Human Rights

Laos’ human development improves slightly, remains at 137 out of 189 countries, territories

The Human Development Report ranks countries based on the Human Development Index (HDI) which measures average achievement on three basic aspects of human development, life expectancy, education, and per capita income.

Between 1990 and 2019, the Lao PDR’s HDI value increased from 0.405 to 0.613, an increase of 51.4 per cent, positioning it at 137 out of 189 countries and territories, according to the Human Development Report (HDR) 2020 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Wednesday, 23 December 2020 in Vientiane.

The 30th anniversary edition of the HDR: “The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene” was officially launched in Laos by UNDP in cooperation with the National University of Laos following the global launch on Dec 15, 2020. The new report argues that for the first time in history, we are living in the Anthropocene — or The Age of Humans, instead of the planet shaping humans, humans are shaping the planet.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Ricarda Rieger, UNDP Resident Representative, stressed that “We have made incredible progress. We have improved the health, education and livelihoods of billions. But our actions – particularly our dependence on fossil fuels and material consumption- are driving not just climate change and biodiversity collapse, but ocean acidification, air and water pollution and land degradation. We are destabilizing the very systems upon which we rely on for survival at unprecedented speed and scale.”

“The planets biodiversity is in crisis. Almost 70% of wildlife may have been lost since 1970. Many believe we are at the beginning of a mass extinction event, the sixth in the history of the planet and the first to be caused by an organism – us. Of course, we cannot mention 2020 without mentioning COVID 19. Very much a symbol of what the Anthropocene has in store for us,” Ms. Rieger added.

To illustrate the point, this year’s edition 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.

Source: Lao News Agency