Norway, Australia and the Netherlands lead the world in the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), while the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger and Burundi are at the bottom of the Human Development Report’s annual rankings of national achievement in health, education and income, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The United States, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden round out the top 10 countries in the 2011 HDI, but when the Index is adjusted for internal inequalities in health, education and income, some of the wealthiest nations drop out of the HDI’s top 20: the United States falls from #4 to #23, the Republic of Korea from #15 to #32, and Israel from #17 to #25.
The 2011 Report —Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All— argues that environmental sustainability can be most fairly and effectively achieved by addressing health, education, income, and gender disparities together with the need for global action on energy production and ecosystem protection.
The Report also notes that income distribution has worsened in most of the world, with Latin America remaining the most unequal region in income terms, even though several countries including Brazil and Chile are narrowing internal income gaps. Yet in overall terms, including life expectancy and schooling, Latin America is more equitable than sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, the Report shows.
The Human Development Report is an independent publication commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Its editorial autonomy is guaranteed by a special resolution of the General Assembly (A/RES/57/264), which recognizes the Human Development Report as “an independent intellectual exercise” and “an important tool for raising awareness about human development around the world."
Contributors to the Report include leading development scholars and practitioners, working under the coordination of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office. From the beginning, the Report has been a pioneer of methodological innovation and development thinking. Often provocative, the Report was launched in 1990 with the goal of putting people at the center of development, going beyond income to assess people’s long-term well-being. The Reports’ messages — and the tools to implement them — have been embraced by people around the world, as shown by the publication of autonomous National Human Development Reports by more than 140 countries over the past two decades. The Human Development Report is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries annually.
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