The Human Development Report was first launched in 1990 with the single goal of putting people back at the center of the development process in terms of economic debate, policy and advocacy. The goal was both massive and simple, with far-ranging implications — going beyond income to assess the level of people’s long-term well-being. Bringing about development of the people, by the people, and for the people, and emphasizing that the goals of development are choices and freedoms.
Each Report focuses on a highly topical theme in the current development debate, providing path-breaking analysis and policy recommendations. The Reports’ messages — and the tools to implement them — have been embraced by people around the world, evidenced by the publication of national human development reports at the country level in more than 140 nations.
The Human Development Report is an independent report. It is commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and is the product of a selected team of leading scholars, development practitioners and members of the Human Development Report Office of UNDP. The teams were led by Mahbub ul Haq and Inge Kaul from 1990 through 1994; by Mahbub ul Haq and Sakiko Fukuda-Parr in 1995, by Richard Jolly and Sakiko Fukuda-Parr from 1996 through 2000, and by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr from 2001 through 2003. In 2004, Kevin Watkins joined as Director thereby taking the role of Lead Author for the Reports of 2005 until 2007/8. As of 2008, Jeni Klugman is the Director and Lead Author of the Report.
The Report is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries annually.
The first Human Development Report in 1990 opened with the simply stated premise that has guided all subsequent Reports: “People are the real wealth of a nation.” With its wealth of empirical data and innovative approach to measuring development, the Human Development Report had a profound impact on development thinking around the world. Featuring the Human Development Index, every report presents agenda-setting data and analysis and calls international attentions to issues and policy options that put people at the center of strategies to meet the challenges of development. Search all Reports
Human Development Reports at the regional, national and sub-national levels take the human development approach to the regional or country level and are prepared and owned by regional and national teams. They both feed into and draw upon the data and analysis of the global Report. Over 600 regional, national and sub-national reports have been produced so far in over 140 countries.
National reports place human development at the forefront of the national political agenda. They are tools for policy analysis reflecting people's priorities, strengthening national capacities, engaging national partners, identifying inequities and measuring progress. As instruments for measuring human progress and triggering action for change, regional reports promote regional partnerships for influencing change, and addressing region-specific human development approaches to human rights, poverty, education, economic reform, HIV/AIDS, and globalization.
As policy advocacy documents, they have introduced the human development concept into national policy dialogues — not only through human development indicators and policy recommendations, but also through the country-led and country-owned process of consultation, research and report writing.
As advocacy tools designed to appeal to a wide audience, the reports can spur public debates and mobilize support for action and change. They have helped to articulate people’s perceptions and priorities, and have served as a source of alternate policy opinion for development planning across varied themes.