University of Cambridge > > VHI Seminars > I JUST LISTENED TO HALF A MILLION PEOPLE: Reflections on how to write a Human Development Report

I JUST LISTENED TO HALF A MILLION PEOPLE: Reflections on how to write a Human Development Report

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Human Development is more than a way of measuring the progress of societies. It is a way of looking at life, respecting people’s voices and diversity of opinion. Respect for this vision inspired the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Brazil to organise a nationwide consultation to enable open public participation in the definition of the theme of its next Human Development Report.

Professor Amartya Sen’s arguments for public reasoning in the shaping of development policies are being operationalised in this work through communication strategies and participation exercises. A coalition of 25 partners involving TV Globo, Italia Telecom, large businesses and government collaborated in a campaign to encourage citizens from all walks of life and all the regions in Brazil to take part in the UNDP consultation. The result: more than half a million people participated. When answering the question ‘what has to change in Brazil for your life to improve truly?’, one main concern emerged: human values. People replied that in order to have a better life, people need to be respectful, more responsible, more accountable, more tolerant, etc, with particular focus on the issues of education and violence. How do values shape our lives? How can they be used to produce indicators and social policies that are more meaningful?

The seminar will be an opportunity to talk about the work of the United Nations in developing countries, about the importance of innovative experiences, the role of communication and open participation in fostering human development and issues about values and quality of life.


Dr Flavio Comim is working as a Senior Economist for the United Nations Development Programme in Brazil, where he coordinates the country’s next Human Development Report. He is a Research Associate of the Von Hugel Institute, a Visiting Fellow of St Edmund’s College and he lectures in the Department of Land Economy, Cambridge. He has been a consultant for various international organizations such as UNEP , ILO and WHO .

This talk is part of the VHI Seminars series.

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