Vietnam Enters UN High Human Development Group

9:42:27 AM | 12/31/2020

Vietnam has joined the ranks of countries in the world with high human development, but this remarkable progress has been accompanied with relatively high pressures on the planet.

These are among the key findings of the 2020 Human Development Report “The next frontier – Human Development and the Anthropocene,” released in Vietnam by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Tran Quoc Phuong said, Vietnam’s loss of income due to inequality is 19.1% and its GINI coefficient at 35.7% are among the lowest among compared countries in 2019. This is not an achievement any low middle income country can reach.

According to the new report, the Covid-19 pandemic is the latest crisis facing the world, but unless humans release their grip on nature, it won’t be the last. Therefore, the report introduces a new experimental index on human progress that takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint - planetary-pressures adjusted HDI (PHDI).

He said Vietnam is one of the countries most affected by climate change. With the additional use of this PHDI indicator, the country will have a basis in promulgating and implementing appropriate policies to promptly respond to the issue of environmental pollution and climate change.

Vietnam’s HDI value for 2019 is 0.704, putting the country in the high human development category and positioning it at 117 out of 189 countries and territories. Between 1990 and 2019 the country’s HDI value increased by almost 46%, which is among the highest HDI growth rates in the world. During the same period, Vietnam’s GNI per capita increased by more than 370%.

Notably, Vietnam’s human development progress has been achieved with moderate and stable levels of inequality. The country’s loss of HDI value due to inequality in 2019 is 16.5%, its loss of income due to inequality is 19.1% and, its GINI coefficient at 35.7 are among the lowest in the East Asia and Pacific region. In fact, when considering Vietnam’s Inequality Adjusted HDI, the country is 10 places higher than its HDI ranking in 2019.

Vietnam has also been performing well in terms of gender equality. With the Gender Development Index value of 0.997, the country ranks 65th out of 162 countries and is the highest among five country groups. Particularly commendable is the share of seats in parliament which places Vietnam among the top third of countries globally. However, the nation still faces gender inequality challenges: the country ranks in the bottom third globally in terms of sex ratio at birth (1.12), violence against women by intimate partners (34.4%) and women with accounts in financial institutions or with a mobile money service provider (30.4%). Disaggregated data show larger disparities within geographical locations and ethnic minority groups.

On the quality of Human development, Vietnam performs well on health, education, employment and rural development indicators. The nation is among the top third of countries in terms of lost healthy years as a percentage of expectancy (11.7%), and number of hospital beds (32 beds/100,000 people). All primary school teachers are trained, rural electrification covers 100% of the population and the unemployment rate is low.

However, Vietnam is within the bottom third in terms of vulnerable employment (54.1%) because of the large share of the labor force dependent on self-employment in household businesses.

The country’s remarkable human development has been accompanied with high pressure on the planet. In 2019, Vietnam’s HDI value falls from 0.704 to 0.664 or a loss of 5.7% due to carbon dioxide emissions and material consumption per capita.

Vietnam performs well in terms of forest coverage and response to disasters, but is among the bottom third of countries in terms of carbon emissions per unit of GDP (0.33Kg/$2010PPP GDP), land degradation (31% of the total land area), red list index (a measure of animal extinction), and use of fertilizer nutrients per hectare of cropland (136.5kg nitrogen & 65.1kg phosphorus).

The next frontier for human development will require working with and not against nature, while transforming social norms, values, and government and financial incentives, the report argues. Easing planetary pressures in a way that enables all people to flourish in this new age requires dismantling the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that stand in the way of transformation.

By Anh Mai, Vietnam Business Forum