UNDP’s 2023-2024 Human Development Report points to a global ‘gridlock’ of increased inequality and political polarization

Pakistan ranks 164th with a ‘low’ human development status

Islamabad 14 March 2024 – Uneven development progress is leaving the poorest behind, exacerbating inequality, and stoking political polarization on a global scale. The result is a dangerous deadlock that must be urgently tackled through collective action, says the 2023-2024 Human Development Report entitled “Breaking the Gridlock: Reimagining Cooperation in a Polarized World” released this week by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“The widening human development gap revealed by the report shows that the two-decade trend of steadily reducing inequalities between wealthy and poor nations is now in reverse,” said Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP. “This gridlock carries a significant human toll. The failure of collective action to advance our response to climate change, digitalization or poverty and inequality not only hinders human development but also worsens polarization and further erodes trust in people and institutions worldwide.”

The 2023-2024 Report places Pakistan in the ‘low’ human development category. In 2022, Pakistan had a Human Development Index (HDI) value of 0.540 with a global ranking of 161 out of 192 countries. In 2023, the country dropped three places to 164 in the global ranking.

“Despite managing well the Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan’s HDI and global ranking have suffered due to persistent social, economic and political pressures, including macroeconomic challenges as well as the lingering effect of the 2022 floods,” said UNDP Pakistan Resident Representative, Dr. Samuel Rizk. He observed that there is a notable 33 per cent decline in Pakistan’s inequality-adjusted HDI, bringing it to 0.360. In the Gender Inequality Index (GII), the country’s rank remains the same at 135 out of 166 countries. The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) score stays unaffected at 0.198, indicating persistent challenges.

The Report reveals that following pandemic-caused setbacks for their HDI in 2020, the South Asian region has demonstrated an overall more resilient recovery compared to East Asia and the Pacific, as well as the global average. However, significant disparities remain between ‘high’ HDI and ‘low’ HDI countries, indicating ongoing challenges in achieving equitable development.

“With a new government in place, and high ambitions for reform, prosperity for Pakistan requires significant mobilization of climate and SDGs financing, along with a fit-for-purpose governance architecture that provides planetary and digital ‘global public goods’,” said Dr. Rizk. “The role of global public goods is different from humanitarian aid and development assistance, which target certain populations in need. Global public goods, by definition, aim to reach everyone and can improve the prospect of human development of all people and societies as whole.”

The latest UNDP Human Development Report calls for reevaluating global interdependence and outlines four critical areas for action: prioritizing planetary public goods for climate stability, fostering digital global public goods for fair technology access, implementing innovative financial mechanisms for low-income countries, and adopting new governance approaches to reduce political polarization and combat misinformation.

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