Busan, Korea - 27-30 October 2009
THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX AS AN EFFORT TO
MEASURE WELL-BEING IN HONDURAS
UNDP HONDURAS. CHIEF ECONOMIST
As a society we are always interested in knowing where we are and where we are headed. No one could deny that information and measurement are essential tools to this purpose and without them it becomes difficult to perform an assessment how much progress the society has made. The discussion rather centres on what to measure and how to measure it, also, how much advancement it will be considered a real progress.
Generally we talk about measuring development, so we choose a series of indicators in different social fields, mainly economics, to describe how a particular society has progressed over the time. There are other phrases that have become important in the public debate trying to explain what development really means to a society. Among these we have: “Well-being”, “Societal Progress”, Quality of Life”, “Human Development”, etc.
Each particular society has its own consideration about the real meaning of development. This is one of the reasons why a need has emerged to develop a more comprehensive view of development and progress, considering social, environmental and economic concerns, rather than just rely on economic indicators2.
The Istanbul Declaration3 represents the existing consensus amid all those who share a common interest in promoting this debate, who participated in the Second World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy. Among these are presidents, ministers, senior statisticians, civil society leaders and leading
Acknowledgments to José Vélez, Statistician of the Prospective and Strategic Unit of UNDP, for his valuable contributions. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, “Measuring the progress of societies: What is the relevance for Asia and the Pacific?”, Note by the Secretariat, E/ESCAP/CST/8*, 2008, p. 3 3
OECD. “Istanbul Declaration”, From http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/23/54/39558011.pdf 2
academics, among other. It was signed in June 2007 by the European Commission, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the United Nations, the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank. In the Declaration, all its signatories affirm their commitment to measuring and fostering the progress of societies in all their dimensions and to supporting initiatives at the country level. In order to take further actions they call to:
Encourage communities to consider for themselves what “progress” means in the 21st century;
Share best practices on the measurement of societal progress and increase the awareness of the need to do so using sound and reliable methodologies;
Stimulate international debate, based on solid statistical data and indicators, on both global issues of societal progress and comparisons of such progress;
Produce a broader, shared, public understanding of changing conditions, while highlighting areas of significant change or inadequate knowledge;
Advocate appropriate investment in building statistical capacity, especially in developing countries, to improve the availability of data and indicators needed to guide development programs and report on progress toward international goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals.
One of the key issues involved within all these stated actions is the need of citizen participation and active involvement in building a renew framework for evaluating the quality of life in the society they live in. As Giovannini pointed out, “people today expect to be in control of their own evaluations and life choices … Progress must increasingly be measured against criteria more closely aligned with public...