On January 1998, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) stated that the right to development is: “multidimensional, integrated, dynamic and gradual”. This right entails the full observance of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights. It also includes different concepts such as sustainable development, human development and indivisibility, interdependence and universality of human rights.

Development implies the monitoring of human rights by the international community, in which individuals have a preponderant role as the main force that builds that development. Likewise, this should not be conceived as the act of charity of a paternalistic State, but as the process that members of a country promote for the growth of all social spheres. Thus, the role of a government should be to grant public policies aimed at the development of capacities that generate mechanisms of belonging and social integration. Human development and human rights are consolidated by combining the efforts of all people to promote respect for themselves, for others and for their environment.

Although the American Convention establishes the right to progressive development (Article 26), like the Protocol of San Salvador, the Brundtland Commission Report (1987) defines sustainable development as that which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. In this sense, for development to be sustainable, the social, environmental, cultural and economic dimension must be interconnected; that is, a futuristic vision regarding actions aimed at improving the quality of life.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR)

The also known “ESCR”, are the human rights related to social and economic conditions necessary for a dignified and free life. These include labor, food, education, health, social security, housing, culture, water and adequate environmental issues. The ESCR seeks the protection and development of communities with economic justice, social welfare and equality.

This group of rights was first internationally enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, at the Inter-American level, in the American Convention on Human Rights, specifically in Article 26. In addition, the aforementioned Convention also has an additional protocol on this matter, also known as the “Protocol of San Salvador”. The States that have ratified these international instruments assume the obligation to respect, protect and comply with the ESCR, avoiding any type of discrimination.

Population and development

The issue of population and development refers to the generation and implementation of strategies at the international level that guarantee that the population increase develops in a sustainable manner, respecting environmental conditions, an adequate use of natural resources and the economic and social development of human beings.

The widespread poverty and the unbalanced distribution of the population largely derived from the accelerated and uncontrolled population growth that generates a serious burden on the environment and endangers the economic, social and cultural rights of the most vulnerable populations. In view of this, the International Conference on Population and Development of the United Nations (Cairo, 1994) set objectives in the subject worldwide. As a result, in recent years, special importance has been given to the protection of the rights of women and indigenous peoples.

Although there is no Inter-American treaty that explicitly regulates this issue, the American Convention includes it indirectly and, based on this, jurisprudence has been developed in the Inter-American Court.

Sustainable Livelihoods

The definition of Sustainable Livelihoods (SL) was born from the Brundtland Report of Robert Chambers and Gordon Conway in 1992, as “the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living”.

“SL refers to the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources) and activities required for a means of living”.

The importance of SL focuses on families or communities in a situation of vulnerability, who, in order to strengthen their resilience, can generate their own resources to meet their needs and improve their quality of life. An example of this is economic activities related to self-employment and productive ventures.

Different UN agencies, such as FAO and UNHCR, have accepted the SL as a transversal axis for the formulation and implementation of components in development projects that seek to strengthen the achievement of timely and durable solutions within the framework of respect for human rights.

Sustainable Development Goals - 2030 Agenda

On September 25, 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which constitutes an Action Plan for people, planet and prosperity which seek to strengthen universal peace and access to justice. This agenda contains several objectives, such as: achieving food security, eradicating hunger, ensuring access to water and energy, achieving gender equality, guaranteeing a healthy life and a quality education, promoting sustained economic growth, adopting urgent measures against climate change, promote economic growth, promote peace and facilitate access to justice, among others.

It is worth mentioning that although the goal of eradicating poverty is included, it is also considered the greatest obstacle to achieving the rest of the proposed objectives. The Commission responsible for ensuring compliance with the Agenda for the next 15 years is the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

Climate Change - Paris Agreement

UN agencies, scientists, the private sector and civil society concerned about the irreversible changes caused by the global high temperatures on our planet, made an agreement that sets a new world for future generations. This document consolidates the vision of more than 190 countries that are committed to work to reduce carbon, in a sustainable and resilient environment.

As a result, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed and entered into force on November 4, 2016. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been working extensively with several countries to help them identify priority areas. To this end, launched a global seminar in Brussels on the implementation of the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) in partnership with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the European Union. In Latin America and the Caribbean, representatives have met in Costa Rica and schedule regional meetings to evaluate strategies based on the commitments assumed internationally.

Living Planet Index (LPI)

The LPI is an indicator, developed and presented by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), in its “Living Planet Report”. This indicator measures the change of global biodiversity and health of the planet from 1970. Through this new tool, a 30% decrease in global biodiversity has been demonstrated, which means that in less than half a century our planet has lost almost a third of its resources and biological diversity. As a result of not always eco-intelligent exploitation of resources and climate change, among other causes, Latin America presents the most pronounced decrease, with a drop of over 80% (WWF, 2014).

With the aim of achieving a sustainable development and future for humanity where the needs of human being as species are reconciled with the rest of the species that inhabit our planet, it is necessary to multiply the efforts in favor of environmental care and its biodiversity to create a culture of environmental respect in both present and future generations.


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