Ukraine is ranked 76th out of 187 countries, the 2011 Human Development Report says

03 Nov 2011

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Health, income advancement in developing countries jeopardized  by inaction on climate change, habitat destruction, Report shows Wealth and gender disparities linked to environmental hazards

Kyiv, Ukraine —Development progress in the world’s poorest countries could be halted or even reversed by mid-century unless bold steps are taken now to slow climate change, prevent further environmental damage, and reduce deep inequalities within and among nations, according to projections in the 2011 Human Development Report, launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) here today. 

The 2011 Report—Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All—argues that environmental sustain-ability can be most fairly and effectively achieved by addressing health, education, income, and gender disparities together with the need for global action on energy production and ecosystem protection. The Report was launched in Copenhagen today by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, whose new government has pledged to reduce Denmark’s CO2emissions by a dramatic 40 percent over the next 10 years. 

As the world community prepares for the landmark 
UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, the Report argues that sustainability must be approached as a matter of basic social justice, for current and future generations alike. 

“Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue, as this Report so persuasively argues,” Helen Clark says in the foreword. “It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the seven billions of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come.” 

UNDP has commissioned the editorially-independent Human Development Reports each 
year since 1990, when its Human Development Index (HDI), a composite measure of health, education and income, first challenged purely economic measures of national achievement and called for consistent global tracking of progress in overall living standards. 

Between 1970 and 2010 the countries in the lowest 25 percent of the HDI rankings improved their overall HDI achievement by a remarkable 82 percent, twice the global average. If the pace of improvement over the past 40 years were to be continued for the next 40, the great majority of countries would achieve HDI levels by 2050 equal to or better than those now enjoyed only by the top 25 percent in today’s HDI rankings, the Report notes—an extraordinary achievement for human development globally in less than a century. Yet because of escalating environmental hazards, these positive development trends may instead be abruptly halted by mid-century, the Report contends, noting that people in the poorest countries are disproportionately at risk from climate-driven disasters such as drought and flooding and exposure to air and water pollution. 

Sustainability and social justice 

Despite the human development progress of recent years, income distribution has worsened, grave gender imbalances still persist, and accelerating environmental destruction puts a “double burden of deprivation” on 
the poorest households and communities, the Report says. Half of all malnutrition worldwide is attributable to environmental factors, such as water pollution and drought-driven scarcity, perpetuating a vicious cycle of impoverishment and ecological damage, the Report notes. 

High living standards need not be carbon-fueled and follow the examples of the richest countries, says the Report, presenting evidence that while CO2emissions have been closely linked with national income growth in recent decades, fossil-fuel consumption does not correspond with other key measures of human development, such as life expectancy and education. In fact, many advanced industrial nations are reducing their carbon footprints while maintaining growth. 

“Growth driven by fossil fuel consumption is not a prerequisite for a better life in broader human development terms,” Helen Clark said. “Investments that improve equity—in access, for example, to renewable energy, water and sanitation, and reproductive healthcare—could advance both sustainability and human development.” 

The Report calls for electricity service to be provided to the 1.5 billion people who are now off the power grid—and says that this can be done both affordably and sustainably, without a significant rise in carbon emissions. This new UN-backed ‘Universal Energy Access Initiative’ could be achieved with investments of about one-eighth of the amount currently spent on fossils fuel subsidies, estimated at US$312 billion worldwide in 2009, according to the Report. 

The Report adds its voice to those urging consideration of an international currency trading tax or broader financial transaction levies to fund the fight against climate change and extreme poverty. A tax of just 0.005 percent on foreign exchange trading could raise $40 billion yearly or more, the Report estimates, significantly boosting aid flows to poor countries—amounting to $130 billion in 2010—at a time when development funding is lagging behind previously pledged levels due to the global financial crisis. 

“The tax would allow those who benefit most from globalization to help those who benefit least,” the Report argues, estimating that about $105 billion is needed annually just to finance adaptation to climate change, especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

The Report examines social factors not always associated with environmental sustainability: 

  • Expanding reproductive rights, health care and contraceptive access would open a new front in the fight against gender inequality and poverty, the Report contends. Reproductive rights can further reduce environmental pressures by slowing global demographic growth, with the world population now projected to rise from 
    7 billion today to 9.3 billion within 40 years.
  • The Report argues that official transparency and independent watchdogs—including news media, civil society and courts—are vital to civic engagement in environmental policymaking. Some 120 national constitutions guarantee environmental protections, but in many countries there is little enforcement of these provisions, the Report says.
  • Bold global action is urgently required for sustainable development, but local initiatives to support poor communities can be both highly cost-effective and environmentally beneficial, the Report emphasizes. India’s Rural Employment Guarantee Act cost about 0.5 percent of GDP in 2009 and benefited 45 million households—one-tenth of the labour force; Brazil’s Bolsa Familia and Mexico’s Oportunidades programmes cost about 0.4 percent of GDP and provide safety nets for about one-fifth of their populations.

The authors forecast that unchecked environmental deterioration—from drought in sub-Saharan Africa to rising sea levels that could swamp low-lying countries like Bangladesh—could cause food prices to soar by up to 50 percent and reverse efforts to expand water, sanitation and energy access to billions of people, notably in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. 

By 2050, in an “environmental challenge” scenario factoring in the effects of global warming on food production and pollution, the average HDI would be 12 percent lower in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa than would otherwise be the case, the Report estimates. Under an even more adverse “environmental disaster” situation—with vast deforestation, dramatic biodiversity declines and increasingly extreme weather—the global HDI would fall 15 percent below the baseline projection for 2050, with the deepest losses in the poorest regions. 

Environmental deterioration could undermine decades of efforts to expand water, sanitation and electricity access to the world’s poorest communities: “These absolute deprivations, important in themselves, are major violations of human rights,” the authors say. 

Ukraine 

HDI values and rank changes in the 2011 Human Development Report 

The 2011 Human Development Report presents 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) values and ranks for 187 countries and UN-recognized territories, along with the Inequality-adjusted HDI for 134 countries, the Gender Inequality Index for 146 countries, and the Multidimensional Poverty Index for 109 countries. 

It is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published reports, because the underlying data and methods have changed, as well as the number of countries included in the HDI. The 187 countries ranked in the 2011 HDI represents a significant increase from the 169 countries included in the 2010 Index, when key indicators for many countries were unavailable. 

Ukraine’s HDI value and rank 

Ukraine’s HDI value for 2011 is 0.729—in the high human development category—positioning the country at 76 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1990 and 2011, Ukraine’s HDI value increased from 0.707 to 0.729, an increase of 3.0 per cent or average annual increase of about 0.1 per cent. 

The rank of Ukraine’s HDI for 2010 based on data available in 2011 and methods used in 2011 is 79 out of 187 countries. In the 2010 HDR, Ukraine was ranked 69 out of 169 countries. However, it is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published reports, because the underlying data and methods have changed, as well as the number of countries included in the HDI. 

Trends in Ukraine’s HDI 1990-2011 

Ukraine’s 2011 HDI of 0.729 is below the average of 0.741 for countries in the high human development group and below the average of 0.751 for countries in Europe and Central Asia. From Europe and Central Asia, countries which are close to Ukraine in 2011 HDI rank and population size are Kazakhstan and Russian Federation which have HDIs ranked 68 and 66 respectively. 

Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI) 

Ukraine’s HDI for 2011 is 0.729. However, when the value is discounted for inequality, the HDI falls to 0.662, a loss of 9.2 per cent due to inequality in the distribution of the dimension indices. Kazakhstan and Russian Federation show losses due to inequality of 11.9 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively. The average loss due to inequality for high HDI countries is 20.5 per cent and for Europe and Central Asia it is 12.7 per cent. 

Gender Inequality Index (GII) 

Ukraine has a GII value of 0.335, ranking it 57 out of 146 countries in the 2011 index. In Ukraine, 8.0 per cent of parliamentary seats are held by women, and 91.5 per cent of adult women have reached a secondary or higher level of education compared to 96.1 per cent of their male counterparts. For every 100,000 live births, 26 women die from pregnancy related causes; and the adolescent fertility rate is 30.8 births per 1000 live births. Female participation in the labour market is 52.0 per cent compared to 65.4 for men. 

In comparison Kazakhstan and Russian Federation are ranked at 56 and 59 respectively on this index. 

Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 

The most recent survey data that were publically available for Ukraine’s MPI estimation refer to 2007. In Ukraine 2.2 per cent of the population suffer multiple deprivations while an additional 1.0 per cent are vulnerable to multiple deprivations. The breadth of deprivation (intensity) in Ukraine, which is the average percentage of deprivation experienced by people in multidimensional poverty, is 35.5 per cent. The MPI, which is the share of the population that is multi-dimensionally poor, adjusted by the intensity of the deprivations, is 0.008. Kazakhstan and Russian Federation have MPIs of 0.002 and 0.005 respectively. 

2011 Human Development Report: Presentation by UNDP Country Director Ricarda Rieger