Brazilian President named first winner of UN Human Development Award
Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso today was named the first winner of the United Nations human development award for his achievements in improving employment, poverty, health and education in his country.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) chose to honour President Cardoso with the Mahbub ul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development for his efforts as a “tireless advocate” for human development and for overseeing such progress in Brazil, the agency said today.
The award is named after the Pakistani economist who pioneered the human development approach and founded the global Human Development Report. It will be presented biennially to the Head of State or world leader who has most successfully put human development at the heart of the political agenda.
“President Cardoso’s longstanding dedication to human progress, and his democratic leadership of Brazil, have raised the standard by which governance can be judged throughout Latin America,” UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in offering his congratulations.
For his part, UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown said he was delighted that Mr. Cardoso's achievements would be recognized with the award. “Under President Cardoso, the fight against poverty has become a national priority and democracy a vibrant reality,” he said. “The President has demonstrated how to make human development into dynamic public policy. He is an inspiration to all of us working in this field.”
In 2001, Mr. Cardoso launched the Alvorada Programme, an anti-poverty programme providing health care, running water and education in Brazil's 2,361 poorest municipalities. While he was President, Mr. Cardoso also created 8.9 million jobs between 1993 and 2001, keeping the country’s unemployment rate to around 7 per cent. He also resettled 588,000 agrarian families between 1995 and 2001, and gave 20 million hectares of land to the country's landless people.
Between 1995 and 2001, Mr. Cardoso reduced the percentage of children who did not go to school from 10 per cent to almost zero while increasing the proportion of the poorest children going to school from 75 per cent in 1995 to 93 per cent in 1999, UNDP said.
President Cardoso will be presented the prize, along with five other recipients of excellence awards, at a ceremony on 9 December in New York.