While there has been remarkable progress, report warns that there are still many challenges ahead for countries in the South, including an ageing population, environmental degradation, and inequality. Poverty and inequality are particularly worrying, as an estimated 1.57 billion people, representing 30 percent of the population in the 104 countries studied for the report, still live in multidimensional poverty.

The report provides a series of recommendations and, in particular, highlights education for girls as “the closest thing to silver bullet formula for accelerating human development.”

Many of the countries in the South still have dramatic gender disparities, and their challenge will be to boost efforts to allow women to participate freely in all aspects of their society.

“Gender inequality is especially tragic not only because it excludes women from basic social opportunities, but also because it gravely imperils the life prospects of future generations,” the report says, referring to findings which correlate women’s education to greater child survival, healthier children and better access to contraception.

The report also notes that the global system will need to adjust itself to the rise of the South, which is currently largely underrepresented in global institutions. For example, China, which is the world’s second largest economy, has had a smaller voting share in the World Bank than either France or the United Kingdom.

“Stronger voices from the South are demanding more representative frameworks of international governance that embody the principles of democracy and equity.”

Meanwhile, it merits mention that not all countries in the South are racing ahead. Of the world’s 49 Least Developed Countries, many are lagging behind in this revolution. Even as some are beginning to benefit from Foreign Direct Investment of the emerging giants like China, India and Brazil, there is much more to be done in terms of development transformation.

The report observes that there are three drivers of transformation: a proactive development state, tapping of global markets and determined social policy inclusion. Looking back at the inception of the HDI, it appears that countries that started at the same level – India and Pakistan, or Chile and Venezuela, or Liberia and Senegal – have ended up with different outcomes.

“History and initial conditions matter, but they are not destiny,” according to the report.

Read more from the UN: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44371&Cr=sustainable+development&Cr1=#.UUIJtNbZ5Lv

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