Are there increasingly common drivers of poverty in North, South, East and West?
Does an international development frame give us only a very partial view of these global drivers?
Is there potential to learn from country experiences in a way that is liberated from the shackles of GDP labels?
If there is value added of bringing together the worlds of UK poverty and change with the worlds of international development, what is stopping it happening and how can these barriers be overcome?
These were some of the questions posed and discussed at a joint workshop organized by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) and IDS earlier this week. JRF is a leader on work on poverty, inequality and exclusion in the UK, while IDS has an international development focus. Together, we are trying to explore this space.
My take on the discussion?
1. It was clear that several trends make the developed/developing labels seem anachronistic:
- The emergence of Brazil, India, China, Indonesia and South Africa and their powerful role in global economics, governance and politics
- Increasingly powerful global drivers of development from climate, finance, security and health
- And the connectedness generated by ICTs
3. Even if we believe that global drivers are not becoming more powerful in connecting countries, are country level development experiences becoming more diverse and does this increase the potential for cross-country learning? From growth diagnostics models which say there are many ingredients and recipes to a new plethora of home-grown models of development, the potential to learn across for example, Lahore, Lagos, St Louis and Leeds about how to tackle exclusion, means testing and stigma, to name a few issues, seems enormous.
Other issues that seem to have strong relevance across time zones included:
The development of indicators of development that have resonance for the whole world (it may be the current MDGs—how would the UK’s performance rate?)
- Lessons for the Big Society from the Global Society around participation, voice and empowerment
- Work on the informal economy
- Incentives to save and invest
- Employment and wellbeing
- Organisations tend to be strategically positioned along developing/developed lines
- Funding is similarly segmented (it is difficult to find funders willing to do truly global work)
- Journals are also separate
- Training choices are similarly shoehorned into one world or another – we are labeled at an early age
- The JRF and other such foundations could explore becoming a member of the funding club on development, the UK’s Collaborative on Development Sciences (the Wellcome Trust is a member and they do work in the rich, emerging and poorer countries) and in doing so add a new dimension to it’s work
- Research Councils can be more open to work that spans development labels
- Journal editors could be lobbied into doing truly global editions, e.g. World Development
- North-South postgraduate training programmes in social policy, economic policy or health policy could be twinned, e.g. the Masters in Development Practice network could admit US or European programmes that focus on poverty and inequality but are not called “development” programmes
- Media outlets could link up more clearly e.g. the Times of London and the Times of India
- Global networks of editors could construct and serve truly globally constructed knowledge hubs
Watch this space.