Choices, Capabilities and Sustainability

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Choices, Capabilities and Sustainability




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Presentations text content in Choices, Capabilities and Sustainability

Slide1

Choices, Capabilities and SustainabilitySecond Conference on Measuring Human DevelopmentMarch 4th -5th 2012

Jean-Paul

Fitoussi

and Khalid Malik

Slide2

Sustaining Human Development

“Human

beings are born with certain potential capabilities. The purpose of development is to create an environment in

which all

people can expand their capabilities,

and opportunities

can be enlarged for

both

present and future generations

”.

HDR

(1994)

“Human development involves equal rights applied to all”.

Anand

and

Sen

(2000)

“Sustainable freedom” implies preserving human’s capabilities today without “comprising those of future

generations

”.

Sen

(2009)

Slide3

The Challenge

Source: HDRO calculations

Slide4

Sustainability: Traditional discussion

Consumption and capital based

Weak Sustainability

- natural capital and physical capital substitutable

- maintain levels of total capital

- Example: Adjusted net savings

Strong Sustainability

- Beyond a certain level, loss of natural capital irreplaceable

- Example: planetary boundaries, applicable to different forms of natural capital

Slide5

Capabilities and Choices

K: Stock of capabilities in a society

- Individual capabilities

- Social competencies

Ch

: Choices afforded by the stock of K

Ch

=

f

E

(K

)

The stock

of capabilities (individual and social)

implies

a certain set of choices available to

individuals.

E- environmental conditions, influence f

Slide6

Capabilities, Choices and Sustainability

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

Ch

1

Ch

0

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.

Slide7

Comprehensive view of sustainability

Capabilities approach implies a ‘strong’ and comprehensive view of

sustainability

- choices of current

and

future generations are included

- social, economic and environmental dimensions are included

- requiring each dimension to be individually sustainable

Examples:

- 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 negatively

Slide9

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.

-

L

ocal thresholds can vary and differ from global

thresholds.

Environmental ‘tipping points’: Risk of crossing thresholds that will trigger abrupt environmental change in continental or planetary-scale systems

- L

ocal and planetary ‘boundaries

Slide10

“What we measure affects what we do” (Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi report 2010)

Measuring changes in critical

capability stocks:

- education

(ΔE), health (ΔH) and command over

resources

(ΔI

) 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

- Every

person has

the

r

ight

to achieve higher

human

development within the limits imposed by the sustainability of our

planet

Larger countries have greater

responsibility

, since

they

have

a

potentially larger impact on global sustainability

Slide12

Incorporating environment thresholds

Partial approach“Discounting” Human Development rankings to reflect environmental sustainability

Source: HDRO calculations

Slide13

Alternative approaches

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

e.g

.

education, health, inequality

, resources availability ,

conflict

Why not

add an environmental dimension

to the HDI?

Environment is not a capability,

but

it can

affect

them

Why not

combine the

HDI with existing measures of sustainability?

e.g. Ecological Footprint, Environmental

Performance

Index, Adjusted

Net

Savings

Valid and useful measures but our aim is to focus explicitly on people and their choices both present and in the future


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