Thursday, September 13, 2012

Development must be less about growth, more about wellbeing

Mark Tran in the Guardian (UK): People and their wellbeing need to be at the centre of development, with less emphasis on economic growth, according to a new report, but this requires philanthropic and development organisations to challenge current thinking.

"Development is political," said the final report of the Bellagio Initiative, a six-month exploration into the future of philanthropy and international development. "Not everyone can be a winner at the same time, but if no one among the winners is prepared to give up just a little in order to reach politically sustainable solutions, then we will all lose out. The real wellbeing challenge is not just to find ways to live well, but for us to find ways to live well together."

Care work was cited as an example of an area that would receive greater attention under the new approach. Care for children and the elderly – work often done by women – is systematically undervalued and overlooked in the development agenda, said the report. A case in point was how the burden of coping with the day-to-day challenges of the global economic crisis has fallen unequally on women around the world.

"This means that in times of crisis – because of their neglect of the care agenda – international development and philanthropy organisations are complicit in processes of disinvestment in the raising of children, in building good families and communities and in creating the social contexts in which people can thrive," said the report.

Other areas in need of rethinking included: the consequences of rapid and unplanned urbanisation as both threat and opportunity for wellbeing; the role of the natural environment in protecting and promoting the wellbeing of poor people who depend on it; and how wellbeing is to be considered for people who are increasingly mobile in their search for livelihoods and security...

A village pump in India, shot by Ekta Parishad, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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