UN HDI: Brunei maintains 43rd spot

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam kept its 43rd spot with a score of 0.845 in the latest United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI), considered a very high development index which uses indicators such as life expectancy and education to measure a country’s level of development.

Brunei also ranked 43rd out of 189 countries and territories in 2017, down three spots from 40th in 2016. Along with Singapore and Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam is at a very high development index.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) differentiates score into very high, high, medium and low development index.

The Sultanate did well in areas such as standard of living, health, economic performance and quality of education. But the report also revealed several weak spots. For instance, the Sultanate scored low for its fossil fuel energy consumption.

The Sultanate’s life expectancy is an average of 75.7 years, and a higher Per Capita Gross National Income of USD76,389 based on purchasing power parity (PPP).

Norway topped this year’s HDI, followed by Switzerland and Ireland. Germany and Hong Kong tied for fourth place, while Australia and Iceland tied for sixth. The top 10 list was rounded up by Sweden, Singapore and the Netherlands.

The report also looked at how countries matched up in areas such as gender parity, quality of life and women’s empowerment, as well as environmental and socio-economic sustainability.

No data was available for the Sultanate when the index was adjusted for inequality in education and income levels. Top scorer Switzerland scored 1.9 per cent for inequality in education, while top scorer for income, Iceland, scored 11.7 per cent.

The closer to zero that a country scores, the closer to perfect equality it has achieved.

The UN’s Human Development Report, which was released this week, noted that inequality is a global issue that hurts all societies, “weakening social cohesion and people’s trust in government, institutions, and each other”.

It also added that a “new generation” of inequality is opening up, centred around topics such as technology and climate change.

“What used to be ‘nice-to-haves’, like going to university or access to broadband, are increasingly important for success,” said Pedro Conceicao, Director of the Human Development Report Office at the United Nations Development Programme.

The report said that the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed the steepest rise in human development globally. The region leads the world in access to broadband Internet, and is gaining on more developed regions in terms of life expectancy, education, and access to healthcare.

However, the Asia-Pacific continues to grapple with an ever-widening income gap and persistent inequalities in key elements of human development such as health, education, dignity and respect for human rights.

“Beyond these challenges, society is also becoming more vulnerable to new forms of inequalities, arising from disruptive technology and climate resilience,” it said.

“Inequality begins even before birth and can accumulate, amplified by the difference in health and education into adulthood. Policies to address it, therefore, must also start at or before birth, including investing in young children’s learning, health, and nutrition.

“But left with only the basics, people find the rungs knocked out of their ladder to the future.”