The Rise of the South – Transforming Global Power Balance according to 2013 Human Development Report


UN report cites massive poverty reduction and middle-class expansion from development gains in Africa, Asia and Latin America

15 March 2013 – Mexico City – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released its 2013 Human Development Report, which clearly says that the rise of the South is radically reshaping the world of the 21st century, with developing nations driving economic growth, lifting hundreds of millions of people from poverty, and propelling billions more into a new global middle class.

undp“The rise of the South is unprecedented in its speed and scale,” the 2013 Report says. “Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”

This phenomenon goes well beyond the so-called BRICs, middle income countries often represented by Brazil, Russia, India and China, the 2013 Report stresses. The Report shows that more than 40 developing countries have made greater human development gains in recent decades than would have been predicted. These achievements, it says, are largely attributable to sustained investment in education, health care and social programmes, and open engagement with an increasingly interconnected world.

This historic progress is creating opportunities for the South and the North to collaborate in new ways to advance human development and confront shared challenges such as climate change, the Report says. Countries across the South are extending trade, technology and policy ties throughout the North, while the North is looking South for new partnerships that can promote global growth and development.

“The 2013 Report makes a significant contribution to development thinking by describing specific drivers of development transformation and by suggesting future policy priorities that could help sustain such momentum,” says UNDP Administrator Helen Clark in the Report’s foreword.

This historic progress is in turn creating opportunities for new partnerships between the South and the North — or developing and developed countries, respectively — to confront shared challenges such as climate change and to cooperate in new ways to speed human development advancement elsewhere in the world, the Report says.

“The South as a whole is driving global economic growth and societal change for the first time in centuries,” says the Report, which provides a detailed look at this fast-changing world.

For example:

• China and India doubled per capita economic output in less than 20 years—a rate twice as fast as that during the Industrial Revolution in Europe and North America. “The Industrial Revolution was a story of perhaps a hundred million people, but this is a story about billions of people,” says Khalid Malik, the 2013 Report’s lead author.

• By 2020, the Report projects, the combined output of the three leading South  economies—China, India, Brazil—will surpass the aggregate production of the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Italy and Canada.

• With living standards rising in much of the South, the proportion of people living in extreme income poverty worldwide plunged from 43 percent in 1990 to 22 percent in 2008, including more than 500 million people lifted from poverty in China alone. As a result, the world has already achieved the main poverty eradication target of the Millennium Development Goals, which called for the share of people living on less than US$1.25 a day to be cut by half from 1990 to 2015.

• Developing countries nearly doubled their share of world merchandise trade from 25 percent to 47 percent between 1980 and 2010, the Report notes. Trade within the South was the biggest factor in that expansion, climbing from less than 10 percent to more than 25 percent of all world trade in the past 30 years, while trade between developed countries fell from 46 percent to less than 30 percent. Trade between countries in the South will overtake that between developed nations, the Report projects. Increasing openness to trade correlates with rising human development achievement in most developing countries.

• The South is increasingly interdependent and interconnected. Mobile phones with Internet links are now found in most households in Asia and Latin America, and in much of Africa– and most of those affordable smart phones are produced by South-based companies. Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Mexico now have more daily social media traffic than any country except the United States. The South’s growing global interconnections are personal as well virtual: migration between developing countries recently surpassed net migration from South to North.

• The world is witnessing an epochal “global rebalancing.”  The rise of the South reverses the huge shift that saw Europe and North America eclipse the rest of the world, beginning with the industrial revolution, through the colonial era to the two World Wars in the 20th century. Now another tectonic shift has put developing countries on an upward curve. The Report predicts that the so-called “Rise of the South” should continue and could even accelerate as the 21st century unfolds.

To read the full news release, click here, or visit http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/presscenter/pressreleases/2013/03/14/-rise-of-south-transforming-global-power-balance-says-2013-human-development-report/

To read the full report (a large file), click here or go to http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/corporate/HDR/2013GlobalHDR/English/HDR2013%20Report%20English.pdf

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The UN has five active organs: the General Assembly (the main deliberative assembly); the Security Council (for deciding certain resolutions for peace and security); the Economic and Social Council (for assisting in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development); the Secretariat (for providing studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN); and the International Court of Justice (the primary judicial organ).  Other prominent UN agencies include the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UN also contains multiple subsidiary organizations to carry out its missions.  The UN Headquarters is in New York City, with other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. More information at http://www.un.org/en/

Since 1966, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been partnering with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of live for everyone. UNDP works in four main areas: poverty reduction and achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); democratic governance; crisis prevention and recovery; environment and sustainable development.  To learn more about the UNDP, go to www.undp.org.

Source: United Nations