Rethinking Human Development

Thirty years since the publication of the first Human Development Report, as humanity strives towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals at the same time as dealing with a global pandemic, what does human development mean today?

In 2020 the ISC launched the Rethinking Human Development project in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project aimed to mobilize input from the scientific community towards a critical review and re-articulation of the human development paradigm, in order to provide a conceptual framework to guide analysis, measurement and decision-making on human development to support the achievement of the SDGs.

The reflection behind the project was launched with a think-piece by ISC Patron Ismail Serageldin, and a global call for input from ISC Members and the Council’s broader network. Throughout mid-2020, a series of more than 40 interviews and longer articles published on the ISC website shared insights from well-known thinkers on human development, as well as from early-career researchers and scientists from fields not normally consulted in discussions on human development. This global conversation included perspectives on different conceptions of human development, its relation to value, to the state and to nature.

Explore the conversations on the dedicated website, and download all the articles in one report.


Conversations on Rethinking Human Development

International Science Council. 2020. Conversations on Rethinking
Human Development
, International Science Council, Paris.


On 10 November 2020, World Science Day for Peace and Development, a global relay of virtual events brought together over 260 participants in events held across different time zones. Watch the launch event:

Continuing the global relay of virtual events, ISC Members held and participated in webinars for the Asia-Pacific region, sub-Saharan Africa, Brazil and Malaysia. Member of the Global Young Academy, Binyam Sisay Mendisu, who served as a steering committee member of the project, also organized a webinar to bring young academies around the world into the ongoing conversations.

The next phase of this project will focus on measurement of human development.


Image: Bill Oxford on Unsplash.

Next up: Hazards Definition and Classification Review 

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