UNDP Human Development Report 2024: Breaking the gridlock

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The world has achieved a new record in human development. After steep losses in 2020 and 2021, the Human Development Index – a summary measure reflecting income per capita, education and life expectancy – has climbed to its highest level ever recorded at the global level. But this headline from the 2023/2024 UNDP Human Development Report – Breaking the Gridlock: Reimagining cooperation in a polarized world – masks some very concerning realities. Here are five graphs that paint a fuller picture of human development today.

The overall Human Development Index (HDI) value is greater than it was in 2019. But that doesn’t mean the world has recovered fully from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by other global crises. The 2023 figure remains below the level that was predicted before the pandemic. Essentially, we have not reached the level of human development that could have been expected had the pandemic not happened.

Before the crisis, the world was on track to reach an average “very high” HDI by 2030, coinciding with the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Now we are off track, with every region running below its pre-2019 projections.

Some of this lost human development may never be recovered.

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