The great development challenge of the 21st century is to safeguard the right of generations today and in the future to live healthy and ful?lling lives. The 2011 Human Development Report offers important new contributions to the global dialogue on this challenge, showing how sustainability is inextricably linked to equity—to questions of fairness and social justice and of greater access to a better quality of life.
Forecasts suggest that continuing failure to reduce the grave environmental risks and deepening Inequalities threatens to slow decades of sustained progress by the world’s poor majority—and even to reverse the global convergence in human development. Our remarkable progress in human development cannot continue without bold global steps to reduce both environmental risks and inequality. The Report identi?es pathways for people, local communities, countries and the international community to promote environmental sustainability and equity in mutually reinforcing ways.
New analysis shows how power imbalances and gender inequalities at the national level are linked to reduced access to clean water and improved sanitation, land degradation and illness and death due to air pollution, amplifying the effects associated with income disparities. Gender inequalities also interact with environmental outcomes and make them worse. At the global level, governance arrangements often weaken the voices of developing countries and exclude marginalized groups.
But there are alternatives to inequality and unsustainability. Investments that improve equity—for example, in access to renewable energy, water and sanitation, and reproductive healthcare—could advance both sustainability and human development. Stronger accountability and democratic processes can also improve outcomes. Successful approaches rely on community management, broadly inclusive institutions and attention to disadvantaged groups. Beyond the Millennium Development Goals, the world needs a development framework that re?ects equity and sustainability. The Report shows that approaches that integrate equity into policies and programmes and that empower people to bring about change in the legal and political arenas hold enormous promise.
The ?nancing needed for development are many times greater than current of?cial development assistance. Today’s spending on low-carbon energy sources, for example, is less than 2 percent of even the lowest estimate of need.
Financing ?ows need to be channeled towards the critical challenges of unsustainability and inequity. While market mechanisms and private funding will be vital, they must be supported and leveraged by proactive public investment. Closing the ?nancing gap requires innovative thinking, which the Report provides.
The Report also advocates reforms to promote equity and voice. We have a collective responsibility towards the least privileged among us today and in the future around the world—to ensure that the present is not the enemy of the future. The Report can help us see the ways forward.
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