Statistics show Small Island Developing States compared the world

New York brought a little extra something to the SAMOA Pathway meetings last week – a Small Island Developing States human development statistical update.

The United Nations Development Program (U.N.D.P.) Human Development Indices and Indicators are annually released figures which measure how well each country is doing in terms of equality, life expectancy, education and more.

For this year’s SAMOA Pathway meeting, U.N.D.P. Deputy Director for Human Development reporting, Thangavel Palanivel travelled from New York to present the S.I.D.S. edition of these statistics to show delegates and U.N. agency representatives partner nations the state of development across small islands.

The statistical update measured 198 countries, said Mr. Palanivel, with Marshall Islands being the most recent addition to the count.

Of those, 39 are S.I.D.S, and the reporting calculated the 2017 Human Development Index (H.D.I.) for 36 of them, with some data missing for Nauru and Tuvalu.

Singapore, Bahrain, Bahamas and Barbados are the only S.I.D.S. in group of very high human development, while 20 are “high”, and seven are “medium”.

Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Comoros, Haiti and Guinea-Bissau are considered “low” in human development.

When comparing those very high and low human developments ranked countries, stark differences in sustainable development goals (S.D.G’s) are noticeable.

The average life expectancy at birth (S.D.G 3) for the Bahamas is 75.8, while it is only 65.7 in Papua New Guinea (Singapore is not considered ‘developing’ under U.N.D.P. classifications). 

In the four “very high” ranked countries, people will spend an average of 10.6 years in school, while the “low” countries will only learn for 4.7 years on average.

Samoa ranks low in the list of “high human development,” with an H.D.I. score of 0.713 out of 10. Norway is ranked highest in the world, with 0.953.

In his presentation during a SAMOA Pathway side event, Mr. Palanivel made the point of comparing the human development trend of S.I.D.S. to the rest of the world.

“In the 1990s, small islands were sitting well above East Asia and the Pacific, and Arab States,” he said.

“But by today, they have all caught up, or taken over S.I.D.S.,” he said.

To Mr. Palanivel, this suggests S.I.D.S. have a way to go to continue developing, despite ranking better than least developed countries and even some developed countries.

This emphasis the need for accelerated development, said Mr. Palanivel, not only in general but to meet sustainable development goals by 2030.

The rest of the report includes an inequality adjusted HDI, a gender development index, a gender inequality index, and a multidimensional poverty index. 

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