“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it” . . . . . Lord Kelvin
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  • Strengthening the Framework of the HSI

    Posted on September 20th, 2010 editor0 No comments

    Toward HSI Version 2

    As with any prototype, the Human Security Index faced some challenges. The prototype HSI, released in 2008-2009, is no exception. Challenges include:

    1. How to find adequate data, and preferably thematic indicators themselves, that could be appropriate inputs to the HSI?
    2. After the prototype demonstrated the feasibility of crafting a Human Security index, how might a redesign process improve the HSI?
    3. How to strengthen thematic sub-indices? and
    4. How to integrate equitability/inclusivenes into the Human Security Index?

    Here is a brief update on how these challenges are being addressed, as HSI Version 2 is being prepared for release later in 2010:

    1. Data: Actually, there are quite a few datasets, and also thematic indicators, that are useful. Few cover over 200 countries, however, and HSI V2 is working to include as many as 230 countries. It is likely that some smaller countries, which are most often omitted from data and indicator compilations, may be included but may lack some of the input data. Though their HSI values would thus not be so rubust, those with a (group-determined) critical mass of input data are likely to be included. As all source data will be available, users will be able to evaluate how to treat each country’s computed HSI.

    2. Redesign: A seminar was held at the United Nations in Bangkok on 25 January 2010 (.ppt presentation here), followed by a redesign workshop on 2 February 2010. The latter was held at VietNam National University, and videoconferenced with Kyoto University. Participants from France, India, Japan, Thailand, USA, and VietNam participated in the workshop. Proposals were made to recast the HSI into three thematic sub-indices for Economic, Environmental and Social Fabric, and to approach the HSI in such a way as to have a global HSI to provide an overall analytical environment on human security at national to international scale, and at subnational to community level. It is noted that the “triple bottom line for 21st century business” of John Elkington is also constructed around economy, environment, and society.

    Since then, the global HSI has been recrafted around such a trinity of economic, environmental, and social fabric. This was not particularly difficult to do, as the Social Fabric Index of the first prototype HSI contained an environmental component, and the egalitarian/inclusive HDI (which blended each component of the HDI with an equitibilty factor) contained in the release report for the HSI contained two key components of economic fabric: indicators of income, and of equality of income.

    3. Strengthening thematic sub-indices: No dataset or indicator is perfect. Fortunately, a good base of data and indicators is available with which to formulate the HSI. This does not mean that the HSI could not be strengthened by the arrival of new datasets or indicators. An improved indicator of people’s vulnerability to environmental situations would be welcomed, as would indicators of racial, ethnic, religious, age-based, “dis”ability-based and other diversity-related security among and within countries.

    4. Equitability: This is a challenge, as few detailed global or even national datasets are available on this subject, consistently enumerating countries – let alone provinces/states or counties/districts. The Gini Coefficient, or some other indicator of income inequality, is one of the best – but where are the indicators of equality of access to education, health care, transportation, etc? The first two were polled by the World Economic Forum some years ago, but in the days when fewer than 100 countries were included in the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report. Of course, inequities between and within countries are apparent in the HSI and constitutent datasets, but it would be desirable to have additional inequities directly assessed, in a manner useful for decisionmakers to strategize improvements, as well as for the HSI.

    HSI Version 2 is in preparation, for release later in 2010. In addition, subnational HSIs are being formulated for one high-HDI country and one moderate-HDI country. The two subnational HSIs are incorporating data as available for the respective countries, which have some overlap but also considerable differences. Nevertheless, the framework sketched above, with subindices for economic, environmental and social fabric, appears to accommodate such situations.

    The release note, and information on the conference at which HSI Version 2 will be released, is at the following URLs:
    Release Note
    Conference Website