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Forecasting the Impacts of Environmental Constraints on Human Development

Barry B. Hughes (), Mohammod T. Irfan (), Jonathan D. Moyer (), Dale S. Rothman () and José R. Solórzano ()
Additional contact information
Barry B. Hughes: University of Denver
Mohammod T. Irfan: Pardee Center for International Futures
Jonathan D. Moyer: Pardee Center for International Futures and University of Denver
Dale S. Rothman: Pardee Center for International Futures and University of Denver
José R. Solórzano: Pardee Center for International Futures

No HDRP-2011-08, Human Development Research Papers (2009 to present) from Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Abstract: Environmental constraints have always had and will always have important consequences for human development. It has sometimes contributed to or even caused the reversal of such development. The possibility that such constraints will grow significantly throughout this century raises the concern that the very significant advances in human development across most of the world in recent decades will slow or even reverse. We use the International Futures (IFs) integrated forecasting system to explore three alternative scenarios: a Base Case scenario, an Environmental Challenge scenario, and an Environmental Disaster scenario. Our purpose is to consider the impact of different aspects and levels of environmental constraint on the course of future human development. Using the Human Development Index (HDI) and its separate components as our key measures of development, we find that environmental constraints, directly and through a variety of indirect paths, could indeed greatly slow progress and even, in disastrous conditions, begin to reverse it. Least developed countries are most vulnerable in relative terms, while middle-income countries can suffer the greatest absolute impact of constraints and more developed countries are most resilient. Education advance is the aspect of development tapped by the HDI that is most likely to continue even in the face of tightening environmental constraints.

Keywords: Human development; international futures; environmental constraints; scenarios; forecasting (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C6 C8 E00 E1 F5 I00 I3 O1 Q00 Q5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 52 pages
Date: 2011-11
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Published as background research for the 2011 Human Development Report.

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