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Investigating the link between human development and the state of the planet – a comparison of the GAPFRAME and the United Nations Human Development Index
The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) has been assessing human development for the past 37 years. It emphasises that the people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for mapping a countries development, not just economic growth. The HDI is a summary measure of average achievements in key dimensions of human development such as standard of living, life expectancy, health and access to knowledge.

The GAPFRAME (GF) introduces a target ‘safe space’ where we can all live well within the limits of the planet and maps the current state of the world against this target. Similar to the HDI, the GAPFRAME provides a view of the world, which is based on more than economic results. The GAPFRAME’s measures each country on 24 issues, spanning the dimensions of Planet, Society, Economy and Governance. A country’s GF Score is based on results of its worst performing dimension, highlighting the priority area and related issues.

Comparing both indexes allows us to discover if there is a connection between Human Development and the multi-faceted journey to a safe space for all.

Comparison of the HDI and GAPFRAME Data  (Fig 1)

The HDI categorizes by very high, high, medium and low human development. The GAPFRAME classifies countries in to TOWARDS IDEAL, SAFE SPACE, WATCHLIST, CRITICAL and THREAT.

For countries placed in the high human development category, 47% have a GAPFRAME score in THREAT and 53% in CRITICAL. Even among nations scoring very high human development, only 9% have reached WATCHLIST, with 72% in CRITICAL and 19% remaining in THREAT. It is clear that high human development alone will not be enough to get the world to a safe space.
The majority of countries with very high HDI are in the GF CRITICAL or THREAT state today!

When we look closer at the HDI levels from a GAPFRAME perspective, there are some interesting revelations. As human development increases, the world makes progress towards safe space.

 

% of GAPFRAME Categories per HDI Level (Fig 2).

 

Looking at the GF scores for each human development level, we notice a shift from GF THREAT to GF CRITICAL as we move from low to very high human development (Figure 2). While almost 100% of low HD countries are in GF THREAT, medium and high HD nations demonstrate 50-50 split between CRITICAL and THREAT. Countries in the final human development category, very high, have managed a further shift, with 9% of countries in WATCHLIST, 72% in CRITICAL and a worrying 19% still in THREAT.

We want to explore why human development is only part of the answer to getting all of us to a safe space. For this, we evaluate which of the GF dimensions are dominant across the four HDI levels.

 

% of GF Priority Dimensions per HDI Level (Fig 3).

Comparing the priority dimensions facing countries as they mature in human development (Fig 3) is revealing. Among low human development countries, 89% have societal issues as their key priority. As we move to medium HDI, we see that societal problems are less of a priority (42%) while governance (32%), economy (10%) and planet (16%) shift. In high HDI, we see a further reduction of priority dimensions in society (14%) and governance (22%), while priorities in planet (33%) and economy (31%) increase. By the time, we reach very high human development there is a dramatic change in priority issues. 79% have their priority dimension in Planet.  As countries grow in human development, they demonstrate an ability to tackle priority issues. As people and countries develop, they do so at the expense of the planet (environment) and suddenly the development becomes a cause for the deteriorating state of the environment (GF Planet dimension).

 

Looking at the average score for each GF dimension as per HDI level, we are hoping to find further answers.

Average score of GF Dimensions per HDI (Fig 4).
               

 

The results are clear: the GF Planet dimension is the only dimension to decrease in value across the human development categories; low HDI – average GF score 6.3 to high HDI – average GF score 5.6. We do see a slight improvement to 5.9 among the very high HDI countries. Society displays a massive improvement across the HDI categories, going from low HDI – average GF score 3.9 to very high HDI – average GF score 7.0. This is an impressive shift from GF THREAT to GF WATCHLIST. The average score of the Economy and Governance dimensions remain stable from low HDI to high HDI, finally shifting to WATCHLIST in the very high human development category.
Governance: low HDI – average GF score: 5.4, medium HDI – average GF score 5.4, high HDI – average GF score 5.6, very high HDI 6.8. Economy: low HDI – average GF score 5.7, medium HDI – average GF score 6.1, high HDI -6.0, very high HDI – average GF score 6.8.

In short, these results confirm our previous conclusions: as people and society evolves, the environment deteriorates

When we compare the evolution of the % of priority dimensions (Fig 5), and the average score of GF dimension (Fig 6), across the HDI categories there is an interesting finding. Both graphs display a similar point where we have reasonably balanced results. This point, on the cusp of medium and high human development demonstrates that, on average, countries are solving their priority issues and achieving almost balanced results in dimension scores. As we know from our comparison of the GAPFRAME with the SDG’s, countries with the ability to balance priorities are stronger GAPFRAME performers.  By focusing equally on solving issues in each dimension, nations at medium and high human development are already in an excellent position to improve their GAPFRAME score, if they can continue on a balanced progression and carefully monitor their negative impact on the environment.

% of GF Priority Dimensions per HDI (Fig 5).            Average score of GF Dimensions per HDI (Fig 6).
          

Nations on the cusp of medium to high human development may be better positioned to progress towards a safe space than very highly developed countries.

In conclusion, when comparing the GAPFRAME with the Human Development Index we see that:

  • Human development alone will not be enough to get the world to a safe space. The majority of countries placed in very high HDI are in the GF CRITICAL or THREAT state today – very far from the safe space
  • As human development increases, the world makes slow progress towards safe space and demonstrates the ability to tackle its priority issue
  • As people and countries develop, they do so at the expense of the planet (environment) and suddenly the development becomes a cause for a deteriorating state of the environment (GF Planet dimension)
  • Nations on the cusp of medium to high human development are better positioned to progress towards a safe space than very highly developed countries

Feel free to share your thoughts on this article at the GAPFRAME community. 

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Biodiversity


Sustainable Development Goal 14

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
 .

Sustainable Development Goal 15

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
 .

Carbon Quotient


Sustainable Development Goal 13

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
 .

Oceans


Sustainable Development Goal 14

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Land & Forests


Sustainable Development Goal 2

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
 .

Sustainable Development Goal 15

Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
 .

Clean Air


Sustainable Development Goal 13

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
 .

Water


Sustainable Development Goal 6

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
 .

Clean Energy


Sustainable Development Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
 .

Waste Treatment


Sustainable Development Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
 .

Health


Sustainable Development Goal 2

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
.

Sustainable Development Goal 3

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
.

Equal Opportunity


Sustainable Development Goal 4

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Sustainable Development Goal 8

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Sustainable Development Goal 10

Reduce inequality within and among countries.
.

Education


Sustainable Development Goal 4

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
.

Sustainable Development Goal 5

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
.

Living Conditions


Sustainable Development Goal 6

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
 .

Sustainable Development Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
 .

Sustainable Development Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
 .

Social Integration


Sustainable Development Goal 16

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
.

Quality of Life


Sustainable Development Goal 1

End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Sustainable Development Goal 2

End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
.

Employment


Sustainable Development Goal 8

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
.

Resource Use


Sustainable Development Goal 11

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
 .

Sustainable Consumption


Sustainable Development Goal 12

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
 .

Sustainable Production


Sustainable Development Goal 12

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
 .

Innovation


Sustainable Development Goal 9

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
.

Public Finance


Additional issue.

Structural Resilience


Sustainable Development Goal 16

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
.

Peace & Cooperation


Sustainable Development Goal 10

Reduce inequality within and among countries.
.

Sustainable Development Goal 16

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
.

Sustainable Development Goal 17

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Business Integrity


Additional issue.

Transparency


Additional issue.

No Poverty


GAPFRAME Issue 14: Quality of Life

The Quality of Life issue frames a situation where nations provide the basis for sustainable human and economic development, lowering poverty and helping people afford a better quality of life. By ensuring the physical and emotional well-being, societies become resilient and supportive, able to cope with the demands and challenges of daily living.

Zero Hunger


GAPFRAME Issue 4: Land & Forests

The Land & Forests issue draws a picture of balanced and thriving terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, land and mountains that provide vital habitats for all kind of species. The responsibly managed land is fertile and free of hazardous chemicals, able to sustain high-quality agricultural plant growth in order to meet society’s demand for food.

GAPFRAME Issue 9: Health

The Health issue draws a picture of a universal and financially sustainable system that provides secure and affordable access to quality health care for all. The system helps people to stay healthy throughout their lives by promoting healthy lifestyles, incentivizing healthy and balanced nutrition, and developing an environment and infrastructure that facilitate population health.

GAPFRAME Issue 14: Quality of Life

The Quality of Life issue frames a situation where nations provide the basis for sustainable human and economic development, lowering poverty and helping people afford a better quality of life. By ensuring the physical and emotional well-being, societies become resilient and supportive, able to cope with the demands and challenges of daily living.

Good Health and Well-being


GAPFRAME Issue 9: Health

The Health issue draws a picture of a universal and financially sustainable system that provides secure and affordable access to quality health care for all. The system helps people to stay healthy throughout their lives by promoting healthy lifestyles, incentivizing healthy and balanced nutrition, and developing an environment and infrastructure that facilitate population health.

Quality Education


GAPFRAME Issue 10: Equal Opportunity

The Equal Opportunity issue frames a situation where nations empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of gender, age or socioeconomic status.  All people have equal access to opportunities, gaining education and skills that allow them to realize their potential and live a fulfilled life.

GAPFRAME Issue 11: Education

The Education issue describes a situation where nations invest in “human capital” by providing access to high-quality education to all citizens, irrespective of their gender or socioeconomic status. The educational institutions (with well-equipped infrastructure and competent teachers) encourage life-long learning and allow to acquire relevant knowledge and skills that are vital for sustainable development and general well-being of societies.

 

Gender Equality


GAPFRAME Issue 11: Education

The Education issue describes a situation where nations invest in “human capital” by providing access to high-quality education to all citizens, irrespective of their gender or socioeconomic status. The educational institutions (with well-equipped infrastructure and competent teachers) encourage life-long learning and allow to acquire relevant knowledge and skills that are vital for sustainable development and general well-being of societies.

Clean Water and Sanitation


GAPFRAME Issue 6: Water

The Water issue describes a situation where nations and communities achieve universal and secure access to high-quality drinking water. The water resources required to produce food are used responsibly and efficiently, maintaining the natural environment in a sustainable manner.

GAPFRAME Issue 12: Living Conditions

The Living Conditions issue draws a picture of nations that are committed to provide their residents with decent living conditions; the foundation for safety and well-being for all and at all ages. An adequate standard of living implies making the human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Among other factors, citizens are provided with secure access to drinking water, hygiene & sanitation, clean energy, appropriate housing and safe transportation – all designed with respect for the environment.

Affordable and Clean Energy


GAPFRAME Issue 7Clean Energy

The Clean Energy issue envisions a situation where nations and communities gain universal access to affordable and reliable clean energy coming from renewable sources like wind, solar or geothermal power. The renewable energy generates electricity with little or no pollution, reducing the global warming effect.

GAPFRAME Issue 12: Living Conditions

The Living Conditions issue draws a picture of nations that are committed to provide their residents with decent living conditions; the foundation for safety and well-being for all and at all ages. An adequate standard of living implies making the human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Among other factors, citizens are provided with secure access to drinking water, hygiene & sanitation, clean energy, appropriate housing and safe transportation – all designed with respect for the environment.

Decent Work and Economic Growth


GAPFRAME Issue 10: Equal Opportunity

The Equal Opportunity issue frames a situation where nations empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of gender, age or socioeconomic status.  All people have equal access to opportunities, gaining education and skills that allow them to realize their potential and live a fulfilled life.

GAPFRAME Issue 15: Employment

The Employment issue describes a world where nations attain sustained and robust employment situation that boost shared prosperity and social cohesion by providing decent and inclusive work for women and men across all working-age groups. Persons of any age, race or origin − including those from most vulnerable groups − are effectively protected from forced labour, human trafficking, or other slavery-like practices.

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure


GAPFRAME Issue 19: Innovation

The Innovation issue illustrates a situation where the national economy promotes technological progress, investing in innovation and infrastructure to support sustainable development and human well-being. Societies have equal access to information and knowledge which rises the entrepreneurship as well as the technological and social innovation across the globe.

Reduced Inequalities


GAPFRAME Issue 10: Equal Opportunity

The Equal Opportunity issue frames a situation where nations empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of gender, age or socioeconomic status.  All people have equal access to opportunities, gaining education and skills that allow them to realize their potential and live a fulfilled life.

GAPFRAME Issue 22: Peace & Cooperation

The Peace & Cooperation issue describes a situation where nations and communities attain a sustained level of peace, security, and prosperity, including also interregional solidarity and cooperation.  Each nation and every citizen has a voice and is heard.

Sustainable Cities and Communities


GAPFRAME Issue 8: Waste Treatment

The Waste Treatment issue envisions a situation where nations and communities treat and eliminate the generation of harmful and persistent wastes by redesigning products & processes as well as by changing societal patterns. The society develops and shares best practices for minimalization of all kinds of waste, their recycling, reuse and their correct disposal, in order to protect environment while preserving natural resources.

GAPFRAME Issue 12: Living Conditions

The Living Conditions issue draws a picture of nations that are committed to provide their residents with decent living conditions; the foundation for safety and well-being for all and at all ages. An adequate standard of living implies making the human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. Among other factors, citizens are provided with secure access to drinking water, hygiene & sanitation, clean energy, appropriate housing and safe transportation – all designed with respect for the environment.

GAPFRAME Issue 16: Resource Use

The Resource Use issue delineates a situation where business and the economy consume resources (e.g., energy, water, land, materials) in a responsible, sustainable and efficient manner in order to keep pace with the needs of a continuously growing global population.

Responsible Consumption and Production


GAPFRAME Issue 17: Sustainable Consumption

The Sustainable Consumption issue seeks to describe a situation where people and communities consume materials, products and services in a way that have minimal impact on the environment – respecting the planetary boundaries. Conscious consumption results from sustainable lifestyle adopted by societies that purchase, consume, and reuse goods and commodities with respect to the environment.

GAPFRAME Issue 18: Sustainable Production

The Sustainable Production issue frames a situation where products and services are created with attention to potential environmental, social and economic costs and benefits. Produced goods and delivered services are safe for workers and healthful for consumers and communities. Economic players are sound, solid and responsible. Waste and ecologically incompatible by-products that present hazards to human health or environment are avoided across the entire supply chain.

Climate Action


GAPFRAME Issue 2: Carbon Quotient

The Carbon Quotient issue describes a situation where nations and communities live within the ecological limits of the planet, respecting the Earth’s regenerative capacity.

GAPFRAME Issue 5: Clean Air

The Clean Air issue seeks a situation where ambient air is of high quality − free of hazardous pollutants, smoke or dust. The air in cities and rural areas is clean & safe all year long, permitting for outdoor activities without a risk for health.

Life Below Water


GAPFRAME Issue 1: Biodiversity

The Biodiversity issue envisions a world where terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are balanced, healthy, and thriving − ensuring natural sustainability for all life forms on the planet. The climatic conditions are stable and favourable for sustaining a wide variety of species living in their natural habitats.

GAPFRAME Issue 3: Oceans

The Oceans issue envisions a situation where oceans are alive at a stable temperature, with thriving species of all kinds including a strong diversity of fish as a sustainable source of nutrition; clean of chemical, plastic and other pollution.

Life on Land


GAPFRAME Issue 1: Biodiversity

The Biodiversity issue envisions a world where terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are balanced, healthy, and thriving − ensuring natural sustainability for all life forms on the planet. The climatic conditions are stable and favourable for sustaining a wide variety of species living in their natural habitats.

GAPFRAME Issue 4: Land & Forests

The Land & Forests issue draws a picture of balanced and thriving terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, land and mountains that provide vital habitats for all kind of species. The responsibly managed land is fertile and free of hazardous chemicals, able to sustain high-quality agricultural plant growth in order to meet society’s demand for food.

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


GAPFRAME Issue 13: Social Integration

The Social Integration issue describes a situation where nations and communities attain foundation for a respectful, diverse and cross-cultural environment. It imagines societies that are tolerant, open and just, enhancing non-violent community interactions and collaborations across various social groups, including minorities.

GAPFRAME Issue 21: Structural Resilience

The Structural Resilience issue describes a situation whereby a nation is able to respond to rapid change and disasters of all kind, from natural, cyber to financial, and remain a place of safety and security for its inhabitants. It includes framework conditions for a robust economy with regulated financial markets, fair trading structures, and corruption and bribery in check.

GAPFRAME Issue 22: Peace & Cooperation

The Peace & Cooperation issue describes a situation where nations and communities attain a sustained level of peace, security, and prosperity, including also interregional solidarity and cooperation.  Each nation and every citizen has a voice and is heard.

Partnerships for the Goals


GAPFRAME Issue 22: Peace & Cooperation

The Peace & Cooperation issue describes a situation where nations and communities attain a sustained level of peace, security, and prosperity, including also interregional solidarity and cooperation.  Each nation and every citizen has a voice and is heard.