Cihan Sultanoglu at presentation of global Human Development Report in Kazakhstan

Jun 8, 2017

*Check against delivery*


Minister Suleimenov, President Katsu,

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS, it is my pleasure to welcome you to this event.

While promoted as the regional launch of UNDP’s most recent global Human Development Report, “Human Development for Everyone”, this event also features the presentation of UNDP’s regional report on “Progress at Risk: Inequalities and Human Development in Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Central Asia”. And, last but certainly not least, Kazakhstan’s National Human Development Report on “Sustainable Development Goals and Capacity-Based Regional Development” will also be presented and discussed.

In short, we have before us a celebration of human development reporting, and an opportunity to explore why the human development approach and sustainable development, are needed in Kazakhstan.

All three of these reports focus on ensuring that the benefits of human development are fairly distributed, and that no one is left behind. Such a focus is critically important, both in the world in general, and in upper middle-income countries like Kazakhstan.

Before proceeding further, I would like to thank President Katsu for the opportunity to present and discuss these reports in Nazarbayev University’s wonderful facilities. And I would especially like to thank Ministry Suleimenov for taking time out of his busy schedule to join us today. Both the Government and Nazarbayev University are critical partners for UNDP’s work in Kazakhstan. We hope that today’s event can further consolidate these important partnerships.

UNDP’s first global Human Development Report, which was published in in 1990, argued that “people are the real wealth of nations”. The human development concept defines development in terms of enlarging people’s choices and abilities to live lives they value. It puts people at the centre of development, both as drivers and its beneficiaries.

Our 2016 global Human Development Report, “Human Development for Everyone”, focuses on those who have not fully benefitted from development progress over the past 25 years. It also shows how this exclusion can be overcome.

Ensuring that development progress is broadly shared is the right thing to do. But it is also essential for sustaining the foundations for the peaceful, just, and inclusive societies envisaged in the global 2030 agenda for sustainable development, to which Kazakhstan—and the rest of the world’s governments—signed on at the UN Sustainable Development summit in September 2015.

In addition to putting people at the centre of development, Agenda 2030 seeks to simultaneously advance the economic, social, and environmental strands of sustainable development in an integrated manner.

What does our global human development report say? First, it points out that averages too often disguise inequalities.

To be sure, the world has seen substantial development progress since 1990. Some 1.3 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. Child mortality has been halved, and 2.6 billion people now have access to safe water who did not have this in 1990.

But despite the substantial development progress that has, on average been made since 1990, significant numbers of lives have been scarcely touched by that progress. One-third of the world’s population continues to live in conditions of low human development.

This report points out that hundreds of millions of these people live in countries classified as having medium, high, or very even high human development overall. Air pollution kills 6 million people every year—mostly in developing countries—and 38 million people die from non-communicable diseases. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, eight global billionaires own as much wealth today as the less wealthy half of humanity.

This report also reminds us that, in almost every country, certain groups are more disadvantaged than others. These include women and girls, rural populations, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, and migrants and refugees.

For example, 65 million people—nearly four times the population of Kazakhstan—are at present forcibly displaced. Globally, women’s labour force participation rate is only 49%, as against 76% for men. While women do most of the world’s agricultural work, they own less than 10% of the land. Such deprivations result from mutually reinforcing systematic barriers—discriminatory laws, norms and values, violence and exclusion. In 18 countries, for example, women cannot work without the permission of their husbands.

The disadvantages these groups face are multidimensional. Those born into disadvantaged families are more likely to suffer disadvantages themselves throughout the life cycle. They often face deep and persistent barriers which are embedded in laws and local norms. Unequal access to economic resources and political participation are common results. Such people are also more vulnerable to the impacts of shocks and crises.

UNDP’s global report reminds us that human development for everyone requires better data and analysis to inform policy and action. National statistical systems need to collect disaggregated data across a wider range of socio-economic indicators. “Big data” and other new data sources need to be tapped to more clearly show where, exactly, development challenges lie.

Such data can support the design and implementation of national policies to strengthen social protection, inclusive growth strategies, and focused interventions for groups with special needs.

The report argues that national policies like these should be complemented by reforms to global governance institutions. These reforms would entail a greater emphasis on global macroeconomic stability; an equitable global trading and financial framework; a fair migration system; a robust, a well-financed multilateral system with equitable representation, making global society sustainable and secure; and enhancing global civil society.

UNDP’s “Progress at Risk” Regional Human Development Report on inequalities offers a good counterpoint to the global report.

Global narratives on inequalities and how best to address them do not always fully connect with the transition and developing economies of Europe and Central Asia—like Kazakhstan.

This is partly because of the region’s post-socialist heritage, which left relatively equal distributions of income, broad access to social services, and relatively small gender disparities. Compared to many other middle-income countries, governments in Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Central Asia clearly have important social and human development accomplishments to protect.

Unfortunately, there are worrying signs that these advantages are being lost—and that problems of inequality and vulnerability are growing and converging with those of other regions. For one thing, the regional human development report finds that many of these indicators showing low levels of inequality in the region are inaccurate or misleading.

A close examination of the region’s income distribution data reveals systematic underestimation of income inequalities. While levels of gender inequalities may not be as great as in some other regions, women continue to work more than men, and to get paid less for it.

Progress at Risk” explains how the roots of many of the region’s inequalities can be found in the labour market—where, in some countries, more than half the labour force toils in the informal sector without full social protection coverage.

The report also points to serious popular concerns about inequalities before the law, and to growing issues of unequal access to natural capital—particularly for land and water, but also reliable energy services, in some of the region’s less wealthy countries. In these and other areas, we are increasingly concerned that the region’s progress in human and social development is indeed at risk.

In response to these challenges, the regional human development report calls for reducing taxes on labour, in order to reduce informality and increase decent jobs in the formal sector.

It also calls for increased investment in active labour market policies, vocational education, and other measures to increase worker productivity and improve access to formal sector jobs.

Funding for these (and other necessary) measures can be found by redirecting illicit financial flows to state budgets, and reducing subsidies on fossil fuels and other activities with high environmental costs.

Like the global report, “Progress at Risk” also calls for better data to more accurately monitor trends in income and non-income inequalities, labour market exclusion, the creation of decent jobs, and public perceptions of equality before the law.

Progress at Risk” is not just an analysis of how global inequality trends manifest themselves in the region. It is also an instrument that governments in these countries can use to support the national implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals that underpin the global sustainable development Agenda 2030. This is particularly the case for Goals 3 (on health), 5 (on gender equality), 8 (on employment), 10 (on inequalities), and 16 (on inclusive governance).

Last but not least, we will also be discussing today Kazakhstan’s National Human Development Report on “Sustainable Development Goals and Capacity-Based Regional Development”.

This national Human Development Report assesses the abilities of Kazakhstan’s regions to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages, to ensure inclusive and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, to build resilient infrastructure, to promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, to foster innovation, and especially to reduce inequality across the country.

Kazakhstan’s diverse natural conditions, and contrasting social, economic, and spatial structures have produced regional disparities in economic and infrastructure development, employment, incomes, and quality of life.

UNDP’s national human development report takes a “whole of development” perspective to these issues. It focuses not only on economic growth, innovation and productivity, but also on social progress and ecological sustainability. And it does so using innovative quantitative SDG-based measures that allow for appropriate regional comparisons of economic diversification, skills development, and other considerations.

Over the past years, UNDP has been working hand in hand with the Government on addressing key development challenges in the regions of Kazakhstan.  For example, jointly with fellow UN Agencies we have been implementing three territorial development programmes in East-Kazakhstan, Mangystau and Kyzylorda oblasts, all of them aimed at promoting local self-governance, economic empowerment and supporting most vulnerable groups of population.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

UNDP is ready to work further with the Government of Kazakhstan on the key development issues, building on our solid partnership and joint achievements in the past.

At UNDP, over the years, we have consolidated global expertise in the field of regional development. Moreover, our work on the ground, including the most remote areas of this beautiful country, and our substantive analytical work, such as our flagship publication – NHDR, make us very well positioned to address various types of inequalities in the regions of Kazakhstan.

We would be honored to use all this knowledge and expertise for the benefit of the people of Kazakhstan, they certainly deserve it. 

In conclusion: we believe that our human development reports can make important contributions to national, regional, and global efforts to ensure that “no one is left behind”, and that the benefits of human development are widely shared.

We are therefore looking forward to your feedback and suggestions, based upon the presentation of these reports by colleagues from UNDP’s Human Development Office in New York, and our regional office in Istanbul—as well as from our country office here in Astana.

Thank you very much.

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Kazakhstan 
Go to UNDP Global