However, Africa has also experienced the highest rates of loss in human development due to inequalities, including those that are gender-related. The continent has the highest rates of workers in vulnerable jobs. It is still home to large areas of insecurity, conflict and climate vulnerability including the Sahel, the Great Lakes, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
If Rabelais were alive today, he would no doubt say that "growth without resilience is but the ruin of the soul of an economy." And we would heartily agree with him, especially on reading the 2014 edition of the Global Human Development Report.
 
On the basis of this conviction, in its new 2014-2017 strategic plan, UNDP has chosen "resilience" as one of its three areas of priority programmatic focus. The other two are "growth and inclusive development" and "democratic and participatory governance".

It is also on the strength of this conviction that the UNDP Africa Office is intensifying its interventions with regard to resilience. With this in mind, we are currently implementing initiatives such as our "Action plan to support resilience in the Sahel", in partnership with the United Nations West Africa Office. Other such initiatives include the "Resilience agenda in the Horn of Africa", with IGAD, and the "green growth strategy for Ethiopia", one of the most ambitious in the world. In addition, there is capacity strengthening in resilience for institutions in Mozambique, a country which today is a regional leader in the prevention of natural disasters. At the request of governments, we expect to greatly extend these types of intervention through our various national and regional programmes.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

In conclusion, I would like to say that it is no coincidence that this report is being launched here in Côte d'Ivoire. This country is experiencing a twofold process of emergence: effective emergence from a situation of instability that lasted more than a decade, coupled with steady emergence towards a state of accelerated growth that is intended to be inclusive. These two types of emergence have in common the need to reduce all forms of vulnerability. They illustrate perfectly the critical nature of resilience as a guarantee for development that is stable, peaceful and inclusive at each stage of the economic and social development process.  

Thank you.

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