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Greening the United Nations' Human Development Index?

Listed author(s):
  • Stephen Morse

    (University of Reading, UK)

Registered author(s):

    The Human Development Index (HDI) introduced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 1990 has helped facilitate widespread debate amongst development researchers, practitioners and policy makers. The HDI is an aggregate index, calculated on an annual basis by the UNDP and published in its Human Development Reports, comprising measures of three components deemed by them to be central to development: (i) income (the gross domestic product per capita), (ii) education (adult literacy rate) and (iii) health (life expectancy at birth). The results of calculating the HDI are typically presented as country|regional league tables, and provide a quick means for policy makers and others to judge performance. Perhaps partly because of the relative simplicity of the index, the HDI has managed to achieve a level of acceptance and use amongst politicians and policy makers that has yet to emerge with any indicator of sustainability. Indeed, despite its existence for 11 years, including nine years after the Rio Earth Summit, the HDI has not even been modified to take on board wider issues of sustainability. This paper will critically examine the potential for 'greening' the HDI so as to include environmental and resource-consumption dimensions. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/sd.219
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    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Sustainable Development.

    Volume (Year): 11 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 4 ()
    Pages: 183-198

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:11:y:2003:i:4:p:183-198
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.219
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1099-1719

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    1. Jacques Loup, David Naudet and Développement et insertion internationale (DIAL), 2000. "The State of Human Development Data and Statistical Capacity Building in Developing Countries," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-2000-11, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
    2. Bartelmus, Peter, 1999. "Sustainable development: Paradigm or paranoia?," Wuppertal Papers 93, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
    3. Neumayer, Eric, 2001. "The human development index and sustainability -- a constructive proposal," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 101-114, October.
    4. Spangenberg, Joachim H. & Bonniot, Odile, 1998. "Sustainability indicators: A compass on the road towards sustainability," Wuppertal Papers 81, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.
    5. M. Qizilbash, 2001. "Sustainable Development: Concepts and Rankings," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(3), pages 134-161.
    6. Sudhir Anand and Amartya Sen, 1994. "Sustainable Human Development: Concepts and Priorities," Human Development Occasional Papers (1992-2007) HDOCPA-1994-03, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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