Brunei ranks 47th in UN Human Development Index

Azlan Othman

Brunei Darussalam is the second in Southeast Asia after Singapore, on the United Nations’ (UN) Human Development Index (HDI) 2019 to be ranked 47th out of 189 countries and maintaining its place in the Very High Human Development category, according to the UN’s Human Development Report 2020 released recently, which takes into account per capita income, education levels and life expectancy.

The Sultanate scored 0.838 in the HDI compared to 0.845 the previous year, with Gross National Income per capita to USD63,965 from USDUSD76,389 previously. The average life expectancy is 75.9 years, from 75.7 previously.

Norway retained the top spot which it secured last year, while Ireland and Switzerland ranked second. Many of the leading spots were occupied by European countries.

The human development index is used to measure a country’s development that cannot be assessed by economic growth alone. Its calculations are based on three criteria — a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

UNDP highlighted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that it had proved to be a “shock” that affected the “main components of human development with unprecedented magnitude”.

The organisation estimated that the index for the entire world will show a decline for the first time, since comparable data became available in 1990.

The report said that 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.

The UNDP includes a new experimental index on human progress that takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint.

The report lays out a stark choice for world leaders – take bold steps in reducing the immense pressure that is being exerted on the environment, and the natural world or humanity’s progress will stall.

“Humans wield more power over the planet than ever before. In the wake of COVID-19, record-breaking temperatures and spiralling inequality, it is time to use that power to redefine what we mean by progress, where our carbon and consumption footprints are no longer hidden,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

On climate change, the report also pointed out that if global warming continues without mitigation, the number of days each year with extreme temperatures below zero and above 35 degrees Celsius is expected to increase by 100 in low human development countries, by 2100.

With mitigation consistent with the 2015 Paris Agreement goals, the number of days a year with extreme temperatures in low human development countries would increase by 49, the
report said.