The Global Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 was launched on 6 January 2021, by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sri Lanka bringing together a wide range of high-level participation from the Government, Public and Private sector, Development partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). The 30th anniversary edition of the HDR 2020, titled ‘The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene’, includes a new experimental index; the Planetary Pressures-Adjusted Human Development Index (PHDI) on human progress which takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka H.E Ms. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy’s delivered the following remarks at marking the occassion:
Honorable Minister of Power, dear Ambassadors, distinguished colleagues and friends,
It has been a real privilege listening to your interventions. Your insights, covering the perspectives of Government, international cooperation, civil society and the private sector, highlight that the topic we are here to discuss today, Human Development in the Anthropocene, is indeed a multi-faceted and highly complex challenge that goes beyond traditional boundaries and will require the resources, expertise and innovations of all sectors.
As we have known for some time, and as the Report makes clear more than ever, our impact on the natural world is simply not sustainable. To cite just one figure, almost 70% of wildlife may have been lost in the last 50 years due to human activity.
And while we have come a long way in advancing human development over the same period – the impressive rise in Sri Lanka’s Human Development Index is a good example – we are also far from a situation where the price we have exacted from nature has guaranteed a life of dignity for all people.
As the Report shows, both environmental and social imbalances continue to exist, and they often reinforce each other in a vicious cycle.
Giving up the search for a solution is not an option however, and the excellent interventions I have heard from you today give me hope that we already have much of the ideas, dedication and leadership that we will need to succeed.
Let me therefore congratulate UNDP on the 30th anniversary of their flagship publication, and for deciding to make the crucial challenge of sustainable development in the Anthropocene the headline of this year’s report.
And let me thank you, our valued partners and stakeholders, for your active participation not just in our discussion today, but your on-going efforts in driving Sustainable Development in Sri Lanka.
The United Nations is more committed than ever to work with our partners, in Government and beyond, on advancing sustainable development.
Given the deep interconnection of planetary and social imbalances noted in the Report, I want to emphasize today the importance of ensuring justice, equality and human rights as part of this process.
This becomes clear in three different ways:
First and foremost, human rights are an end in themselves, and they are crucial for peace, security, stability and human development at all levels.
Second, human rights lead to more equal societies, and those are less likely to push communities into marginalized and informal livelihoods that often harm nature. Examples include the illegal exploitation of nature (fishing, hunting, mining, farming etc) or environmental pollution due to poverty and a lack of alternatives. Strong rule of law and governance also keep in check negative externalities resulting from industrial or economic growth.
Third, as the Report makes clear, equity and human rights are critical for the protection of our planet because they empower people of all backgrounds to become part of the solution as active agents of change, not only in their own lives but at the societal level.
Seeing as no country anywhere in the world has yet achieved the ideal combination of high human development and low planetary pressure, we need such an inclusive and participatory approach where all voices are heard. Only in this way can we address the enormously complex challenge ahead of us.
We, as the UN, in Sri Lanka and globally, will therefore, continue to champion a human rights-based approach to sustainable development which recognizes that transforming our economies and societies must have equity, justice and human rights at its center.
Thank you, dear friends and colleagues, once again for your engagement and efforts to build a more sustainable Sri Lanka.
I look forward to our continued partnership as we stride, together, the last Decade of Action of the Agenda 2030.