The Human Development Index, prepared annually by the UN, has for the first time chained two consecutive years of fall, a milestone that, according to experts, derives from a spiral of crises that began with the pandemic of COVID-19 and now has as its main exponent the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its collateral effects globally.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in charge of preparing this study for 32 years, detects a setback to 2016 levels, which ultimately implies new burdens to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the international community aspired to meet in 2030.
The setback is widespread, to the extent that more than 90 percent of countries have recorded a deterioration in their levels in 2020 or 2021. More than 40 percent have registered setbacks in both years, according to UNDP, which detects a “partial and uneven” recovery and sees particularly significant shortcomings in Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Hong Kong, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands occupy the top ten places in this Human Development Index, while Spain remains in twenty-seventh place. At the bottom are South Sudan, Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, Burundi and South Sudan.
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner has appealed to international solidarity to continue moving forward in a world that “is desperately trying to respond to successive crises” and warned of the risk of thinking only in the short term.
In this sense, he has recognized that in times of inflation or energy crisis it may be “tempting” to subsidize fossil fuels, but Steiner considers that this portrays the “systemic changes” that the world needs in the long term.
“We have a narrow window of opportunity to reboot our systems and build a future with decisive action in the face of climate change and the creation of new opportunities for all people,” he added.