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Sustainable Human Development Index to Measure “Future We Want”

UNDP20 June 2012: At a high-level forum titled “Beyond GDP: Measuring the Future We Want,” held during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) presented the conceptual framework for a “Sustainable Human Development Index.” The Index is expected to be based on the concept of intergenerational equity, recognizing that choices made today should not limit the choices of future generations.

The Index will also incorporate planetary thresholds, illustrating how climate change and other challenges present long-term human development risks, often in the poorest countries and communities.

Participants at the Forum discussed the challenges and advantages of measuring sustainability and human development from a people-focused perspective. UNDP Administrator Helen Clark stressed that “progress needs to be defined and measured in a way which accounts for the broader picture of human development and its context.”

According to UNDP, the Forum was convened in response to calls for additional alternative measures of national and global development progress, including from the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP), which concluded that “the international community should measure development beyond gross domestic product (GDP) and develop a new sustainable development index or set of indicators.” The Rio+20 preparatory process also heard calls for alternative measurements. [UNDP Press Release]