UN Human Development Report
- KOFI ANNAN'S Astonishing Facts!
By Barbara Crossette (The New York Times U.N. bureau chief)
Every year, the United Nations Human Development Report looks for a
new way to measure the lives of people.
Putting aside faceless statistics like per capita gross domestic
product or export-import figures, the report burrows into the facts
about what children eat, who goes to school, whether there is clean
water to drink, how women share in the economy or who doesn't get
vaccinations against diseases that go on killing even though they are
This year, the report takes its first look at what people have --
from simple toilets to family cars -- and what proportion of the
world's goods and services are consumed, comparatively, by the rich
and by the poor.
The pie is huge -- the world's consumption bill is $24 trillion a
year -- but some servings are very small indeed.
NATURAL RESOURCES -- Since 1970, the world's forests have declined
from 4.4 square miles per 1,000 people to 2.8 square miles per 1,000
In addition, a quarter of the world's fish stocks have been depleted
or are in danger of being depleted and another 44 percent are being
fished at their biological limit.
THE ULTRA RICH -- The three richest people in the world have assets
that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least
THE SUPER RICH -- The world's 225 richest individuals, of whom 60
are Americans with total assets of $311 billion, have a combined
wealth of over $1 trillion -- equal to the annual income of the
poorest 47 percent of the entire world's population.
COSMETICS AND EDUCATION -- Americans spend $8 billion a year on
cosmetics -- $2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to
provide basic education for everyone in the world.
THE HAVES -- The richest fifth of the world's people consumes 86
percent of all goods and services while the poorest fifth consumes
just 1.3 percent.
Indeed, the richest fifth consumes 45 percent of all meat and fish,
58 percent of all energy used and 84 percent of all paper, has 74
percent of all telephone lines and owns 87 percent of all vehicles.
THE HAVE NOTS -- Of the 4.4 billion people in developing countries,
nearly three-fifths lack access to safe sewers, a third have no access
to clean water, a quarter do not have adequate housing and a fifth
have no access to modern health services of any kind.
THE GANGES -- The Ganges River symbolizes purification to Hindus,
who believe drinking or bathing in its waters will lead to salvation.
But 29 cities, 70 towns and countless villages deposit about 345
million gallons of raw sewage a day directly into the river. Factories
add 70 million gallons of industrial waste and farmers are responsible
for another 6 million tons of chemical fertilizer and 9,000 tons of
AFRICA -- The average African household today consumes 20 percent
less than it did 25 years ago.
MEAT -- Americans each consume an average of 260 pounds of meat a
year. In Bangladesh, the average is six and a half pounds.
THE FUTURE -- By 2050, 8 billion of the world's projected 9.5
billion people -- up from about 6 billion today -- will be living in
SMOKE -- Of the estimated 2.7 million annual deaths from air
pollution, 2.2 million are from indoor pollution -- including smoke
from dung and wood burned as fuel which is more harmful than tobacco
smoke. 80 percent of the victims are rural poor in developing
WRISTWATCHES AND RADIOS -- Two thirds of India's 90 million
lowest-income households live below the poverty line -- but more than
50% of these impoverished people own wristwatches, 41% own
bicycles, 31% own radios and 13% own fans.
TELEPHONE LINES -- Sweden and the United States have 681 and 626
telephone lines per 1,000 people, respectively. Afghanistan, Cambodia,
Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have only
one line per 1,000 people.
ICE CREAM AND WATER -- Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream
-- $2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide
clean water and safe sewers for the world's population.
AIDS -- At the end of 1997 nearly 31 million people were living
with HIV, up from 22.3 million the year before.
With 16,000 new infections a day -- 90 percent in developing
countries -- it is now estimated that 40 million people will be
living with HIV in 2000.
LANDMINES -- More than 110 million active landmines are scattered
in 68 countries, with an equal number stockpiled around the world.
Every month more than 2,000 people are killed or maimed by mine
PET FOOD AND HEALTH -- Americans and Europeans spend $17 billion a
year on pet food -- $4 billion more than the estimated annual
additional total needed to provide basic health and
nutrition for everyone in the world.
$40 BILLION A YEAR -- It is estimated that the additional cost of
achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education and
health care for all, reproductive health care for all women,
adequate food and clean water and safe sewers for all is roughly $40
billion a year -- or less than 4 percent of the combined wealth of the
225 richest people in the world.