Namibia slips in human development ranking

The gross national income per capita was N$9 357 last year.

21 December 2020 | Social Issues

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Namibia slipped one rank to 130 among 189 countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) for 2019. This compared to ranking 129th the previous year.

This is according to the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Human Development Report for 2020.

The absolute value of the index has, however, slightly improved for Namibia to 0.646, compared to 0.645 the year before, reflecting an overall better performance. According to the four HDI indicators, life expectancy at birth in Namibia stands at 63.7 years, while the gross national income per capita was N$9 357 last year. Meanwhile, the expected years of schooling and mean years of schooling were 12.6 and seven respectively.



Good news

The good news for Namibia is that when the HDI is adjusted to include two more elements experimentally introduced by the UNDP to account for planetary pressure, the country's ranking will improve by four positions.

The two new elements are a country's material consumption and its carbon footprint. By adjusting the HDI, which measures a nation's health, education and standards of living to include two more elements, the index shows how the global development landscape would change if both the well-being of people as well as the planet were central to defining humanity's progress.

With the resulting planetary pressures-adjusted HDI, a new global picture will emerge, painting a less rosy but clearer assessment of human progress.

For example, more than 50 countries will drop out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.



Bold steps needed

The report pointed out 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 laid 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 the coronavirus, record-breaking temperatures and spiralling 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,” UNDP administrator Achim Steiner said.

“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.

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