Responses from the scientific community

This regularly updated page provides an overview of responses to the global call by the scientific community.

All contributions listed here are under creative commons, and can be republished with reference to the ISC, UNDP and the Author.

“We are in an era of unprecedented technological advancements. Science providers need to reflect on ethical dilemmas, with an eye to improving gender/age/context specific communication and coordination with communities and Indigenous people.”

Shona van Zijll de Jong
Queens University, Geoethics – IAPG Canada Chapter, CGEN

Photo: Researchgate

“We would need to step away from “human centric” priorities, and begin to acknowledge, for instance, what do the active market economics of trees look like? How and what do they need in order to thrive? How do we need to alter our thinking/systems in order to accommodate those needs?”

Cassandra Blondin Burt
Medicine Talk, USA

Photo: Cassandra Blondin-Burt

“The COVID crisis reminds us of the importance of the state, the collective and solidarity. We need to advance towards a conception of human development that has at its centre the possibility to build a new order, based don justice, the recognition of diversity, the re-articulation of science and public policy, the deepening of democracy, peacebuilding and the recognition of the key role of social movements and inequality.”

Karina Batthyány
Executive Secretary of CLACSO

Photo: The Wilson Center

“[The human development approach] should utilize all unpolarized communication means so that institutions of goodwill participate in the process. The framework is the global achievement of happiness, equality of opportunities, and harmony of mankind. The blind spot is to change the mentality of success meaning accumulation of assets.”

Paulo S R Diniz
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and the Brazilian Academy of Science

“The conceptual understanding of Human-Centered development must shift towards Nature-Centered development while respecting the Rights-of-Nature and Rights-of-Soil so that nature is protected, restored and allowed to flourish. Because human are part of the nature, restoration and enhancement of nature will automatically lead to human wellbeing and prosperity. Human must learn to work in synergism with nature.”

Rattan Lal
International Union of Soil Science/Ohio State University


“Keep our human bond with and within the web of life is the biggest challenge of our time. Therefore, we must leave behind the present human centered development for an overall human development centered within Nature.”

Othon Henry Leonardos
University of Brasilia, Brazil

Photo: Beatriz Ferraz / Secom UnB

“The potential of the human development approach is that, since its primary conceptualizations in the 80s […] it tried to bring philosophical aspects of development into the political debate. […] This philosophical coalescence is not easy to achieve, nonetheless, but has all his rewards in the course changing of misconceptions about human ends and human needs. A risk exists, however, in the ‘technocratization’ of the human development approach and its policy content. An optimum point of view must make communicable to technical and political elites, as well as ordinary people, a message that has profound roots in reason and in the reflection about human nature.”

Felipe Correa
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean)

Photo: University of Virginia

“The human centred development is about more choice. It is, in fact, about providing people with opportunities, not insisting that they make use of them. […] The process of development (HD) should at least create an environment for people, individually and collectively, to develop to their full potential and to have a reasonable chance of leading productive and creative lives that they value.”

Santosh Kumar Mishra
Women’s University, India

“One core challenge is that the expert-policy maker nexus frequently does not understand the context in which the problem exists. The second challenge, to get better policy and implementation, calls for meaningful engagement by the marginalized stakeholders who are the major targets of the SDGs. As the marginalized (gender, race, religion) they end up unequitable benefits. Most important, they are marginalized in the policy development and implementation process.”

Sam Lanfranco
Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa, Canada

“Human development is founded on the understanding that we are part of a larger eco-system that requires balance; a balance that is exhibited in our cultural and geographical differences, our values, and our preferences on how to live.”

Angela R. Pashayan
Howard University / Washington, DC, USA


“The first great effort to undertake will be to enhance the level of literacy in all the world. Parents must be expected to have the physical, economic, and mental abilities to put their children into the world. Procreation cannot more be a private matter, it becomes a public fact.”

Adriana Galvani

Photo: Adriana Galvani

“In the near future, the digital divide is a particularly decisive challenge, not to mention pandemics as COVID19. The disruption fostered by digital technologies is shaping the world to come, like never before in the history of humanity.”

Anaclé Bissielo
University of Omar Bongo Libreville / UNESCO MOST

“Humanity has become a geological force, which interacts with natural processes, not always in a positive life-supporting way. […] Since human beings are a species in development, the concept of human development should definitely be rethought and reworked towards an increase in self-development by means of complex multidisciplinary methods, leading towards a more positive interplay between humans and natural processes.”

Cristina De Campos
Brazilian Academy of Science/ LMU Munich

Photo: LMU

“[Human Development] means a development that focuses on humans in harmony with their environment. A development that prioritizes health and education, over the aspects of the production of goods and services and that the services and goods are organized with equality and reach to all human beings.” (translated from Spanish)

Alba Carosio
CEM UCV / Celarg


“We need to move beyond the assumption that human agency is the only force shaping development, and to embrace the increasingly apparent fact that natural systems such as the climate and other components of the global ecosystem are imbued with a form of capacity, serving as impersonal agents shaping our world. Embracing both social and ecological sources of agency in the world entails a far-reaching shift beyond conventional human-centric assumptions of agency, and towards an approach to human development theory that embraces complexity and systems theory.”

Kishan Khoday
Regional Hub for the Arab States, United Nations Development Programme, Egypt/Jordan

“The human development approach may help the public in the developed world grasp the immense challenges posed by gross inequalities and possibly also help that public to further understand the dependence of all humans on a healthy natural world and, thus, the need to protect land, sea and climate, all without exacerbating disadvantage.”

Kerryn Higgs
University of Tasmania, Tasmania

Photo: The Club of Rome

“The regeneration of natural and built environments, on the one hand, and the social and cultural regeneration, on the other, is a two-way street, both intertwining and depending on each other. Changes must be simultaneous in time and space, in view of reciprocal support (motivations and enabling contexts are complementary aspects). An Ecological civilization includes natural and built environments, health, education, equity, ethics, safety, justice and beauty.”

Andrea Francisco Pilon
University of Sao Paulo / International Academy of Science, Brazil

“[Human-centred Development] implies thinking about both the structural determinants and the subjective dispositions associated with the transformation of people into subjects who build the life they desire. It implies thinking about development from people’s everyday lives. It implies, above all, assuming that it is people acting either individually or collectively; they are the true protagonists of the processes of social change; therefore, they should never be considered as mere passive recipients of social benefits or prejudices. By actively engaging as agents of development, people make all the difference.”

Rodrigo Marquez
University of Valparaiso and FLACSO Chile

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