Bangladesh has moved up two notches in the Human Development Index — to 133 — compared to last year, said a new report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report, titled The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene, launched in Bangladesh this morning, six days after the global launch, includes a new experimental index on human progress.

The report said Bangladesh remains fifth among the eight South Asian countries covered in the report, but bounced up nine notches in the new planetary pressures-adjusted human development index (PHDI), said The Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 of UNDP.

Planning Minister MA Mannan attended the report launching ceremony as the chief guest at the NEC Conference Room in the city’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

Following the launching, a panel discussion was held participated by Prof. Dr Shamsul Alam, Member of the General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission; Prof. Saleemul Huq, Climate Scientist, Director ICCAD; Dr Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue; Dr Samia Huq, Anthropologist, Dean of General Studies, BRAC University; and Ar. Iqbal Habib, Architect and Environmentalist.

Shahidul Haque, former Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, moderated the discussion.

Mannan, who unveiled the report in Bangladesh, said, “Despite numerous challenges, Bangladesh is committed to nourishing the health of our planet, and working towards building a “Sonar Bangla,” as envisioned by the Father of our Nation,”

“The strain on our planet mirrors the strain facing many of our societies. Climate change, among other dangerous planetary changes, will only make them worse,” he added.

The report states that Bangladesh has made impressive strides in human development. Between 1990 and 2019, Bangladesh’s HDI value has increased by 60.4 percent. Bangladesh’s 2019 HDI is above the average for countries in the medium human development group.

In between 1990-2019, Bangladesh’s life expectancy at birth increased by 14.4 years, mean years of schooling increased by 3.4 years, and expected years of schooling increased by 6.0 years. Bangladesh’s GNI per capita has also increased by about 220.1 percent between 1990 and 2019.

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, during the global launch said “As this report shows, no country in the world has yet achieved very high human development without putting immense strain on the planet. But, we could be the first generation to right this wrong. That is the next frontier for human development,”

UNDP Bangladesh’s Resident Representative, Sudipto Mukerjee, pointed out that the Coronavirus pandemic’s collateral costs far outweigh the loss of lives.

“To name a few of the obvious, such as a large number of people pushed into poverty due to lost livelihoods, increased inequalities, increased gender-based violence, increased risks of having a large proportion of children and youth dropping out of education, etc.,” Sudipto pointed out.

He said scientists have been warning of a pandemic like this for years, as a reflection of the pressures people put on Planet Earth. “HDR 2020 points out that our future is not about choosing between people or trees. It’s about choosing to do things differently.

Calling for increased cooperation for a better future, Sudipto said that choices that could stop the pandemic and end poverty, close the digital divide, and tackle the climate emergency so that this unique moment in time could be used to move to the next frontier for people and planet.

The launch included a presentation detailing on the new PHDI by Balazs Hovarth, Senior Economic Advisor, UNDP Asia Pacific.

With the COVID-19 pandemic being the latest crisis facing the world, the report published globally by the UNDP, warns that unless humans release their grip on nature, it won’t be the last.

The 30th Anniversary Edition of the report, the HDI, which usually measures a nation’s health, education, and living standards, has been adjusted to include two more elements: a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint.

The adjustment now shows how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress.

For example, more than 50 countries dropped out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.

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