HDialogue: 25th Anniversary Special Articles

HDRO Outreach

2015 marks 25 years since the first Human Development Report introduced a new approach for advancing human flourishing. And while the expression “human development” is widely used, it is understood in different ways around the world.

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

I am honoured to join in marking the 25th anniversary of the Human Development Report. For too long before the advent of this landmark series, a nation’s prosperity was viewed solely through the lens of economic growth. This approach obscured a central truth: people are the real wealth of a nation.

Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden

When I think about human development, I often recall the speech that Nelson Mandela gave in 2005 at a rally to make poverty history. He said: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”

Helen Clark, Administrator United Nations Development Programme

It has been 25 years since the first Human Development Report (HDR) introduced a new concept for advancing human wellbeing which challenged the notion that the level of economic growth and of GDP per capita were the leading indicators of a country’s progress.

Door
Selim Jahan, Director of the Human Development Report Office

A concept is always broader than any of its proposed measures. Any suggested measure for any concept cannot fully capture the richness, the breadth and the depth of the concept itself. This is true of the notion of human development as well. In principle human choices can be infinite and change over time.

Selim Jahan, Director of the Human Development Report Office

'It is an intellectual enterprise' as Mahbub ul Haq, a fan of the Star Trek, would fondly refer to the Human Development Report – his brainchild, and sure, he was the captain of the enterprise. Needless to say, Amartya Sen in many ways was the navigator of it.

Work
Selim Jahan, Director of the Human Development Report Office

From a human development perspective, work, rather than jobs or employment is the relevant concept. A job is a narrow concept with a set of pre-determined time-bound assigned tasks or activities, in an input-output framework with labour as input and a commodity or service as output. Yet, jobs do not encompass creative work (e.g.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia

We note with passion that as the 2015 deadline approaches, Africa’s progress on the Millennium Development Goals remains uneven.Remarkable advances have been made in areas of human development, such as net primary school enrollment, gender parity in primary education, the representation of women in decision-making, some reduction in poverty, immunization coverage, and stemming the spread of HIV

Winnie Byanyima, International Executive Director, Oxfam

It is an opportune moment to reflect on the importance of the first Human Development Report, twenty-five years ago. Human Development appeared as a concept in the midst of intense debates that were challenging both GDP growth as a measure of national progress and the Washington consensus.

HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

In 2003 I was invited to become a Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP. I was delighted to accept because I have long been a firm believer in UNDP’s mission and in human development. People are born equal; everyone should have the same right to realize his or her potential as a human being. But although this should be the case it is often not so.