Bangladesh makes great strides in human dev

Rezaul Karim

22 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Bangladesh has made an impressive improvement in human development this year with remarkable progress in many socioeconomic areas, including life expectancy and per capita income.

The Human Development Index (HDI) 2020 shows Bangladesh has moved two notches up, ranking 133rd position this year from last year’s 135th position.

Bangladesh has ranked fifth among eight South Asian countries, says a global HDI report released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Bangladesh's HDI value has increased by 60.4 percent. The country’s 2019 HDI is above the average for countries in the medium human development group,” the report states.

This year, India and Pakistan have dropped two notches in the index, standing at the 131st and 154th positions respectively.

The UNDP has made the index after conducting a survey on the human situation in 189 UN member countries.

The report titled, “The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene”, was launched in Bangladesh on Monday, six days after its global launch with a new experimental index on human progress.

"To name a few of the obvious, such as a large number of people pushed into poverty due to lost livelihoods, increased inequalities, increased gender-based violence, increased risks of having a large proportion of children and youth dropping out of education, etc," UNDP Bangladesh's Resident Representative Sudipto Mukerjee said.

He pointed out that the coronavirus pandemic's collateral costs far outweigh the loss of lives.

"Despite numerous challenges, Bangladesh is committed to nourishing the health of our planet, and working towards building a "Shonar Bangla," as envisioned by the Father of our Nation," said Planning Minister MA Mannan, who unveiled the report in his country.

"The strain on our planet mirrors the strain facing many of our societies. Climate change, among other dangerous planetary changes, will only make them worse," he added.

With the Covid-19 pandemic being the latest crisis facing the world, the new report warns that unless humans release their grip on nature, it won't be the last.

The 30th anniversary edition of the report, the HDI, which usually measures a nation's health, education, and living standards, has been adjusted to include two more elements: a country's carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint.

The adjustment now shows how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and the planet were central to defining humanity's progress.

For example, more than 50 countries dropped out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.

“As this report shows, no country in the world has yet achieved very high human development without putting immense strain on the planet. But we could be the first generation to right this wrong. That is the next frontier for human development,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner during the global launch.

Between 1990-2019, Bangladesh's life expectancy at birth increased by 14.4 years, mean years of schooling increased by 3.4 years, and expected years of schooling increased by 6.0 years. Bangladesh's GNI per capita has also increased by about 220.1 percent between 1990 and 2019.

"Scientists have been warning of a pandemic like this for years, as a reflection of the pressures people put on Planet Earth," Sudipto said.

"Choices that could stop the pandemic and end poverty, close the digital divide, and tackle the climate emergency so that we use this unique moment in time to move to the next frontier for people and planet," he said, calling for increased cooperation for a better future.

The launch included a presentation detailing on the new PHDI by Balazs Hovarth, senior economic advisor at UNDP Asia Pacific.

Following the launching, a panel discussion was held which was participated by Prof Shamsul Alam, Senior Secretary, General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission; Prof Saleemul Huq, Climate Scientist, Director ICCAD; Dr Fahmida Khatun, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD); Dr Samia Huq, Anthropologist, Dean of General Studies, BRAC University; and Iqbal Habib, Architect and Environmentalist.

Shahidul Haque, former senior secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, moderated the discussion.