The Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Angela Lusigi, has hinted that the country is likely to experience a reversal growth in its Human Development Index (HDI) for the first time in 30 years due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the Ghana launch of the 2020 Global Human Development Report, she stated that factors such as environmental degradation and climate change, which is creating new challenges that disproportionally affects the poor, coupled with a drop in wages and salaries as indicated by the recent COVID-19 business tracker – that up to 46 percent of businesses reported reduction in wages for 26 percent of total workforce translating into a wage lost of an estimated 770, 000 jobs – could be responsible.
“We shall only know the full impact of COVID-19 on human development when we look at the 2021 HDR. However, we projected as early as 2020 that Ghana is like to experience a reversal in human development for the first time in 30 years as businesses and employers have been hardly hit by COVID-19.
However, we know that environmental degradation and climate change is creating new challenges that disproportionally affect the poor. In 2017, for instance, environmental degradation caused the Ghanaian society up to US$6.3 billion which is equivalent to 10.7 percent of GDP and by 2030 it is estimated that up to 400,000 people could fall into extreme poverty because of climate change. This is important because Ghana’s people and economy rely heavily on natural resources for jobs, livelihood and services,” she said.
Mrs. Lusigi, advised that given the countries ambitious transformation agenda and accelerated development path, now is the time to make the right choices for equitable and lasting prosperity for all people across generations to accelerate the progress toward Ghana beyond aid.
Government Statistician, Prof. Samuel Kobina Annim, stressed that the country does not have a rigorous process for measurements in the context of environmental impact, hence, the 2020 HDR is an opportunity for the country to think about how to get an accurate sense of contextualizing environmental challenges.
The 2020 Global Human Development Report, which is on the theme: “The next frontier; human development and the Anthropocene,” focuses on people, planet and prosperity.
The HDI, is designed to steer discussion about development away from income per capital and instead focus on expanding the capabilities, choices and opportunities, that are present to citizenry.
The report indicates that humans have achieved incredible things, but have taken the earth to the brink. The pressures exerted on the planet have become so great that scientists are considering whether the earth has entered an entirely new geological epoch; Anthropocene, or the age of humans.
“Advancing human development while erasing such planetary pressures is the next frontier for human development, and its exploration lies at the heart of this 30th anniversary edition of UNDP’s Human Development Report,” Mrs. Lusigi said.
Head of Institute for Environmental and Sanitation Studies, Prof. Chris Gordon, emphasized that Ghana will make maximum progress from the index if it is able to make similar index on the local and regional level. He therefore called for an all inclusive leadership commitment at all levels; government, private sector and traditional, as well as deliberate choices to make low carbon development initiatives a priority.