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2013 Human Development Report: Rise of the South

Posted: Friday, 14 March 2013, New York | Author: United Nations Development Programme

2013 Human Development Report: Rise of the South The rise of the South is radically reshaping the world, with developing nations driving economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty, and propelling billions more into a new global middle class, says the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report .

The Report shows that more than 40 developing countries have made greater human development gains in recent decades than would have been predicted. These achievements, it says, are largely attributable to sustained investment in education, health care and social programmes, and open engagement with an increasingly interconnected world.

This historic progress is creating opportunities for the South and the North – or developing and developed countries, respectively – to collaborate in new ways to advance human development and confront shared challenges such as climate change. 

Countries across the South are extending trade, technology and policy ties throughout the North, while the North is looking to the South for new partnerships that can promote global growth and development.

The 2013 Human Development Report—The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World—was launched in Mexico City on 14 March by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto. 

It first identifies more than 40 developing countries with human development gains that significantly outpaced global norms in recent decades. It then looks in greater detail at 18 of those countries, ranging from the biggest high-achievers—beginning with China—to many smaller successful countries in the South, such as Chile, Ghana and Thailand. 

The Report’s findings include:
• The world is witnessing an epochal “global rebalancing.”  The rise of the South reverses the huge shift that saw Europe and North America eclipse the rest of the world.

• By 2020, the combined output of the three leading South economies—China, India, Brazil—will surpass the aggregate production of the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada. 

• With living standards rising in much of the South, the proportion of people living in extreme income poverty worldwide plunged from 43 percent in 1990 to 22 percent in 2008. As a result, the world has already achieved the main poverty eradication target of the Millennium Development Goals.

• However, the report stresses that severe poverty remains a major problem throughout much of the developing world. An estimated 1.57 billion people, or more than 30 percent of the population of the 104 countries studied for the Report, live in what it terms “multidimensional” poverty, including 612 million people in India.  

• Developing countries now hold two-thirds of the world’s total US$10.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves and about three-quarters of the US$4.3 trillion in assets controlled by sovereign wealth funds worldwide. Even a small share of these vast sums could have a swift measurable impact on global poverty and human development.

• Educating women through to adulthood is the closest thing to a “silver bullet” formula for accelerating human development. 

• The rise of the South and its potential for accelerating progress for future generations should be seen as beneficial for all countries and regions, as living standards improve and the world as whole becomes ever more deeply interdependent.  

Sustaining momentum

The 2013 Human Development Report—The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World—was launched in Mexico City on 14 March by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto (Photo Credits: UNDP)“Looking to the future, the Report warns that if global human development is to continue to rise, emerging challenges related to demographic shifts, environmental degradation, and political and social exclusion, will need to be tackled,” Helen Clark said.

The Report suggests four key areas to help sustain the pace of progress in human development in the South, namely: enhancing equity, including between men and women; enabling greater participation of citizens, including youth; confronting environmental pressures; and managing demographic change.

It urges the convening of a new “South Commission” where developing countries can take the lead in suggesting constructive new approaches to effective global governance.

Contained in the Report is the latest Human Development Index (HDI) in which Norway, Australia and the United States lead the rankings of 187 countries and territories.  The HDI’s measurement of national achievement in health, education and income shows consistent human development improvement in most countries.

The Report also includes three experimental indices, the Inequality-adjusted Index, the Multidimensional Poverty Index and the Gender Inequality Index.

The 2013 Human Development Report is available in 10 languages at: