Published Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Costa Rica improves in the Global Human
Development Index, experts say
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
According to the latest report of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that includes a new variant of the Human Development Index or HDI, which integrates carbon dioxide emissions and the material footprint of the countries, Costa Rica is most improved at a global level.
“The devastation caused by covid-19 is the latest sign that humanity has reached the edge of a precipice. We need a total transformation to move towards the next frontier of human progress," José Vicente Troya-Rodríguez, UNDP Resident Representative said. "This change begins by rejecting that we must choose between people or the environment. Costa Rica is showing the world that it is possible to take care of both because human development at the expense of the planet is not sustainable.”
According to the index, Costa Rica's HDI value for 2019 is 0.810. This means the country places fairly high in the human development category, placing 62nd place out of 189 countries and territories.
Between 1990 and 2019, Costa Rica's HDI value increased from 0.665 to 0.810, an increase of 21.8%. When measuring the HDI-P, Costa Rica goes from 62nd to 25th place in the world.
Certainly, the country faces formidable challenges to reduce poverty, improve education, generate more jobs and produce more prosperity, but this result shows that Costa Rica has assumed the correct path of green development, and solutions to its problems must be found in that direction and not another, the UNDP said in its statement.
The covid-19 pandemic is the latest crisis facing the world, but unless humans release their grip on nature, it won’t be the last, according to a new report by the UNDP, which includes a new experimental index on human progress that takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint.
The report lays out a stark choice for world leaders, takes bold steps to reduce the immense pressure that is being exerted on the environment and the natural world, or humanity’s progress will stall.
The report argues that as people and the planet enter an entirely new geological epoch, the Anthropocene or the Age of Humans, it is time for all countries to redesign their paths to progress by fully accounting for the dangerous pressures humans put on the planet, and dismantle the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that prevent change.
To illustrate the point, the 30th-anniversary edition of the Human Development Report, “The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene” introduces an experimental new lens to its annual Human Development Index.
By adjusting the HDI, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standards of living, to include two more elements: a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint, the index shows how the global development landscape would change if both the well being of people and the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress.
With the resulting Planetary-Pressures Adjusted HDI – or PHDI - a new global picture emerges, painting a less rosy but clearer assessment of human progress. For example, more than 50 countries drop out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.
Despite these adjustments, countries like Costa Rica, Moldova, and Panama have moved upwards by at least 30 places, recognizing that lighter pressure on the planet is possible.
“The Human Development Report is an important product by the United Nations. In a time where action is needed, the new generation of Human Development Reports, with greater emphasis on the defining issues of our time such as climate change and inequalities, helps us to steer our efforts towards the future we want,” Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden, the host country of the launch of the report said.
The next frontier for human development will require working with and not against nature while transforming social norms, values, and government and financial incentives, the report argues.
For example, new estimates project that by the year 2100 the poorest countries in the world could experience up to 100 more days of extreme weather due to climate change each year- a number that could be cut in half if the Paris Agreement on climate change is fully implemented.
And yet fossil fuels are still being subsidized: the full cost to societies of publicly financed subsidies for fossil fuels, including indirect costs, is estimated at over $5 trillion a year, or 6.5% of global GDP, according to International Monetary Fund figures cited in the report.
Reforestation and taking better care of forests could alone account for roughly a quarter of the pre-2030 actions we must take to stop global warming from reaching two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"How people experience planetary pressures is tied to how societies work," Pedro Conceição, Director of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office and lead author of the report said. "And today, broken societies are putting people and the planet on a collision course."
Inequalities within and between countries, with deep roots in colonialism and racism, mean that people who have more capture the benefits of nature and export the costs, the report shows.
The 2020 Human Development Report and UNDP’s analysis on the experimental Planetary Pressures-Adjusted HDI can be read on the UN site.
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