UNDP launch the 30th Anniversary Human Development Report: the unprecedented turning point of the ‘Age of Humans’

Published on 11 December 2020

On Tuesday 15 December, the 2020 Human Development report will be published by the UNDP on ‘Widening horizons for people and planet: human development and the Anthropocene’. It considers the current era as the next frontier for human development where instead of the planet shaping humans, humans are reshaping the planet. This raises fundamental questions on what humanity should do to navigate this new age and transform pathways to progress without compromising life-sustaining planetary cycles and biodiversity.

The publication of the Human Development Report is particularly important against a backdrop of accelerating climate change and as we look ahead to COP-26 in November 2021. It is a landmark publication for development thinking that has a long association with IDS. IDS Research Associate Sir Richard Jolly was Principal Coordinator for the publication between 1996-2000 and, with IDS Board Member Frances Stewart, developed the concept of human development.

For this year’s edition, Professor Melissa Leach, the Director of IDS, and Frances Stewart were part of the Advisory Group while contributions were included from IDS colleagues at Future Earth on Sustainability and Equity, and the STEPS Centre on green transformations.

Commenting on the report, Professor Melissa Leach said: ‘This year’s Human Development Report could not be more timely and important, addressing how we can and must live well with each other and with non-human natures on a planet facing huge pressures. I was delighted to contribute to the report itself as well as to the start of a vital new global conversation to rethink the concept of human development for our current era’

Sir Richard Jolly said: ‘The Human Development Report has long been one of the best UN publications for outreach and for bold, pioneering thinking. This year’s is no exception, providing a global perspective on covid-19, climate change, inequality, and technology, moving on to what countries in all part of the world can do about them, backed up by international action. At a time when too many in the UK are preoccupied with narrow national solutions, this HDR makes an eye-opening contribution.’

The 2020 report includes a spotlight on an initiative run in parallel to the Human Development Report by the International Science Council on ‘conversations rethinking human development’. Melissa Leach was a member of the steering group for this project which is linked to the ISC’s Committee for Science Planning and launched in November with a series of global events.  The ‘rethinking’ project includes a synthesis report with plans for an ongoing, open interactive conversation that will shape understanding of the concept of human development.

The report will be published on Tuesday 15 December alongside a webinar with opening remarks from HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden; Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden; Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados; Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator followed by a presentation on key findings from Pedro Conceição, Director of the Human Development Report Office, UNDP. This will then be followed by a discussion on the challenges associated with expanding human freedom in balance with the planet.

To listen in live to the Human Development Report 2020 on Tuesday 15 December 2020 at 12.30pm EST/5.30pm GMT register here.