Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience (2-2)
20 Nov 2014
Source: Sudan Vision
By: Alula Berhe Kidani
The World Human Development Report 2014 which the flag ship of the UNDP (United Nations Development Report) was launched in Khartoum on Sunday 2 November, 2014. The basic issue this year is very important for developing countries and that is sustaining human progress and this is why we are republishing in this page the Overview of the Report which summarizes the whole content of this important report.
Building resilience thus requires boosting the capacity of individuals, societies and countries to respond to setbacks. People with insufficient core capabilities, as in education and health, are less able to exercise their agency to live lives they value. Further, their choices may be restricted or held back by social barriers and other exclusionary practices, which can further embed social prejudice in public institutions and policies. Responsive institutions and effective policy interventions can create a sustainable dynamic to bolster individual capabilities and social conditions that strengthen human agency—making individuals and societies more resilient.
- Everyone should have the right to education, health care and other basic services. Putting this principle of universalism into practice will require dedicated attention and resources, particularly for the poor and other vulnerable groups.
Universalism should guide all aspects of and sections in society have equality of opportunity. This entails differential and targeted treatment for unequal or historically disadvantaged sections by providing greater proportional resources and services to the poor, the excluded and the marginalized to enhance everyone’s capabilities and life choices.
Universalism is a powerful way of directly addressing the uncertain nature of vulnerability.
If social policies have a universal aim, not only do they protect those who currently experience poverty, poor health or a bout of unemployment, but they also protect individuals and households who are doing well but may find themselves struggling if things go wrong. Further, they secure certain basic core capabilities of future generations.
- Strong universal social protection not only improves individual resilience—it can also bolster the resilience of the economy as a whole.
Nearly all countries at any stage of development can provide a basic floor of social protection. They can progressively expand to higher levels of social protection as fiscal space allows. A lower income country might start with basic education and health care and later expand to offer cash transfers or basic labour protection. A higher income country with already well established basic education, health care and conditional cash transfer programmes might expand eligibility for unemployment insurance to traditionally excluded populations, such as agricultural or domestic workers, or expand family leave policies for new parents to include fathers.
- Full employment should be a policy goal for societies at all levels of development.
When employment is either unattainable or with very low rewards, it is a major source of vulnerability with lasting repercussions for individuals and for their families and communities. It is time to recognize that the opportunity to have a decent job is a fundamental aspect of building human capabilities— and, equally, to see full employment as smart, effective social policy. Providing meaningful employment opportunities to all adult job-seekers should be embraced as a universal goal, just as education or health care. Full employment should be an agreed societal goal, not simply as a matter of social justice and economic productivity, but as an essential element of social cohesion and basic human dignity.
Decent work that pays reasonable wages, involves formal contracts preventing abrupt dismissals and provides entitlements to social security can enormously reduce employee vulnerability, although less so in recessions. Reducing employment vulnerability is then hugely important from the perspective of reducing human vulnerability in general. Yet this is clearly difficult to do. The importance of realizing decent and full employment has long been recognized, but large-scale unemployment and underemployment continue in most countries.
-The effects of crises, when they occur, can be lessened through preparedness and recovery efforts that can also leave societies more resilient.
Sudden onset of hazards and crises, from natural disasters to violent conflicts, often occur with destructive consequences for human development progress. Building capacities in preparedness and recovery can enable communities to withstand these shocks with less loss of life and resources and can support faster recoveries. Efforts to build social cohesion in conflict areas can lead to long-term reductions in the risk of conflict, while early warning systems and responsive institutions lessen the impacts of natural disasters.
- Vulnerabilities are increasingly global in their origin and impact, requiring collective action and better international governance.
Pollution, natural disasters, conflicts, climate change and economic crises do not respect political boundaries and cannot be managed by national governments alone.
Today’s fragmented global institutions are neither accountable enough nor fast enough to address pressing global challenges. Better coordination and perhaps better institutions are needed to limit transnational shocks and urgently respond to our changing climate as an integral part of the post-2015 agenda.
Stronger, responsive and more-representative global governance is essential for more-effective global action. Much can be done to improve global and national responses to crises, to prevent such crises from occurring and to reduce their magnitude.
-*A global effort is needed to ensure that globalization advances and protects human development— national measures are more easily enacted when global commitments are in place and global support is available.
An international consensus on universal social protection would open national policy space for better services for all people, reducing the risk of a global ‘race to the bottom’.
Elements of a global social contract would recognize the rights of all people to education, health care, decent jobs and a voice in their own future. The global agenda must seek to address vulnerability and strengthen resilience comprehensively. Whether they are pursued in defining new sustainable development goals or in the broader post-2015 discussions, a formal international commitment would help ensure universal action.