03 November 2009

Dudley Seers: A seer in name and nature

Last week Sir Richard Jolly delivered the 10th Dudley Seers Memorial Lecture at IDS.

Dudley Seers passed away in 1983. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the Institutes's most influential Fellows and Directors. One of Dudley's great strengths was to bring a freshness, vividness and originality to a seemingly intractable problem. These are the very things that the current IDS continues to strive to do. His challenges to economic orthodoxy were numerous and well-known. He was one of the first voices calling for the "dethronement" of GNP as a measure of development. He was always at pains to point out that the international coexistence of rich and poor was crucial to understanding the problems of the developing world.

The current discussions around the measurement of economic performance and social progress (see the Commission chaired by Joseph Stiglitz) and the build up to the Climate Conference at Copenhagen show how prescient Dudley Seers' work would prove to be.

Richard Jolly gave a fine talk about UN Ideas That Changed the World, drawn from his new book. With the uncertainly about how to re govern the market, these ideas -- sustainability, human development, human rights, social development, women's empowerment--are needed now more than ever.

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