A new United Nations report paints an encouraging picture of developing countries around the world.
Over the past 20 years, prosperity and the middle class have grown in nearly every developing country looked at in the report.
Only Zimbabwe and Lesotho are in worse shape today, than when the first report came out in 1990.
Much of the growth is happening in the Global South, in the nations of Africa, Central and Latin America, and most of Asia.
The report says improvements in 40 countries are significantly better than expected, which is creating a "dramatic rebalancing of economic power" worldwide.
In fact, as the Globe and Mail reports, in seven years, the combined economic power of China, Brazil and India "will surpass that of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. put together."
That's quite a power shift.
To see which countries have improved most dramatically, check out the chart below comparing 1990 data to 2012.
HDI stands for Human Development Index, the measurement used by researchers to determine each country's level of development.
According to the UN Dispatch, "this all underscores the fact that since 2000 there has been unrelenting progress toward making the world a more just and equitable place."
"It may not seem so at times, but we are living in a transformational era in which entire continents are being lifted out of poverty," it says.
This report isn't the only source of encouragement.
U2's Bono recently spoke about poverty and inequality in his TED Talk entitled "The good news on poverty (Yes, there's good news)."
He believes extreme poverty can virtually be eliminated by 2030.
Some of the statistics he points out: extreme poverty has been cut from 43 per cent in 1990 to 21 per cent in 2010. Since 2000, 8 million AIDS patients have received anti-retroviral drugs, and child mortality for kids under five is down by 2.65 million deaths per year.
Check out his talk below:
Not all the news in the UN's report is good.
While there are positive trends in health, wealth and education for many developing countries, the Guardian points out this quote...
"Inaction on climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution could end gains in the world's poorest countries and communities."
The report goes on to say "Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress."
"The number of people in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless environmental disasters are averted by co-ordinated global action."
As well, the report says social inequality, lack of opportunity for citizen participation, and "short-sighted austerity measures" are all threats to future progress.
And one of the report's major recommendations is that global institutions need to be more representative of the new economic and social reality.
For example, China's share of the World Bank is 3.3 per cent, even though it has the world's second-largest economy. And the report says Africa is under-represented in nearly every international institution.
All of this is the work of the UN Development Program as part of its annual Human Development Report.
It's a way of measuring countries' progress by looking at more than just Gross Domestic Product or Gross National Income.
Instead, it measures things like literacy, poverty, education, and maternal mortality to see how a country is progressing on a social and human level.
You can read the full report by clicking here.
Via UN Dispatch