Children going to school in Samoa

For a healthy society we need healthy individuals. By understanding what needs humans have as a biological species, we can work towards a social and economic system where people are better placed to meet their needs.

The work of Manfred Max-Neef, Antonio Elizalde and Martin Hopenhayn on human-scale development identified a set of nine basic needs that are shared by all humans by virtue of their biology. Their work determined that all humans are capable of meeting these needs to their own satisfaction, so long as barriers (social, economic or environmental) do not prevent them from being able to do so.

The identified needs are:

  • subsistence – e.g. food and water
  • protection – e.g. shelter, or health insurance
  • participation – e.g. voting, involvement in decision-making
  • leisure – e.g. reflection, recreation, free time
  • affection – e.g. love, empathy, friendship
  • understanding – e.g. education, training
  • creativity – e.g. skills, innovation
  • identity – e.g. culture, religion
  • freedom – e.g. equal rights, self determination [1]

Learning journal activity

This activity is required for students seeking formal credit. Other students may complete a learning journal but it will not be assessed.

  1. Study this Rainforest Info webpage on the work of Manfred Max-Neef and others.
  2. Assess how well your own needs are current met against the 9 basic human needs as articulated by Manfred Max-Neef.
  3. Complete this exercise on how well you meet your and others needs and include it in your learning journal.
  4. Complete this exercise on how well your organisation meets your and others needs and include it in your learning journal.
  5. Write up what you gained from each of these exercises.

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  1. Max Neef, Manfred A; Antonio Elizalde; Martin Hopenhayn (1991) – Human Scale Development; The Apex Press.