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Kallon blames international community for rising polarisation

By Staff Writer

UNITED Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Zimbabwe, Edward Kallon has blamed the world’s failure to act collectively on shared global challenges for increasing polarisation.

He made the remarks during the launch of UNDP’s Human Development Report for 2023-2024 titled ‘Breaking the Gridlock: Reimagining Cooperation in a Polarized World’.

The top diplomat said the theme of the session for the event was critical as the world delves into the challenges of increasing polarization, populism, and conflict despite reaching record levels in the 2023 global Human Development Index.

Kallonsaid after an unprecedented two-year decline, the 2023 global Human Development Index average estimate has reached a record level underscoring that the sentiment among the populations worldwide is not celebratory

“We’re witnessing increasing polarization, populism, nativism, exclusion, and conflict. The new Human Development Report analyses this paradox.

“Ladies and Gentlemen. The 2023-2024 HDR argues that the international community’s failure to act collectively on shared global challenges is both a cause and a consequence of increasing polarization, distrust, and conflict around the world.

“Progress feels harder to grasp, especially when planetary pressures are brought into view; our standard development measures are clearly miss­ing some things. One of those things may be the disempowerment of people—gaps in human agency—which is taking combined hits from new configu­rations of global complexity and interdependence, uncertainty, insecurity, and polarization,” he said.

He clarified that polarization is different from disagreements in politics and tastes underscoring that it goes beyond differences in opinions, sorts’ people into different groups defined by one single group identity or political position coupled with animosity towards those with different viewpoints.

“It reduces differences in opinions to “us vs. them” attitudes. The HDR warns that inequality between groups of countries is rising after three decades of declining trends.

“This phenomenon is occurring at the same time when we’re experiencing severe climate disruptions, conflicts, and economic slowdown. Rising inequality may exacerbate our situation if we don’t take collective action on these mounting crises that affect us all,” he said.

The report calls for improvement in international cooperation. It makes the case for addressing polarization and empowering people to feel more in control over their lives to safeguard a collective future.

It also highlights that we enjoy unprecedented wealth, knowhow, and technology—unimaginable to our ancestors—that with more equitable distribution and use could power bold and necessary choices for peace and for sustainable, in­clusive human development on which peace depends.

Kallon challenged leaders to act objectively: “So why does pursuing the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement feel like a half-hearted slog through quicksand? Why in many places does restoring peace, even pauses or ceasefires as hopeful preludes to peace, feel so elusive? Why are we immobilized on digital governance while artificial intelligence races ahead in a data gold rush?

“In short, why are we so stuck? And how do we get unstuck without resorting myopically to vio­lence or isolationism? These questions motivate the 2023/2024 Human Development Report.”

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