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UNRISD Web-Based Development Forum for G20

31 May 2010



UNRISD has recently launched an online discussion forum as part of work relating to its Development Forum for G20 - a set of activities which will also include a conference and TV debate both of which will be held in Seoul, Republic of Korea during October 2010 - and we are inviting people interested in our work to participate in the online debate.

The Development Forum for G20 is inspired by the pressing need to rethink the relationship between broader economic and social development goals and the international financial and trade regimes in the midst of multiple crises, in particular the global economic crisis. The G20, which will play a significant role in shaping the new international financial and trade regime, is potentially one of the key institutions where a more inclusive, democratic and developmental framework for the achievement of social and economic goals can be formulated. The Development Forum for G20 aims to provide a channel through which innovative ideas on development, particularly those from the perspective of non-G20 countries, can be articulated as inputs into G20 discussions.

Persistent poverty and growing inequality, exacerbated by a global economic crisis originating at the heart of the capitalist system, demand a critical review of mainstream development policies pursued over the past three decades. Given the precarious and uncertain world in which we live, the necessity to assess and adapt approaches and policies for sustainable social development is strongly reminiscent of John Maynard Keynes’s wake-up call in the 1920s when the “market juggernaut” was rolling at full steam: that “we need a new wisdom for a new age” with “new policies and new instruments to adapt and control the workings of economic forces, so that they do not intolerably interfere with contemporary ideas as to what is fit and proper in the interests of social stability and social justice”.

A heavy emphasis on the market and the withdrawal of the state from basic social provisions in recent decades have been less successful than anticipated in serving the interests of the real economy and increasing the welfare of society. Within a neoliberal framework, policies were configured to focus on a restricted set of macroeconomic targets, with social policies given the marginal role of safety net. This configuration of policies systematically weakened strategic links between economic and social policies, and became a major source of policy failure in the mainstream development strategy of the last three decades.

This web-based discussion is an attempt to encourage debate on alternative development approaches that are inclusive, equitable, democratic and sustainable. Such an ambition requires formulating approaches and policies that integrate economic growth, environmental sustainability and social equity, recognizing the intrinsic role played by a range of social policies in production and distribution as well as protection and reproduction. The challenge is to translate such principles into concrete policies whether at a local, national, regional or global level.

In relation to the agenda of the G20, critical linkages to be explored include the relationship between a range of macroeconomic policies and social and environmental development outcomes; the potential for alternative trade and financial policy regimes, and the social impacts of such alternatives, including their gender impacts; and policy responses to the challenges of the food, energy and climate crises. We look forward to your contributions to these and other questions on development alternatives.

While our goal is to stimulate a discussion which cuts across the conventional boundaries of economic, social and environmental fields, for ease of future reference contributions to the discussion will be stored in the following folders using key words:
  • Climate Change and Green Economy
  • Multiple Crises and Social Policy
  • Trade and Social Development
  • Finance and Social Development
  • International Economic and Social Governance.

For further information and participation in our blog, please go to http://community.eldis.org/.59d66237/Blog/