Opening remarks by Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative, Launch of the GHDR 2015-Mongolia

Dec 15, 2015

Honorable Mr.Demberel, Member of the Parliament of Mongolia,

Mr. Chair and panel members,

Distinguished participants,

A warm welcome to UN House and thank you for joining us today for the Mongolia launch of UNDP’s 2015 Human Development Report – “Work for Human Development”.

The report was launched globally just yesterday in Addis Ababa by the UNDP Administrator, Ms. Helen Clark, and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

Since the introduction of the concept in the first Human Development Report, human development has been about expanding the richness of human life, rather than simply the richness of economies. This idea focuses on people, and their choices and opportunities.

Work is critical for human development – this is main premise of the Report. This is indeed one of the world’s great development challenges – to provide enough decent work and livelihoods for all. From the perspective of human development, the notion of work is broader and deeper than that of jobs or employment. “Jobs” in its narrower definition fails to capture many kinds of “work” that have important human development implications— such as care work, voluntary work and creative work.

Work enhances human development directly by providing incomes and livelihoods, and through this also by reducing poverty, and by strengthening equitable growth. It allows people to participate fully in society while affording them a sense of dignity and worth. Ultimately, work can unleash human potential, human creativity and the human spirit.

Work that involves caring for others builds social cohesion and strengthens bonds within families and communities. And when work is environmentally friendly, the benefits extend across generations.

The report makes the case that women are especially disadvantaged in the world of work. Three out of every four hours of unpaid work are done by women. When women get paid, they get paid less than men. Women hold only around a fifth of senior leadership positions worldwide.

The message is: work contributes to the richness of human lives and the richness of economies.

However, this positive link is not automatic. The Report analyses the imbalance in paid and unpaid work and focuses on the changing world of work, driven by globalisation and the digital revolution, which presents opportunities, but at the same time poses new risks. If not properly regulated, the search for ever more competitive production conditions and cost advantages of the globalised economy can increase vulnerability of labour and the exploitation of workers.

Work enhances human development only when policies expand productive, remunerative, satisfying and quality work opportunities, when they enhance workers’ skills and potential and when they ensure their rights, safety, and well-being.

The Report analyses the policy options available for countries. Policies should; i) create more work opportunities to expand work choices, ii) ensure workers’ well-being to reinforce the positive link between work and human development and iii) target measures and actions to address the needs of specific groups and contexts such as for example the differently-abled.

In addition to policy options, the report recommends a broader agenda for action that includes amongst other things a global deal of partners around the world to respect work rights and renegotiate agreements at all levels.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Beyond the specific subject of this year’s edition, and as every Human Development Report since 1990, the report also provides an overview of country achievements against the human development index and other developmental indexes. Here are some key facts and figures for Mongolia.

Mongolia is for the first time in the high human development category having passed the 0.7 threshold on the HDI. Mongolia has since last year moved up by 12 spots in the global ranking placing it in 90th position together with China. Since 2000, Mongolia improved its HDI by an annual 1.35% moving quicker than most of the countries ranked above Mongolia.

The HDI is a composite index of life expectancy, education, and income per capita indicators. Mongolia has done well on many of the health and education related MDGs and that this is reflected in commensurate improvements in the HDI. Also, Mongolia has been doing well in terms of economic growth recording an annual average growth of roughly 12% since 2011, which has translated in GNI per capita increases.

Challenges do remain however. At 21.6% the poverty rate, while declining, remains high for an upper middle income country. Mongolia’s commodity based, extraction dominated growth has not yet translated sufficiently into inclusive and productive employment.

In the report, there is an indicator that looks at how the HDI changes if adjusted for inequality –the so called IHDI. Mongolia loses less of its HDI value than comparators when inequalities across all the three human development dimensions are factored in. This means that Mongolia remains more equal than most countries in Asia Pacific and is more or less comparable in terms of inequality with countries in Europe and Central Asia. That said the share of the bottom 20 percent of the population in consumption distribution has not changed over the last 20 years, so while the economy grows, inequality is not further reduced.

In terms of employment and work specific indicators for Mongolia, there are three indicators that stand out because they are below average of a country in the high HDI category:

1) the labour force participation rate of people aged 15 and older is 62.9% compared to 67.1% in high HDI countries;

2) the high vulnerable unemployment rate at 51.4%, and;

3) and the long term unemployment rate at 7.9%; the two latter are in fact almost double the average in high HDI countries.

As for overarching policy recommendations, there are two recommendations that I would like to flag.

Firstly, Mongolia needs to diversify and address value chains in mining and commodities to generate jobs and value addition in country. This will also require making sure that the necessary skills set for the employment market are available in Mongolia. In addition, Mongolia has opportunities to significantly increase the number of green jobs by investing in renewable energy.

Secondly, Mongolia need to address the high percentage of vulnerable employment which is in part fuelled by seasonal work such as agriculture, certain herding related work, summer tourism etc. This requires a policy mix of social safety networks and unemployment insurance targeting the vulnerable.

Timing is opportune to address these key issues. The SDGs have just been approved and Mongolia is integrating the SDGs into its long term vision.

Work provides the means to tackle poverty, empower minorities by being inclusive, and protect our environment if jobs are green. Work is therefore an enabler across the entire SDG agenda and SDG8 includes an explicit emphasis on work with its aspiration to: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all”.

I hope this Report will help us all find new ways to rethink work for human development in Mongolia and generate ideas for how to integrate work into the Mongolian development vision to make development and growth in Mongolia equitable and sustainable for the benefit of its people.

Thank you.

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