Author:Leisa Perch, Gabriel Labbate
Subject: Economic Growth, Poverty and Inequality, Rural Development
" /> Abstract: Growth, Equity and Sustainability: A Declaration of Interdependence Over one billion of us live without many of the basics that the other six billion take as given. Although 28 countries have moved from low-income status to middle-income status, with Ghana and Zambia among the newest Middle Income Countries, an estimated 800 million people still live in low-income countries. Of these, half live in just five countries, three of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. In these least-developed countries (LDCs), conflict, disaster and broader human insecurity impose structural limits on efforts to move from crisis to risk reduction and from growth to sustained development. So although many millions have been lifted out of poverty in the last ten years, it is also true that more people live in chronic hunger than ever before. Significant and sustained progress will require faster and better efforts. The message of this Poverty in Focus is that, “For Growth to be inclusive, it must be sustained and sustainable and that, for it to be sustained and sustainable, it must also be equitable.” As a contribution to the dialogue around Rio+20 and to the ongoing discussions around a post-2015 MDG Agenda, this Poverty in Focus links future development to sustainability and particularly to social sustainability. Looking beyond the critical issues of ‘carbon footprints’, ‘low-carbon development’,’ green economy’ and the economics behind saving the planet, it draws attention back to the continuing challenge of ensuring that growth and development deliver for the poor and vulnerable. In its many forms—energy poverty, lack of access to water and sanitation, malnutrition or insecure access to food, and lack of access to education and health—the scale and scope of global deprivation call current development policy and practice into question. Growth, gender, poverty and the environment can no longer be treated as loosely connected components of development. Recognizing their interdependence is at the core of improved and sustained development for all. For one thing, the continuing decline of the quantity and quality of natural resources and of ecosystem functions is likely to exacerbate the likelihood of conflict over resources, particularly water. According to UNDP’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, 35 countries had entered what could be designated a ‘post-conflict phase’ by 2008. The cost of conflict has been enormous, matching or surpassing, according to some estimates, the value of ODA received in the last 20 to 30 years in the same countries. Addressing topics such as the evolving debate on environmental and social justice and improved accounting frameworks to ‘include’ environmental assets and services in considerations of growth, the enclosed articles can help us go beyond lip-service to the notion of sustainability. They focus on the ‘software’ components of development, highlighting the need for equal attention to process and to results. Suggesting that inclusive and sustainable development will need to leverage ‘social technologies’ such as political innovations, true engagement and honest evaluation, they make a clear case for a strong, representative state and the complementary roles of civil society and the private sector in defining and achieving sustained and sustainable development. They underscore the role of formal and informal mechanisms in the negotiation and reconciliation of conflicting and competing interests. In view of the high expectations placed on the next year’s Rio+20 meeting, let us remind ourselves that ‘social sustainability’ will be built on the foundations of productive and social inclusion. Too often, the focus has fallen largely on productive inclusion, with limited effort to address the structural factors that cause and sustain exclusion and marginalization, be they related to gender, political processes, property rights for the poor, and so on. Moreover, a focus on ‘sustained’ development as well as sustainable development acknowledges that, for many countries, existing development gains are fragile and easily reversed. The acute challenges faced by countries in the Horn of Africa due to persistent drought, displacement, conflict and poverty are a case in point. A socially sustainable approach, say these authors, is one in which policy efforts do not shy away from the many interdependent multiple dynamics, processes and situations that affect vulnerability and predispose the poor and the vulnerable to harm from shocks and change. Growth, equity and sustainability are mutually compatible, if efforts have enough time and resources, are responsive to underlying structural causes and encourage the vigorous participation of the poor, allowing them to define their futures. What follows illuminates the complexity of inclusiveness as a development outcome and highlights bold action in and by the South. We hope that these articles serve as a source of further innovation and inspire more cooperation and the spread of knowledge within the South. Ours is an age of political convulsions, global economic shifts, inexorable climatic change and stubborn poverty. Informed and catalytic strategies are needed now more than ever before. by Olav Kjorven, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy Development, UNDP

keywords: Dimensions of Inclusive Development
Date Publication: 11/24/2011 (All day)
Type/Issue: Policy In Focus / 23
Language: English