Human development, which is about expanding people’s choices, builds on shared natural resources. Promoting human development requires addressing sustainability— locally, nationally and globally— and this can and should be done in ways that are equitable and empowering.
The report identifies policies on the national and global level that could spur mutually reinforcing progress towards these interlinked goals. Bold action is needed on both fronts, the Report contends, if the recent human development progress for most of the world’s poor majority is to be sustained, for the benefit of future generations as well as for those living today. Past Reports have shown that living standards in most countries have been rising - and converging - for several decades now. Yet the 2011 Report projects a disturbing reversal of those trends if environmental deterioration and social inequalities continue to intensify, with the least developed countries diverging downwards from global patterns of progress by 2050.
The Report further shows how the world’s most disadvantaged people suffer the most from environmental degradation, including in their immediate personal environment. For example, environmental stress can drive people to relocate when they expect to find better opportunities elsewhere. It is difficult to estimate the number of people who will move due to environmental factors. But it is certain that a degraded environment will limit people’s opportunities to choose where they live. And the most disadvantaged people also disproportionately lack political power, making it harder for the world community to reach agreements on needed global policy changes.
Facing these challenges, the Report outlines effective approaches that integrate environmental sustainability and equity and promote human development (“win-win-win strategies”).
The 2011 Report concludes with a call for new approaches to global development financing and environmental controls, arguing that these measures are both essential and feasible.
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