Rethinking Human Development

In this additional project to the ISC’s original Action Plan 2019-2021, we have partnered with the UNDP to rethink Human Development for the 21st century.

Rethinking Human Development

It has been 30 years since the first Human Development Report was published in 1990, and since that time, our world has changed considerably. Current and impending crises in ecological, health, political, and economic systems have become evident.

Fundamental shifts are taking place in how we understand ourselves and our connections to local and global societies and our planet in the light of new technologies, socio-political realities and deep environmental changes. This calls for a rethinking of human development and what it means in today’s world.

This project started under our previous Action Plan 2019-2021.

Anticipated impact

A critical review and rearticulation of the human development paradigm to reflect the evolving landscape and expectations that provides a conceptual framework to guide analysis, measurement, and decision-making to support the achievement of the SDGs.

Key milestones

March – June 2020: A global consultation collecting insights from experts from diverse disciplinary and geographical backgrounds; an open global call for input from the broader community

July 2020: Extended Steering Group workshop reflecting on the inputs shared through these processes. The outcome of this workshop was an essay documenting the Global Relay of dialogues.

November 2020: A global relay of webinars – including the ISC-UNDP High-Level Dialogue – starting on the World Science Day, 10 November, and continuing well into 2021.

November 2020: “Conversations on Rethinking Human Development”

November 2021: The multimedia report “Conversations on Rethinking Human Development” wins a prestigious Lovie award for ‘website craft and best writing’.

Next steps

🟡 A continued dialogue: eliciting other emergent narratives, gathering other voices. Reaching out to broader audiences needs to be complemented with innovative and inclusive methodologies and approaches. 

🟡 The project has now moved into a second phase where we will explore how to rethink the measurement of human development.


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