In the context of this year’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), Imme Scholz, Deputy Director at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) took part in the panel „Protecting and advancing human wellbeing and ending poverty“. This year’s HLPF took place in New York from 7 to 16 July 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the events were held online. In her contribution to the virtual panel, Imme Scholz explained the connection between human development as defined by the Human Development Index and the consumption of natural resources associated with this value. As a rule, high levels of human development go along with large ecological footprints. A deeper analysis of changes between 2000 and 2015 in 53 developing countries elaborated by Francesco Burchi and Daniele Malerba (both DIE) showed that 70% of countries improved their levels of employment, health and education, but at the same time increased their CO2 emissions. Still, there were 11 countries that managed to keep this increase below 2 t CO2 per person. The best performers were Uruguay and Costa Rica: small countries with solid democracies, low levels of economic and social inequality, whose health and education systems perform better (often much better) than Latin America as a region and better than upper middle-income countries. Both have high public investment in quality education in schools and universities, and they have universal health coverage systems since decades. And they have invested massively in renewable energy technologies in recent years.
In the context of the Covid-19 crisis this means that in the 21st century, human well-being will be much more related to resilient public infrastructures than to ever rising household incomes.