Human Development Report 2006. Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis

The United Nations released on November 9th, 2006 the Human Development Report 2006, mainly focusing in two aspects:

  • The core of the report: a monograph on water
  • The publication of the Human Development Indicators

Concerning the first aspect, I just congratulate the UN for having made the effort of compiling and working in a subject that has long been told to be the main reason for this century’s conflicts, call it the Water Wars. Taking into account all bad news about climate change and the ongoing global warning, water might not be an issue, but the issue.

I somehow expected to see a section about the contribution of ICTs to water crises (re)solution, but I guess I am a little bit biased towards this field ;)

About the second aspect, I think the best highlight to be made is the one about income (increasingly unbalanced) distribution.

The world’s 500 richest people have an income of more than $100 billion, not taking into account asset wealth. That exceeds the combined incomes of the poorest 416 million. Wealth accumulation at the top of the global income distribution has been more impressive than poverty reduction at the bottom.

This is quite hard to bear. Provided that, with increasing productivity, the global economy is not a zero-sum game (i.e. what I win equals to what you lose), if inequalities increase this means that not only all productivity gains go to few hands/pockets, but that greed asks even for other people’s gains… and more. “So, you’re stepping into the typical discourse of making feel guilty the ones that have?”. Yes, I am.

In another order of things, is a nice exercise to “play” with the interactive graphic that relates income to human development. It’s curious to see how big differences in income (here measured by the GDP per capita) can produce similar a human development index (HDI), and even more: how countries with higher GDP per capita than other ones end up having lower HDI. It would be interesting to compare these differences with the corresponding Gini Indices: in some countries it seems like, again, inequalities might explain these differences in “performance”. See, for instance, some of the main oil producers in the Middle East such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar or Saudi Arabia compared to Mexico, Venezuela or Sri Lanka, where oil revenues don’t necessarily are equally distributed. See, also, what happens in South Africa compared to Bolivia, and guess what’s the heritage of Apartheid.

Main links

P.S.: I hope the UNDP made available spreadsheet files instead of PDF files as an easier way to provide all data as a whole.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2006) “Human Development Report 2006. Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis” In ICTlogy, #38, November 2006. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=479

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2 Comments to “Human Development Report 2006. Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis” »

  1. Dear Ismael,

    Good to see that this blog also reports om the HDR 2006 and water!

    I want to react to your comment “I somehow expected to see a section about the contribution of ICTs to water crises (re)solution, but I guess I am a little bit biased towards this field ;)”.

    Can you share examples of ICT´s contribution to solution of water problems? I am interested in publishing these examples in my advocacy and communication work at te IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.

    Dick de Jong

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