Colombo, 5th October. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Sri Lanka Human Development Report 2012 today in the presence of Hon. Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Senior Minister for Monetary Co-operation and Dr. Ajay Chhibber, the visiting UN Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific and Chair, UN Regional Director’s Team, Asia and the Pacific. Titled, ‘Bridging Regional Disparities for Human Development’, this is the second National Human Development Report (NHDR) for Sri Lanka, with the first Report having been produced more than a decade ago in 1998.
Globally, UNDP has produced Human Development Reports (HDRs) since 1990, which take human dimensions into consideration when measuring development. In parallel to global HDRs, individual countries have been producing NHDRs, reflecting country level issues that have an impact on human development.
With Sri Lanka entering a new phase of development, the 2012 NHDR examines the social and economic disparities across Sri Lanka’s geographic regions. It also highlights development differences amongst provinces and districts to the extent that data are available, focusing in particular on spatial disparities. It assesses the health, education, employment and governance sectors, and puts forth a set of policy recommendations to help overcome gaps, enabling Sri Lanka’s people to contribute to and participate in its overall socio-economic progress.
While addressing the gathering, Hon. Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama noted that this Report, which comes as the Government prepares for the formulation of the National Budget for 2013, will be very useful. Speaking further, he emphasized on the need to focus on the growing middle class, and creating an enabling environment for people to climb out of poverty. He stated, “The nature of poverty reduction is undergoing rapid changes. We need to seize the opportunity in a bold way, and create opportunities so that a new class of people will take charge, and be able to transform the Sri Lankan economy”.
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Ajay Chhibber expressed his views that, “If Sri Lanka is to achieve its full potential moving forward, it is necessary to look at the dynamics of growth and development across the country and across different segments of the population. Bridging regional disparities for human development and addressing inequities at this point in Sri Lanka’s history, is extremely timely.”
Commenting on the significance of the Report, Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, stated, “I believe this NHDR will serve as the foundation for joint Government and development partner engagement, bolstering the collaboration so essential to addressing regional disparities and targeting vulnerable and disadvantaged groups”.
Key findings of the Report were presented by Dr. Nisha Arunathilaka, the lead author of the Report. Four eminent speakers, Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama, Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo, Dr. Palitha Mahipala, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Anura Ekanayake, Immediate Past Chairman, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Prof. Savithri Goonesekera, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo reviewed the education, health, employment and governance aspects, respectively.