The Japan launch of the 2013 Human Development Report — “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” — was held on 26 March at the UNU Headquarters in Tokyo.
After opening remarks by Akiko Yuge, Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representation Office in Tokyo, Khalid Malik, Director of the Human Development Report Office, introduced the key findings of the report.
With a focus on more than 40 developing countries, the report’s data and findings show an increase in human development over the past decade, including an easing of inequality, more widespread education, greater participation and inclusion in the social cohesion discussion, and an increased interconnection among youth.
The rise of the South is radically reshaping the world of the 21st century, with developing nations driving economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty and bringing more of them into a new global middle class, says the 2013 Human Development Report.
At the launch event, Akihiko Tanaka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), lauded the collaboration between UNDP and Japan and commended development of the UNDP report. He addressed the change in our understanding of the world system in the 21st century, human security and inclusive development.
He observed that the long-dominant power of the West has been replaced by participation of the rapidly growing economies in the South. He noted that the South is not a single entity, but shows many diverse and plural elements in the realm of human development. He stressed the concept of inclusiveness and suggested that more attention should be paid to human security and vulnerabilities. Agencies like JICA, Tanaka said, foster collaboration under the premise that “development cooperation cannot be a pure transfer from software from the North to the South”, but requires mutual learning and joint solution discovery.
During the question and answer session, UNU Rector David Malone thanked UNDP for the stimulating 2013 report and noted, in particular, Japan’s efforts to incorporate the human security component into development. He cautioned, though, that the term “middle class” is formulated vaguely — in India, for example, some suggest that the middle class consists of 35 million people while others calculate the number of 350 million — and that we must develop a clearer understanding of just who is part of the “middle class”.
Both Malik and Tanaka noted that the middle class is a “self-perceptive term” that has a different understanding in different places and contexts.
Rector Malone also emphasized the important role of higher education, rather than focusing only on primary and secondary education in a development context. Malik responded that while education needs to be balanced, the fact that parents always want their children to have a better future necessitates a cohesive approach in all streams of education.
Malik concluded that, in regards to the human development pillars of income, education and health, the less-developed countries are accelerating faster, and this is something to celebrate.
The initial 2013 report launch was held on 14 March 2013 in Mexico City by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who will deliver the 21st U Thant Lecture at UNU in Tokyo on 9 April 2013.