The ERD: Topics to address

Development Policy25 Jun 2008The Broker

All of the academics whom The Broker approached welcome widening the focus of development assistance beyond the MDGs. Some have concrete proposals for subjects that should be included in the ERD. Francisco Granell (Spain) argues that the ERD should assess how development concepts must adapt in order to address the impact of the predicted global population increase. ‘In 2050, developing countries will represent 86% of the world population. Thirty years from now, their urban population – now around 2 billion – will have doubled. Their needs are different from those of a rural population’. Granell adds that the impact of technology on development and globalization should also be a subject for the ERD.

Torbjörn Becker (Sweden) suggests that the ERD should contain two sections: one looking at a topical issue – e.g. the food crisis – from a European perspective, the other focusing on a long-term issue – e.g. a study on how international aid is organized on the donor side. ‘How does the EU spend its development aid, through which channels is it distributed, what is the historical track-record of European aid versus aid from other donors? These vital questions are under-researched’, says Becker.

Stephan Klasen (Germany) agrees that ‘what the EU lacks is a culture of seriously evaluating the successes and failures of Europe’s development programs’. And Ondrej Horký (Czech) adds, ‘If the European Development Report is to make a difference, its policy recommendations must draw on evidence. Therefore, naming and shaming is unavoidable. Win-win situations are rare and reflect policymakers’ wishful thinking rather than reality’. Horký furthermore suggests that the ERD should directly address controversies between ‘European’ and ‘non-European’ approaches. ‘For instance, the attentions paid to Tibet and to the food crisis show that different stresses are put on the first and second generations of human rights’.

Allister McGregor (UK) adds that the ERD should focus on issues of governance: global governance, nation state governance and grass-roots governance. ‘The WDR focuses on the economy, the HDR focuses on people. The ERD could find its niche by thinking through the challenges of governance. It should seek to bolster the MDGs, but explore ideas about what conditions in societies make it more or less possible to achieve the targets.’