United Nations, July 25:
Approximately 2.2 billion people around the world are “poor or near-poor,” a UN flagship report said Thursday, calling for stronger collective global action in response to vulnerabilities in order to securing human development progress.
The latest Human Development Index (HDI) included in the report revealed that almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards.
According to the report, entitled ‘Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience,’ while poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur.
“However, these setbacks are not inevitable. While every society is vulnerable to risk, some suffer far less harm and recover more quickly than others when adversity strikes,” UNDP administrator Helen Clark wrote in the foreword of the report.
“By addressing vulnerabilities, all people may share in development progress, and human development will become increasingly equitable and sustainable,” she stressed.
The report provided a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience. It explored “structural vulnerabilities” — those that have persisted and compounded over time as a result of discrimination and institutional failings, hurting groups such as the poor, women, migrants, people living with disabilities, indigenous groups and older people.
The report introduced the idea of life cycle vulnerabilities, the sensitive points in life where shocks can have greater impact, which include the first 1,000 days of life, and the transitions from school to work, and from work to retirement.
It also pointed to a slowdown in human development growth across all regions, as measured by HDI, noting that threats such as financial crises, fluctuations in food prices, natural disasters and violent conflict significantly impede progress.
“Reducing both poverty and people’s vulnerability to falling into poverty must be a central objective of the post-2015 agenda,” the report stated. “Eliminating extreme poverty is not just about ‘getting to zero’; it is also about staying there.”
Among other recommendations, the report called for universal access to basic social services, especially health and education; stronger social protection, including unemployment insurance and pensions; and a commitment to full employment, recognising that the value of employment extends far beyond the income it generates.
It recognised that no matter how effective policies are in reducing inherent vulnerabilities, crises will continue to occur with potentially destructive consequences.
“Building capacities for disaster preparedness and recovery, which enable communities to better weather — and recover from — shocks, is vital,” the report added.