O iLIDH procura intervir num amplo raio de acção e nas dimensões que, na vida das pessoas e na sociedade em geral, têm mais impacto no bem-estar social.
Desta forma, a sua identidade recorre a um dos conceitos mais consensuais na medição do desenvolvimento sócio-económico das sociedades contemporâneas – o Desenvolvimento Humano.
O Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano (IDH) é um método padronizado de avaliação e medida do bem-estar de uma população, sendo uma medida comparativa de riqueza, alfabetização, educação, esperança de vida, natalidade e outros factores determinantes para a saúde das sociedades.
Este índice foi desenvolvido em 1990 pelo economista paquistanês Mahbud ul Haq, e tem sido utilizado desde 1993 pelo Programa da Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento no seu relatório anual.
"The basic purpose of development is to enlarge people's choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time. People often value achievements that do not show up at all, or not immediately, in income or growth figures: greater access to knowledge, better nutrition and health services, more secure livelihoods, security against crime and physical violence, satisfying leisure hours, political and cultural freedoms and sense of participation in community activities. The objective of development is to create an enabling environment for people to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives."
Mahbub ul Haq
Citando as Nações Unidas sobre o entendimento deste conceito:
“Human development is about much more than the rise or fall of national incomes. It is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests. People are the real wealth of nations. Development is thus about expanding the choices people have to lead lives that they value. And it is thus about much more than economic growth, which is only a means —if a very important one —of enlarging people’s choices.
Fundamental to enlarging these choices is building human capabilities —the range of things that people can do or be in life. The most basic capabilities for human development are to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community. Without these, many choices are simply not available, and many opportunities in life remain inaccessible.
This way of looking at development, often forgotten in the immediate concern with accumulating commodities and financial wealth, is not new. Philosophers, economists and political leaders have long emphasized human wellbeing as the purpose, the end, of development. As Aristotle said in ancient Greece, “Wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking, for it is merely useful for the sake of something else.”
In seeking that something else, human development shares a common vision with human rights. The goal is human freedom. And in pursuing capabilities and realizing rights, this freedom is vital. People must be free to exercise their choices and to participate in decision-making that affects their lives. Human development and human rights are mutually reinforcing, helping to secure the well-being and dignity of all people, building self-respect and the respect of others.”