Liberia: UNDP Human Development Report 2019: ‘systemic inequalities are still present’


MONROVIA – The United Nations Human Development Human Development Report 2019 has revealed that despite unprecedented progress against poverty, hunger, disease and systemic inequalities are still present. And they are deeply affecting social cohesion, economic growth, and public trust and confidence in the social contracts citizens have with their Governments, institutions, and among themselves. 

The report which was launched Monday in Monrovia also states that in addition to differences in earnings, inequality is also about unequal distribution of wealth and power, and the entrenched social and political norms.

Mr. Pa Lamin Beyai who is the UNDP Resident Representative in Liberia told a gathering of officials of Government and stakeholders that the UNDP will continue to work with the Government of Liberia, Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and other stakeholders to support inclusive and equitable development.

 “In doing so, we will focus on vulnerable groups, seeking to foster gender equality; and ensuring that no one is left behind. In the implementation of UNDP’s Country Programme Document (CPD) (2020-2024), and the roll out of the new UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), we will collectively contribute to the promotion of inclusive and accountable governance. And strengthen the rule of law, enhance stronger institutions, foster social cohesion, and accelerate green and inclusive growth.

“It is my hope that the findings, and recommendations of the report will inform and guide policy in our collective resolve to support Liberia’s development.”

 This year’s Human Development Report (HDR) is the first of the new generation of such reports, pushing the boundaries to accelerate thought-leadership, drive conversations on the future of development, and in the process, advance progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.

Human Development Report (HDR) & Human Development Index (HDI) since its first release in 1990, the Human Development Report (HDR), — a Flagship Publication for UNDP—, is produced periodically to promote development discourse. 

The first HDR got the interest of the world, because it presented a different way of measuring progress –beyond income. It’s accompanying Human Development Index (HDI), one of the most comprehensive measures, that ranks countries by their level of human development, remains a powerful voice for almost three decades.

The main premise of the human development approach is that expanding peoples’ freedoms 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. But there are no pre-ordained paths.

According to the report, Gaps are narrowing in key dimensions of human development, while others are only now emerging. Policy choices determine inequality outcomes – as they do the evolution and impact of climate change or the direction of technology, both of which will shape inequalities over the next few decades. 

“The future of inequalities in human development in the 21st century is, thus, in our hands. But we cannot be complacent. The climate crisis shows that the price of inaction compounds over time as it feeds further inequality, which, in turn, makes action more difficult. 

“We are approaching a precipice beyond which it will be difficult to recover. While we do have a choice, we must exercise it now. Inequalities in human development hurt societies and weaken social cohesion and people’s trust in government, institutions and each other. They hurt economies, wastefully preventing people from reaching their full potential at work and in life.”

 Inequalities in human development are a defining bottleneck in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Inequalities in human development are not just about disparities in income and wealth. 

The 2019 Human Development Report (HDR) explores inequalities in human development by going beyond income, beyond averages, and beyond today. The proposed approach sets policies to redress these inequalities within a framework that links the formation of capabilities with the broader context in which markets and governments function. Policies matter for inequalities. And inequalities matter for policies. 

The human development lens is central to approaching inequality and asking why it matters, how it manifests itself and how best to tackle it. Imbalances in economic power are eventually translated into political dominance. And that, in turn, can lead to greater inequality and environmental disasters. Action at the start of this chain is far easier than relying on interventions farther down the track. 

The 2019 HDR contributes to that debate by presenting the facts on inequalities in human development and proposing ideas to act on them over the course of the 21st century. This briefing note is organized into seven sections. The first section presents information on the country coverage and methodology for the 2019 Human Development Report.