Country Director's Opening Remarks at Consultative Meeting on 2014 Cambodia Human Development Report

Aug 8, 2013

Opening Remarks by Ms. Setsuko Yamazaki

UNDP Country Director

Consultative Meeting on 2014 Cambodia Human Development Report

Excellency Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women Affairs

Excellency Ngy Chanphal, Secretary of State, the Council of Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD)

Excellency Heng Sour, Director General of MoLVT

Excellency Mak Ngoy, DG, MoEYS

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honor and great pleasure to welcome you all to this first consultation session on the 2014 Cambodia Human Development Report on Human Development on the Road to Inclusive Growth. 

Thank you for coming and for being a part of this important process for collective learning for a coming period.

The Evolution of HDR

The first global Human Development Report (HDR) was launched in 1990, with the single goal of capturing the true status of development by putting people back at the centre of the development process. The goal was both massive and simple, with far-ranging implications − going beyond income to assess the level of people’s long-term well-being.  Bringing about development of the people, by themselves, and for themselves, it emphasizes that the goals of development are choices and freedoms. Today, HDRs are published globally, regionally, nationally and in some cases at sub-national levels.

Each Report focuses on a highly topical theme that contributes to current development debates and provides ground-breaking analysis and policy recommendations. The HDR’s messages have been embraced by governments around the world as evidenced by the publication of over 600 national HDRs and in more than 140 nations since 1992.

The purposes of publishing HDRs, among other things, are:

  • In-depth, independent, nationally-owned policy analysis document.
  • They are tools for policy analysis reflecting people's priorities, strengthening national capacities, engaging national partners, identifying inequities and measuring progress.
  • They introduce the human development concept into national policy dialogue − not only through human development indicators and policy recommendations, but also through the country-led and country-owned process of consultation such as today’s consultation, research and report writing.
  • As advocacy tools designed to appeal to a wide audience, the reports are meant to spur public debate and mobilize support for action and change.
  • Findings and recommendations are aimed at policymakers, NGOs, the private sector, the general public and international development partners, serving as a source of alternate policy opinion for development planning across various themes.

HDR in Cambodia

Up to now UNDP Cambodia has facilitated seven HDRs on:

  1. Poverty assessment (1997)
  2. Women’s Contribution to Development (1998)
  3. Village Economy and Development (1999)
  4. Children and Employment (2000)
  5. Societal Aspects of the HIV/AIDS Epidemics in Cambodia (2001)
  6. Expanding Choices for Rural People (2007)
  7. The Future for Rural Livelihoods in the Face of Climate Change (2011)

2014 CHDR and Human Capital Divide

The theme for CHDR 2014 is selected to be human capital under the working title of ‘Investing in Human Development on the Road to Inclusive Growth’.  

The human capital issue was addressed at the Fourth Cambodian Economic Forum in February 2011. Since then, the human capital task force was formed to consider this matter among the government and development partners. This report is UNDP’s contribution to the overall collaborative process.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

According to the 2013 Global Human Development Report, the Rise of the South, for the periods from 2006 to 2010, the educational attainments (for ages of 25 and above) levels in Cambodia is much lower in their own rights and even far lower compared to the East Asia and the Pacific and Medium HDI groups (where Cambodia is part).

Compared to their male counterpart, adult women’s secondary and/or higher education attainment is lower by almost half (9 percentage points), indicating wide inequality between genders in education in Cambodia. Even if Cambodia sees the need for skilled workforce, the country will struggle to meet even its short-term needs in skilled labour because it has limited trainable workforce due to low educational attainments.

On the other hand, the HDR 2013 indicates Cambodia has high labour force participation rate in both male and female. Cambodia’s 79.2 and 86.7 percents female and male labour force size is much higher than the averages for East Asia and the Pacific and Medium HDI groups. Undoubtedly, many young Cambodians are joining the labour market with low or no qualifications and or skills indicating a need for investment in human capital. High labor force participation rate also shows that the dependency ratio is low and that Cambodia needs to adopt the right policy mix to maximize the benefits of demographic dividend before the unavoidable demographic transition from presently younger age population not only to help the economy grow but also to improve the lives of its citizens through creating productive employments.

Public spending trend in health and education between 2000 and 2010 is marginal, from about 1.3 percent to 2.1 percent in health and from 1.7 percent to 2.6 percent in education as in the HDR 2013. For a country with very low educational attainments and low human capital formation, this spending trend in health and education is not only marginal but also not responding to existing and the future ahead. 

It is for these reasons that UNDP wishes to contribute based on thorough research to promote policy debates on human capital development in Cambodia. As we all know, the globalized world embraces not only opportunities but also threats in the form of financial crisis, environmental disasters, migration, internal conflicts and global terrorism. For countries to benefit from globalization/regional integration and reduce risks, they need to garner the benefits and minimizing potential risks of globalization through adopting policies and programmes including investing in peoples’ capabilities and realizing people’s potentials.

Cambodia’s future will absolutely depend on its productive citizens. Addressing the ‘human capital divide’ now and in the future would benefit its citizens through income redistribution as well as prudent investments in education, health and training of its young population. Action is required to address human capital not only to fill the existing or future demands of skills but also as a matter of addressing inequalities and low living standards.

In order to contribute to human capital policy debates, as UNDP, we expect the current HDR to broadly approach the human capital development in Cambodia by bringing demographic transition, basic healthcare, state capacity to manage human capital and inequalities into the equation of its analysis.

I would like to invite Dr. Satish Mishra, the Director of Strategic Asia, consultancy firm based in Indonesia to make a presentation on the outline of the report. He and his team are helping us compile the next report. He is the author of Indonesia Human Development Report 2001 that was selected as the best national HDR in for the year 2001 and has profound experience. 

Please join me to welcome Dr. Satish Mishra and his team.