Chapter 2. Sharing opportunities and promoting development together
Let us remember that justice must be observed even to the lowest.—— Cicero (Ancient Rome)
The world is a commonwealth shared by all.—— Sun Yat-sen (China)
The political problem of mankind is to combine three things: economic efficiency, social justice and individual liberty.—— John Maynard Keynes (UK)
The goal of economic and social development is social equity and justice. However, inequity is still around us and negatively correlated with human development.
Large national differences in Human Development Index (HDI) performance. In 2012, the global average HDI value was 0.694; sub-Saharan Africa had the lowest HDI value of 0.475, followed by South Asia’s 0.558, while among developing regions, Europe and central Asia had thehighest HDI value of 0.771. The differences across regions are noticeable.
[UNDP,Human Development Report 2013.] This demonstrates the general inequity in human development.
– Serious gender inequality.The extent of discrimination can be measured through the Gender Inequality Index (GII): the higher the GII value, the greater the discrimination. Based on 2012 data for 148 countries, the GII shows large variations across countries, ranging from 0.045 (in the Netherlands) to 0.747 (in Yemen), with an average of 0.463.[Ibid.The Gender Inequality Index (GII) captures the loss of achievement due to gender inequality in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and labour market participation.]
– Barrier of intergenerational equity.The impact of inequity can persist over generations. For instance, a UN study of eight developed countries found that countries which are more unequal usually have lower social mobility (change of social status) and those in the excluded group find it particularly difficult to raise their status.[UNDP,Human Development Report 2013.]
– Environmental degradation as a more complex issue of justice. Climate change is the biggest reason for migration and displacement of populations. Long-term environmental threats are growing, and ecological losses are restricting people’s job opportunities (poor people in particular). The damage to economies and to society caused by environmental degradation has the potential to undo many of the gains in development and poverty reduction achieved over the past decades. Industrial countries must take historical responsibility for climate change and strike a balance between the economy, society and environmental protection.
These imbalances in development illustrate the urgent need for action. Countries will pay a high price for inaction: the longer the inaction, the higher the price. In general, decades of national experience have shown that economic growth cannot be automatically turned into human development and social equity and justice. As affirmed in the Constitution of the International Labour Organization, “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice”. We need to work hard to overcome enduring injustice.
Box 2-1: World environmental sustainability targets
Target A.Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources
Target B. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
Indicators for Targets A and B