• José PINEDA Human Development Report Office United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United States


This paper proposes sustainability - adjusted human development index (SHDI) in which countries’ achievements in human development are penalized if there is over-exploitation of the environment. The human development approach has been a powerful framework in the past for advancing the measurement of human progress, particularly the human development index (HDI), which is a capabilities index aiming to capture to what extent people have the freedom to live substantively different lives. Today, this approach can help us make more explicit the profound connections between current and future generations’ choices by offering a framework for understanding sustainability that connects inter- and intra-generational equity with global justice. The empirical analysis shows that there are important global sustainability challenges ahead since there are 90 (out of 185) countries with per capita CO2 emissions above the planetary boundaries. There are 19 countries that lose at least one position in their HDI ranking after adjusting for sustainability. Between these countries, however, the countries that experienced the largest drop in ranking were 102 positions for the United States, 39 positions for China, and 22 positions for the Russian Federation.


[1] Anand, S., and Sen, A. 2000. Human Development and Economic Sustainability, World Development, Elsevier 28(12): 2029-2049.
[2] Baqué, M.T. 2010. Integrating Sustainability into the Human Development Framework, Manuscript UNDP-HDRO, New York.
[3] Constantini, V. and Monni, S. 2005. Sustainable Human Development for European Countries, Journal of Human Development 6(3): 329-351.
[4] Dahme, K., F. Hinterberger, H. Schutz, and E. K. Seifert. 1998. Sustainable Human Development Index: A Suggestion for Greening the UN’s Indicator, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy Working Paper.
[5] Dasgupta, P. 2007. The Idea of Sustainable Development, Sustainable Science, 2: 5-11.
[6] Dasgupta, P. 2009. The Welfare Economic Theory of Green National Accounts, Environment Resource Economics 42: 3-38.
[7] De la Vega, M. C. et al. 2001. HDPI: a Framework for Pollution-Sensitive Human Development Indicators, Environment, Development and Sustainability 3: 199-215.
[8] Dewan, H. 2009. Redefining Sustainable Development to Integrate Sustainability and Human Development Goals, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability 5(4): 147-162.
[9] Dubow, E.F., Boxer, P., and Huesmann, L.R. 2009. Long-term effects of parents’ education on children’s educational and occupational success: Mediation by family interactions, child aggression, and teenage aspirations. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 55(3): 224-249.
[10] El Serafi, S. 1981. Absorptive Capacity, the Demand for Revenue, and the Supply of Petroleum, Journal of Energy and Development 7(1): 73-88.
[11] Ferreira, S., Hamilton, K. and Vincent, J.R. 2008. Comprehensive Wealth and Future Consumption: Accounting for Population Growth. World Bank Econ Rev (2008) 22(2): 233-248 first published online May 25, 2008.
[12] Frankhause, S. 1994. The Social Costs of Greenhouse Gas Emissions: An Expected Value Approach, Energy Journal 15(2): 157-184.
[13] Frankhauser, S. 1995. Valuing Climate Change: The Economics of Greenhouse, London: Earthscan.
[14] Garcia, C., and Pineda, J. 2011. Measuring the Sustainability of Countries: An Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis of the Adjusted Net Savings Measure. Human Development Research Paper 12. UNDP–HDRO, New York.
[15] Gratz, J. 2006. The Impact of Parents' Background on their Children's Education. Educational Studies 268: Saving Our Nation, Saving Our Schools: Public Education for Public Good", 1-12.
[16] Hamilton, K. and Ruta, G. 2009. Wealth Accounting, Exhaustible Resources and Social Welfare, Environmental and Resource Economics 42:53-64.
[17] Hamilton, K. and Clemens, M. 1999. Genuine Savings Rates in Developing Countries. World Bank Econ Rev 13(2): 333-356.
[18] Herrero, C., and Villar, A. 2001. The three musketeers: four classical solutions to bankruptcy problems, Mathematical Social Sciences.
[19] Herrero, C. 2012. “On E. Zambrano Further thoughts about the proposed SHDI. Manuscript. Universidad de Alicante, Ivie & IAE.
[20] Hughes, B.I. et al. 2012. Exploring Future Impacts of Environmental Constraints on Human Development”. Sustainability 2012 4(5): 958-994.
[21] Jha, S. 2009. “Environmental Sustainability Measurement: A Critical Review. UNDP-HDRO. New York.
[22] Jha, S., and Pereira, I. 2011. Existing Measures of Sustainability: A Review. Background Paper for the 2011 Human Development Report. UNDP–HDRO, New York.
[23] Klugman, J., Rodríguez, F., and Hyung - Jin Choi. 2011. The HDI 2010: New Controversies, Old Critiques. Human Development Research Paper 2011/01. UNDP–HDRO, New York.
[24] Meinshausen, M. et al. 2009. Greenhouse-Gas Emission Targets for Limiting Global Warming to 2°C. Nature 458(30): 1158–63.
[25] Morse, S. 2003. Greening the United Nation’s Human Development Index, Sustainable Development, 11: 183-198.
[26] Neumayer, E. 2011. Sustainability and Inequality in Human Development. Human Development Research Paper 2011/04. UNDP–HDRO, New York.
[27] Neumayer, E. 2004. Sustainability and Well-Being Indicators, United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research, Research Paper 23/2004.
[28] Neumayer, E. 2010. Weak versus Strong Sustainability. Exploring the limits of two opposing paradigms, Cheltenham and Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, Third Edition.
[29] Peters, G., Minx, J.C., Weber, C.L., and Edenhofer, O. 2011. Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008, Proceedings of the [US] National Academy of Sciences, 2011.
[30] Ramathan, B. 1999. Environment Sensitive Human Development Index: Issues and Alternatives, Indian Social Sciences Review, 1: 193-201.
[31] Raworth, K. 2102. A Safe and Just Space for Humanity. Can We Live within the Doughnut?, Oxfam Discussion Papers.
[32] Rockstrom, J. et al. 2009. Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society.
[33] Roemer, J.E. 2009. The Ethics of Distribution in a Warming Planet, Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper 1693, Yale University.
[34] Rose, A. and Kverndokk, S. 2008. Equity and justice in global warming, Review of Environmental and Resource Economics.
[35] Sen, A. 1989. Development as capability expansion in Readings in Human Development (2003) edited by Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and A.K. Shiva Kumar pp. 3-16. Oxford University Press. New Delhi, India.
[36] Sen, A. 2009. The Idea of Justice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[37] Slay, B. 2011. Carbon consumption, transition and developing economies: Sinners, or sinned against?, manuscript. UNDP.
[38] Stern, N. 2007. The Economics of Climate Change – The Stern Review, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[39] Stiglitz, S., and Fitoussi, J.P. 2009. Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress.
[40] Tol, R. 2008. The Social Cost of Carbon: Trends, Outliers and Catastrophes. Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal 2: 2008-25.
[41] Van den Bergh, J. and Verbruggen, H. 1999. “Spatial Sustainability, Trade and Indicators: an Evaluation of the Ecological Footprint”, Ecological Economics 29(1): 61-72.
[42] Zambrano, E. 2012. “Further thoughts about the proposed SHDI”. Manuscript, Orfalea College of Business, Cal Poly.
*** United Nations Development Program 1990. “Human Development Report 1990”. UNDP-HDRO, New York.
*** United Nations Development Program 1994. “Human Development Report 1994”. UNDP-HDRO, New York.
*** United Nations Development Program 2008. “Human Development Report 2007/08”. UNDP-HDRO, New York.
*** United Nations Development Program 2011. “Human Development Report 2011”. UNDP-HDRO, New York.
*** United Nations Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability 2012. “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A future worth choosing”. New York: United Nations.
How to Cite
PINEDA, José. SUSTAINABILITY AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: A PROPOSAL FOR A SUSTAINABILITY ADJUSTED HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX. Theoretical and Practical Research in Economic Fields, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 2, p. 71-98, dec. 2012. ISSN 2068-7710. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25 june 2024.