MADRID -- (EFE) -- Latin American countries must make an effort to raise
living standards of the poor, Fernando Zumbado of Costa Rica, the U.N.
Development Program (UNDP) director for Central America, said Wednesday.
This recommendation, among others, such as making better use of renewable
natural resources, was included in Zumbado's report, Human Development 1998.
The UNDP document, which focuses on consumption of goods and services in
public and private sectors, states in the preface that global consumer spending in
1998 will be $24 trillion, double the amount reported in 1975 and six times the
level in 1950.
Pointing to these figures, Zumbado said that in his opinion humanity should
``modify its behavior with respect to growing consumption that is so detrimental to
High consumption levels ``reduce the planet's capacity to absorb noxious
and use up renewable resources, such as water, fish, soil and forests,'' he said.
With regard to water, he said ``Latin America believes it is abundant and
Zumbado said that over the past 30 years, ``living conditions have improved
enormously for most of the world's people,'' with notable growth in income levels.
On the negative side, however, is the unfair distribution of income, which
for 1.3 billion people, even though, according to Zumbado, global data show that
``one cannot say there is a lack of money, but that it is spent unequally.''
To illustrate the concentration of income and spending, the U.N. official
incomes of ``225 super-rich individuals represent the incomes of half of humanity,''
and that ``a child born in a developed country consumes in his lifetime what 50
children would consume in a developing country.''
Pointing to Latin America, Zumbado said that many countries spend more
higher education than at the elementary level, to the detriment of children.
With regard to spending in other categories, Zumbado noted that Colombia
spends the most on advertising in the region, as a percentage of gross domestic
product, about 2.6 percent, while only 3.4 percent of GDP goes to education.
An interesting fact, unless, he said, ``one believes that advertising educates.''