The UNDP Human Development Report 2019 was unveiled by Planning Minister MA Mannan. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove


Bangladesh has moved from 136 to 135 among 189 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI), according to the recently launched Human Development Report (HDR) 2019, released by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on December 9.

The title of this year’s HDR is “Beyond income, beyond averages, beyond today: inequalities in human development in the 21st Century.”

The HDI is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.

Over the years, the HDI has served as a comparative tool of excellence, and as a reliable platform for vigorous public debates on national priorities.

According to the report, Bangladesh’s HDI value for 2018 is 0.614— which put the country in the medium human development category—positioning it at 135 out of 189 countries. Between 1990 and 2018, Bangladesh’s HDI value increased from 0.388 to 0.614, an increase of 58.3 percent.

Between 1990 and 2018, Bangladesh’s life expectancy at birth increased by 14.1 years, mean years of schooling increased by 3.2 years and expected years of schooling increased by 5.6 years. Bangladesh’s GNI per capita increased by about 198.7 percent between 1990 and 2018.

The highlights of the report and Bangladesh’s position in the index were shared at the Human Development Report launching event, organised by UNDP in association with the Economic Relations Division (ERD) on December 11 at ERD’s conference room, following Monday’s global launch.

The Human Development Report (HDR), which pioneers a more holistic way to measure a countries’ progress beyond just economic growth, says “…as the gap in basic standards is narrowing, with an unprecedented number of people escaping poverty, hunger and disease, the necessities to thrive have evolved. The next generation of inequalities is opening up, particularly around technology, education, and the climate crisis.

“This is the new face of inequality,” says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “And as this Human Development Report sets out, inequality is not beyond solutions.” 2019 report analyzes inequality in three steps: beyond income, beyond averages, and beyond today, proposing a battery of policy options to tackle it.

This year’s HDR indicates that, Asia-Pacific region has the steepest rise globally in human development, no other region has experienced such rapid human development progress. South Asia was the fastest growing region (46 percent growth over the period 1990-2018), followed by East Asia and the Pacific at 43 percent. Of all countries on the HDI, Thailand had the second-highest increase after Ireland, moving up 12 ranks during 2013 - 2018. Indonesia and the Philippines both joined the ranks of countries with high human development. South Asia also saw the greatest leap in life expectancy and years of schooling.

While delivering the opening remarks of the event, Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh said, “The main premise of the human development approach is that expanding peoples’ freedom is both the main aim of, and the principal means for sustainable development. If inequalities in human development persist and grow, the aspirations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will remain unfulfilled.”

Addressing the event as the chief guest, Planning Minister MA Mannan highlighted various areas of the government’s development work -- health, sanitation, access to drinking water, and education. “We believe in approaching development from the bottom-up, so we started with eradicating poverty and hunger at the grassroots level,” he said, adding that despite the many obstacles to human development, life expectancy in Bangladesh has increased.

Earlier Shamsur Rahman, National Economic Advisor, UNDP Bangladesh, presented a keynote paper. Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, Dr Fahmida Khatun and Fahmida Shabnam took part in a panel discussion moderated by Professor Dr Shamsul Alam, Member (Senior Secretary), GED, Planning Commission.

Read the report here:


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