Global report praises Viet Nam’s progress on human development

Jul 3, 2013

Ha NoiViet Nam is among more than 40 developing countries identified to have done better than expected in human development terms in recent decades, says the 2013 Human Development Report (HDR) presented in Viet Nam today.

According to the global report of the UN Development Programme, Viet Nam’s human development progress has increased by 41 percent in the past two decades. In 2012, Viet Nam ranked 127th out of 187 countries – which is in the ‘medium’ category of human development.

Entitled “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”, this year’s HDR analyses more than 40 developing countries that have made striking human development gains in recent years. The Report attributes their achievements to strong national commitments to better public health and education services, innovative poverty eradication programs and strategic engagement with the world economy. 

“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,” the report says.

By 2030, the Report projects, more than 80 percent of the world’s middle class will reside in the South. The Asia-Pacific region will be home to about two-thirds of the new global middle class, with billions of people becoming increasingly educated, socially engaged and internationally connected, though at significantly lower income levels than their counterparts in the middle class of the industrialized North.
The 2013 Human Development Report warns, however, that short-sighted austerity policies, persistent inequalities and unresponsive political systems could threaten global and national progress unless corrected.

“Economic growth alone does not automatically translate into human development progress,” the Report says. “Pro-poor policies and significant investments in people’s capabilities—through a focus on education, nutrition and health, and employment skills—can expand access to decent work and provide for sustained progress.”

“The South as a whole is driving global economic growth and societal change for the first time in centuries,” the Report says, providing a detailed overview of this change and its significance:

The high achievers in East Asia include not only China, but also Indonesia, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei.
By 2020, the combined economic output of the three leading developing countries alone—Brazil, China and India—will surpass the aggregate production of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.
In 2011, 61 of the world’s biggest corporations on the Fortune 500 list were Chinese—up from 16 five years earlier.

The Human Development Report analysis showed that while these countries differed greatly in their histories, political systems and economic profiles, they share common factors. Most had assertive governments that sought to take strategic advantage of the opportunities offered by global trade, while reducing poverty and inequality through pioneering home-grown social programs.

China illustrates this most vividly. Since market-oriented reforms in the late 1970s, China has experienced vast changes, emerging as a dominant market economy in a new global system in which it increasingly sets the pace. The scale of these changes required a long-term vision to build the necessary institutions and capacities. The state reformed, and opened markets, gradually. It built on a strong foundation of educational investment laid down in preceding decades.

Indonesia, another of the region’s successes, has also tried to find a new balance between the state and the market, moving from import-substituting industrialization with a major thrust in agriculture and rural development to a more open, trade-focused strategy. Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam, from different perspectives, also tried to balance state control with trade and investment. The Republic of Korea, one of the first economies in the region to transition to developed status, combined state and private sector in its industrialization while supporting education, infrastructure and health efforts.

But East Asian countries face many of the same challenges of developing countries in other regions—ageing populations, environmental risks, political pressures and inequality—and countries will need to stay smart to maintain their momentum, the Report cautions.

Speaking at the report launch in Viet Nam, UN Resident Coordinator Pratibha Mehta highlighted the need to invest in people. “Without investing in people, returns from global markets – or foreign direct investment – will remain limited, she said. “Investing in human potential is vital for Viet Nam to enhance its competitiveness and to fully benefit from global economic integration.”

Mehta mentioned regional and geographic disparities as obstacles for Viet Nam progressing to higher levels of human development. She noted the four key areas suggested by the Report to ensure continued progress in human development, including enhancing equity; enabling greater participation of citizens; confronting environmental pressures; and managing demographic change.

UNDP and MOFA jointly organized a workshop in Ha Noi today to discuss the key findings of the report and its implications from Viet Nam. Panelists are President of MOFA’s Diplomatic Academy Dang Duy Quy, former Vice President of Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Pham Chi Lan, Vice President of Central Institute for Economic Management Vo Tri Thanh, UNDP Deputy Country Director Bakhodir Burkhanov and UNDP Economic Advisor Michaela Prokop.
More information?

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:
You can also download the presentation of the Global Human Development Report and the presentation of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Contact informationNguyen Viet Lan, Tel: 84-4-38224383 (ext 121)