New York—Frances Stewart, a leading development economist, discussed her work and thoughts on the future of the human development approach at the Mahbub ul Haq Lecture at United Nations Headquarters.
“It has been nearly twenty years since the launch of the first global Human Development Report,” Professor Stewart said. “It was pioneering, even revolutionary, in 1990. Now is a good time to assess what has changed in the world since then and how the human development approach can help us understand and address the key challenges for the twenty first century.”
Prof. Stewart delivered the lecture as the 2009 recipient of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Mahbub ul Haq Award. She received the award last October at a reception in Busan, South Korea. The award is given every two to three years to recognize a leading national, regional or world figure that has demonstrated outstanding commitment to furthering human development understanding and progress.
“Professor Stewart’s initiative and long standing efforts to research, promote and expand human development is greatly admired and appreciated,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said while introducing Prof. Stewart. “The human development approach provides the conceptual foundation for the work of the United Nations Development Programme. Its aim is both simple and tremendously difficult: to enable people develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests.”
Prof. Stewart spoke about the successes and failures of different societies in advancing human development by connecting many of the reasons for success or failure in a country or region, such as economic growth, poverty, conflict, access to health and education. While there was no set path for success, Prof. Stewart demonstrated that human development is essential to good economic growth. Prof. Stewart noted the strong connection of success in advancing human development in societies where women are empowered. In places where women are not involved, failure is likely. Prof. Stewart concluded that in all countries, even poor ones, advancing human development is desirable, essential and possible.
Prof. Stewart is the former Director of the International Development Centre at the University of Oxford and is currently the President of the Human Development and Capability Association. She serves as the Vice Chair of the United Nations Committee on Development Policy, and has been an advisor to the UNDP Human Development Report since 1990. Her research has developed and applied the human development approach to such fields as inequality, technology, gender empowerment and conflict.
“We deeply appreciate Professor Stewart’s thoughts and research which have served as invaluable contributions to different Human Development Reports since 1990 as well as in the drafting of this year’s report,” Jeni Klugman, Director of the Human Development Report Office, told the audience of development experts, diplomats and UN officials.
Prof. Stewart was a member of the team, led by Mahbub ul Haq, that produced the first Human Development Report.
The Mahbub ul Haq Award was created to honour Mahbub ul Haq (1934-1998), the leading development thinker who pioneered the human development paradigm and founded the global Human Development Report.
2010 marks the 20th anniversary of the Human Development Report. Since 1990, the global HDRs, as well as over 700 regional, national and sub-national HDRs, have shifted the development discourse and provided innovative analysis on subjects ranging from gender and poverty to globalization, climate change and human mobility. 2010 offers an opportunity to assess the advances made in human development, as well as the challenges and obstacles to human well-being around the world. The 2010 Human Development Report will be launched this autumn.
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