SDS Organizational Credibility Development Project

UNESCO Chair Programme

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI)

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In general terms, “development” means an “event constituting a new stage in a changing situation” or the process of change per se. If not qualified, “development” is implicitly intended as something positive or desirable.


The systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge to meet specific objectives or requirements.

The process of economic and social transformation that is based on complex cultural and environmental factors and their interactions.

The process of adding improvements to a parcel of land, such as grading, subdivisions, drainage, access, roads, utilities.

In general terms, “development” means an “event constituting a new stage in a changing situation” or the process of change per se. If not qualified, “development” is implicitly intended as something positive or desirable. When referring to a society or to a socioeconomic system, “development” usually means improvement, either in the general situation of the system, or in some of its constituent elements. Development may occur due to some deliberate action carried out by single agents or by some authority preordered to achieve improvement, to favorable circumstances in both. Development policies and private investment, in all their forms, are examples of such actions.

Human Development:

Human development is the expansion of people’s freedoms to live long, healthy and creative lives; to advance other goals they have reason to value; and to engage actively in shaping development equitably and sustainably on a shared planet. People are both the beneficiaries and drivers of human development, as individuals and in groups.

Human development was formally defined in the first Human Development Report as “a process of enlarging people’s choices. The most critical of these wide-ranging choices are to live a long and healthy life, to be educated and to have access to resources needed for a decent standard of living. Additional choices include political freedom, guaranteed human rights and personal self-respect”

The UN and Human Development

The vision of “putting people at the centre of development” has long been a theme of the United Nations, but one whose priority and practical importance has waxed and waned. The Preamble of the UN Charter referred to the dignity and worth of the human person, equal rights of men and women, and the need to promote social progress and better standards of living in larger freedom.

Human Development Index (HDI)


The HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone.

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of average achievement in key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and have a decent standard of living.


Economic development:

 Improvement of the way endowments and goods and services are used within (or by) the system to generate new goods and services in order to provide additional consumption and/or investment possibilities to the members of the system.

Economic development has traditionally been seen as the first form of development. It has often been strictly associated with the concept of economic growth, in turn defined as an increase in the per capita income of the economic system. Indeed, growth defined in this way can be seen more as the result of an economic development process, i.e. the transformation of the structure of an economic system, rather than as a development process per se. Countless economists provided insights and proposed models to explain how economic systems develop (or should develop) to generate growth.

Territorial development:


Development of a specific region (space) achievable by exploiting the specific socio-economic, environmental and institutional potential of the area, and its relationships with external subjects.

This dimension of development refers to a territorial system, intended as a set of interrelationships between rural and urban areas, in a space characterized by the existence of poles of attraction for human activities (production and consumption of goods and services, but also culture and social life), and connected by information systems and transport infrastructures. When referring to production activities, poles of attraction can be characterized as “Clusters” where, for various reasons, homogeneous or closely interlinked activities are implemented. Territorial systems are open to influences from the national and supra-national contexts and from the interrelationships between territories. Territorial development implies focusing on the assets of the territory, its potential and constraints.

Sustainable Development

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:

The concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.

Thus the goals of economic and social development must be defined in terms of sustainability in all countries - developed or developing, market-oriented or centrally planned. Interpretations will vary, but must share certain general features and must flow from a consensus on the basic concept of sustainable development and on a broad strategic framework for achieving it.

Development involves a progressive transformation of economy and society. A development path that is sustainable in a physical sense could theoretically be pursued even in a rigid social and political setting. But physical sustainability cannot be secured unless development policies pay attention to such considerations as changes in access to resources and in the distribution of costs and benefits. Even the narrow notion of physical sustainability implies a concern for social equity between generations, a concern that must logically be extended to equity within each generation.


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