World’s most marginalized still left behind by global development prioritiesWorld’s most marginalized still left behind by global development priorities

Mar 21, 2017


Tackling discrimination, joblessness, and unequal political participation key to region’s continued progress, UNDP’s latest global Human Development Report finds.

Stockholm, 21 March 2017 – Having enjoyed relatively high levels of well-being, the developing countries in the Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region could see inequalities and exclusion rise sharply if measures are not taken to protect vulnerable groups from unemployment, discrimination and shocks. These are among the findings of the Human Development Report 2016 entitled ‘Human Development for Everyone’, released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“The world has come a long way in rolling back extreme poverty, in improving access to education, health and sanitation, and in expanding possibilities for women and girls,” said Helen Clark at the launch of the report in Stockholm today. “But those gains are a prelude to the next, possibly tougher challenge, to ensure the benefits of global progress reach everyone.”

“We cannot let our guard down,” said Cihan Sultanoğlu, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Europe and the CIS. “Even in a region of relatively high human development, we need to redouble efforts to empower those who have been left behind or are at risk of falling back into poverty.”

*** Data for Montenegro ***

The Statistical Annex of the 2016 Human Development Report (HDR) presents the Human Development Index (HDI) values and rankings for 188 countries and UN-recognized territories. The HDI is a summary measure for assessing progress in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.

According to the report, Montenegro’s HDI value is 0.807— which for the second year in a row puts the country in the category of very high human development. This ranking positions Montenegro as the 48th out of 188 countries and territories, and presents a rise in one place in comparison to last year. Montenegro ranks better than many other developing countries in the region of Europe and CIS, even better than some EU member countries, i.e. Romania (50th) and Bulgaria (56th). When it comes to the region of Western Balkans, Montenegro is 3rd best ranked country, after Slovenia (25th) and Croatia (45th), while Serbia (66th), Albania (75th), Bosnia & Herzegovina (81st), FYR Macedonia (82nd) remain in the category of high human development. 

However, Montenegro’s HDI value is still below the average of other countries in the very high human development group (0.892). From the region of Europe and Central Asia, countries which are close to Montenegro in HDI rank and to some extent in population size are Latvia and Lithuania, which have HDIs ranked 44 and 37 respectively.

“Montenegro’s continued progress in human development is evident: over the past decade, HDI value has increased by 7.5%. In practical terms, this means that people live longer, gain more education and have better standard of living. However, when the HDI value for Montenegro is discounted for inequality, it falls to 0.736, which is a loss of 8.8% due to inequality. Also, if we look at multiple, overlapping deprivations in 3 key dimensions: education, health and living standards, the indices show that: 3,000 people are multidimensionally poor, while additional 13,000 people live near multidimensional poverty. Even though inequalities are even higher in more developed countries (IHDI 11.1%) than in Montenegro, these figures still indicate that Montenegro needs to make concerted efforts to ensure that human development progress is felt at all levels of the society, so that all inhabitants can enjoy its benefits and that no one is left behind,” said Fiona McCluney, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro”.

“This why UNDP will continue supporting the country to break down inequalities, unlock growth potential and use resources sustainably. We do so by bringing together high quality research, knowledge and practical policy advice to boost green growth and investment, create responsive and accountable public administration, and ensure equal opportunities for all citizens”, McCluney emphasized. 

Life expectancy in Montenegro continues to increase (reaching 76.4 years), but remains below the expectancy in countries from the category of high human development (79.4 years). Expected years of schooling are 15.1, while mean years of schooling are 11.3 and are close to the score of other countries in this category (16.4 and 12.2 respectively). Even though GNI per capita is constantly increasing in Montenegro (and has reached 15,410 PPP US$), it remains significantly lower than in other countries from the same category (39,605).

Furthermore, general unemployment rate in Montenegro reaches more than 20%, which is almost double than in other countries of Europe and CIS where it is 10.4%. Youth unemployment is extremely high at 36% as recorded in the last quarter of 2016, while in the region is 19%.

Human development for everyone cannot be achieved if half of humanity is bypassed. Gender inequality and the lack of women’s empowerment is a challenge to progress. Women live longer, have same education attainments or even higher among youth, but they still record slower progress in human development than men in Montenegro (female HDI value is 0.789 in contrast with 0.827 for men). Even though they work more hours than men, they face disadvantage both in paid and unpaid work. In paid work, globally women, on average, earn 24 percent less than men. When it comes to the command over economic resources in Montenegro (measured by GNI), inequalities are striking: Female GNI is 11,757 while male GNI is 19,149. Moreover, Gender Inequality Index for Montenegro shows that women remain underrepresented in politics – with only 23.4 % of female seats in the parliament. Women’s labour force participation rates at 42% remain significantly below those of men at 56.1%. When it comes to reproductive health – for every 100,000 births 7 women die of pregnancy related causes. 

It is time to eliminate deep-rooted obstacles to development

The report shows that in almost every country, certain groups face disadvantages that often overlap and reinforce one another, increasing vulnerability, widening the generational gap, and making it harder to catch up with others who enjoy higher standards of living.

Women and girls, rural dwellers, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees, and the LGBTI community, are among those systematically excluded by economic, but also political, social and cultural barriers.

Transforming the deep, persistent barriers, such as discriminatory social norms and laws, and addressing unequal access to political participation is imperative to close the gaps and secure just and sustainable development for all.

Human Development for everyone is attainable

“Despite progress gaps, universal human development is attainable,” said Selim Jahan, report’s lead author and Director of the Human Development Report Office. “Over the last decades, we have witnessed achievements in human development that were once thought impossible.”

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development holds the promise of sharing the benefits of development more evenly among different groups and generations. The Agenda 2030 and human development approach are mutually reinforcing.

The report offers recommendation to reorient policies to ensure progress reaches those furthest behind. It argues that financial inclusion of the poor is critical to inclusive growth. It calls for the provision of decent jobs and access to basic services, and recognizes the importance of giving vulnerable groups greater participation, autonomy and a voice in decision-making processes. Key data, disaggregated for characteristics such as place, gender, age, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity is also vital to know who is being left behind. Moreover, the report warns, key development metrics can overstate progress when they focus on the quantity, rather than the quality, of development.

The report also urges reforms of global markets and institutions to make them more equitable and representative. In particular, to tackle corruption and illicit financial flows that severely compromise the region’s fiscal health, the report recommends greater global cooperation against tax evasion through better exchange of information and other efforts to monitor global finance.

“Leaving no one behind needs to become the way we operate as a global community. In order to overcome the barriers that hamper both human development and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, inclusiveness must guide policy choices,” said Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, speaking at the launch of the report in Stockholm today.  


ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report is an editorially independent publication of the United Nations Development Programme. For free downloads of the 2016 Human Development Report, plus additional reference materials on its indices, please visit: 

2016 Human Development Report

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