This Report explores the integral links between environmental sustainability and equity and shows that these are critical to expanding human freedoms for people today and in generations to come. The point of departure is that the remarkable progress in human development over recent decades that the Human Development Report has documented cannot continue without bold global steps to reduce environmental risks and inequality. We identify pathways for people, communities, countries and the international community to promote environmental sustainability and equity in mutually reinforcing ways.
The cover diagram symbolizes how different policies can have different implications for sustainability and equity. Whenever available, we should prefer solutions that are good for the environment while also promoting equity and human development. Pursuing sustainability and equity jointly does not require that they be mutually reinforcing. In many instances they will not be. Sometimes the most feasible alternative involves trade-offs between sustainability and equity and requires explicit and careful consideration. No trade-off is isolated from a society’s structural and institutional conditions, and so we must address the underlying constraints and identify positive synergies between sustainability and equity. This Report is aimed not only at ﬁnding positive synergies but also at identifying ways to build them.