June 3, 2020

The Human Development Report Office (HDRO) and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) jointly organised a consultation on Sustainable Human Development Pathways, on 21 May 2020, with 15 members of the South-South Global Thinkers initiative. Their diverse contributions, which built on a series of online discussions, will inform the upcoming Human Development Report (HDR), which will consider the importance of adjusting the human development paradigm to recognise the risks that arise from humanity’s impacts on the planet, including climate change, biodiversity and even the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his opening remarks, Jorge Chediek, Director of UNOSSC, welcomed the opportunity to learn from each other in the spirit of South-South cooperation and stressed the importance of this dicussion in the year that the HDR marks its 30th Anniversary.

During the dicussion, several themes emerged.

Experts highlighted the links between gender and actions to fight climate change. Ameena Al Rasheed from UNOSSC underlined how women play a key role in strategies for survival and sustainability. Meanwhile, Hebatallah Adam from the Jindal School of International Affairs emphasized the important role of Feminist Climate Actions – these range from supporting employment and opportunities for women in the renewable energy sector to ensuring women are included in climate leadership.

The role of international cooperation and collective action in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals was another significant theme. The scope for developing countries to share ideas and experiences was discussed. Due to multiple factors including similar geographic, economic and political environments, Southern countries share similar hurdles ranging from scarce resources and weak institutional organization to a lack of technological capacity. As a result, South-South cooperation is critical to mutual learning in areas such as sustainable energy, low carbon agriculture, biofuels, forest monitoring systems, restoration and reforestation activities, and sustainable transport.

Sarah Wang from Peking University discussed the role of social protection for sustainable development. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, many countries have had to put in place temporary social protection policies. There is much potential to learn from different experiences – such as China’s consumer coupons, South Africa’s child support, and Argentina and Peru’s allowances for the elderly and disabled. Lessons learned can be applied for long-term social protection.

Amada Lucey, a researcher from South Africa, shared her experiences from the role played by civil society in both South-South cooperation and holding governments accountable to ensure they abide by the principles of sustainability.

Extreme events, triggered when the earth’s tipping points are reached, have the potential to reverse human development. It is important – as COVID-19 demonstrates – to accurately assess the risks. Arunabha Ghosh, Council for Energy, Environment and Water spoke about the need to think of the different risks faced by different groups of countries, and to build on the principle from insurance markets, of pooling risks, potentially through a global reserve fund. Dr. Carlos Milani from Rio de Janeiro State University discussed the idea of human vulnerability, channeling the Human Development Report 2014, and the interconnectedness of different risks.

To follow and contribute to the online e-discussion, click here.

To view the webinar consultation, click here