Human Development report 2002: Country-by-Country Progress on Millennium Development Targets

24 Jul 2002

Ha Noi - Viet Nam's Human Development Index (HDI) continues to climb according to the Human Development Report 2002, the annual, independent report commissioned by UNDP and released today. Viet Nam's HDI increased further to 0.688 from 0.682 in the previous year, enabling Viet Nam to maintain its medium development ranking of 109 out of 173 countries.

The HDR 2002, released nearly two years after world leaders at the historic Millennium Summit set measurable objectives for development and poverty eradication by 2015, also offers new analysis showing which countries are on track to meet the targets≈and which are not.

Viet Nam has achieved impressive progress in terms of poverty reduction and human development since the launching of the doi moi reform process in the mid-1980s. "Doi moi has clearly contributed to an expansion of choices and participation in a wide range of areas. Vietnam has done much more to translate its income into human development, while other countries with higher income fall behind in their HDI." notes Jordan Ryan, UNDP Resident Representative.

This progress is reflected in the considerable rise since 1985 of Viet Nam's Human Development Index (HDI), which measures achievements in key areas of human development, such as standard of living, health and education. Viet Nam's HDI has continued to steadily improve since the mid-1980s, from 0.583 in 1985 to 0.605 in 1990, 0.649 in 1995 and 0.688 more recently.

On the basis of the HDRπs Human Poverty Index, which attempts to assess the percentage of the population suffering from a variety of basic deprivations and which ranks 89 developing countries for which adequate data is available, Viet Nam ranks 43 out of 89 countries in this yearπs report (an improvement of two steps compared to last year's ranking).

In addition to updated HDI rankings, the Human Development Report focuses each year on a specific theme particularly relevant to human development. This yearπs theme is Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World and the Report explores how democratic institutions ˙ at both international and national level - help promote equitable social progress and economic growth.

"This yearπs Human Development Report is first and foremost about the idea that politics is as important to successful development as economics," says Mark Malloch Brown, UNDP Administrator. "Sustained poverty reduction requires equitable growth ˙ but it also requires that poor people have political power. And the best way to achieve that in a manner consistent with human development objectives is by building strong and deep forms of democratic governance at all level of society."

The Report emphasizes that the democracy a nation chooses to develop depends upon its history and circumstances, and that countries will thus necessarily be differently democratic. But in all countries democracy is much more than a single decision or hastily organized election. It requires a deeper process of political development to embed democratic values and culture in all parts of society -- a process never formally completed. The Report also presents a number of perspectives on good governance, drawn from different sources.

UNDP Vietnamπs Jordan Ryan commented "This yearπs HDR focuses on the quality of democracy, and its relationship with human development. Accountability and increased popular participation are as vital for Human Development here in Viet Nam as anywhere in the world."

The Report notes Viet Namπs decentralisation process over the past decade that has been characterised by the expansion of peopleπs participation and public officialsπ accountability at the local level, especially in rural areas where the majority of Vietnamese live, as well as the 1998 Grassroots Democracy Decree that defines areas of policy where people need to be kept informed, including administrative procedures and budget planning and spending. The Decree also outlines areas where local people should discuss and comment on government decisions before they are made.

The Report applauds Viet Nam for the process of forging its successful Poverty Reduction Strategy, prepared by the Government with active participation of civil society, donors and international institutions. This participatory process aimed at ensuring that a wide range of stakeholders participated in priority setting, policy-making, resource allocations and access to public goods and services.

The Report also addresses issues of international governance. As protesters in both developed and developing countries in recent years have been motivated by concerns that poor people and countries are losing out in the way that global affairs are managed, the Report stresses the need for an injection of democracy in international institutions and for concrete reforms to increase the role of developing countries in international institutions and to make these institutions more accountable to the people and countries whose lives they affect.

At the request of the Government of Viet Nam, UNDP will hold a series of in-depth discussions with Government Agencies on the 2002 Human Development Report and its findings.

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