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Gianni Vaggi: Development - The Re-Balancing of Economic Powers

Too long for a paper, too short for a book, read it as a pamphlet. This is not a textbook, as it is not exhaustive and cannot go deeply into specific topics. End notes and references might help, but perhaps you should read it as a pamphlet with two main propositions.

First, development is a process involving the empowerment of people and countries, which can be either supported or constrained by the social and economic structures existing around them.

Second, the re-balancing of the economic powers of the different stakeholders is a necessary condition for a decent development process.

Today we are in a very convenient position because there is a wide-ranging consensus that sustainable development should be interpreted as a process of empowerment. Since 2015, we have had 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, with three dimensions of sustainability: the social, environmental the economic dimensions.

This book contends that a process of development must take into consideration the social and economic structures which represent the landscape in which empowerment should be achieved. Development is a dialectic process between people’s empowerment and countries’ ownership and the surrounding social and economic structures. It is urgent that we put the view of development as freedom into a broader perspective that includes social and economic forces, especially considering some of the major structural changes that have taken place in the international economic setting since the ’80s.

The holistic view of sustainable development is replete with many different goals, but in the coming years development will concern decisions about technology, trade and finance, three main themes of Sustainable Development Goal 17. Who is going to decide, and based on what criteria? Development as empowerment requires the re-balancing of economic powers regarding those choices. Re-balancing is not the automatic outcome of a market economy: policy action is needed. The re-balancing of economic and negotiating powers is the major challenge that development cooperation will face in the coming decades, particularly in the areas of trade and finance… more

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