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Entries tagged with ‘concepts’
Background paper / Direction, Distribution and Diversity! Pluralising Progress in Innovation, Sustainability and Development
By Andy Stirling
Notions of ‘progress’ pervade the modern world. Yet, ‘north’ and ‘south’ alike, policymaking for progress in innovation, sustainability and development tends to be ambiguous. Politicians speak of “the way forward”, without saying which way. History is viewed as a “race to advance technology”, without stating the particular direction.
Dudley Seers, first Director of IDS, argued that “the focus on national income as a target for achieving poverty reduction avoided the real problems of development” and recommended “redefining how development was measured”. In this paper, he offered policy recommendations to incorporate more socially-relevant measures to better address development problems, focusing on education, population growth, and political independence. Read the full article »
Barbara Ward was a British economist, writer and adviser to policy-makers in the UK, US, and elsewhere who pioneered thinking on the overlap between environment and development – seeing a connection between wealth distribution and the conservation of planetary resources. Her 1966 book ‘Spaceship Earth’ revealed her as an early advocate of ‘sustainable development’ and a ‘new international economic order’ before these terms became widely used, highlighting questions of national self-determination, the spread of regional economic blocs as steps towards the global unity, and the role of the UN.
The concept of ’Intermediate Technology’ was introduced by radical economist and philosopher Fritz Schumacher first in a report for the Indian Planning Commission in 1962 and then popularised in an influential article published in the Observer in 1965.
Schumacher emphasised “the inadequacies of conventional aid policies based, as they were then, on the transfer of modern, capital-intensive and large-scale technologies to developing countries which did not have the financial resources, technical skills or mass markets to accommodate them. He argued that there should be a shift in emphasis towards ’intermediate technologies’ based on the needs and skills possessed by the people of developing countries.” (Practical Action website) Intermediate technologies were thus described as relatively small, simple, capital-saving, labour-intensive, and environmentally less-damaging technologies, suitable for local, small-scale application. (Wood, 1983)