Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative, Tony Lisle - Launch of the Human Development Report 2013 in the Maldives

12 May 2013

Your Excellency, Vice President,
Honourable Ministers,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Colleagues from the UN System,
Good afternoon and Assalaam Alaikum.

On behalf of UNDP, I welcome you to this ceremony to launch the 2013 Global Human Development Report in the Maldives.

I am delighted to have all of you join us today at this national launch of UNDP’s 2013 Human Development Report on “"The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”.  

As you know, the Human Development Report is a flagship product of UNDP globally, and since its inception, it has influenced policy discourse and decisions all over the world.

Ladies, and gentlemen, allow me to present a brief history of the HDR up to this year.

Every year, since 1990, UNDP has commissioned the production of the Human Development Report which puts people at the centre of the development process. Each report focuses on a topical development theme and provides path-breaking analysis and policy recommendations on a wide range of themes such as human security, globalization, human rights, decentralization, democratic governance, climate change, sustainability and equity.

It has been an effective tool to stimulate policy discussions, debates, and learning from experiences across the world. One of the key elements of the HDR to measure human development is the Human Development Index (HDI). This is a composite index, measuring the health, education and quality of life, and is currently defined as the best and strongest tool we have to monitor trends in human development over the long term.

A key message of the 2013 report (The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World) is that a significant number of developing countries have transformed themselves into dynamic emerging economies with growing geopolitical influence and significant positive impact on human development progress around the world. The development landscape is very different today from when the first Human Development Report was launched 23 years ago.

Maldives has achieved significant economic growth over the past decade, confirmed by its graduation to a Middle Income Country in January 2011. However, the country continues to face a number of risks and vulnerabilities, including effects of climate change and the global financial crisis. It is also experiencing democratic transition characterized by separation of powers, creation of independent bodies, the establishment of a legal grounding for a party political system, and rolling-out of decentralized governance.

The HDR focuses on increased access to schools, improving access and quality of health services, promoting inclusive growth, and emphasis to improve conditions for women. These are also policies espoused by the Government of Maldives which deserve our vigorous support.

I would like to congratulate the people and the government of Maldives, for the steady improvement in human development status. Maldives’s HDI value for 2012 is 0.688—in the medium human development category—positioning the country at 104 out of 187 countries and territories. Between 1995 and 2012, Maldives’s HDI value increased from 0.529 to 0.688, an increase of 30 percent or average annual increase of about 1.6 percent. The report shows that Sri Lanka and Maldives top South Asian Human Development.

The launch today of the 2013 HDR is very timely and relevant for the Maldives as the Government and state actors in collaboration with UNDP is currently formulating the second National Human Development Report for the country. Through a wide consultative process the theme of ‘equity and vulnerability’ has been endorsed as the topic for the country’s second NHDR to understand and conceptual vulnerability and equity in the Maldivian context.

It is timely that the Maldives takes stock of its progress and go beyond GDP in measuring the future the country wants, at a time when the government and key national partners have expressed a keen interest in embarking on the NHDR initiative. The preparation of the NHDR will provide an opportunity to consult with a large number of stakeholders, including government, independent institutions, civil society, academia, private sector, youth and women’s groups. This will undoubtedly contribute to building the capacity of state institutions to operationalize the human development concept and conduct informed policy dialogue on long-term development issues pertaining to the country.

As I conclude, I would like to underscore the Human Development approach which asserts the right to an equal opportunity by all – to participate, to be heard, to benefit from gains in development, and to pursue their talents and aspirations. Some will do better than others with the choices they have. But the challenge is to ensure that everyone has an equal chance – an equal opportunity to improve their quality of life.

UNDP conceives of development as a process of enlarging people’s choices to realize their potential and enjoy the freedom to lead lives they value. We remain strongly committed to work in partnership with the Government and support the people of the Maldives and empower them to build solutions towards reducing vulnerability and achieving MDGs equitably.

Thank you for your presence today.

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