History of Development

The concept of development can be found inside the core of the idea of growth, but the link between these two is far from settled. We can therefore say that development has been studied well before today, or even before the last century.

Since Mercantilism and Bullionism ( XVI century) the idea of growth overlaps with development and considers goverments and nations its subjects. This idea remains mainstreamingly valid, even despite modern economics' founding father's Adam Smith himself considered wealth in relationship with one's single interests and abilities.

Linearity of growth and therefore development are questioned and criticised by Karl Marx, who underlines how the growth of the whole capitalistic system does not mean growth of wealth for all.

Up to the 1870s the marginalists' revolution changes the approach to the topic sliding from macroeconomics to microeconomics, and settling the rational individual as a subject in a context of resource scarcity.

Post second world war.

Three important financial institutions were established , which constitute the Economic Order of Post-Second World War period.These were:

1.International Monetary Fund(IMF)
2.International Bank for Reconstruction and Development(IBRD)
3.General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

These were based on the principle of free trade and non-discrimination in international trade.But,most of the benefits of this system were enjoyed by developed countries.

Modern development economics, and therefore the beginning of a different view on development, are traced in the post World War II experiences and especially in the theories of autors such as Nurske, Singer, Rosenstein-Rodan, Rostow, Lewis and Kuznets.
They have first started to focus on non-traditional countries that suffered from under-industrialization, poverty and from what was defined as "underdevelopment". Compared to current views on the topic they lacked comprehension of the peculiarity of the complex dynamics of each and every state, applying policies in a standard "one size fits all" manner.

The first steps that were taken by international community over Development issues, concurred in 1968 when a group of scientists, policy makers, businessmen, members of organizations for the defense of civil rights and other important figures created a Non Governmental Association named "The Club of Rome".
The main aim of this organization was to unify different figures from different countries in order to try to find a solution for the challenges brought by the rapid transformation of the world. The members describe themselves as "a group of world citizens, sharing a common concern for the future of humanity."[1]
The Association captured the attention with the book "The limits of Growth", released in 1972. This work was recalling the prediction feared by Thomas Malthus in his "An Essay on the Principles of Population" (1798), that is the idea that the rapid growth of the world population would have brought to an unsustainable pressure over the limited resources of the planet.

in 1965 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was established. It is based on the merging of the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance, created in 1949, and the United Nations Special Fund, established in 1958. It is the largest provider of developmental grant assistance in the UN system. To focus on country specific needs, the UNDP helps member countries use aid efficiently and promote human rights and gender equality. Many countries and regions around the world require technical assistance to fund programs that promote development. The UNDP has the expertise and financial capacity to recommend and fund important development needs in the countries. Employees and services at local offices in countries served by the UNDP help responding the specific needs of each country in a tailored manner. The committee is governed by an Executive Board made up of representatives from 36 countries. The Board also helps ensuring that the needs of each country are addressed in an appropriate and timely manner.

The Seventies.

The demand for a just and fair economic order was first made in 1973.It was later formally resolved by the sixth special session of the United Nations General Assembly,in 1974,to call for the establishment of New International Economic Order (NIEO). As the existing order favoured the developed countries of the North, the Third World countries realised its discriminatory nature.
The concept of NIEO is not based on donor-receiver relationship. It does not seek charity from the developed countries.The conscience that economic problems of developing states cannot be solved only through aid and assistancestarted growing from here. North-South relations had to be transformed into mutually beneficial relationship. NIEO seeks a new relationship between developed and the developing countries on the basis of mutual reciprocity, in which ultimately the developed countries will also stand to gain. It seeks to create a futuristic and forward looking scenario.

The demand for a new international economic order was made to correct the global economic imbalance and establish equality. Global inequality expresses itself in terms of unequal trade, inequalities in levels of 'development' and unequal consumption of energy and possession of technology. During the colonial period, colonised countries were blatantly exploited, but even after the colonies got their independence economic exploitation did not stop. It has taken a new form.The third world countries are being subjected to neo-colonialism which is the current manifestation of exploitation.

In fact in the Seventies some development economics theory known as Dependency Theory lived its heyday. Originating from the aforementioned theories of Singer and Prebisch, the world economic system fed itself with the underdevelopment of some countries that were kept in a disadvantaged position to maintain this unjust circle.

As an example, the Non Alligned Movement was born, uniting all those "Third World" Countries that didn't stand still in alliances with USSR or USA. In the Algiers Summit of NAM (1973) emphasis was laid on the unlimited rights of the developing countries to regulate their natural resources and,if necessary, to nationalise them.

Environment was first brought to international level attentions during this decade. Despite having a long history of debate, including the political economy theories of John Stuart Mill , only after the 60's universal concern about the healthy and sustainable use of the planet and its resources were raised. Therefore, the UN in 1972, convened the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm.
The final Declaration, outcome of this ground-braking event, contains 19 principles that represent an environmental manifesto still considered to be up-to-date. It was meant “to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment”, and kicked-off the new environmental agenda that has since then insistently characterized the whole United Nations system.
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) was thereby founded, and the Brundtland Commission started working on what will be it's famous publication "Our Common Future". Sustainable development was finally brought about, including future generations in the stakeholders list.

The United Nations,in November 1977, appointed an Independent Commission on International Development Issues called the Willy Brandt Commission. The Commission submitted a long term "Program for Survival" involving drastic changes in the global economic structure.The plan envisaged a large international energy study, a global food programme and reforms in the international monetary system. It dealt with the problems of disarmament ,refugees,environment,ecology,food,population,energy etc.

The Eighties.

The Eighties are generally defined as the 'lost decade' for development. Mainstream attention was drawn back to growth, not necessarily implying development, but by then theory had become unsatisfied with explanations of underdevelopment based only on exogenous factors.
Endogenous growth theories highlighted the crucial role of newly considered factors such as human capital, innovation, research and education and their positive long-term effects. These factors are nowadays well established in mainstream policies and highly regarded by the UN system.

In 1986, the UN General Assembly adopted a Declaration on the Right to Development, which states that

"every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realised.”

The heart of the problem is that people displaced by development projects are generally seen as a necessary sacrifice on the road to development. The dominant perspective is thus that the positive aspects of development projects, the public interest, outweigh the negative ones, the displacement or sacrifice of a few.

The Nineties

1992: THE RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT (http://www.c-fam.org/docLib/20080625_Rio_Declaration_on_Environment.pdf)

Recognizing the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our home, the nations meeting at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro adopted a set of principles to guide future development. These principles define the rights of people to development, and their responsibilities to safeguard the common environment. They build on ideas from the Stockholm Declaration at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.
The Rio Declaration states that the only way to have long term economic progress is to link it with environmental protection. This will only happen if nations establish a new and equitable global partnership involving governments, their people and key sectors of societies. They must build international agreements that protect the integrity of the global environmental and the developmental system.

2000 onwards.

In 2000 during a three days Summit, in which all the worlds leaders participated, the United Nations with the agreement of the General Assembly decided to adopt the "Millennium Declaration".
This World Declaration has eight main points, on which all the states have to work on till 2015.
These are eight important goals (Millennium Goals) approved by leaders:
- Fight against poverty and hunger;
- Achieve universal primary education;
- Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
- Reduce child mortality;
- Improve maternal health;
- Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseas;
- Ensure environmental sustainability;
- Develop a global partnership for development.

In particolar, Goal 7 has two own targets in terms of environment:
1.Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; let the world be more environmentaly equal;
2.Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving by 2010 a big and important reduction;
About one third of the Planet is covered by forests, the best and richest ecosystem of the world. These forests concur to survival of more than billion people. In a decade they have been largely reduced, from 1990 to 2000 we have lost about 940.000 km. But on the other side, there are great news either. Many sustainable management practices for the forests are more and often used.
The whole World is worried, primarly because of the consequences that could happen if we don't work on it in time. The ozone layer, standing upon us, absorbs ultraviolet-radiations, related to the worst skin diseases and dangerous effects for the human beings. A large amount of CO2 emissions will eventually damage the ozone layer and the effects will be very serious.Through a global and close cooperation, it's possible to cut down CO2 emissions, resposible of "greenhouse" and climate change.
  1. ^ http://green-agenda.com/globalrevolution.html