INDEPENDENT NEWS

Inequality threatening human development, report warns

Published: Tue 10 Dec 2019 09:54 AM
Despite global progress in tackling poverty, hunger and disease, a “new generation of inequalities” indicates that many societies are not working as they should, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) argues in its latest report released on Monday.
The 2019 Human Development Report (HDR) states that just as the gap in basic living standards is narrowing for millions of people, inequalities surrounding education, and around technology and climate change, have sparked demonstrations across the globe.
Left unchecked, they could trigger a ‘new great divergence’ in society of the kind not seen since the Industrial Revolution, according to the report.
“This Human Development Report sets out how systemic inequalities are deeply damaging our society and why,” said Achim Steiner, the UNDP Administrator.
“Inequality is not just about how much someone earns compared to their neighbour. It is about the unequal distribution of wealth and power: the entrenched social and political norms that are bringing people onto the streets today, and the triggers that will do so in the future unless something changes. Recognizing the real face of inequality is a first step; what happens next is a choice that each leader must make.”
‘Inequality not beyond solutions’
Mr. Steiner added crucially that “inequality is not beyond solutions”.
The human development approach views “richness” as going beyond the idea that economic growth will automatically lead to development and wellbeing.
It focuses on people, and their opportunities and choices.
UNDP research shows that in 2018, 20 per cent of human development progress was lost due to the unequal distribution of education, health and living standards.
“What used to be ‘nice-to-haves’, like going to university or access to broadband, are increasingly important for success, but left only with the basics, people find the rungs knocked out of their ladder to the future,” said Pedro Conceição, Director of the HDR Office at UNDP.
Invest in education, productivity, public spending
The report recommends revamped policies in the areas of education, productivity and public spending.
As inequality begins even before birth and can accumulate through adulthood, investing in young children’s learning, health and nutrition is key. These investments must continue throughout life as they have an impact on earnings and productivity in the labour market.
UNDP observed that countries with a more productive workforce generally have a lower concentration of wealth at the top, which is enabled by policies that support stronger unions, the right to a minimum wage, social protection and which bring more women into the workplace.
The report further highlights the role of taxation, which cannot be looked at on its own. Rather, fair taxation should lie behind policies that include greater public spending on health, education and greener energy alternatives.
Beyond today
As the UNDP chief noted, “Different triggers are bringing people onto the streets -- the cost of a train ticket, the price of petrol, demands for political freedoms, the pursuit of fairness and justice. This is the new face of inequality”.
Looking to the future, the report asks how inequality might be viewed years down the line, especially in relation to “two seismic shifts” that will shape the next century.
Those are the climate crisis, and the progress of the technological transformation that includes renewables and energy efficiency, digital finance and digital health solutions.
The report calls for opportunities to be “seized quickly and shared broadly”.

Next in World

Chilling The Warm Fuzzies About The US/China Trade Deal
By: Gordon Campbell
On the Iran aftermath
By: Gordon Campbell
Gordon Campbell on the recent upheavals inside Iran
By: Gordon Campbell
World screams out for action but climate summit whispers
By: Oxfam
Decade ending 2019 likely to be hottest on record
By: UN News
“Iran Must Begin Acting Like A Normal Nation,” Says Trump
By: Caitlin Johnstone
So The US Is Invading Iraq Again
By: Caitlin Johnstone
Full-Scale War Avoided, Trump Right Back To Warmongering
By: Caitlin Johnstone
“We Do Not Seek War,” Says President Who Just Started A War
By: Caitlin Johnstone
US Assassination Of Iranian Military Official May Ignite War
By: Caitlin Johnstone
US Empire’s Passion For Iraqi Democracy Magically Disappears
By: Caitlin Johnstone
Soleimani’s Successor Is Failing
By: Eric Zuesse
How Iran Can Checkmate Trump
By: Eric Zuesse
The USA’s System of Checks, Balances and Reality Crumbles
By: John Stanton
World Leaders Call on US To Resume Diplomacy With Iran
By: Julia Conley
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media