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Ismail Serageldin: Reflections on constructing a human-centred development paradigm

A statement for discussion, by Ismail Serageldin, Emeritus Librarian of Alexandria, Founding Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and ISC Patron.

In this think piece, Ismail Serageldin lays out some of the key questions and parameters for the discussion on rethinking the human-centered development paradigm.

Throughout his paper, Serageldin explores the attributes of a society that approaches the human condition in its individual, collective and relational dimensions: that is – nurturing human health and well-being, supporting social inclusion and cohesion, while at the same time, respecting environmental sustainability.

The high regard that we hold for individual autonomy such as freedom of thought and freedom of expression, the right of access and the right of participation are practiced by an individual but are meaningless if not exercised in a society in interaction with other human beings.”

In doing so, Serageldin convokes the sustainable development concept and its aptitude to mobilize around a certain notion of continuity: continuity for societies, between generations, and for the environment. However, highlighting the limits of such framing, Serageldin brings forward a definition of sustainability as “opportunity”:  

“Sustainability is to leave future generations as many opportunities as, if not more than, we have had ourselves.” 

Serageldin invites us to consider and rethink the concept of capital, as a means to provide future generations with as many if not more opportunities. He reintroduces four types of capital: Man-made, Natural, Human, and Social. In line with the proposed definition of sustainability, Serageldin attempts to reflect on the articulation between these different types of capital with particular attention to social capital.

Reflections on the Think Piece

Reflections on Human Potential and Resilience

A response by Peter Gluckman

Back to Rearticulating Human Development Home.

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