Dr. Jeni Klugman, the Director and Lead-Author of the UNDP Human Development Report Office, delivered the Pardee Distinguished Lecture at lunchtime today to an audience of over 100, including BU faculty, students and guests from around the Boston Area. The lecture was organized jointly by the Boston University Global Development program and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future.
Titled “Human Development: A Retrospective and Prospective,” Dr. Klugman provided a background of the Human Development Reports, which will mark their 20th anniversary this year, before giving a retrospective and future prospects for the Human Development initiative, including the Human Development Index (HDI). She began by explaining that the Human Development Report, which was first commissioned by the United Nations Development Program in 1990, represented an alternative approach on how successes in development can be interpreted and measured. She also pointed out that the report stands out because it offer an independent assessment of development performance and has covered a diverse and ambitious range of themes since its inception. Dr. Klugman also emphasized that the reports are more than documents for bureaucracy but meant to enable and foster debates and advocacy.
Dr Klugman continued her lecture with a retrospective on the Human Development Reports. She assessed world progress using a Human Development Index (HDI) lens and demonstrated that there have been marked improvements in measured human development since the 1970s. However, she also emphasized that there is a need for a deeper assessment of human development drivers, policies and institutions despite the HDI success stories. Dr. Klugman challenged the audience to think about a broader story beyond the HDI given the complexity of the concept of human development. She also stressed the importance of sustainability in the context of human development given the need to provide future generations with the capacity to generate capabilities.
Dr. Klugman concluded her presentation by discussing prospects for the future. She explained that the Human Development Report Office at the UNDP places great importance on ensuring the robustness of the conceptual underpinning of the reports and the deepening of policy agenda. In particular, 2010 provides a special opportunity to revisit the conceptual construction of the human development ideas since the next report will be the 20th anniversary report.
Following her presentation, Dr Klugman engaged the audience in a lively discussion. Some of the issues discussed included the long term implications of the human development reports and index, how sensitive are the measures over time and the role of governments in using HDIs in developing policy.
Download Dr. Jeni Klugman’s presentation from the Pardee Distinguished Lecture here.