https://bit.ly/3pccULnThe 30th anniversary edition of the Human Development Report is entitled The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene. The report argues it is time to redesign paths to progress by fully accounting for the dangerous pressures humans put on the planet. The document introduces a new lens to its Human Development Index (HDI) which shows how global development would change if the wellbeing of both people and the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress.
Produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the report includes a new experimental index on human progress that takes into account countries’ carbon dioxide emissions and material footprint. The report draws extensively on resilience thinking, biosphere stewardship and why we have to stop considering nature and the environment as something separate from society.
The next frontier for human development will require working with and not against nature, while transforming social norms, values, and government and financial incentives, the report argues.
By adjusting the HDI, which measures a nation’s health, education, and standards of living, to include two more elements: a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint, the index shows how the global development landscape would change if both the wellbeing of people and also the planet were central to defining humanity’s progress.
With the resulting Planetary-Pressures Adjusted HDI – or PHDI – a new global picture emerges, painting a less rosy but clearer assessment of human progress. For example, more than 50 countries drop out of the very high human development group, reflecting their dependence on fossil fuels and material footprint.
And yet fossil fuels are still being subsidized: the full cost to societies of publicly financed subsidies for fossil fuels – including indirect costs – is estimated at over US$5 trillion a year, or 6.5 percent of global GDP, according to International Monetary Fund figures cited in the report.
Reforestation and taking better care of forests could alone account for roughly a quarter of the pre-2030 actions we must take to stop global warmingfrom reaching two degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
Dismantling gross imbalances
How people experience planetary pressures is tied to how societies work, says Pedro Conceição, Director of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office and lead author of the report.
Today, broken societies are putting people and planet on a collision course. Inequalities within and between countries, with deep roots in colonialism and racism, mean that people who have more capture the benefits of nature and export the costs, the report shows. This chokes opportunities for people who have less and minimizes their ability to do anything about it.
According to the report, easing planetary pressures in a way that enables all people to flourish in this new age requires dismantling the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that stand in the way of transformation.
“The next frontier for human development is not about choosing between people or trees; it’s about recognizing, today, that human progress driven by unequal, carbon-intensive growth has run its course,” says Conceição.