Ton Dietz’s speech at the tenth anniversary of the Prince Claus Chair

Development Policy,Inclusive Economy25 Jan 2013Ton Dietz

Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, dear Chairholders of the Prince Claus Chair, ladies and gentlemen,

Prince Claus would have enjoyed today’s discussions. Twenty-four years after he formulated his famous statements he would have seen that these ideas are still very much alive, and probably even more necessary in the current political and scientific debate than in 1988.

Equity and equality are indeed hot topics. The United Nations Task Team on the post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda suggests in a recent report to the UN Secretary General, “Realizing the Future We Want for All” that ‘reducing inequalities’ should become one of thirteen new goals for a post-2015 development agenda. These goals are framed under four major headings: ‘inclusive social development’, ‘inclusive economic development’, ‘peace and security’, and ‘environmental sustainability’. As part of what the UN Task Team calls ‘inclusive economic development’ it is no longer enough to eradicate income poverty and hunger, but reducing inequalities and ensuring decent work and productive employment have now been formulated as combined challenges for the world community as well. What the Task Team writes in their document is so central to what we discussed today that I will read the start of the section on inclusive economic development:

“Sustainable development involves stable, equitable and inclusive economic growth, based on sustainable patterns of production and consumption. Inclusiveness is broader than just a pro-poor focus. It implies universality and focuses not only on those defined as poor, but also on vulnerable populations in precarious livelihoods.”

This is what should have been included in the original Millennium Development Goals, formulated in 2000, but then world leaders could not agree. They might now. And it can be expected that in the next few years many discussions will be focused on how to formulate measurable targets for reducing inequality and reaching better equity conditions for all. Leventhal’s influential work of the 1970s becomes very relevant again: defining targets should not be restricted to general measurement tools for measuring inequality, like the Gini coefficient, and Lorenz Curves. There should be targets on the procedural fairness of the development process as well, and output as well as process variables should be specific for different categories of people, with enough attention for cultural differences. Indeed, Prince Claus would have liked to hear this.

Today we have heard a lot about the various experiences with supporting the reduction of inequality and the pursuit of equity by the ten Prince Claus Chairholders and in the responses of all of you present today. We have seen that equity goals should include both freedom from want and freedom from fear, as Professor Mansoob Murshed shows. This means that the agenda of inclusive economic development should be connected – as the UN Task Team does – to Peace and Security goals, which they define as both freedom from violence, conflict and abuse and conflict-free access to natural resources. Professor Amina Mama discusses the impact of militarism in resulting in lack of equity, and she highlights the role of women as peace brokers, but also the growing likelihood of women to become fighters as well as victims of violence.

Professor Rema Hammami expands the concept of gender equity to include cultural and religious specificity, especially looking at women in Muslim majority or minority situations. She shows that identity is becoming problematic when it is politicised and when for instance Muslim women are being forced to be only Muslim women, while they – like all of us – combine so many different identities. Professor Nasira Jabeen shows the importance of so-called enabling institutional environments to allow women in Muslim societies to be treated with respect and for them to be living in dignity. She highlighted the importance of equity goals at the top-level of a society, next to changes of attitudes at all levels of scale, and particularly in education. Professor Stella Quimbo’s case study about the Philippines shows that to make gender outcomes fair in distributional as well as procedural terms not only governance arrangements should be fair at the level of public and corporate levels of scale, but also at the household level: children already learn fairness or the lack of it in day-to-day household situations. Professor Quimbo’s figures also show that a country like the Netherlands could learn from her country how to improve gender scores. In Dutch academia, particularly, we should acknowledge the fact that the gender gap among Dutch professors is really huge. The Curatorium of the Prince Claus Chair tried to correct some of that lack of equity.

Professor Alcinda Honwana specifies the equity goals for the world’s youth; and the political and social need to explicitly include youth in equity targeting. This is not only a moral appeal, but also an economic and political necessity. The creativity of the world’s youth and their transformative capability are lost if youth waithood periods last too long and if youth continues to be marginalized in many societies.

Professor Gaspar Rivera-Salgado adds the importance of including migrants and so-called indigenous people in the equations. Connecting territories becomes ever more important and territorial governance has to deal with a growing impact of international networks, including those of migrants. He formulated a powerful plea to think about migrants not as clients, but as agents if change and agents of innovation; political as well as economic.

Professor Atul Kumar dares to bring his personal experiences with a variety of equity issues in India to the fore and adds his ideas about connecting equity with environmental sustainability; which is the third element of the four-corner framework of the UN Task Team. His work on providing better access to affordable energy is part of the environmental part of the combined agenda for an inclusive, sustainable, stable and fair future for humankind, and he shows the importance of doing that in a gender-sensitive way.

Professor Irene Agyepong contributed by showing that equality and equity goals are different, and she illustrated her points with evidence from her field of specialization, health care. She therefore connects the other three major goals of the new UN approach to post-2015 world development to a new way of looking at what the UN calls, inclusive social development, which includes adequate nutrition for all, reduced mortality and morbidity, universal access to clean water and sanitation, quality education for all and as an overarching goal, gender equity, although the UN still uses the word gender equality in that recent document.

Finally, Professor Patricia Ashley, formulated a very powerful plea that the development and equity targets in the world are not just the responsibility of the various governments and of the UN system. These targets are also responsibilities for the business community and for social and cultural organizations, and in her vision sustainable development cooperation and social responsibility policies should go hand in hand, at all levels of scale, and as a concerted effort of all relevant agencies.

Distinguished guests, equity indeed is a hot topic, and has become quite central to a lot of political debates. Also in the Netherlands it has become a serious concern again, both for the political and economic situation in the Netherlands itself, but also as an element of Dutch international policy. The Advisory Council for International Affairs very recently issued an Advice to the Dutch Government about “unequal worlds; poverty, growth, inequality and the role of international cooperation” that is well worth reading. The online think tank The Broker is preparing an overview of the international debate on equity and equality and will also include elements of what happened today in the debate that they will facilitate, online and offline in the next few months.

And equity issues inspire many of our students and lecturers to think deep about the scientific and societal questions related to equity and inequality, and it has inspired many of our masters’ level students to send their Masters’ theses to the so-called Cheetah Challenge, if these were related to topics of development, equity and citizenship.

It is my great pleasure to read to you the Jury Report of the Prince Claus Chair Cheetah Challenge!

Jury report:

Cheetah Challenge on Development, equity and (global) citizenship on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Prince Claus Chair

The Cheetah Challenge is a competition for individuals who recently completed their studies at a Dutch university. The competition was set up as part of the tenth anniversary celebration of the Prince Claus Chair. The Netherlands Committee for Sustainable Development, NCDO, ran the competition at the request of the Prince Claus Curatorium and the Curatorium is most grateful to NCDO for taking on this task. Prince Claus would have been proud as well! Entrants were requested to submit their master’s thesis on the theme of development, equity and citizenship. NCDO carried out a rigorous pre-selection and sent the five best submissions to the Cheetah Challenge jury. This jury consisted of the members of the Prince Claus Curatorium and the director of NCDO. The standard of the submissions was extraordinarily high. All of the five finalists have clearly gone well beyond the requirements for a thesis at master’s level and they all deserve congratulations on their grasp of the subject matter, their argumentation and their skilful analysis. Four of the finalists are with us today. The fifth had obligations abroad, which prevented her from attending. The jury has divided the finalists into three categories: honourable mention, runner up and first prize. An honourable mention goes to Liset Meddens and Marion Girard Cisneros

The two runners up are Nienke van der Have and Annemarie Groot Kormelinck. The first prize goes to Lisanne Heemskerk. The runners up and the first prize winner have all been invited to write a paper, based on their prize-winning dissertations, for the forthcoming lustrum book, planned for publication in the course of 2013.

Allow me to share a few comments made by the jury on the runners up and on the winner. After this, I will invite Nienke, Annemarie and Lisanne to come up to the stage to receive their awards.

First of all the runners up:

Annemarie Groot Kormelinck – Her thesis was titled: “Back to the birthplace of the bean” and she graduated at the Radboud University Nijmegen in Development Studies, in 2010. This thesis on the bargaining position of women and trust in Ethiopian coffee cooperatives is very well embedded within the existing literature on empowerment and participation of women. It employs a sound theoretical framework and demonstrates a solid knowledge of relevant theoretical and regional literature. It includes convincing data and contains interesting reflections in the conclusion.

Nienke van der Have – Her thesis was titled: “The right to development and state responsibility”. She graduated at the University of Amsterdam in International and European Law, in 2011. The thesis focuses on the Right to Development in relation to the responsibility of states. The approach chosen was both creative and innovative, looking at the Right to Development as a legal right and using an existing international law perspective in which a wide array of international law features were covered. The thesis is original and well written with a clear line of argumentation.

Now, the first prize:

Lisanne Heemskerk – Lisanne’s thesis is about “How responsible is responsible business?”. She graduated at Utrecht University, in International development studies, and she did so recently, in 2012. This thesis demonstrates thorough research on the role of Dutch agri-enterprises in Kenya that engage in responsible business. It has clear links with all the Cheetah Challenge themes; development, equity and global citizenship. It portrays a very complete picture of the practices of Dutch business in Kenya and the motives and subsequent outcomes related to sustainable development and poverty alleviation. It tests existing theories on corporate social responsibility and provides new insights into the impact of responsible enterprises on local issues, such as the position of small-holder farmers and the distribution of and access to water and land. It has an excellent theoretical and analytical framework and clear conclusions. According to the Jury this thesis is outstanding and truly deserves the first prize.

May I invite HRH Princess Máxima to the podium to conduct the award ceremony.

May I invite Annemarie, Nienke and Lisanne to come forward. And, ladies and gentlemen, may I please invite you to give the winners of the Cheetah Challenge a round of applause!

Your Royal Highness, Lisanne, Nienke and Annemarie, can I please ask you to take your seats again, and recover from this great moment!.

I would now like to invite all of you to join me for drinks!