Launch of the UNDP Human Development Report 2021-2022

As prepared for delivery

Undersecretary of State, Stephan Schönemann,

Distinguished Guests,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please join us for the launch of the flagship publication of the United Nations Development Programme: the Human Development Report 2021-2022 titled “Uncertain Times, Unstable Lives: Shaping Our Future in a Changing World”.

This year’s Report is the third in a trilogy of publications looking at the future of development in the “Anthropocene”.

The report comes as our global community faces a confluence of crises:

  • The world is still grappling with the devastating socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is far from over: last month we passed the tragic milestone of one million COVID-19 deaths in 2022 .
  • The world is also plagued by violent conflict, now at its highest level since the end of the Second World War. Even before the war in Ukraine, 1.2 billion people lived in conflict-affected areas.
  • Moreover, the cost of living crisis, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, is plunging millions of people into poverty, hunger and even starvation.
  • At the same time, the climate crisis is getting worse every year. Vast swathes of the world are either on fire or under water.

From instant food in Pakistan, to countries in Europe that have faced record high temperatures this year, to devastating droughts in the Horn of Africa, there is nothing ‘natural’ about the scale of these disasters.

For the first time in 32 years, the Human Development Index (or HDI) – which measures a nation’s health, education and standard of living – has declined globally for two consecutive years at the end of following the COVID-19 pandemic.

And human development has fallen back to 2016 levels.

While Denmark’s HDI scores marginally increase in 2020 and 2021, more than 90% of countries in the world recorded a decline in their HDI score in 2020 or 2021.

In more than 40% of countries, it has decreased over the two years.

It is perhaps not surprising that in this context, 6 out of 7 people do not feel sure about their future, regardless of their socio-economic status or the country where they live.

Worryingly, the report also shows that less than a third of people around the world trust themselves.

At this time of profound global uncertainty, this Human Development Report therefore aims to find new ways to “reboot” our systems to achieve a greener, more inclusive and more sustainable future for all.

The report argues that next generation policies that focus on the three ‘I’s of the future: investment, insurance and innovation will enable people to thrive in the face of uncertainty.

-Investment is needed in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to reduce poverty and inequality, promote gender equality, and drive climate action and the restoration of our natural world.

-Extend insurance, including social protection, is vital to prepare countries and communities for the next crisis. It is also a vital way to help some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.

-And Innovate in its many forms — technological, economic, cultural — is important because it will help shape our response to the development challenges of today and tomorrow.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In short, this Human Development Report aims to advance the global conversation on how to shape the 21st Century development pathways we need to secure the future of people and the planet.

To achieve this, all countries – developed and developing – must focus on ways to advance human development, which is not just about improving people’s wealth or health.

It’s about giving people the tools they need to take back control of their lives and their future.

Crucially, the report argues that we need to regain the sense that we all have more to gain if we “co-invest” in each other rather than trying to outdo each other.

In many ways, it makes a clear argument that our “better world” is indeed still ahead of us if we make the right choices now.

I look forward to our discussion today.


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