New UN report gives recommendations to improve human development in Asia-Pacific

Proposes green growth approach, among others

By Moushumi Sharma
Published: Monday 01 September 2014

Women working in the informal sector in the Asia-Pacific region have no labour rights or social security (Photo credit: UNDP)A United Nations report has recommended expansion of employment opportunities for youth and women and has urged governments and health authorities to improve infant, child and maternal health Pacific Island nations. The report, titled “State of human development in the Pacific: a report on vulnerability and exclusion in a time of rapid change”, focuses on sustainable and inclusive human development in the Pacific region and has been launched ahead of next week’s  International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa.

One in four people in the Asia-Pacific region lives below the poverty line and has limited access to essential services like health and education, says a press release  by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  Obesity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases are on the rise throughout the region.

“Many good initiatives are already happening in the Pacific. But, as our report points out, major challenges persist. Youth and women deserve particular attention. Low and volatile growth has made job creation increasingly difficult. Women have lower access to employment and often work in the informal sector with no labour rights, social security or welfare. For youth, the unemployment rate is 23 per cent on an average,” the press release quotes Nicholas Rosellini, deputy director of UNDP’s regional bureau for Asia and the Pacific.

The report, with its proposals, seeks to reverse a rising trend of poverty, vulnerability and exclusion in the Pacific Island countries. Some of its key recommendations include priority to social protection, broader access to basic education for children and youth, adequate health services for prevention and care, effective poverty reduction programmes and a “green growth” approach to development. The report suggests that green growth policies should aim to improve productivity and promote the sustainable use of land and marine resources by the rural poor. “In a green economy, land and natural resource management decisions should be based on both environmental and social costs. These should be carefully assessed and balanced between the economic benefits of exploiting a natural resource and providing employment to the poor,” it states.

The report also says that new technology can improve access to health services, including low-cost diagnostics, provide information about diseases and provide better connectivity to rural areas, thus reducing geographic inequalities. Besides giving recommendations, the report also highlights the changing social and economic regional landscape—economies are shifting from traditional systems; young people are migrating from their villages to find jobs in cities and abroad; traditional family and social protection systems are in decline; climate change is threatening agricultural production and traditional livelihoods and intensifying the impact of natural disasters.

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