The Human Development Report is an independent publication commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Its editorial autonomy is guaranteed by a special resolution of the General Assembly (A/RES/57/264), which recognizes the Human Development Report as “an independent intellectual exercise” and “an important tool for raising awareness about human development around the world."
Contributors to the Report include leading development scholars and practitioners, working under the coordination of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office. From the beginning, the Report has been a pioneer of methodological innovation and development thinking. Often provocative, the Report was launched in 1990 with the goal of putting people at the center of development, going beyond income to assess people’s long-term well-being. The Reports’ messages — and the tools to implement them — have been embraced by people around the world, as shown by the publication of autonomous National Human Development Reports by more than 140 countries over the past two decades. The Human Development Report is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries annually.
Human Development Reports (HDR) at the regional, national and local 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 local 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.