The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released its 22nd
Human Development Report (HDR) for 2013 worldwide on 14 March of
that year (quoted as UNDP 2013). Published annually since 1990 almost
uninterruptedly, the report has become an essential tool, not least for the establishment
and presentation of data and the ranking of countries in the
Human Development Index (HDI). It also provides many related social
indicators in comparative perspective. The HDR has also made significant
contributions to the general debate on current developmental issues by selecting
a particular theme for each year’s narrative and identifying trends of
that theme that are considered significant. This year’s focus is on the new
global players in the South, but unfortunately the report’s revelations are
disappointingly sparse. Indeed, what is surprising is its optimism, which
surpasses even that of the assessments made by multilateral financial institutions.
The rosy future scenario is at least occasionally punctuated by some
more sober observations.