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Human Development Report 2011: Sustainability and Equity – A Better Future for All


The 2011 Human Development Report (HDR) themed on ‘Sustainability and Equity’, argues that sustainability and equity (e.g. social justice) must—and can—be addressed simultaneously in order to achieve a fair, inclusive and sustainable future.

Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue. It is about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billion of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come.

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Spread over five chapters, the 2011 report integrates previous learning from older HDRs and includes the new statistical measures added to the human development indices: the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, the Gender Inequality Index and the Multidimensional Poverty Index. At 185 pages in length, the report examines social factors not always associated with environmental sustainability.

The report highlights that despite the human development progress of recent years, income distribution has worsened, grave gender imbalances still persist, and accelerating environmental destruction puts a “double burden of deprivation” on the poorest households and communities. The report notes that half of all malnutrition worldwide is attributable to environmental factors, such as water pollution and drought-driven scarcity, perpetuating a vicious cycle of impoverishment and ecological damage.

Typical of the HDRs, the 2011 report contains many data sheets of statistical information on development. The 2011 report is no exception. Scenarios projecting impacts of environmental risks to human development are explored (through to 2050). Country trends, indicators and statistics are provided on the following:

  1. Human Development Index and its components
  2. Human Development Index trends, 1980–2011
  3. Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index
  4. Gender Inequality Index and related indicators
  5. Multidimensional Poverty Index
  6. Environmental sustainability
  7. Human development effects of environmental threats
  8. Perceptions about well-being and the environment
  9. Education and health
  10. Population and economy

The annual Human Development Reports have been published since 1990 and document, measure and analyse the progress in human development over recent decades. Earlier HDRs are available free of charge at, including full texts and summaries in major UN languages, summaries of consultations and network discussions, the Human Development Research Paper Series and HDR news bulletins and other public information materials. Also available are statistical indicators, other data tools, interactive maps, country fact sheets and additional information associated with the HDRs.

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Statistical tables, individual chapters, press releases and illustrations can be downloaded for free at

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Download Human Development Report 2011 PDF or access individual chapters and statistical notes separately at