Reducing Inequalities Should be a Priority for Indonesia to Sustain Human Progress

Oct 15, 2014

Jakarta – Oct 14 – Reducing income inequalities across Indonesia should be placed as a top priority for the country to sustain human development progress, UNDP Indonesia Country Director, Beate Trankmann said during a recent seminar on human development.

“Indonesia has seen, in the past ten years, its inequality levels rising. If certain thresholds are crossed, high inequality can lead to alienation, social unrest and vulnerability across large sections of the population. Thus, reducing inequality should be included amongst national priorities,” Trankmann said.

The impact of natural disasters and social crisis could also setback hard-won gains of human development in Indonesia, one of the top movers in UNDP’s Human Development Index in recent decades, Trankmann added.

Titled, “Sustaining Human Progress, Reducing Risks and Vulnerabilities in Indonesia”, the half-day seminar brings together influential policy experts and development practitioners, including World Bank Economist, Christobal Ridao-Cano, Head of SMERU Institute, Asep Suryadi and the Head of Population, Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Division from the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS), Suharti.  

The seminar is part of the Country Office’s outreach activities to inform policy makers on the findings of the Human Development Report 2014, launched last June. Entitled "Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience", the report, provides a human development perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience

The report outlines new concepts of vulnerabilities such as structural and life cycle vulnerabilities. Cycle Vulnerabilities covers the types of threats that people face at different stages in their lives and Structural Vulnerabilities looks at how power structures and institutions can potentially exclude certain sections of the population and deny them protection against risks.

“We can think, for example, ethnic minorities or someone living with HIV in a society where social norms, policies and institutions do not provide them with protection and the kinds of risks and vulnerabilities such a person may face,” Trankmann said.

To sustain human development progress, Trankmann outlined policy recommendations as follow;

Early childhood development and investment in education: This proposal was made considering the fact that 36 percent of the children under age of five in Indonesia are stunting, school enrollment rate is very low and Indonesia ranks in the very bottom of the PISA test scoring, proving the low quality of education in the country.

Enhancing social protection:  Universal access to health care, a better system for targeting poor, strengthening capacities of sub-national governments for better services, bureaucracy reforms, providing birth certificates and Identity cards for poor and integration of various social protection tools were the recommended measures for an enhanced social protection.

Increasing social cohesion: reducing regional inequalities, investing in infrastructure and technology and mainstreaming conflict sensitivity into the national development planning were proposed to increase social cohesion throughout the country.

Strengthening Disaster Risk Reduction: Mainstreaming evidence-based DRR intervention into the national development plan and investment in real time data collection were recommended.

Climate Change: To address climate change, policy proposals include sustaining climate change management, changing brown economy to green economy model and protecting ecosystem.

World Bank‘s lead economist Ridao looked at the issue of vulnerabilities from Risk Management angle. He said risk management requires shared responsibility and action in addition to well-coordinated planning.

World Bank Indonesia team proposed building an effective safety net for the poor and the vulnerable as well as a stable and inclusive financial system for all  of Indonesia’s 237 million people.

Suharti of the planning agency Bappenas said the Government of Indonesia would prioritize human progress in the country’s next mid-term development plan, which is expected to be launched early next year.

In her closing Trankmann reiterated that vulnerability is a major factor in human development.

“Human development is incomplete unless it takes vulnerability and resilience into account” she said.

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