Issue 5, October 2008
|Letter From the Editor|
We live in a world of haves and have-nots. More specifically, we live in a world where one billion people have what they need for a long, quality life, four billion people have the hope of getting what they need for a long, quality life, and one billion have very little at all. Yet, all six billion of us share an increasingly interconnected planet – where the problems facing the less fortunate can reach the more fortunate, and the least fortunate are painfully aware of what the more fortunate possess. Morality, pragmatism, and enlightened self-interest prescribe that those in the developed world attempt to pull the others along, but just how to do this remains a source of much debate. Efforts to mitigate poverty over the last few decades seem to have had little effect, and in fact, some statistics indicate that the gap between the haves and have-nots continues to increase.
The battle cry among experts today is to reform the existing “aid architecture” that many believe has failed the developed and developing worlds alike. For the most part, what they actually mean is that the notion of development assistance should be expanded beyond aid to include climate change mitigation, entrepreneurial support, and creative partnerships between the private and public sectors, as well as among individuals, institutions and governments. The required verbs go outside the realm of traditional donor/recipient dynamics: those in the developed world need to give, to learn, to design, to empower, to include, but they also need to reflect, build upon, seek to understand, and allow to evolve.
And all of this should be done with humility. The month in which we wrote this edition of the Monitor, September 2008, will be remembered as a watershed in the global economy – a time in which many assumptions about who and why people are poor and rich came under close scrutiny; we were forced to understand that sometimes, what looks like growth is not growth after all. After decades of urging others to take their advice, use their aid dollars well, and join the world market that had served them so well, developed nations have been forced to examine the very foundations of their own economies.
Far from reveling in the fall of the financial giants on Wall Street, the developing world is holding its breath. Already struggling amidst high food and fuel prices, the world’s poor in the Arab, African, Latin American, and Asian regions fear the retraction of the world economy that was supposed to be their salvation and watch as public support and funds for international development assistance disappear before their eyes. With every point drop of the Dow Jones Index, the impact will be seen in The Human Development Index, Human Poverty Index, and Commitment to Development Index that is discussed here. This occurs at a time when it seemed the potential of the developed world to help the poorest had never been greater. As you will see here, there are new donors, new players, new strategies, and new synergies at work to address the myriad traps and cycles in which developing countries find themselves, and to address what can be changed, and mitigate what cannot. These efforts will, and must, continue on behalf of the bottom billion, yet the road will now be more circuitous and uncertain as economic insecurity infects all six billion of us in differing forms and degrees.
Cate Biggs, Editor World Savvy Monitor