The 2011 Human Development Report argues that the urgent global challenges of sustainability and equity must be addressed together – and identifies policies on the national and global level that could spur mutually reinforcing progress towards these interlinked goals. Past Reports have shown that living standards in most countries have been rising - and converging - for several decades now. Yet the 2011 Report projects a disturbing reversal of those trends if environmental deterioration and social inequalities continue to intensify, with the least developed countries diverging downwards from global patterns of progress by 2050.
The Report shows further how the world's most disadvantaged people suffer the most from environmental degradation, including in their immediate personal environment, and disproportionately lack political power, making it all the harder for the world community to reach agreement on needed global policy changes. The Report also outlines great potential for positive synergies in the quest for greater equality and sustainability, especially at the national level. The Report further emphasizes the human right to a healthy environment, the importance of integrating social equity into environmental policies, and the critical importance of public participation and official accountability. The 2011 Report concludes with a call for bold new approaches to global development financing and environmental controls, arguing that these measures are both essential and feasible.