Feature story

Massive development gains in the South is improving the economic, social and health prospects for millions, says Human Development Report

14 March 2013

The countries of the South are shifting the global power balance with massive strides in economic growth, poverty reduction, education and health.

The world is changing rapidly with developing nations spearheading global economic growth, impressive poverty reduction and the rise of a healthier, better educated middle class, says the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2013.

According to the publication, The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World, this rise 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 momentum of such achievements in poverty reduction, education, income and tackling health issues like HIV, is increasing. It can be seen as an overdue “global rebalancing” with new actors “shaping the development landscape” and gaining in political and economic influence.  

There has been notably rapid progress in more than 40 countries of the South—traditionally referred to as developing nations—whose advancement has been markedly better than expected, the report notes. Coming from all continents and ranging widely in size, they include:  Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Rwanda, Uganda and Vietnam.  Uganda, for example, through a series of economic, health, education and social measures, has managed to halve extreme poverty before the Millennium Development Goal deadline of 2015. It fell from 56% in 1992-93 to 25% in 2009-10.

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.

Human development report 2013

The report was launched in Mexico City on March 14 by the UNDP’s Administrator Helen Clark and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.  As well as an extensive analysis of original research, it also contains an updated Human Development Index which measures the progress of nations in terms of health, education and income. In addition, the publication contains data on the critical gender aspect of development in its Gender Inequality Index which shows that despite serious inequities persisting, there has been progress in equality almost everywhere.

As with general development, the pace of success in the AIDS response is quickening in an unprecedented way. The 2012 UNAIDS global report showed that the rate of infection across 25 low- and middle-income countries has been cut by half.

The accelerated development of the South is critical to the success of the global AIDS response as the most heavily burdened countries are low-and middle income. UNAIDS maintains that getting to zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths will need advances not only in the sphere of health and HIV but in terms of poverty reduction, education, gender equality and enhanced life opportunities