UNDP unveils new measure for human sustainability
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has unveiled its "conceptual framework" for a human sustainability index that would recognise rates of human development while also weighing up the cost of progress to future generations.
At a high-level forum at Rio+20 on Wednesday, Khalid Malik, director of the UNDP's human development report office, outlined the work his branch of the organization had been carrying out in an attempt to measure sustainable development.
Malik said basic building blocks would be needed to come up with a suitable measure. The first would be working out how to adequately connect current choices with the choices of the next generation, who have rights that need to be protected just as much as those of the current generation, said Malik. The second would involve measuring the use of environmental resources, while the third would entail linking local and global resource use (for example, Canada may have plenty of water sources, enabling the country to live within its local limits, but those limits may exceed global ones).
The challenge will lie in working out how to incorporate these points. "This is the thinking we have been doing in the office," said Malik. "We need alternative approaches to lead us in the right direction.
"We need to focus on people and choices. From a policy perspective, this implies that the right to current development is fundamental, but it must be achieved without reducing the choices available to future generations."
Wednesday's forum, and the work of Malik and his team, followed calls for a UN-led examination of alternatives to purely economic measurements of national and global progress, said UNDP administrator Helen Clark, who moderated the panel discussion.
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