Human Development

Human Development

Human Development

Development is above all about ensuring all people can live a life in dignity, out of poverty, with their rights protected and fulfilled. There are multiple dimensions of development and a human development approach is one that focuses on people, their opportunities and choices.

The world has achieved unprecedented progress over the past 25 years, with more than 1 billion people being lifted out of extreme poverty and standards of living being higher than ever. However, extreme inequalities, both within and between countries, disparities in accessing quality social services, especially in health and education, social protection and decent work continue to be significant challenges for many around the world.

In 2015, the world historically adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity. This is why the EU supports partner countries' societies and economies become more inclusive and sustainable, so that everyone benefits from development and no one is left behind.

Employment and Social inclusion



Empowering people, building prosperity


The EU is fully committed to implementing the 2030 Agenda alongside partner countries, in line with the new European Consensus on Development. In order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development it is necessary to widen access to employment and decent work, increase social inclusion and protection and reduce inequalities, empowering people and building prosperity.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1, on No Poverty, SDG 8, on Decent Work and Economic Growth, and SDG 10, on Reduced Inequalities, drives our work on employment and social inclusion, while being interconnected to all other SDGs.  


Shared prosperity and growth are key contributors to human welfare and dignity. However, economic growth, on its own, does not automatically result in poverty reduction. Specific policy measures are necessary to promote adequate levels of productive employment and welfare and ensure everyone in society, especially the poorest and marginalised groups, such as women and girls, people living with disabilities and indigenous peoples, benefit from growth.

Employment that is secure, pays a fair wage, ensures safe working conditions, incorporates social protection, provides for social dialogue and respects rights at work, while safeguarding gender equality, is known as decent work. Such employment has a positive impact on productivity and purchasing power, which further stimulates the economy and employment.

A universal level of basic social protection that guarantees income, builds resilience and prevents relapses into extreme poverty should be considered a right for all. However, this right remains unmet for most as 71 % of the world’s population (about 5.2 billion people) lack adequate social protection coverage.

An important dimension of employment is the need to prepare and match people with available or prospective jobs, addressing the mismatch of educational output and aligning it with the needs and opportunities of the labour market. One measure that aims to close this gap is support to reform of Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems and making them more demand driven.

An unacceptable feature of the world of work is the persistence of child labour and forced labour. With an estimated 152 million children caught up in child labour and 40 million people trapped in modern slavery around the world, increased efforts are required to eliminate these scourges, once and for all.


HEALTH, Education and Culture


Goal 3  Goal 4 - Quality education

Investing in health and health systems is also a key priority to achieve sustainable development. In its development cooperation policy and its partnerships with developing countries, The EU favours broad sector support to address maternal and child mortality, infectious and non-communicable diseases, access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, management of outbreak risks and more broadly health systems and universal health coverage.

Strengthening all levels of education and ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education is one of the key ingredients to securing human development. 

The EU supports pre-primary, primary, secondary, vocational and higher education in over 40 partner countries, with a strong focus on systems strengthening to improve the planning, financing and management of education.

Culture is an important sector of social and human development. It contributes to identity-building and self-esteem, fosters economic growth and social cohesion, and helps to promote political participation and ownership.




Selected results achieved with EU support through projects and programmes completed between mid-2014 and mid-2015


Vocational Education

  • The Triennale on promoting critical knowledge, skills and qualifications for sustainable development in Africa (How to design and implement an effective response by education and training system) was attended by 1 200 key policy makers from 35 African countries. Policy dialogue has been initiated on technical and vocational skills for economic growth and scientific and technological skills for meeting globalisation challenges.
  • In 24 African countries, national Technical Vocational Skills Development measures have been formulated and implemented. Countries have collected information on the employment /training status of young people and intervention measures have been taken.


  • 8 advocacy tools have been developed in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the integration of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV. These included 1. Rapid assessment reports, 2. Best practice documentation, 3. A short film on Sexual and Reproductive Health SRH HIV, 4. a summary document on small grant implementation, 5. Two qualitative study reports for Nepal and Sri Lanka, 6. A fact sheet on HIV and SRH in post 2015 sustainable goals, 7. Information education and communication material, 8. Technical issue briefs.
  • 1 500 civil society organisations (CSO) in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have benefited from support through capacity building initiatives, small grants and support for meetings. CSOs have learned about the concept of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) helping them to advocate for integration.
  • 11 000 000 new people have received treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
  • 1 900 000 new basic care and support services (health, education, nutrition, legal protection, shelter and psychosocial) have been provided to HIV orphans and other vulnerable children.
  • 2 billion condoms have been distributed.
  • 250 million people benefitted from HIV counselling and testing.
  • 4 800 000 people received tuberculosis treatment.


  • 4 countries - Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Niger and Vietnam - have developed and implemented policies on the cultural sector and creative and cultural industries with the aim of improved culture governance.
  • The 2005 Convention on protection and promotion of cultural expressions has been implemented with the aim of improving culture governance promotion.