Global Development

global developmentGlobal development lacks a clear definition, but it is often linked with human development and international efforts to reduce poverty and inequality and improve health, education and job opportunities around the world.

A variety of data can be used to describe what is also often referred to as international development, including a country’s gross domestic product or its average per-capita income, literacy and maternal survival rates, as well as life expectancy, human rights and political freedoms. While humanitarian aid and disaster relief are meant to provide short-term fixes to emergencies, international development is meant to be long-term and sustainable. For years, global development was driven by the United States and other industrialized countries in Europe and beyond. We may be on the verge of a transformative change, the transition to a multipolar world economic order.

Although international relations and international trade have existed for many hundreds of years, it is only in the past century that international development theory emerged as a separate body of ideas. More specifically, it has been suggested that the theory and practice of development is inherently technocratic, and remains rooted in the high modernist period of political thought that existed in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Throughout the 20th century, before the concept of international development became a common word, four aspects were used to describe the idea:

*   political and economic liberalism, and the significance of free markets
*   social evolution in extremely hierarchized environment
*   Marxist critiques of class and imperialism
*   anti-colonial take on cultural differences and national self-determination.

As emerging economies grow, so will their private sector companies’ influence on global business, and it may become necessary to rethink global economic governance structures through multilateral channels such as the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and other Bretton Woods institutions. Financial, monetary and trade policy reforms may be needed to ensure sustainable growth.

Great strides have already been made over the past five decades, there has been more progress on global health and poverty reduction than ever before. At the same time, achieving universal primary education remains elusive, and so do other Millennium Development Goals. And while the majority of people in the developing world are living more prosperous lives now than they did before, many are worse off.

Global development aims to improve general government policies of these developing countries. State building is the strengthening of regional institutions necessary to support long-term economic, social, and political development. Education is another important aspect of international development. It is a good example of how the focus today is on sustainable development in these countries; education gives people the skills required to keep themselves out of poverty.

Global development is related to the concept of international aid, but is distinct from, disaster relief and humanitarian aid. While these two forms of international support seek to alleviate some of the problems associated with a lack of development, they are most often short term fixes, they are not necessarily long-term solutions. International development, on the other hand, seeks to implement long-term solutions to problems by helping developing countries create the necessary capacity needed to provide such sustainable solutions to their problems. A truly sustainable development project is one which will be able to carry on indefinitely with no further international involvement or support, whether it be financial or otherwise.

International development projects may consist of a single, transformative project to address a specific problem or a series of projects targeted at several aspects of society. Promoted projects are ones which involve problem solving that reflects the unique culture, politics, geography, and economy of a region. More recently, the focus in this field has been projects that aim towards empowering women, building local economies, and caring for the environment.

In the context of human development, global development encompasses foreign aid, governance, healthcare, education, poverty reduction, gender equality, disaster preparedness, infrastructure, economics, human rights, environment and issues associated with these.

During recent decades, global development thinking has shifted from modernization and structural adjustment programs to poverty reduction. Under the former system, poor countries were encouraged to undergo social and economical structural transformations as part of their development, creating industrialization and intentional industrial policy. Poverty reduction rejects this notion, consisting instead of direct budget support for social welfare programs that create macroeconomic stability leading to an increase in economic growth.

The concept of poverty can apply to different circumstances depending on context. Poverty is the condition of lacking economic access to fundamental human needs such as food, shelter and safe drinking water. While some define poverty primarily in economic terms, others consider social and political arrangements also to be intrinsic, often manifested in a lack of dignity.


Sustainable business practices lead to economic growth and empowerment for farming communities.  A sustainable approach to development is one which takes account of economic, social and environmental factors to produce projects and programs which will have results which are not dependent on finite resources. Something which is sustainable will not use more natural resources than the local environment can supply; more financial resources than the local community and markets can sustain; and will have the necessary support from the community, government and other stakeholders to carry on indefinitely. It is one of the key concepts in international development, and is critical in removing dependency on overseas aid.

An interesting way of seeing development in Third World countries is through modernization. This includes electronification of households and increases in phone plans. This does not accurately convey social development although it is hard to precisely measure, and institutions differ greatly in their methods. This goes into the debate on whether economic growth causes social growth or vice versa. Indicators of social change can be used to complement economic factors as indicators of development and in formulating development policies. In a multi-country review of development progress, improved outcomes on these measures has generally been found to be driven by a combination of smart leadership, policies, institutions, and friends, according to the Overseas Development Institute.


Migration has throughout history also led to significant international development. As people move, their culture, knowledge, skills and technologies move with them. Migrants’ ties with their past homes and communities lead to international relationships and further flows of goods, capital and knowledge.

Human Rights

The provision of human rights is concerned with ensuring that all people everywhere receive the rights conferred on them by International human rights instruments. Human rights covers a huge range of topics. Some of those more relevant to international development projects include rights associated with gender equality, justice, employment, social welfare and culture.


This is concerned with ensuring that all people are able to make a living for themselves and provide themselves with an adequate standard of living, without compromising their human rights and while maintaining dignity.


Several organisations and initiatives exist which are concerned with providing financial systems and frameworks which allow people to organise or purchase services, items or projects for their own development. Startup capital, which is represented by resources and financial investments, are allocated to communities by development agencies based on the specific needs of the communities as voiced by members of the communities. The two parties cooperate closely to achieve a goal set by the community. Combined with existing resources, capital provided by development agencies is utilized by communities to improve their quality of life.


The terms developed and developing (or underdeveloped), have proven problematic in forming policy as they ignore issues of wealth distribution and the lingering effects of colonialism. Some theorists see development efforts as fundamentally neo-colonial, in which a wealthier nation forces its industrial and economic structure on a poorer nation, which will then become a consumer of the developed nation’s goods and services. Post-developmentalists, for example, see development as a form of Western cultural imperialism that hurts the people of poor countries and endangers the environment to such an extent that they suggest rejection of development altogether.



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global development