Investment, Insurance, and innovation for continuous expansion of human development

Bhutan has moved up two ranks on the 2022 Human Development Index from 129 to 127

Thriving under uncertainty is possible. Three policy building blocks that would shape transformation to expand human development could provide support in facing the layers of uncertainty from dangerous planetary change, uncharted transactions, and polarization.

The Human Development Index (HDI) report recommends implementing policies that focus on investment — from renewable energy to preparedness for pandemics, and insurance—including social protection— to better prepare our societies for the ups and downs of an uncertain world. While innovation in its many forms—technological, economic, cultural—can also build capacities to respond to whatever challenges come next. 

“Investment, insurance, and innovation all safeguard and promote agency, thus advancing human development,” the report states, adding implementing these mechanisms aims to grow opportunities for the future while advancing human potential in the present.

The Human Development Report 2022, “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives: Shaping our Future in a Transforming World”, argues that layers of uncertainty are stacking up and interacting to unsettle life in unprecedented ways.

The last two years have had a devastating impact on billions of people around the world, when crises like COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine hit back-to-back, and interacted with sweeping social and economic shifts, dangerous planetary changes, and massive increases in polarization. 

For the first time in the 32 years that UNDP has been calculating it, the Human Development Index, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standard of living, has declined globally, for two years in a row. Human development has fallen back to its 2016 levels, reversing much of the progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. 

While some countries are beginning to get back on their feet, recovery is uneven and partial, further widening inequalities in human development. South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa have been hit particularly hard. 

However, Bhutan is among some of the countries that have resisted the trend and improved their standings according to the Human Development Index (HDI) Report 2021-22.

Bhutan currently ranks 127 with a value score of 0.666, which, the rank has moved up from 129 to 127 and falls under the medium human development. The report states that there has been a consistent rise across all HDI that includes life expectancy, education, and gross national income.

Finance Minister Nmagay Tshering said that Bhutan as a small landlocked nation is also impacted by such uncertain times; COVID-19 is displacing people economically and socially, and climate change and global warming are making Bhutan more vulnerable than ever to climate and economic shocks.

“We may have a steady rise in all the three HDI indicators including health, education, and income, as a nation we continue to be vibrant of a complex challenge,” Lyonpo said adding we are truly being tested in our commitment and ability to address the multitude of challenges that demand us to work together.

The report titled, ‘Uncertain times, unsettled lives Shaping our future in a transforming world,’ firmly positions human development not just as a goal but as a means to a path forward in uncertain times, reminding us that people in all complexity, diversity, and creativity are the real wealth of nations.

During the launch, UN Assistant Secretary-General, and UNDP Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific Region, Ms. Kanni Wignaraja said, “We can accomplish a lot when we work together towards shared goals.”

Ms. Kanni said that we can create futures of prosperity, opportunity, and hope by doubling down on human development investments, protecting the planet, and providing people with the tools they need to feel more secure and thrive in an uncertain world.

Meanwhile, the Human Development Report is the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) flagship report that is premised on the powerful idea that people are the real wealth of nations.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu