Vietnam, unlike the majority of emerging nations, has managed to maintain economic growth even through the most trying times of the pandemic.
Professor Jonathan Pincus, UNDP Senior Economist, shared at the launch of the 2022 UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) entitled “Uncertain Times, Unsettled Lives” in Hanoi on September 9.
The theme of this year’s report is the multiple crises facing the world and the collective capacity to mitigate the impact on human development.
Largely because of the pandemic, the Human Development Index has declined globally for two years in a row for the first time in the 32-year history of the index.
“Although the average pace of growth slowed, and vulnerable groups and individuals suffered periods of real hardship, a major reversal of human development progress was avoided,” Haverman said at the launch of the report, which is commissioned annually by UNDP.
Vietnam’s HDI value of 0.703 in 2021 was essentially unchanged from 2019 (0.704), and Vietnam climbed two places in the global ranking from 117 out of 189 countries in 2019 to 115 out of 191 countries in 2021.
He said the rapid and universal roll-out of vaccines has enabled life to return to normal and reduced pressure on hospitals, clinics, and schools.
At the same time, government policy has been flexible and adaptive, which has made it possible for industries like tourism and transport to post an impressive recovery in 2022.
“Looking ahead, Vietnam is well placed to regain the loss of momentum resulting from Covid-19 and manage the uncertainties associated with the cascading crises described in the HDR,” he stated.
|Professor Jonathan Pincus, UNDP Senior Economist. Photo: Minh Vu|
However, experts from the UNDP said there remain challenges for Vietnam, and climate change is the biggest one. “It is anticipated to displace people and their livelihoods, seriously affecting the level of human development in areas that are most vulnerable to climate change,” Prof. Pincus said.
“As Vietnam is a coastal country with a long coast and low-lying areas, it requires massive investment in climate adaptation to regain development momentum,” Prof. Pincus told The Hanoi Times.
It requires social assistance and social protection to protect those communities in areas that are most affected by climate change, he said, adding that it also requires huge investment in renewable energy as Vietnam is dependent on fossil fuels.
In addition, Vietnam’s economic development depends on growth trends in the rest of the world, including armed conflicts in Ukraine, rising prices and disruption to global trade patterns, he noted. In this regard, Vietnam will need to increase investment in infrastructure, education, training and research to increase national resilience and capacity to adjust quickly and flexibly to changing global conditions.
On a broader issue, Vietnam’s social protection system must be modernized to help all citizens to manage economic and natural disaster risks and sustain living standards even during difficult times, the expert said.
He warned that the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated that gaps have opened up in national social protection and social assistance programs.
Therefore, digitalization of social assistance registration and delivery and basing these systems on universal citizenship rather than local residence will enable them to respond more equitably and quickly during times of heightened risk.
|Vietnam regains Human Development momentum in the past two years. Photo: Truong Viet Hung/UNICEF|
Vietnam has been a member of the High Human Development Group since 2019. The HDI combines gross national income per capita, life expectancy at birth, and means and expected years of schooling into a single index to provide a generalized measure of human development.
Vietnam has seen steady progress in all three dimensions of the HDI since the 1990s. The rate of increase in the HDI has slowed over the past decade, mainly because Vietnam is now a richer country with relatively high levels of life expectancy and educational attainment for its level of income.
Vietnam’s Gender Inequality Index (GII), which measures the loss of human development due to inequality between males and females, continued to improve in 2021. The country’s GII was 0.296, giving it a ranking of 71 out of 170 worldwide. GII considered reproductive health, empowerment, and labor force participation.
Vietnam performs well in terms of maternal mortality, education of girls, and female labor force participation, but the representation of women in the parliament remains low, stated UNDP.
The report charts a course out of uncertainty and toward a new, sustainable and equitable development trajectory. It recommends policies that focus on investment in renewable energy, preparedness, and insurance, including social protection, to mitigate the impact of uncertainty and to build the capacity needed to respond to new challenges.