Bahrain goes up in Human Development Index: UNDP report


Bahrain has moved up on the Human Development Index to rank 42nd globally in 2019, three positions better than its 45th ranking in 2018.

According to the new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bahrain has maintained its position in the “very high human development” category of the index, based on its average income, education, and health metrics.

The Kingdom has also increased its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita for both males and females, as well as its labour force participation rate for women.

In terms of the dynamics of that ranking across time, the report indicates how between 2014 and 2019, Bahrain has gone up six positions, making it the Arab country with the second largest upwards leap in terms of the HDI ranking, following only Tunisia in the same period.

Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohamed bin Ibrahim Al Mutawa stated that it is gratifying to note that the Kingdom of Bahrain continues to obtain high scores in the Human Development Index, providing free education, ensuring equal opportunities for men and women, improving health care, and raising life expectancy, all in line with the SDGs.

Moreover, Bahrain has recently scaled up its efforts to conserve its natural resources, including ensuring protected marine areas, the establishment of the Sustainable Energy Authority, and setting of national goals on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The Gender Development Index, which measures gender gaps in human development achievements in three basic dimensions: health, knowledge and living standards, placed Bahrain in the fourth group out of five groups ranked by performance.  The Gender Inequality Index (GII) on the other hand, which measures gender-based inequality in health, empowerment, and jobs, placed Bahrain in the 49th position globally.

Much like its counterparts in the “very high human development” category such as the United States, Singapore, and Australia, the planetary pressures associated with Bahrain’s development brings its planetary-adjusted ranking down approximately 42 points (on par with the United States, Singapore, and Australia, all of whom fell approximately 45 – 92 points on the same scale).

Some eighbouring Gulf states, meanwhile, saw their planetary-adjusted ranking drop between 74 and 87 points for the same pressures, the report said. This demonstartes that achieving high development has led to significant planetary strain.

As pointed out by Stefano Pettinato, UNDP Resident Representative in Bahrain, “this year’s edition of UNDP’s global HDR is an honest and rigorous illustration of why we need to turn our attention towards how humans as main agents of change are able to shape nature, steering the future of our planet and generations to come towards either a healthy balance, or a downward spiral.”

UNDP in Bahrain and the Bahrain Centre for Strategic and International Energy Studies (DERASAT) worked together to produce the Bahrain Human Development Report (BHDR), published in November 2018, that addressed sustainable economic growth and human development.

The report was the third BHDR to be produced after a seventeen-year hiatus, following the first two BHDRs published in 2000 and 2001. Much like the purpose of this year’s Human Development Report, the BHDR focused on human development in line with the tenets of sustainable economic development, improved standards of living, and gender equality.

The report emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic is the latest crisis facing the world, but unless humans release their grip on nature, it will not be the last.

The report includes a new experimental index on human progress that takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint.

The report lays out a stark choice for world leaders – take bold steps to reduce the immense pressure that is being exerted on the environment and the natural world, or humanity’s progress will stall.

“Humans wield more power over the planet than ever before. In the wake of COVID-19, record-breaking temperatures and spiraling inequality, it is time to use that power to redefine what we mean by progress, where our carbon and consumption footprints are no longer hidden,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator.

“As this report shows, no country in the world has yet achieved very high human development without putting immense strain on the planet. But we could be the first generation to right this wrong. That is the next frontier for human development,” he said.

The report argues that as people and planet enter an entirely new geological epoch, the Anthropocene or the Age of Humans, it is time to for all countries to redesign their paths to progress by fully accounting for the dangerous pressures humans put on the planet, and dismantle the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that prevent change.

To illustrate the point, the 30th anniversary edition of the Human Development Report, The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene, introduces an experimental new lens to its annual Human Development Index (HDI).

By adjusting the HDI, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standards of living, to include two more elements: a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint, the index shows how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and also the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress.

With the resulting Planetary-Pressures Adjusted HDI – or PHDI – a new global picture emerges, painting a less rosy but clearer assessment of human progress. For example, more than 50 countries drop out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.

Despite these adjustments, countries like Costa Rica, Moldova, and Panama move upwards by at least 30 places, recognizing that lighter pressure on the planet is possible.

The next frontier for human development will require working with and not against nature, while transforming social norms, values, and government and financial incentives, the report argues. According to the report, easing planetary pressures in a way that enables all people to flourish in this new age requires dismantling the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that stand in the way of transformation.

Established in 1978, UNDP Bahrain supports policies and interventions along the lines laid out above, focusing on sustainability, planetary balance, and doing so while accompanying and supporting the Government of Bahrain in the achievement of national and international goals, and the implementation of its Government Action Plan 2019-2022, while advancing towards the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone.

On the ground in some 177 countries and territories, UNDP offers a global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.




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