An analysis of the human development report 2011: Sustainability and equity: A better future for all

Authors Des Gasper, Ana Victoria Portocarrero, Asunción Lera St. Clair

ISSN: 1996-2126
Affiliations: Institute of Social Studies (The Hague), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands; Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), Nicaragua; Center for International Climate and Environmental Research-Oslo and Christian Michelsens Insitute (CMI)
Source: South African Journal on Human Rights, Volume 29 Issue 1, 2013, p. 91 – 124


The Human Development Report 2007/2008 about climate change and development made bold arguments concerning human rights and justice for the poor and for disadvantaged populations. However, its policy proposals were not as bold, looking very similar to those of the World Bank’s World Development Report 2010. In this article we investigate in which direction the thinking on environment and sustainability by UNDP’s Human Development Report Office has evolved since the HDR 2007/2008. A detailed frame- and lexical analysis of the HDR 2011 on Sustainability and Equity shows a markedly technocratic direction, largely apolitical and insensitive to human rights issues and justice, giving a diluted successor to the HDR 2007/2008 and now close in perspective to the World Bank. This direction, as well as the little attention to the socio-economic and political barriers to sustainability and to climate change impacts we find in the HDR 2011, has consequences for the poorest sectors of South Africa’s society.