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UN calls for more development to guard against disasters, conflict

The United Nations has called on developing nations to further develop the infrastructure and social protection systems to guard against the threat of disasters and conflict.

TOKYO: The United Nations has called on developing nations to further develop the infrastructure and social protection systems to guard against the threat of disasters and conflict.

At the launch of the 2014 Human Development Report in Tokyo, emphasis was placed on the need for governments to prioritise poverty relief, even amid the challenges posed by natural and humanitarian crises.

Launching its comprehensive report in Tokyo, the United Nations highlighted the role developed nations like Japan can play in a world in need of a helping hand. With the onset of regular disasters and deadly conflict, the aim of the report is to influence governments to strive for better international cooperation, and mitigate the impact on vulnerable communities.

It is a challenge Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not shying away from.

He said: "For Japan to build a strong society, we would like to work together with UNDP, international organisations, the global society to build a society resilient to disasters. Conflicts can take away lives and developments that took years in an instant.”

But administrator for the United Nations Development Programme Helen Clark said developed nations are being seriously tested by the challenges of the third world.

She said: "The world's major donors are overwhelmed by the tide of complex humanitarian emergencies which are coming their way. Last year was the biggest ever for humanitarian appeals by the UN. We have a number of countries in very, very serious crises. So, we need strategies now to get ahead of that curve."

With more than 2.2 billion people already living in poverty, the report's author said government policies need to adapt, jobs need to be created and basic infrastructure made available.

Khalid Malik, director at Human Development Report Office, said: "We have to find a way to have better preparedness. We have to find a way to connect climate change, disasters and all these things to a comprehensive package so we don't deal with disasters on their own. "

The report said almost all countries have improved human development over the past few decades. But today progress is slowing, particularly in the Arab states, Carribean and Asia, which is a concern.

At the other end of the spectrum, the human development index places Norway, Australia and Switzerland as the top nations for life expectancy, education and income. Singapore was the leading Asian country - ranked ninth.

Also, for the first time, gender inequality was also measured on a global index.

Khalid Malik said some countries in Asia such as India have improved by investing in education for women. But Japan - in the top echelons for human development - lags behind, at 79th in the world for gender equality. 

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