Presentations text content in Choices, Capabilities and Sustainability
Choices, Capabilities and SustainabilitySecond Conference on Measuring Human DevelopmentMarch 4th -5th 2012
and Khalid MalikSlide2
Sustaining Human Development
beings are born with certain potential capabilities. The purpose of development is to create an environment in
people can expand their capabilities,
can be enlarged for
present and future generations
“Human development involves equal rights applied to all”.
“Sustainable freedom” implies preserving human’s capabilities today without “comprising those of future
Source: HDRO calculationsSlide4
Sustainability: Traditional discussion
Consumption and capital based
- natural capital and physical capital substitutable
- maintain levels of total capital
- Example: Adjusted net savings
- Beyond a certain level, loss of natural capital irreplaceable
- Example: planetary boundaries, applicable to different forms of natural capitalSlide5
Capabilities and Choices
K: Stock of capabilities in a society
- Individual capabilities
- Social competencies
: Choices afforded by the stock of K
of capabilities (individual and social)
a certain set of choices available to
E- environmental conditions, influence fSlide6
Capabilities, Choices and Sustainability
choices made today should not, in the net, deplete the stock of capabilities that will determine the availability of choices for future generations.
Stock of capabilities, K, must evolve in a way that
The set of choices available at the end of the time period is at least as large as the set of choices at the beginning of the period.
Comprehensive view of sustainability
Capabilities approach implies a ‘strong’ and comprehensive view of
- choices of current
future generations are included
- social, economic and environmental dimensions are included
- requiring each dimension to be individually sustainable
- HDR 2013: Rise in fertility rates in some Sub-Saharan associated with cuts in education during structural adjustment programs of the 1980s.
- Recent trends of rising inequality damage the social fiber, reducing social competencies and thereby threatening social sustainability.
- Current austerity programs erode education and health capabilities, threatening economic and social sustainability.Slide8
“A Balance Sheet”
AssetsLiabilitiesTangible AssetsPublic assets, private assets, an educated population, natural resourcesPublic DebtsIntangible AssetsSocial competencies such as the degree of social cohesion, social inclusion, belief in democracy and democratic institutionsPrivate Debts
Even if austerity policies meet their goal of debt sustainability, the situation cannot be called sustainable
Balance sheet is being impacted negativelySlide9
Critical Thresholds for Sustainable Human Development
Tipping points: Capability stock and therefore choices available to future generations fall below critical thresholds.
Examples include high levels of inequality precipitating social unrest.
ocal thresholds can vary and differ from global
Environmental ‘tipping points’: Risk of crossing thresholds that will trigger abrupt environmental change in continental or planetary-scale systems
ocal and planetary ‘boundaries
“What we measure affects what we do” (Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report 2010)
Measuring changes in critical
(ΔE), health (ΔH) and command over
) and others.
Measure of E, state of the environment
- Planetary boundaries apply
Defining and minding social, economic and environmental ‘tipping points’.Slide11
Tension between Rights and ‘global’ responsibility
Rights approach: universality, equal
or “fair” use of the environment
to achieve higher
development within the limits imposed by the sustainability of our
Larger countries have greater
potentially larger impact on global sustainabilitySlide12
Incorporating environment thresholds
Partial approach“Discounting” Human Development rankings to reflect environmental sustainability
Source: HDRO calculationsSlide13
Why not just adjust the income dimension of the HDI?
Command over resources is not the only channel
in which unsustainable behavior today affects future choices
education, health, inequality
, resources availability ,
add an environmental dimension
to the HDI?
Environment is not a capability,
HDI with existing measures of sustainability?
e.g. Ecological Footprint, Environmental
Valid and useful measures but our aim is to focus explicitly on people and their choices both present and in the future