Planetary Pressure Adjusted HDI

  • IASbaba
  • January 12, 2022
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  • GS-3: Economy, development & its challenges
  • GS-2: Governance & its challenges

Planetary Pressure Adjusted HDI

Context: The 2020 Human Development Report of UNDP, titled “The Next Frontier – Human Development and the Anthropocene” proposed a planetary pressure-adjusted Human Development Index (HDI)

  • Ever since the UNDP took up computation of the HDI driven by the vision of Mahbub ul Haq and articulated by Amartya Sen in 1990, there have been adjustments such as inequality-adjusted HDI. 
  • Besides, there was computation of several other indices such as Gender Development Index, Gender Inequality Index, and Multidimensional Poverty Index to flag the issues that warranted the attention of policymakers. 

What is the purpose of Planetary Pressure Adjusted HDI (PHDI)?

  • The environment is one such issue now considered to be an essential component to be factored in to measure human development. 
  • The concept of the planetary boundary was introduced by a group of scientists across the world, led by J. Rockström of the Stockholm Resilience Centre in 2009. 
  • It is how established that human-induced environmental change can irrevocably destabilise the long-term dynamics of the earth system, thereby disrupting the life-supporting system of the planet. 
  • Both global and local evidence indicate that biodiversity loss, climate change, land system/land-use change, disruption of biogeochemical cycles, and scarcity of freshwater availability are a threat and increase the vulnerability of society. 
  • The purpose of the planetary pressure adjusted HDI, or PHDI, is to communicate to the larger society the risk involved in continuing with existing practices in our resource use and environmental management, and the retarding effect that environmental stress can perpetuate on development. 

What will be the impact on country rankings due to PHDI?

  • When planetary pressure is adjusted, the world average of HDI in 2019 came down from 0.737 to 0.683. This adjustment has been worked out by factoring per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emission (production), and per capita material footprint. 
  • The average per capita global CO2 emission (production) is 4.6 tonnes and the per capita material footprint is 12.3 tonnes. 
  • The global ranking of several countries was altered, in a positive and negative sense, with adjustment of planetary pressure. 
    • Switzerland is the only country in the group of high human development countries whose world rank has not changed with adjustment of planetary pressure, although the HDI value of 0.955 has come down to 0.825 after the necessary adjustment. 
  • Among 66 very high human development countries, 30 countries recorded a fall in rank values. It succinctly brings out the nature of planetary pressure generated by the developed countries and indirectly indicates their responsibility in combating the situation. 
  • In the case of India, the PHDI is 0.626 against an HDI of 0.645 with an average per capita CO2 emission (production) and material footprints of 2.0 tonnes and 4.6 tonnes, respectively. 
  • India gained in global rankings by eight points (131st rank under HDI and 123rd rank under PHDI), and its per capita carbon emission (production) and material footprint are well below the global average. 

What are the challenges in India?

  • India’s natural resource use is far from efficient, environmental problems are growing, and the onslaught on nature goes on unabated. 
  • At the same time, India has 27.9% people under the Multidimensional Poverty Index ranging from 1.10% in Kerala to 52.50% in Bihar, and a sizable section of them directly depend on natural resources for their sustenance. 
  • The twin challenges of poverty alleviation and environmental safeguarding that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi first articulated in her lecture during the Stockholm conference on the human environment in 1972 still remain unattended. In fact, the situation is much more complex now.
  • Any standalone environmental safeguarding actions are not sufficient to navigate the Anthropogenic caused planetary pressures.
  • It is now well established that there are interdependencies of earth system processes including social processes, and their relationships are non-linear and dialectic. 
  • Therefore, the central challenge is to nest human development including social and economic systems into the ecosystem, and biosphere building on a systematic approach to nature-based solutions that put people at the core. 

What should be the way forward?

  • It is now essential to consider people and the planet as being a part of an interconnected social-ecological system. 
  • Social and environmental problems cannot be addressed in isolation anymore; an integrated perspective is necessary
  • This can be conceived and addressed at the local level, for which India has constitutional provisions in the form of the 73rd and 74th Amendments. 
  • What is required is a reorientation of the planning process, adoption of a decentralised approach, a plan for proper institutional arrangements, and steps to enable political decisions.

Connecting the dots:

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