The Philippines slid three places to the 117th spot in the latest annual ranking of countries’ efforts to improve human development measures, a United Nations Development Program report shows.
According to the 2014 Human Development Report (HDR), which reports data for the previous year, the Philippines dropped by 3 notches from its previous ranking of 114th in 2012 to 117th in 2013.
Covering 187 countries worldwide, the HDR report measures the improvement of human development in each country in terms of life expectancy, general health measures, education levels and incomes, which are combined to form the human development index (HDI).
This year, the Philippines’ HDI scored 0.66 (on a scale of 0 to 1.00), placing the country under the “medium human development” category, together with neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Timor Leste, Cambodia and Laos.
Even though the Philippines’ overall ranking declined, the actual score showed a slight improvement from 0.65 in last year’s HDI, which covered 186 countries.
The current HDR report also said that the top five countries ranked in terms of the HDI are Norway, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands and the United States, while the bottom five in the ranking were Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad and Sierra Leone.
The report said the staggering rates of poverty, high inequality and frequent natural disasters and crises threaten the progress of human development in Asia and the Pacific.
“Addressing these challenges requires a host of initiatives, including
universal provision of social services and a strong system of social security benefits,” it said.
The HDR said across Asia and the Pacific, over a billion people live just above the extreme poverty line, on more than $1.25 but less than $2.50 a day, asserting that those who face multiple deprivations are especially at risk of falling back into poverty if a disaster or crisis should occur.
The 2014 report also introduces the idea of life cycle vulnerabilities,
which arise from sensitive points in life where shocks can have greater impact. It stresses the importance of the first 1,000 days of life, and of the transitions from school to work, and from work to retirement.
It urges governments to commit to the universal provision of basic social services and social protection to build resilience, especially for the poor and other vulnerable groups.
The HDR also argues that countries in Asia and the Pacific do not have to wait to become rich in order to provide adequate social protection or basic social services.
The Report also calls for strong social protections such as pensions and unemployment insurance for countries at all stages of development.
Lack of decent, well-paid jobs—especially for youth—is a major challenge in Asia and the Pacific, it also highlighted.
“In many countries of the region, youth unemployment is relatively high: 23 percent in Iran, 22 percent in Indonesia, 17 percent in Sri Lanka, 16 percent in Philippines and Samoa and 14 percent in Timor-Leste,” it stated.
Governments’ fast-tracking of education reform policies and accelerating broad-based economic growth to create decent and well-paid jobs that are essential to improving living standards was also urged.
In addition, the report said food insecurity, violence against women, and civil conflict and disaster risks (such as landslides and rising sea levels) linked to climate change further threaten the security of millions of people.