“Rise of South” transforming global power balance, says 2013 Human Development Report

Skopje, 14 March 2013—The rise of the South is radically reshaping the world of the 21st century, with developing nations driving economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty, and propelling billions more into a new global middle class, says the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report.

 “The rise of the South is unprecedented in its speed and scale. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast,” says the report. “The South as a whole is driving global economic growth and societal change for the first time in centuries.”

Nations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia are on the frontier of that change: “Connecting the North and the rising South is the transforming East,” the Report says, referring to the region.

Dozens of developing countries worldwide have achieved impressive growth and dramatically improved peoples’ lives with pragmatic policies that typically combine strong government leadership, open markets and imaginative social programs, the Report says.  

“The 2013 Report makes a significant contribution to development thinking by describing specific drivers of development transformation and by suggesting future policy priorities that could help sustain such momentum,” writes UNDP Administrator Helen Clark in the Report’s foreword.

On a global scale, the Report reveals that some of the largest countries have made rapid advances, notably Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey. But there has also been substantial progress in smaller economies, such as Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, Thailand and Tunisia.

The experience of many states in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in managing a rapid transition from centrally planned to market economies holds useful lessons for developing countries elsewhere.  

A major lesson from two decades of transition is that the state has a critical role in creating an environment for inclusive growth and societies. “Abruptly abandoning areas of responsibility by the state or insisting on rapid privatization of all state-owned companies may prove very costly for societies in the long run,” the Report says. But reforms to strengthen national institutions’ transparency and accountability and to limit corruption are necessary to improve governance, the Report stresses.

Throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia, people’s  human development continues to rise with greater equality than other areas of the developing world, but income and opportunity gaps are also widening.

People here are following this trend. They can expect to live 5.2 years longer than in 1980 and spend 2.5 more years at school than in 1990. Also, the per capita GNI in Purchasing Power Parity has increased for almost 40 per cent in comparison with 1995, which means that today citizens can buy more than they used to in the past.

These figures land the country in the high human development category –at the same rank as the Ukraine.

In 2013, the country is ranked 78 out of 187 countries. This year it is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published reports, because the underlying data and methods have changed, as well as the number of countries included in the index.

Many countries of the region - such as Croatia, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkey - have become increasingly important aid donors, with disbursements exceeding $4 billion in 2011. These emerging donors are also active in bilateral or trilateral exchange of knowledge with countries with common heritage or beyond. For example, in recent years Romania has shared its experience conducting elections with Egypt and Tunisia, Poland has helped Iraq with small and medium-size enterprise development, the Czech Republic has cooperated with Azerbaijan on environmental impact assessments and Slovakia has assisted Moldova and Montenegro in public finance management.

Overall, the Report argues that the emergence of a new South is shaking up existing global institutions, creating new ones, and showing new ways that countries and regions can work together.

The rise of the South should be seen as beneficial for all countries and regions, the Report concludes: Human Development is not a zero-sum game. “The South needs the North, and increasingly the North needs the South,” the Report says. “The world is getting more connected, not less.”

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ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2013 Human Development Report in ten languages, plus additional reference materials on its indices and specific regional implications, please visit: