Opening Remarks by Musinga T. Bandora-UNDP Resident Representative in Namibia:Launch of the 2014 Human Development Report titled “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience”

13 Aug 2014

I wish to begin by expressing my gratitude to all of you for having made time to attend the occasion of the launch of this year’s Human Development Report. In particular, I wish to thank, Hon Tom Alweendo, for accepting to preside over this event.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, UNDP has been supporting the production of Human Development Reports since 1990, dedicating each issue to a particular theme. The reports present quantitative measures of human development across countries of the world. Over the years, the value of these reports has been demonstrated. They have anchored the thinking on a holistic approach to sustainable human development.  While it is indeed, difficult to capture the full complexity of development in a single index, overtime the doubts have been overcome by evidence. It is now agreed that a simple composite measure of human development is able to draw attention and convince policy-makers to critical development areas that need attention-they be education, health or any other. Above the reports have facilitated the consensus that development should not me measured by economic growth alone but also by qualitative improvements in the human condition.

Looking back in time, trends of human development have generally been positive. Many countries, Namibia included, are on an upward trajectory. As noted in the report, human development in Namibia, as measured by the Human Development Index, has been on an upward trend since the first report was produced in 1990, with the only exception to this trend being the 1995 -2000 period.  While, Namibia has yet to make a radical breakthrough and is now ranked 127 out of 187 countries, yet when seen within the context of Africa, it is one of the better performers. It ranks fifth in the SADC region after Seychelles, Mauritius, Botswana and South Africa.

Therefore every effort should be made to not only hasten the pace of but also to secure human development gains in Namibia. We know the political will is there, and resources exist. We need to address the underlying structural, institutional and capacity issues that continue to constrain progress.

In this regard, the country has to put in place mechanisms to ensure robust resilience to avoid seeing reversals to the gains in economic and social development, and to be able to absorb potentially destabilizing shocks, of every kind and address vulnerabilities.

This year’s Human Development Report addresses the theme of reducing vulnerabilities and building resilience and the link between reducing vulnerability and advancing human development.

Vulnerabilities exist in many spheres including in livelihoods; personal security; in the physical environment; and in global politics and economic governance systems. And they can quickly reverse gains in human development.   As the report aptly notes “real progress on human development is not only a matter of enlarging people’s critical choices and their ability to be educated, be healthy and have a reasonable standard of living. It also a matter of how secure these achievements are and whether conditions are sufficient for sustained human development”.  

The report provides a useful platform for examining the concept of vulnerability and devising ways through which we can build resilient communities. The report identifies two types of vulnerabilities: systematic and structural. The first refers to certain categories of persons exposed to more fragility throughout their lives as a consequence of structural barriers in society. Included in this category are children, adolescents, young people, women, older persons and those who are permanently caught in the poverty trap. The second type, structural vulnerability, is associated with weakness of institutions and policies at all levels: global, national and local-and these affect states and communities.

The Report proposes general principles, policies and practical measures for strengthening resilience in order to overcome these vulnerabilities. These include, for example, the need for universal social protection; promotion of full employment as a central goal of macroeconomic policies; reduction of vertical and horizontal inequalities; deepening, and indeed establishing as sacrosanct, the principle of national and international solidarity; and finally, strengthening the capacities of institutions and communities to survive crises in the short term. 

AT UNDP, “building resilience” along with "sustainable development pathways" and "inclusive and effective democratic governance" has become a central theme of our work as outlined in our new Corporate Strategic Plan covering the period 2014 -2017- Guided by the vision of the strategic plan, we look forward to deepening our partnership and working with The Government of Namibia in achieving the goals of the NPD 4.        

                I thank you.