The Environmental Sustainability Goals: 2035

Following on from the outcome of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, a new set of six goals was created all focused on environmental issues. In the last 30 years’ world poverty has been at an all-time low, with it currently being at a minor 1.04%. Although this statistic shows a great improvement, we must still take into account the continually rapid growth of world population over the last 30 years. The worlds current population is now 9.3 billion, therefore 1% of the world’s population is a greater number of people than it is was in 2016 (Roser & Ortiz-Ospina, 2016). Whilst not all of the goals were ‘achieved’, great progress was made. However, by having 17 targets it was inevitable that some would be left behind, and not have received as much attention as necessary. Unfortunately, the majority of the goals which were not as successful were the ones regarding the environment.

There has now been a paradigm shift, and environmental sustainability is at the forefront of the UN’s global targets. In 2035 the Environmental Sustainability Goals were launched, with the aim for them to be reached by 2050. With only 4 years to go till they are set to be achieved, the goals are proving a success. Through having less goals than the previous initiatives, it has allowed countries to focus and put much more attention on each individual goal. So far the results have been extremely positive.

The goals include: Achieving 50% renewable energy. For some countries this was not a huge leap, as in 2014 almost 40% of Denmark’s energy was produced from wind turbines alone (5 countries leading the way toward 100% renewable energy, 2015). Over the last 30 year’s huge amount of funding has been invested in the implementation of renewable energy techniques, such as wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectric turbines. The second of the goals is to reduce the levels of deforestation; Huge amounts of deforestation were used for cattle farming; the aim of this goal was to reduce beef consumption, through the implementation of tariffs and quotas, in order to reduce the destruction caused by the beef industry. A lot of attention has and is being put on this goal, due to the issue that trees are not only a huge carbon sink, but the energy needed and exerted during deforestation was a huge contributor to carbon emissions. Goal Three was to reduce water stress to just 12%. Previously the estimates for the increase in water-stress was huge. Charites estimated it would increase to 48% by 2030 (WRAP, 2015).  However, following on from the implementation of these goals, we are able to maintain the level of water stress, despite rapid population growth, with some countries also having decreasing levels of this stress.  This goal has proved to be one of the more difficult goals to achieve as there is no easy solution; over the last 30 years’ results have shown that education has been the most effective tool to reach this target. Through educating people on water consumption and their lifestyles, it has made this goal far more achievable than it would be without education. There remaining three goals are regarding carbon footprint, loss of biodiversity and ocean acidification.

Although environmental sustainability has rarely been at the front of global politics, over the past 30 years it has been. As a global community we are now aware that we could no longer continue with the way were living before the goals, and that something needed to change. In the last 30 years that change has happened, and we are now on our way to living more environmentally sustainable.

 

Roser, M. and Ortiz-Ospina, E. (2016) World population growth. Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth/ (16 December 2016).

WRAP – The Waste and Resource Action Programme (2015) Our mission. Available at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/WRAP-Plan-Resource-Revolution-Creating-the-Future.pdf ( 17 December 2016).

5 countries leading the way toward 100% renewable energy (2015) Available at: http://www.ecowatch.com/5-countries-leading-the-way-toward-100-renewable-energy-1881999459.html (16 December 2016).

Dilemmas in Development: Is aid always a good thing?

The question “does aid really help?” has recently become one of the most popular amongst development studies. Whilst rich countries in the West have been donating aid to less developed countries since the 19th century, when Britain and France sent aid to former colonies (The history of foreign aid, 2013), it has only been in the past few years that people are wondering whether aid is the most successful and appropriate option. The argument in discussion is extremely complex, so in this blog I will discuss just one of the controversial issues within this ongoing debate; the idea that through sending aid, it puts the power into the hands of the donor, and often will only benefit the elites in society.

mwenda.png(click image to view video)

 

In a Ted Talk, regarding aid in Africa, Andrew Mwenda argues that it is not about reducing poverty, but about creating wealth. Mwenda argues that aid is not the right catalyst to allow this –  Within his talk he refers to the quote “he who pays the piper plays the tune” (Mwedna, 2007). Here he argues that aid strips countries of self-initiative, and side-lines them from policy making and policy implementation, as they listen to international creditors rather than their own people. This has many issues as the progress which is occurring won’t benefit those who are most in need, as it will be aimed towards international co-corporations, and bureaucrats. However, Barder argues that whilst you are not giving the country itself the opportunity to choose what it wants to do, this may have more benefits as it will encourage economic reform – this means that it will provide money for what the donor countries see as essential for economic development, and will accelerate the changes. (Barder, 20013)

A common argument regarding aid, is the type of aid and the way it is distributed. An online article by Phil Vernon addresses the issue with Top-Down aid, and argues that it only benefits the elites in society, such as those working in the government, where it is used to protect their own privileges rather than providing progress for the country itself, through supplying security and welfare. (Vernon, 2009) Furthermore, Vernon also argues that aid should enable and promote transformation; This encompasses social and political progress which is required in order for the country to move forward. (Vernon, 2009).

The responses to Vernon’s article provide an agreement with what Vernon writes, whilst also suggesting other issues regarding the subject. In regard to conditionality’s Rabinowitzs, continues on from Vernon’s message and argues that conditionality’s with aid are put in place without the recipient country in mind; here Rabinowitz writes “is it not used sensitively enough to ensure it does not weaken accountability of governments to their citizens” (Rabinowtiz, 2010).

In his book, Moyo writes that’s whilst the idea of conditionality’s may seem positive, due to the idea of it giving aid a purpose and direction, when put into practice they are often much less successful. On the subject of the failure of conditionality’s Moyo writes “Paramount was their failure to constrain corruption and bad government” (Moyo, 2010, 39). Here he argues that, whilst ties are initially put in place to ensure that the money sent reaches its intended purpose, in reality this does not occur, due to the conditionality’s being set out in a way which still allows exploitation. This argument is backed through data from the World Bank suggesting that over 80% of aid does not reach the purpose which was originally planned. Svensson explains that tied aid, and conditionality’s “act as a constraint that reduces inefficiency”. (Svesson, 2000, 72)

In conclusion I believe that despite aid having the ability to help countries development, it is not being implemented in the most effective way. As long as the donor countries have their own intentions at the core of their conditionality’s aid will never fully benefit the recipient country, and allow them to develop successfully and most efficiently.

 

Barder, O. (2013) What sort of conditions should there be on aid? – Owen abroad. Available at: http://www.owen.org/musings/conditionality(27 November 2016).

 

Edwards, M., Evans, A., Wallace, T. and Rabinowitz, G. (2010) Four immediate responses to Phil Vernon. Available at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/michael-edwards-alison-evans-tina-wallace-gideon-rabinowitz/four-immediate-responses-to-phil-vernon (24 November 2016).

Moyo, D.F. (2010) Dead aid: Why aid is not working and how there is a better way for Africa. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Mwenda, A. (2007) Aid for Africa? No thanks. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_mwenda_takes_a_new_look_at_africa#t-721401 (16 November 2016).

Svensson, J. (2000) ‘When is foreign aid policy credible? Aid dependence and conditionality’, Journal of Development Economics, 61(1), pp. 61–84

Vernon, P. (2009) Overseas development aid: Is it working? Available at: https://www.opendemocracy.net/phil-vernon/overseas-development-aid-is-it-working (17 November 2016).

 The history of foreign aid (2013) Available at: http://reliefweb.int/report/world/history-foreign-aid (16 November 2016).

Does the World Bank’s Involvement with Providing Aid to Less Developed Countries Help or Hinder Their Development?

The World Bank is an international financial institution, based in Washington DC, which has members from 189 countries. It was established in 1944, following the end of the Second World War. The World Bank aims to eliminate poverty by “helping people to help themselves” (Heakal, 2003). They offer loans and advice to less developed countries and have an overall goal to reduce global poverty. The World Bank currently has 12,677 projects in 173 countries, including 604 projects in India, totalling US$ 105.98 Billion (World Bank)

lending-commitments(World Bank)

This image from the World Bank website, shows their lending commitments by year. It shows that overall there has been a drastic increase, since its establishment in 1944. Their lending commitments significantly increased from the 1970s onwards, with some slight discrepancies, and with a peak in 2010.

The World Bank website provides many case studies, showing where their programmes have been most successful and helped many people. For example, it shows the effect the programmes have had on countries in Africa. They have transformed Tanzania’s economy to an open market, rebuilt local government in Sierra Leone after the conflict and have set up the ‘Mangoes from Mali’ project which has had positive impact on Mali’s agricultural sector (World Bank).

However, there are many people who disagree with the actions of the World Bank, and believe that it does not have a positive role on developing countries. Araghi writes about the inequalities within programmes from the World Bank, and how they enhance the gap between the rich and poor. Furthermore, it is discussed how a case study in Mexico was written as a ‘success story’ from the World Bank, when in reality was responsible for an income decline of 50 percent, as result of a ‘structural adjustment programme’. (Araghi, 1997)

Due to the large scale of the projects, there is the chance that they do not reach those who are truly in need. The money is given to the government as top-down aid. There are many benefits as a result of aid been given to the government; they are able to conduct projects on a much larger scale than smaller agencies, and can implement laws which may contribute to the programmes. However, ‘Grass-root’ (bottom-up) schemes can often be more successful as they are giving the most help, to those in greater need, at the root of the issue (Miltin & Satterthwaite, 2007).

During the 1980s and 90s, the World Bank began to take a more neoliberal approach, with a high focus of privatisation, free markets and other associated neoliberal policies. These ideas were enforced in developing countries through conditions that these countries were given, when they accepted loans from the World Bank. This neoliberal approach could be associated with the elections of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, and Ronald Reagan in the US, who were both neoliberal advocates. If this were the case, this would support the view that the World Bank is influenced heavily by the Global North. This leads to the argument that the focus of the World Bank is not to aid with development, but that it is instead used as a tool to exert control from the Global North, over the Global South, by enforcing the neoliberal ideas associated with economic systems in the North (Thistle, 2000). This idea is supported by a study by Kovach and Lansman, on 20 countries who received funds from the World Bank, which shows 90% of the countries assessed in this report, were required to implement privatisation and associated neoliberal policies, as part of their receipt of development finance (Kovach & Lansman, 2006).

Overall I believe that the World Bank is both trying to help countries to develop, whist still trying to benefit the dominant countries across the globe, such as the US and UK; This is because these are the countries who play the biggest role in deciding policies and are therefore likely to put in policies which benefit themselves in some way.

 

Araghi, F. (1997) 50 Years Is Enough: The Case against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, 26(2): 184-187

Heakal, R. (2003) ‘What is the world bank?’, Available at: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/03/042303.asp (24 October 2016). [2] The World Bank

Kovach, H & Lansman, Y (2006), World Banks and IMF conditionality: a development injustice. Available at: http://www.eldis.org/go/home&id=23585&type=Document#.WA4fnLRH0U1 (24 Oct, 2016)

Mitlin, D and Satterthwaite, D (2007) Strategies for grassroots control of international aid. Environment and Urbanization,19(2): 483–500

(No Date) Available at: http://www.projects.worldbank.or/ ( 24 October 2016).

Anon (2000), The IMF and the WORLD BANK: Puppets and the Neoliberal Onslaught, The Thistle, 13(2) Available at: http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v13/2/imf.html (1 Nov 2016)

 

What is Development?

Through its everyday use in a variety of different contexts, the word ‘development’ has become a colloquial term; However, rarely do we stop to analyse the word’s true meaning.

dev-1

(https://www.google.co.uk/)

In order to discover this word’s genuine meaning, I began by searching for the definition of ‘development’ on Google. From doing this it was immediately made evident that the definition isn’t as straight-forward as it may appear, and in reality, it has a multitude of different meanings which are often contested.

Some see development in terms of economic development. For example, a country’s GDP. Through improving their GDP, through things such as trade, and their industry, some would see this as them becoming developed. Others may argue that improving the social factors of a country would be them ‘developing’, more specifically by investing into education and health care.

However, there are others who have a more abstract concept of the word development. Robert Chambers wrote that “the eternal challenge of development is to do better” (Chambers, 1997: 1743). Here Chambers summarises why development is so difficult to define, since there are countless ways that a country can ‘do better’ depending on their specific context. This shows that the word ‘development’ can be incredibly complex, and that it can shift its focus in order to suit the situation presented. What is classed as development for one area may not be for another. Similarly, in the article “Development as a Buzzword”  Gilbert Rist argues that the meaning of development “depends on where and by whom it is used” (Rist, 2007: 185). Further reiterating the idea that the definition is dependent on the situation.

Some may define development in relation to the criteria set out in the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, a UN initiative which includes 17 goals, covering a range of development indicators, which must be met by 2030. These goals are further proof of the diversity of the meaning of development, as they cover a variety of development measures, ranging from eradicating hunger and poverty, to achieving peace and justice.

dev-2(Sustainable Development Goals)

Although these goals allow us to see the range of factors that development encompasses, it still fails to include what some countries may class as development. For example on the blog, ‘The Development Set’ it is argued that child welfare is an issue that is often ignored in mainstream media. Furthermore, it is an important factor when considering the development of certain countries and areas, despite not being included as a topic that is addressed in the Sustainable Development Goals (Bansal, 2016). This therefore demonstrates the breadth of the term, and how it would be near impossible to list all the ways in which development could occur, and consequently what development truly is.

dev-3

To summarise, I believe it is fair to say that it is almost impossible to truly define the term ‘development’. As I have demonstrated, the meaning of development varies over different contexts, authors and places. Although in general, development may be defined as an overall process in which a country is improving, the improvement can take place in a variety of ways. This therefore is what makes development a complex and multifaceted concept.

 

Bansal, S. (2016) Shining the light on child welfare. Available at: https://medium.com/the-development-set/shining-the-light-on-child-welfare (1 October 2016).

Chambers, R (1997) ‘Responsible Well-being: A Personal Agenda for Development’, World Development, 25(11): 1743-1754

Rist, G. (2007) ‘Development as a buzzword’, Development in Practice, 17(4): 485-491

Shah, V. (2016) The business of achieving the sustainable development goals. Available at: http://www.eco-business.com/news/the-business-of-achieving-the-sustainable-development-goals/ (1 October 2016).

(No Date) Available at: https://www.google.co.uk/– q=development+ (1 October 2016).