Launch of the Global Human Development Report 2020
The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene
                             and
Namibia National Human Development Report 2019
Addressing Inequality and Disparities: Towards a New Dignified Life for All Namibians

--- UN Namibia Heads of Agencies pictured with Rt. Hon. Dr. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister, Republic of Namibia and key stakeholders during the launch ---

Rt. Hon. Dr. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister, Republic of Namibia
Hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Excellencies, heads of missions
Senior Government Officials here present
Mr. Sen Pang, Resident Coordinator, United Nations and members of the UNCT
Representatives of the Private Sector
Representatives of Academic and Research Institutions
Members of the Media and Civil Society Organisations
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen,
(All protocol observed)

Let me begin by expressing my thanks and appreciation to the Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dr. Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, for honouring us with her presence today and accepting our invitation as keynote speaker for the launch of the 2020 GHDR “The next frontier: Human development and the Anthropocene” and the Namibia NHDR 2019 on the theme “Addressing Inequality and Disparities: Towards a New Dignified Life for All Namibians”.

Hon Prime Minister, the UN system highly values its continued partnership and good working relationship with the Government of the Republic of Namibia through its various line ministries and agencies institutions in the areas of economic progression, social transformation, environmental sustainability, and good governance. This day marks the collaboration between the National Planning Commission (NPC) and UNDP that led to the production of the Namibia NHDR and is testimony of the great partnership and working relationship that we have built with the government that you lead. I would like to commend the NPC team that provided the leadership and oversight during the drafting and finalisation of the NHDR.

Today we come together to mark 30 years since the first publication of the human development report. In 1990 the seminal thinking and work of two renowned economists Mahbub ul Haq and Amartya Sen gave birth to an authoritative construct in the form of the HDI. This approach challenged orthodox thinking that economic growth was an ideal and sufficient development indicator for measuring human well-being. Instead, it introduced a paradigm shift as an alternative way of looking at development and measuring it, by putting people, and not the economy, at the centre of development, as active agents of development, and as beneficiaries of development.


Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to spend a moment to recount some of the far- reaching changes that this approach brought about:
✓ Evolved by changing the content and tone of development dialogue around the world.
✓ Measured development results using indices through defined indicators such as long and healthy life (life expectancy at birth), education/knowledge (means years of schooling and expected years of schooling), and decent standard of living (gross national income per capita in PPP$).
✓ Provided advocacy tools for development actors to inform and influence policy decision-making at the global, continental, regional, and national levels.
✓ To date, more than 700 NHDRs have been produced along with regional and sub-regional HDRs.


Distinguished guests,
➢ The 2020 GHDR examines HD in a new geologic era and focuses on how HD can be expanded in balance with the planet. It brings home the stark reality of how Covid, conflict and climate are impacting poverty and exacerbating inequality.
➢ Inequality is at the very centre of the 21st century fabric. The future of development revolves around the two main constructs of inequality and sustainability and this is something we have to tackle with the utmost urgency.
➢ The 2020 report and the 2019 and the upcoming 2021 report are in a way a trilogy to explore inequality. The reports being launched today are rooted in the impact inequality has on what we are doing and equally on how we do and act that will worsen inequality including intergenerational inequality.

➢ In a relationship spanning 300,000 years, we are informed that human actions are shaping our planet instead of the planet shaping humans, thus contributing to so many changes. Some of these actions include our over dependence on fossil fuels and material consumption, which are driving climate change and biodiversity collapse, ocean acidification, air and water pollution, and land degradation.
➢ Our world has witnessed and experienced various crises in a little over a decade including the global financial crisis, the climate change crisis (enormous wildfires in Australia, the Brazilian Pantanal, eastern Siberia in Russia, and the West Coast of USA and record breaking hurricanes in the Atlantic), and now the COVID-19 crisis, which is an unexpected and unprecedented shock to human development which has further entrenched inequalities within and across all countries and also enhanced the imbalances of power and opportunity that stand in the way of finding solutions.
➢ It is noted that global wildlife has declined by almost 70 percent since 1970. It is therefore believed that we are at the beginning of a mass extinction event, which will be the sixth in the history of the planet and the first to be caused by human actions.
➢ These human actions have made scientists consider as to whether our planet has entered an entirely new geological era, referred to as the Anthropocene, or the age of humans. This means that we are the first people to live in an age that is being highly influenced by our choices, based on which the dominant risk to our survival is ourselves.
➢ Yes, modifying our environment and planet to fit our material desires is causing severe effects, and this is becoming worse as the problem of human overpopulation, overconsumption, increasing economic activities, overexploitation, pollution, and deforestation continue.
➢ It is also true that humans have achieved many incredible things including significant improvements in health, education and living standards of billions of people around the world. However, such achievements have come at a huge cost: severe pressures on the Earth’s systems and driving our planet to the brink of collapse.
➢ In fact, it is said that no country in the world has yet achieved very high human development without doing so at the expense of our planet. However, we could be the first generation to correct this wrong in the next frontier for human development.
➢ The changes taking place today on our planet are happening to biophysical environments and ecosystems and biodiversity and natural resources, which are assumed to be directly or indirectly caused by humans thus leading to global warming, environmental degradation, mass extinction and biodiversity loss, ecological crisis, and ecological collapse. Indeed, these problems are posing an existential threat to humans and our planet, hence requires us to adopt measures that will help us to navigate the next frontier, or the Anthropocene.


➢ If we are to survive we must navigate the next frontier (The Anthropocene), by redesigning a sustainable path to progress that considers the symbiotic relationship between humans and the Earth’s systems. , There is a need to acknowledge that the carbon and material footprint of the privileged few is undermining the opportunities of the many people who have less, or nothing at all.
➢ Transformation is possible but inequalities stand in the way.
➢ Need to redesign our pathways; our choice is to rethink, restore and transform
➢ We must reorient our approach from solving discrete siloed problems to navigating multidimensional,
interconnected and increasingly universal predicaments
➢ As part of the solution, the 2020 HDR advances three principles for helping us to achieve our goal of surviving and at the same time keep healthy and easing of pressures on our planet. The principles are equity, innovation, and stewardship, which must become central to what it means to live a good life.
➢ The report also advances three building blocks that can help us to create real and lasting change for both ourselves and the planet. These are:
✓ Work with nature, and not against it. This can be achieved by regenerating forest to absorb carbon and protect wildlife, hence providing a sustainable source of food for those who live there and generate the rain that provides freshwater for those living far away).
✓ Improve incentives and change social norms. The report reveals that the world spent over $300 billion in 2019 to subsidize dependence on fossil fuels, thus making it harder for clean energy to compete. Therefore, removing these subsidies could help to reduce carbon emissions by more than a quarter.
✓ The need to change social norms. We will need to greatly transform the way we live, work, and cooperate. Such transformation can come about when social norms are changed by identifying opportunities for catalytic action to shift norms and empower people to balance their relationship with nature.
➢ Investment in new measures in this dispensation is an important requirement if we are to navigate the new frontier, or the Anthropocene. Low carbon development must be integrated in national planning. E.g. nature based accounting in Rwanda.energy, land use, transport.
➢ A focus on the human development approach-capabilities, agency and values-can support our drive to the Anthropocene, so people and planet can co-exist in a symbiotic way. Therefore, addressing inequality and empowering people can offer a pathway towards such co-existence.

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