Encounters and discrepancies between Human Development and Sustainable Development. A Theoretical and empirical analysis of Sustainable Human Development

On 16th January, 2020, Andrés Fernando Herrera Herrera defended his doctoral thesis enrolled in our Phd Programme in Development Studies. The thesis, titled “Encounters and discrepancies between Human Development and Sustainable Development. A Theoretical and empirical analysis of Sustainable Human Development”, has been supervised by Koldo Unceta and Jorge Gutiérrez. In the doctoral thesis, a theoretical and empirical analysis of the concept and framework of Sustainable Human Development is conducted, as confluence between Human Development and Sustainable Development. Some approaches to this framework assume that the expansion of people’s capabilities and freedoms, promoted by Human Development, is compatible with the maintaining and enlargement of future generations’ capabilities that derive from the interpretation of Sustainable Development. However, in the light of the debates amongst different approaches on sustainability –very weak, weak, strong and very strong- and their subsequent interpretation of Sustainable Development, the confluence between the two frameworks raises a few problems that would benefit from a deeper analysis.

The methodological strategy used is double. On the one hand, an analytical-descriptive methodology that decomposes Sustainable Human Development and its components is used, in order to detect the most important elements and keys present in the debates around the concept and discourse concerning development, Human Development –with the Capabilities Approach as one of its conceptual bases-, Sustainable Development and the debates on sustainability –especially between Weak Sustainability and Strong Sustainability- and, finally, Sustainable Human Development. On the other hand, a quantitative analysis on Sustainable Human Development has been conducted, starting from the findings resulted from the conceptual analysis. For this second analysis, the following indicators have been used: the Human Development Index (HDI) as an indicator of Human Development, Genuine Savings or Adjusted Net Savings (ANS) as an indicator of Weak Sustainability, and the Domestic Material Consumption and the Material Footprint as indicators of Strong Sustainability and socioeconomic metabolism. All of these measures are available via public and accessible databases.

As a result of the conceptual and empirical analyses, this thesis concludes that the integration of the Human Development and Sustainable Development notions in one concept, Sustainable Human Development, raises both conceptual as well as empirical issues that primarily derive from the diverse possible interpretations of Sustainability and the references and indicators that, consequently, are taken into account for its evaluation.


Distinction Cum Laude

Thesis supervisor

Research lines

Environment and sustainable development
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