Environment and human development

Environment and human development

Environment and human development- Today Current Affairs

GS-3 Environmental Degradation & Sustainable Development


The 2020 human development report of the  UNDP titled “the next frontier of human development and the anthropocene proposed xa planetary pressure- adjusted human development index to flag the interdependent issues that require the attention of policymakers. It further emphasised that the environment should be considered as an essential component to be factored in to measure human development.


Environmental change due to human activities.


  • The planetary boundary was introduced by a group of scientists across the world led by J.rockstrom of the Stockholm resilience centre in 2009.
  • The concept highlighted 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.
  • Global and local evidence indicates that biodiversity loss, climate change, land-use change, disruption of biogeochemical cycles and scarcity of freshwater availability are a threat and increase the vulnerability of society.
  • The objective of the planetary pressure adjusted HDI/PHDI is to communicate to the larger society the risk involved in continuing with existing practice in environmental management, and enter a retarding effect that environmental stress can perpetuate on development.


 Impact of PHDI on country rankings: The Hindu Analysis


  • After PHDI  was imputed, the world average of SBI in 2019 came down from 0.737 to 0.683.
  • Average per capita global CO2 emission is 4.6tonnes and the per capita material footprint is 12.3tonnes.
  • Switzerland is the only country whose global ranking did not change with adjustment of planetary pressure although its HD value decreased from 0.955 to 0.825.
  • Among 66 very high human development countries 30 countries recorded a fall in rent value which indicates their responsibility in combating the situation.
  • The PHDI of India is 0.626 against an HDI of 0.645 with an average per capita CO2 emission of 2.0tonnes and material footprints of 4.6 tonnes, which is well below the global average.
  • India gained in World ranking from 131st rank under HDI to 123rd rank under PHDI .




  • India has 27.9 percent of people under the multidimensional poverty index ranging from 1.10 in Kerala to 52.50% in Bihar.
  • The twin challenges of poverty alleviation and environmental safeguarding that former PM Indira Gandhi first articulated in her lecture during the Stockholm conference on human development in 1992 still remain unattended.
  • The sustainable development goals have acquired a high priority in the content of the issue of Climate change and its impact on society.
  • The assessment report of the IPCC 2021 emphasises on limiting global temperature rise at the 1.5 degree Celsius level and strengthening the global response to the threat of Climate change,sustainable development and effort to eradicate poverty.
  • Cop 26 at Glasgow in 2021 further reaffirms these objectives.
  • After chipko movement 1973 and silent valley movement 1970’s there had been no subsequent awareness initiatives.


Way forward

  • It is now well established that there are inter-dependencies of earth system processes including social processes and hence there is a need to have nature’s best solution where people are at the core.
  • People and the planet should essentially be considered a part of an interconnected social ecological system.
  • For this integrated perspective at the local level India already has constitutional provision in the form of 73rd and 74th amendments.
  • The advances in earth system science through remote sensors and geographic information systems will provide ways to mitigate the impact of human activities and improve life.
  • Adoption of a decentralised approach, a plan for proper institutional arrangement and steps to enable political decision will further supplement the planning process.

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