News / 12 December 2011

Human Development Report 2011 in the spirit of Rio+20

Early November the UN Development Programme UNDP launched the Human Development Report 2011. On December the 2nd, the Dutch presentation of the report was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Daniëlle Hirsch, director of Both ENDS, attended the presentation as one of the panelists commenting on the content of the report.


he Human Development Report, issued every year by the UNDP since 1990, lists the scores of countries around the world on the Human Development Index (HDI). It examines the national situation with regard to health, education and income, and inequalities in these areas. How just or unjust a country is for its citizens was measured this year for the first time. As a result, countries like Oman, scoring high on the list before, now moved down. However, the Human Development Report 2011, titled "Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All", is predominantly focused on Rio+20.


Local solutions
The key message of the report is that social justice and sustainable development are linked. Daniëlle Hirsch can only confirm this: "for 25 years Both ENDS has worked at the intersection of sustainable development and poverty reduction. However, the report gives too little account of the fact that in many countries the poor strata of the population themselves can very well come up with - and often already have developed - a concept of how to shape a sustainable and just society. Over and over again it's about helping the so-called 'bottom billion'. What we should talk about is how the poor strata can help themselves. The UNDP should make more efforts to promote local and national regulations and decision-making processes that give these groups a place at the negotiating table."

Sufficient funds
Furthermore, the UNDP is convinced that more money should be made available for sustainability and poverty reduction. "The problem is not that too little money," Daniëlle Hirsch claims, "but it doesn't end up with the right people. The very people who actually work on local sustainability and equity, often have no access to these and other funds that are mainly used for large high-profile projects."

Not more but less
The report calls for a new vision, while the agreements made in Rio in 1992, possibly with some minor changes and nuances, are still perfectly useful. According to Hirsch, the new vision the UNDP is referring to, focuses too much on the green economy and the profits that can be achieved. The attention is thus distracted from what really matters: people. In this light it is also striking that in this report it is still assumed that global sustainable economic growth is the goal to be pursued. "Why do they always talk in terms of growth and not on global reduction?" Hirsch asks herself. "That's the way to move forward."

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