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Covid, climate change making people globally insecure than ever: UNDP

Multiple threats from Covid-19, digital technology, climate change, and biodiversity loss, have become more prominent or taken new forms in recent years.

New York, While medical advancements in recent years mean people are living longer and healthier, threats from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, digital technology, and climate change is making about six in seven people insecure, according to a new report on human security by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released on Tuesday.

The report shows that in 2021, despite the highest global GDP in history, and despite Covid-19 vaccines becoming more readily available in some countries, global life expectancy declined for the second year in a row.

The decline happened by about one and a half years on average compared to a pre-Covid world.

Overall, human development measures have also moved downwards.

Furthermore, climate change is likely to become a leading cause of death around the world. Even with moderate mitigation of emissions, some 40 million people might die because of changes in temperatures before the end of the century.

The report examines a cluster of threats that have shifted to become more prominent in recent years including those from digital technologies, inequalities, conflicts, and the ability of healthcare systems to tackle new challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are faced with a development paradox. Even though people are on average living longer, healthier and wealthier lives, these advances have not succeeded in increasing people’s sense of security,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wrote in the report.

“Multiple threats from Covid-19, digital technology, climate change, and biodiversity loss, have become more prominent or taken new forms in recent years. Humankind is making the world an increasingly insecure and precarious place,” he added.

The report also shows that people’s sense of safety and security is at a low in almost every country, including the richest countries, despite years of upward development success.

Those benefiting from some of the highest levels of good health, wealth, and education outcomes are reporting even greater anxiety than 10 years ago.

The report also noted the strong association between declining levels of trust and feelings of insecurity. People with higher levels of perceived human insecurity are three times less likely to find others trustworthy.

“Despite global wealth being higher than ever before, a majority of people are feeling apprehensive about the future and these feelings have likely been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

To address these threats, policy makers should consider protection, empowerment, and solidarity alongside one another so that human security, planetary considerations and human development all work together and not despite each other, the report said.

This means that solutions for one problem shouldn’t exacerbate other problems, the authors said.

The concept of human security was first introduced in UNDP’s milestone 1994 Human Development Report. It signaled a radical departure from the idea that people’s security should be only assessed by looking at territorial security, emphasising the importance of people’s basic needs, their dignity, and their safety to live secure lives.


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