New report reveals the impact of global crises on international development

Sep 28, 2011

Global crises and the slow burn of climate change are having a profound impact on the lives and livelihoods of poor people around the world, and bringing into question core ideas about what development is and how it happens, according to a new report.

'Time to Reimagine Development?' is the latest issue of the IDS Bulletin, the flagship journal from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), published by Wiley-Blackwell.

The report draws on 20 case studies from around the world, ranging from the experience of in Brazil, to feedback from , researchers and at a workshop in Ethiopia.

These case studies looked at how different groups in different places responded to the crises, including the , civil society, government, faith-based groups, students, and aid donors. The report challenges core development and ideas, and concludes:

  • is not always a force for good – while there is no alternative to growth, there are alternative forms of growth and as with technology, it is how it is governed that matters.
  • Civil society did not deal well enough with mega-shocks – case studies found that civil society did not sufficiently rise to the challenge or opportunity afforded by the crises.
  • The nation state is more relevant than multilateral mechanisms – global agreements on climate, trade and drugs do not drive national behaviour but national alliances supply oxygen and credibility to global agreements. Several case studies showed how national self interest will continue to undermine collective action that is in the long term interest of all.
Professor Lawrence Haddad, Director of the Institute of Development Studies and co-editor of 'Time to Reimagine Development?' said:

'The global crises of the past four years and the slow burn of have called into question the way we live, and have had fundamental impacts on international development. But this research shows that although some new ideas have emerged, they have struggled to dislodge established concepts and become embedded in development thinking.

'It is clear that the emerging powers – such as China, India and Brazil – and the new aid donors and philanthropists are not necessarily going to forge different paths. And it remains debatable whether development thinking is any better suited now for coping with unforeseen crises than it was before 2008.'

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