Happy Birthday to the Human Development Report

Thu, 11/11/10

Happy 20th Birthday to the Human Development Report! Drawing on the vision of Mahbub ul Haq and the work of Amartya Sen, the first Human Development Report was published by UNDP in 1990 and opened with the premise that “people are the real wealth of a nation”.

Every year since then the report has provided a valuable snapshot of human development, and emphasized the need for ‘people-centred development’.

Over the past two decades the Human Development Report has become famous for fostering dialogue and promoting the belief that people are both the ‘beneficiaries and drivers of human development’. The reports tend to examine the themes of equity, empowerment and structural disparities, and are essential reading for anyone interested in the condition of humanity.

In recent years the reports have looked at environmental issues alongside social issues, recognising the intrinsic links between the two. In the 2007/8 HDR report, for example, climate change was identified as having significant impacts on development. The latest report, published this month, drives home the issue once again.

HDR 2010 states that sustainability is a key variable in measuring human development and that a failure to effectively address climate change will turn back the decades of progress that has been made in human development. It goes so far as to state the greatest challenge to maintaining progress in human development comes from “the unsustainability of production and consumption patterns. For human development to become truly sustainable, the close link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions needs to be severed.”

The report also argues that well-being is about more than economic growth. Well-being requires human development policies that are beneficial for both present and future generations. This means sustainable development is the only means of really improving human lives.

Greening the Blue welcomes the message from this esteemed source about the links between climate change and development. It is a great reminder to everyone within the UN system (and beyond!) of the links between the natural environment and human society, and that they must always be considered together.

We hope the release of HDR 2010 will encourage further discussion and action towards sustainable development - locally, globally and within the United Nations.

Click here to download HDR 2010 

Categories: Leadership