Six in Seven Feels Insecure; UNDP

People’s sense of safety and security is at a low in almost every country, including the richest countries, with six in seven across the globe plagued by feelings of insecurity, according to new data and analysis by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Pointing out that global development progress does not lead to a greater sense of security, the report, New Threats to Human Security in the Anthropocene, stated that those benefiting from some of the highest levels of good health, wealth, and education outcomes are reporting even greater anxiety than ten years ago. The UNDP in the report also called for greater solidarity across borders to tackle the disconnect between development and perceived security.


In the forward, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated humankind is making the world an increasingly insecure and precarious place. “The report links these new threats with the disconnect between people and planet, arguing that they-like the Anthropocene itself–are deeply entwined with increasing planetary pressure.”


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

“In our quest for unbridled economic growth, we continue destroy our natural world while inequalities are widening within and between countries. It is time to recognise the signs of societies that are under immense stress and redefine what progress actually means,” said Steiner.


The report notes that it is time to act now as new findings also show that global life expectancy at birth is falling for a second year because of COVID-19, and overall human development measures are also moving downward. “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 UNDP said


UNDP also advocates a new approach to development that it hopes will help people to live free from want, fear, anxiety, and indignity. “We need a fit-for-purpose development model that is built around the protection and restoration our of planet with new sustainable opportunities for all,” said Steiner

UNDP first introduced the concept of human security in its landmark Human Development Report, issued in 1994. The study signalled a radical departure from the idea that people’s security should be assessed by looking only at territorial security, and instead should take into account their basic needs, dignity and safety, to live secure lives.


The authors argue that addressing these threats will require policy makers to 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. Asako Okai, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Crisis Bureau, said the report highlights the need to build a greater sense of global solidarity based on the idea of common security.

“Common security recognises that a community can only be secure if adjacent communities are too,” she explained. “This is something we see all too clearly with the current pandemic: nations are largely powerless to prevent new mutations of this coronavirus from crossing borders.”

The report further points to 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.

  • The more highly developed countries tend to capitalize more on the benefits from planetary pressures and suffer less of their consequences, highlighting how climate change is pushing inequalities further apart.
  • About 1.2 billion people live in conflict-affected areas, with almost half of them (560 million) in countries not usually considered to be fragile, indicating that the traditional ideas about which countries are most vulnerable to conflict need to be revisited.
  • 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.
  • Large and widening gaps in healthcare systems between countries. According to the report’s new Healthcare Universalism Index, between 1995 and 2017, the inequality in healthcare performance between countries with low and very high human development worsened.


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