1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Visible Hands: Taking Responsibility for Social Development

Programme Area: Special Events (2000 - 2009)
Project Title: Geneva 2000: The Next Step in Social Development
No. of Pages: 190

From Chapter 8: Sustaining Development...

Development agencies now claim to be pursuing people-centred sustainable development. The rhetoric may have changed; the practice seems familiar.

Two core themes came together in the 1990s to offer a more ambitious development agenda. The first was sustainable development. This term was widely adopted following the Brundtland Report in 1987 and encapsulated the need to protect the environment for the current and future generations, an imperative echoed in the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.

A second major theme of the 1990s was human development, elaborated in the UNDP’s Human Development Reports. These reports insisted that the purpose of development was not to boost economic growth but to improve people’s lives, and that the best way to do so was to expand the choices available to them: to ensure that they had the capacity and the opportunity to shape their own futures.

By the time of the Social Summit in 1995, these ideas had been brought together as sustainable human development or as people-centred sustainable development, or in any number of other ways. The exact combination is probably less significant than the general intention: to argue that economic growth should not be allowed to degrade the environment; that it should be the kind of growth that will benefit the world’s poorest people; and that they themselves should shape development programmes and projects.

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