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Rethinking Human Development and/as Human Security for the Anthropocene

An Analysis of the United Nations Development Programme Trilogy of Reports 2020–2022

Des Gasper


Three recent reports from the United Nations Development Programme reconsider human development thinking and revive UN human security thinking: the 2020 Human Development Report (HDR 2020); the 2022 Special Report (SR 2022) on human security; and the 2021/2022 Human Development Report (HDR 2022). The trilogy marks an overdue return to human security thinking. HDR 2020 builds a sense of common human fate, employing the notion of the Anthropocene. SR 2022 adds a diagnostic stress on growing subjective insecurities and a prescriptive stress on solidarity. HDR 2022 explores the escalating felt insecurities, their drivers, and possible responses. It attempts to integrate and extend the other two reports; most of HDR 2020's components and themes recur, but in more mature forms and enriched by perspectives and tools from SR 2022. The present article lays a basis for reconsideration of similarities, differences, and possible complementarities between human development and human security approaches and the social quality approach.