Human Development Thinking About Climate Change Requires a Human Rights Agenda and an Ontology of Shared Human Security



Responding to climate change needs a global perspective that combines emphases on the dignity and worth of all people and co-membership in a finite, breakable socio-ecology. A philosophy that defends the victims of climate change must help counteract some major mirages: first, the nest of national identity conceived in such a way that we see ourselves as separate from, even immune and indifferent to, the misfortunes elsewhere in the world; second, the dream of endless growth, economic and technological, that will enable ‘us’—whether conceived as particular national islands or particular affluent groups and persons—to avoid shared planetary boundaries and the dangers of breaching them; and, third, our ability to screen out unpalatable information or questions, including about the fate of ‘marginal’ groups. Theorizing sustainable human development requires therefore more than the language of capabilities and freedoms to which human development analysis is sometimes reduced. It needs human rights ethical principles and a human security frame. The former asserts the value of each person and the wrongness of harm to others caused by careless production and heedless luxury consumption. Human security thinking directs attention to limits, interconnectedness, vulnerabilities and possible threats, and how what is ‘human’ includes dependence on each other and on a global ecology. Together they provide routes into reflecting on and counteracting toxic forms of nationalism, exclusivist group identity, consumerism and their drivers.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Institute of Social StudiesThe HagueNetherlands

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