Takeaways from Human Development Report, 2020

The United Nations (UN) Development program (UNDP) has released the Human Development Report (HDR), 2020. In the wake of covid-19 pandemic the report throughs some important issues that need to be addressed immediately for the better well being of humans. The HDR unlike earlier reports gives us a glimpse on the consequences of anthropogenic interference in deep wildlife, climate change and environment. Wherever be the origin of coronavirus, the burst out of epidemic is certainly due to the threatening of wildlife species endangering and placing them at the edge of the extinction. This is further devastated by the faster communication and speedy cross border travels.

India dropped two places to 131 (129 in 2019) among 189 countries in the 2020 human development index.

Human Development Reports

The HDR 20202 claims that, for the first time, instead of the planet shaping humans, humans are knowingly shaping the planet. This is the Anthropocenethe Age of Humans – a new geologic epoch. Though humanity has achieved incredible progress, we have taken the Earth for granted, destabilizing the very systems upon which we rely for survival. Covid-19, which almost certainly sprang to humans from animals, offers a glimpse of our future, in which the strain on our planet mirrors the strain facing societies. It took Covid-19 very little time to expose and exploit overlapping inequalities, as well as weaknesses in social, economic, and political systems, and threaten reversals in human development.

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The report argues that the human development journey must now be considered in the context of an unprecedented moment in human history and in the planet’s history—and that the human development approach opens fresh and empowering perspectives on how to make a well being human society. It also provides detailed evidence of unprecedented planetary and social imbalances and their interaction. It shows empirically that we are confronting something fundamentally new and that the natural world of the Anthropocene reflects imbalances in opportunities, wealth and power of the human world. Further, working together in the pursuit of equity, innovation and planet stewardship can steer actions towards the transformational changes required to advance human development in the Anthropocene.

Humans wield more power over the planet than ever before. In the wake of COVID-19, record-breaking temperatures and spiraling inequality, it is time to use that power to redefine what we mean by progress, where our carbon and consumption footprints are no longer hidden

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

The new estimates project that by 2100 the poorest countries in the world could experience up to 100 more days of extreme weather due to climate change each year- a number that could be cut in half if the Paris Agreement on climate change is fully implemented. And yet fossil fuels are still being subsidized: the full cost to societies of publicly financed subsidies for fossil fuels – including indirect costs – is estimated at over US$5 trillion a year, or 6.5 percent of global GDP, according to International Monetary Fund figures cited in the report. Reforestation and taking better care of forests could alone account for roughly a quarter of the pre-2030 actions we must take to stop global warming from reaching two degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels.

The 30th anniversary edition of UNDP’s Human Development Report, The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene, includes a new experimental index on human progress that takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint. Anthropocene is an unofficial unit of geological time; it describes an era in which humans are a dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth. 

By adjusting its annual Human Development Index – the measure of a nation’s health, education, and standards of living – to include two more elements: a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint, the new index shows how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and also the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress. With the resulting Planetary-Pressures Adjusted HDI – or PHDI – a new global picture emerges, painting a less rosy but clearer assessment of human progress.  

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