Overview of the Human Development Report 2020

The Human Development Report (HDR) and the Human Development Index (HDI) were first introduced 30 years ago as a way to deter discussion of development and progress away from GDP and measure human progress around freedom, longevity, education and living standard of people. The HDI measures long-term progress of human development through three basic dimensions: long and healthy life, knowledge level and standard of living. Long and healthy life is measured by the life expectancy; knowledge level by means of years of schooling among adults over 25 years and access to learning for students; and the standard of living by the gross national income per capita. Over the years, new measurements to capture other aspects of human development such as poverty, inequality and gender gaps were also introduced. The Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) adjusts a country’s HDI value with inequality within life expectancy, education, and income. Likewise, the multidimensional poverty index (MPI) measures people’s poverty and deprivations. Similarly, the gender development index (GDI) measures the differences between men and women and the inequalities in their well-being and empowerment.

What the Human Development Report 2020 tells us?

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) unveiled the Human Development Report 2020 titled “The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene”, the latest issue in the global Human Development Report series. The 2020 report offers a new index to measure human progress considering the planetary pressure from carbon emissions of each country. The new report suggests that we have entered the Anthropocene, the age of humans, where we humans have more power over planet earth than ever. Climate change, global warming, and other pressures that humans have exerted on the planet can no longer be ignored. This report shows that none of the countries in the world have been able to achieve very high human development without placing significant pressure on the planet.

The Planetary-Pressure Adjusted HDI (PHDI) adjusts the HDI with a country’s carbon emissions and material footprint. The PHDI shows a less promising but clearer evaluation of human progress by addressing the adverse planetary pressure exerted by a country. After the new index was revealed, more than 50 countries [AT1] lost their position in the very high human development group due to their over dependence on fossil fuels and their carbon footprint. For example, Norway ranks 1st in the HDI, but it lost its position in the very high human development group due to its PHDI. The case is similar for countries like Iceland, Australia, Singapore, USA, Finland, and many more.  The HDR 2020 stresses on the importance of working with nature and not against it to enter the next frontier of human development. Climate change would affect the poorest of countries more than richer countries, which would increase the gap in inequality and income even more. Transforming social norms, values, government policies and financial incentives, could ease the planetary pressures and enable human development to flourish.

Nepal’s HDI rank and value

The 2020 Human Development Report presents the HDI values and ranks for 189 countries and territories recognized by the United Nations. Likewise, the report also presents the Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) for 152 countries, the Gender Development Index (GDI) for 167 countries, the Gender Inequality Index (GII) for 162 countries and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) for 107 countries.

Nepal ranked 142 out of 189 countries with a HDI value of 0.602 for 2019. This put Nepal in the medium human development category.

Nepal’s HDI value increased from 0.387 to 0.602 between 1990 and 2019. The life expectancy increased by 16.4 years, years of schooling increased by 3 years and the GNI per capital increased by 151.9 percent over the period of 30 years. However, when adjusted with the factors of planetary pressures such as carbon emissions and material footprint, the HDI dropped to 0.595. The IHDI fell to 0.446 a 25.9 percent decrease, after being adjusted for inequity. This shows that as inequality increases, the human development decreases. The GDI, which measures gender inequality in terms of life expectancy at birth, expected years of schooling, mean years of schooling and the GNI per capita, is valued at 0.9333. Similarly, the GII, which measures the gender-based inequalities in the aspect of reproductive health, empowerment and economic activity is valued at 0.452. Finally, the MPI value is 0.148, based on the 2016 estimation which is the most recent survey data publicly available. The MPI value is based on three indications of deprivation: health, education and standard of living. In 2016, 34 percent of Nepal’s population were deemed as multidimensionally poor, while a further 22.4 percent were considered vulnerable to multidimensional poverty.

Inequalities within and between countries means that people who have more benefit from exploiting their resources while limiting the opportunities for those who have less. The planetary pressures, as mentioned in the report further widens the gaps between such inequalities. Developing and least developed countries like Nepal suffer more than developed countries in terms of human development, due to climate change and other disasters caused by the non-stop exploitation of the planet. Therefore, the 2020 Human Development Report suggests that easing planetary pressure facilitates the dismantlement of inequality in power, opportunity and progress driven by carbon-intensive growth and helps people from every country to flourish equally.