UNDP report on development of human potential in Russia
Clear progress has been reported as regards curbing the incidence of poverty in Russia, securing access to education, lowering mother and child mortality, and also strengthening Russia’s role as an international donor. This was the conclusion reached in a new report on the development of human potential entitled ‘Millenium Development Goals in Russia: a Glance into the Future’ which was presented at the UN’s headquarters. The authors
of the report had monitored progress in implementing the development goals in Russia. 10 years ago at a UN summit meeting, world leaders recognised these goals when adopting the millennium declaration. They came to an agreement on adopting a number of missions consisting of combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, degradation of the environment and discrimination against women. As the permanent UN Co-ordinator in Russia, Frode Mauring, observed, all the missions were to be fulfilled by Russia and the other states that had signed up to the development goals by 2015.
Sergei Bobylev, a professor in the economics faculty at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, takes the view that the annual UN reports offer a superb system of guidelines to governments when taking important decisions of state. He said that Russia’s concept of long-term socio-economic development for the period up to 2020 mirrored the content of the UN reports to a large extent, including that dealing with development goals.
‘It seems to me that in the past two to three years, when the basis of state development has been exclusively focused on economic growth and creating a consumer-driven model of development, it has become especially important to combat poverty, mortality rates and so on’, advised Prof Bobylev. He added that the UN’s concept of development of human potential amounted to an attempt to resist the tendency of certain countries to be solely reliant on a raw materials based economy. He was convinced that development levels should be evaluated not with regard to a state’s economic growth but according to the Human Potential Development Index (the Index). He drew attention to the difference between traditional statistics, which focused on macro-economic indicators and the Index. He said that looking at the worldwide ratings, Cuba was 20 points ahead of Russia on the Index. Cuba had succeeded in attaining that ranking thanks to the population living longer (by 12 years on average) than in Russia. The academic expressed his belief that ‘The simple indicator of mortality rates can say more than a complex of macro-economic measures about the selected human development trends’.
The chair of the society of specialists in evidential medicine, Kirill Danishevsky, set out in the fifth chapter of the UN report millennium development goals like lowering the rate of child deaths and improving the system of maternity care. According to official statistics, 17-18,000 children below the age of 5 die every year in Russia, of whom 15,000 die in infancy. Mr Danishevsky said that according to WHO figures, the rate of infant mortality in Russia has declined by 12%. However, he thinks that up to a third of infant deaths are not registered. He noted that the observed decline in the level of deaths in maternity cases was a consequence of the reduction in the number of legal and also criminal abortions. According to his statistics, whereas in 1990 for every 100,000 births registered there were around 47 deaths, in 2010 there were 20. His forecast was that by 2015 the maternity death rate would decline to 12 per year.
Various chapters of the report are concerned with locating a long-term strategy for Russia, combating poverty and the fallout from this decade’s economic crisis, prospects for educational development, the HIV/AIDs situation and other diseases, maintenance of environmental quality, and the creation of a global partnership for attaining the human development goals. In the last chapter of the UN’s report there is an analysis of basic regional trends regarding these goals. The author of that chapter, Natalya Zubarevich, a professor at the geography faculty and head of regional programmes at the Independent Institute of Social Policy commented that the index of human development potential in Russia stood at 0.825 in 2008. The minimum level for a developed country was ‘0.8’ and the highest ‘1’. According to her, progress in Russia slowed down because of the economic crisis that began in 2008 and stagnated altogether in certain regions. Also in every region the incomes of the poorest 20 percent of the population declined. She went on to note that the problem of unsuitable accommodation (dilapidated and unsafe) had worsened. In half the regions the proportion of such accommodation in the housing stock did not exceed three percent, but in the less well developed republics and in the eastern regions the figure was significantly higher. The economic growth of recent years, she said, had been accompanied by atmospheric pollution especially in the industrial mining areas.