Daily Archives: October 12, 2009

Trivialising an important document

Six days ago in Something else to brag about… I led with a story about Australia being #2 in best quality of life in the world, well ahead of the USA. That is the angle the Sydney Morning Herald took, mentioning only in passing that this was in a UN report on migration and development.

Well, I suppose it is nice that we are up there, but in fact that is the least important thing about the report which is a quite wonderful overview of population shifts in the world today, reasons for them, governments’ policies on them, and how the migrants/refugees are faring. I admit to reading the report, which I downloaded, after writing that post.

It really is a bit shameful that all the Herald could do with it was an innocuous enough bit of jingoism, but it would have been good to have had this important document given the weight it deserves. So often our view of immigration and refugee matters is essentially parochial and often disproportionate, not to mention the prejudice and manipulation of facts so often attaching to the issue. The UN report should be compulsory reading for all with something to say on the topic.

So download it.

The 2010 Report is under way.

Human development is about putting people at the centre of development. It is about people realizing their potential, increasing their choices and enjoying the freedom to lead lives they value. Since 1990, annual Human Development Reports have explored challenges including poverty, gender, democracy, human rights, cultural liberty, globalization, water scarcity, climate change, and mobility.

The year 2010 marks the twentieth anniversary of the human development report and offers an opportunity to reappraise its contribution and to make the case for a new human development vision to meet the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century. This concept note, based on a series of valuable discussions with colleagues in different parts of the UNDP, sets out the basic approach to tackle this task, which will focus on the implications of the human development approach for development policies and strategies.

Since 1990, the Human Development Report has been a major force in thinking about development, not only by highlighting the inadequacy of per capita income as the sole measure of a society’s progress, but also by exploring how a people-centred approach affects the way we should think about key challenges. The reports have covered subjects as diverse as participation, cultural liberty and financing, as well as larger global challenges like cooperation and climate change. The human development approach has influenced many strands of development thinking and the ways that most policymakers and researchers think about human progress. The 2010 report aims to take this contribution significantly further by showing how placing human development at the center of our priorities changes the ways in which we think about, formulate, implement and monitor development policies designed to promote empowerment, address inequality and tackle sustainability.

The proposed outline has three parts. First, a systematic assessment of progress and setbacks in human development since the 1970s, in which we discuss what has been achieved, what seems to work, and what are the key gaps and constraints. The second part will revisit the concept of human development – and its measurement (including the Human Development Index) – and propose the enhancements needed to help policy-makers ensure that people are at the centre of development. In this light, the third and final part would highlight concrete implications for policy and development strategies, and outline recommendations for a new development agenda…

The measure referred to in the Herald article is the latest Gini coefficient of inequality. Here is 2007-8, the lower the score the better: